With the first week of the 2013 season winding down and our schedule page starting to burst at the seams. Here are a some of the big stories I plan on following throughout the season.
- 305 sprint car growth: While 305 sprint cars have been a staple for years in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and in the south the National growth of the division over the past couple of seasons is much different. Many tracks throughout the country are having 305’s as their headline division instead of the under card. The growth resembles what happened in the 90’s with the 360 sprint car division, as the 305 sprint cars are eating up a lot of what was considered 360 sprint car territory. Some areas are growing with multiple tracks running the division in close proximity on the same night. It will be interesting to see if all of the tracks will draw good car counts or will some be weeded out.
- Indiana upgrades and downgrades: While many of the changes have not been announced officially fans will see some of their favorite stars in new rides for 2013. With several weeks until Florida Speedweeks and months until the weekly Indiana tracks are under way there is still time for even more rides to change hands. It will be interesting to compare which drivers and teams upgraded their status and who missed the mark throughout the season.
- King of the West Sprint Car Series expansion to Nevada: Last month King of the West series owner Dan Simpson announced the King of West series calling 95A Speedway in Fernley, NV their home track. This has been an eye opener for the west coast sprint car community because the teams are primarly based out of Northern California and Nevada is not exactly considered a racing hotbed for sprint car racing. Simpson has high hopes for his series in Nevada, but will it all pan out. Also it will be interesting to see what presence the series will have in California.
Kyle Larson: Larson kicked off 2013 by becoming the first driver to sweep the International Midget Car Series at Western Springs Speedway. With Larson’s track record over the past several seasons one has to wonder what is up next for one of the most talented and personable drivers to ever come along? No matter what he does Larson is someone our readers always enjoy following no matter what he is racing/winning in.
- Web cast growth for 2013: Last year the roll of web casting exploded in growth as race tracks took matters into their own hands and produced several high quality live web casts of their events. Many tracks are discovering this as another revenue source and allows fans that cannot always make it out to the speedway to stay in touch with events. Talking to some industry insiders look for more broadcast quality streaming to pop up at various events around the country next season.
United States Auto Club Silver Crown Series: Can USAC’s Premier division spring back after the past couple of seasons filled with turmoil, rule changes, and diminished car counts? To their credit USAC officials during the off season met with teams to make rule changes and book more races for 2013 that are conducive to good Silver Crown racing. The result garnered a return to Pikes Peak International Speedway, Gateway Motorsports Park, and a first time visit to the Belleville High Banks. That the new races combined with the changes to the required fuel rules hopefully will bring more cars out of shops and to the race track for 2013.
- POWRi and the United States Auto Club co-sanctions: These two major players in the midget car world are co-sanctioning multiple events throughout the 2013 season. If both groups can, “play nice” and conduct the events with little to no conflict fans will be the biggest winners by getting to see several events with extremely deep fields throughout the summer. This also puts the USAC National Midget Car Series on more short tracks throughout the season, which long term should help the series grow. If this goes according to plan it will be a winner situation for all of midget car racing.
- Growth of the Kick-It games: Since the inaugural sprint car Kick-It game at the Knoxville Nationals the open wheel community has embraced this charity with games springing up at virtually every major event. Starting with the Chili Bowl Nationals we are interested to see the growth of the repeated games and how many new ones spring up this summer.
- World of Outlaws Labor Day Marathon: From August 30th until September 8th the World of Outlaws series has one day during a brutal West Coast run that stretches from Washington through Oregon and into Chico, California for the Gold Cup. This West Coast gauntlet will test teams organizational skills and mental toughness. Luck will also play a factor as tearing up equipment during this stretch could be more stressful than normal. I still believe this stretch will determine who wins the 2013 World of Outlaws championship.