ATLANTA, Ga. — official series release by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Hagan Photography photo —
There’s a first time for everything.
This weekend, the United Sprint Car Series filtercharged by K&N will take that mantra on the road, as the traveling 360ci winged sprint car series begins its inaugural “Southern Speedweek.”
The stretch of five events (plus a sixth TBA date) over 10 days mimics the hugely successful formula that the USCS has used in its Mid-South region over the past decade, and will play a crucial role in determining this season’s National Champion. Races won — or lost — during the span can not only make or break a driver’s momentum, but can make or break a season for several front-runners depending on how the mini-series plays out.
“It’s different than anything we do because it packs so much action into such a short amount of time,” 2015 USCS rookie points leader Nick Snyder, 15, says of the “Speedweek” format. “There’s not a lot of turnaround time, so it makes it really tough because if you have a bad race, or something major breaks, you might end up missing a couple of races because there’s so little time to make repairs.”
“It takes a lot of reliability and a lot of luck to get through it in one piece, and it really can change your season in the blink of an eye.”
Points earned over the 10-day stretch will also crown the first-ever Southern Speedweek champion.
“Winning the mini-series is a good deal, but it is tough to do,” 11-time series champion and two-time USCS Mid-South Speedweek champion Terry Gray admitted. “A lot of us are used to [the format], because we do it every year on the Mid-South side, but it can really test [a driver] if they’re not prepared for it.”
“If you can pull it off, you’ve done something that you and your team can really be proud of.”
The two-week run kicks off on Thursday, July 16 with the fourth annual “Thunder 30 in the Smokies” at the half-mile Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn. One of the fastest tracks that the USCS sprint cars visit each year, Bartlett, Tenn. veteran Anthony Nicholson won at SMS last season for his fifth-career USCS feature win.
Stops at Boyd’s Speedway (Ringgold, Ga.) and Dixie Speedway (Woodstock, Ga.) on July 17-18 headline the USCS return to the “Peach State” for the first time since racing at North Georgia Speedway on May 9. The Boyd’s stop on the USCS tour has been rained out for the past two seasons, leaving Tim Crawley (2012) as the tour’s most recent winner at the three-eighths mile red clay oval; while Derek Hagar won last year’s rain-postponed stop at Dixie on August 23.
The second half of the “Southern Speedweek” moves the traveling series north into Carolina country, with the inaugural stop at East Lincoln Speedway on Thursday, July 23 marking the fourth of six events on the mini-series grind. The July 24 event on the Speedweek schedule is yet to be announced, with the series visiting the four-tenths mile Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway on July 25 as the Southern Speedweek finale.
The series’ last stop at Fayetteville was during the 2010 season, when Sport Allen picked up a 30-lap feature win over 1998 USCS Rookie of the Year Johnny Bridges.
Expected entries for the inaugural Southern Speedweek include 11-time and reigning USCS National Champion Terry Gray, current USCS National points leader and leading female sprint car pilot Morgan Turpen, three-time season winner and current USCS Southern Thunder region points leader Eric Riggins Jr., 2013 USCS champion Derek Hagar, 14-time series winner Bridges and 2008 series Rookie of the Year Nicholson.
Other notables expected to be in competition are 2012 and 2014 top rookies Jeff Willingham and Brandon McLain, current rookie points leader Snyder and long-time USCS Southern region veteran Joe Larkin.
For rules and updated schedule information about the United Sprint Car Series Outlaw Thunder Tour, visit www.uscsracing.com or call the series office at 770-460-7223 or 770-865-6097.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s. He is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: email@example.com