BARBERVILLE, Fla. (January 21) - For two weeks every February, Florida turns into a dirt racing fan's paradise. From Feb. 2-13 at Volusia Speedway Park, four of the top divisions in dirt track racing share the spotlight at the 39th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH, with double features every night.
The elite World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series and World of Outlaws Late Model Series share the spotlight with the hugely popular DIRTcar UMP Modifieds and the thundering Big-Block Modifieds from the Super DIRTcar Series. Volusia Speedway Park is where hundreds of competitors from across North America converge to launch the 2010 season.
This year, a Free Fan Pit Pass gives fans unprecedented access to the stars and cars as they prepare for competition each night in an event that sets them moving toward the World Finals in Charlotte in November.
The annual DIRTcar Nationals is often a solid indicator as to how the year will unfold. It's also the first chance where fans can begin to answer questions they've been asking since last November:
* Can 2009 World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Josh Richards back up his title conquest and become the first two-time series champion in the modern era?
* How will '07 WoO LMS champion Steve Francis fare in his own car this season?
* What will DIRTcar UMP Late Model champion Jason Feger do when he hits the big Volusia half-mile for the first time in his career? We're pretty sure the Highside Hustler will be riding the top groove no matter what.
* Can Donny Schatz win his fifth consecutive World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series title, or will rival Jason Meyers finally take the next step up the podium?
* What impact will Steve Kinser have in a new ride for the first time in ages?
* Can Joey Saldana duplicate his 20-win performance at Kasey Kahne Racing?
* How will all of the Sprint Car competitors fare on new Goodyear tires this season?
* In the Super DIRTcar Series, Brett Hearn will begin a quest for his eighth series title, but several young superstars, led by 2009 Syracuse champion Matt Sheppard, will definitely have a say in how the season unfolds.
* The division logging the most laps during the two weeks at Volusia will be the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds. Jared Landers and the Dillon men (Austin and Ty), grandsons of NASCAR car owner Richard Childress, were regular visitors to victory lane last year, can they repeat their dominant performance?
All of these questions and more will begin to be answered over the two weeks of DIRTcar action Feb. 2-13 at Volusia Speedway Park. The big half mile is easy to find on State Road 40 about 15 miles inland from Ormond Beach and Interstate 95, and features exciting action on the track and plenty of activities off of it, including racing simulators.
Fans have come to expect certain traditions each year at Volusia, and it's pretty certain they'll see:
* An afternoon of food and fun in the Volusia Speedway Park Midway. From perusing the collectables and driver souvenir trailers to enjoying ?Steak-On-A-Stick? and racing simulators, it's easy to find something for everyone to enjoy at the DIRTcar Nationals.
* Drivers milling about the pits in the middle of the day as crews quickly and carefully work to prepare their machines for action that night.
* Unreal, ?You-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it? passes, finishes and other breathtaking moments.
* Drivers with NASCAR connections watching and racing during the 12 DIRTcar Nationals nights. Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart are car owners in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series and like to watch their teams compete, but fan favorites such as Kenny Wallace and Ken Schrader always put on a show. Drivers like Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards have raced during the event, too.
* The circle of camping teams around the ?gator pond' located in the lower pit area behind the track's backstretch is a definite post-race destination. Every year fans are likely to find many of the same Dirt Late Model racers ?down the hill,' including World of Outlaws Late Model Series star Chub Frank (he loves parking his rig in the farthest reaches of the Volusia property to get away from the hustle-and-bustle of the primary pits) and DIRTcar UMP veteran Mike Hammerle, who makes sure his camp site under the same tree each year.
* The fun post-race gatherings of friends in the pits are part of the DIRTcar Nationals tradition. You'll see plenty of bench-racing over late-night beverages, smell the sweet aroma of barbequed sausages and shrimp wafting from outside World of Outlaws Late Model standout Clint Smith's hauler and hear the revved-up Margarita machine working overtime in Pennsylvania driver Dan Stone's trailer. And don't forget the new addition to the after-hours atmosphere in the Dirt Late Model pit area ? a Wii bowling tournament ... yes, last year one team set up a Wii video game console outside and projected the images onto the back of a trailer, allowing everyone to go 'bowling' outdoors.
With all of that to experience, it's not hard to see why the DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park has become the place to be to start the dirt track racing season. Florida in February is always exciting. And now, the ticket-buying process is even easier with tickets available online at DIRTcarNationals.com or VolusiaSpeedwayPark.com. Or you can always call the track at 386-985-4402 to reserve a spot to see all of the action. For dirt track fans, 12 nights of the top racers in the country is the only way to get the year started. For many, it is paradise.