By T.J. Buffenbarger
(December 19, 2017) — The most unexpected announcement for the 2018 season came from Robert Bulloch. Bulloch announced at the PRI show he would forego racing sprint cars to compete in the Cooper Tire USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda. USF2000 is one of the first stops in the Mazda Road to Indy program.
For Bulloch starting in USF2000 is the way to help fulfill a lifelong dream.
“I’ve always had a dream to race Indy Car one day,” said Bulloch. “Around here it’s difficult to get into that level of racing. I started thinking about the Mazda Road to Indy Series a couple of years ago and how the ladder system leads to Indy Car, so I felt this was my best chance to get there.”
The drastic switch for Bulloch after five years of sprint car racing started last October after meeting USF2000 crew member Ryan Barth. Bulloch was immediately interested, but the timing didn’t work out due to having a program together to run the entire Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP series. Bath approached Bulloch in October with another opportunity.
“Ryan contacted and explained he joined up with Mirl Swan of Swan racing and asked if I was still interested in racing the USF2000 series,” said Bulloch. I instantly said yes and since then we have been moving forward preparing for the 2018 season.”
Bulloch was fitted for a car while in Indianapolis for the PRI show and finished a test session in Texas last weekend. The USF2000 season starts with a test February 24-25 at Homestead Miami Speedway’s road course before the season opening race takes place on March 9-11 at the St. Petersburg street race in conjunction with the Verizon Indy Car Series event. Bulloch is currently working on sponsorship that would allow him to run the entire season.
As for sprint car racing, Bulloch will miss it and hopes to not become a stranger around the dirt tracks of Michigan.
“Sprint Cars are where my racing began,” said Bulloch. “Who knows, maybe I’ll get to drive one on occasion for someone.”
The 2018 racing season for sprint cars in the state of Michigan is beginning to take shape. During the Performance Racing Industry trade show the Great Lakes Super Sprints announced the first portion of their schedule while the Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP released their first three dates of the upcoming season.
The 2018 edition of the GLSS schedule takes on a different look without many of the co-sanctioned events with the National Racing Alliance, staying closer to home for the upcoming calendar. The season opens with the first of four races at I-96 Speedway on May 4th.
The biggest splash on the GLSS schedule so far is the Memorial Day weekend swing with three races in three nights. Friday May 25th the series will start the weekend at the Tri-City motor Speedway for the first of three appearances in 2018, then venture over to Merritt Speedway May 26th, ending with a second race this year at the Crystal Motor Speedway on Sunday May 27th. This Memorial Day swing is similar to what sprint car racing used to hold back in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
Another change on the GLSS schedule is the Michigan/Indiana challenge. Friday August 3rd GLSS will take on the wide 3/8-mile oval at Hartford Motor Speedway before venturing south for the series’ first appearance at Plymouth Speedway Saturday August 4th.
One fun aspect of the 2018 GLSS schedule will be August 18th when GLSS is at Thunderbird Raceway. That same night the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series is at Berlin Raceway, setting up a possible double sprint car night of coverage.
The entire GLSS schedule first draft is available on their website and the Allstar Performance Open Wheel Calendar.
Over the past two seasons SOD has released their schedule in small nuggets of information by track since John Naida took on a more active leadership role. Monday the series released three Crystal Motor Speedway dates for the 2018 season on April 28th, July 14th, and September 1st. Sprint car fans have more often than not been able to pencil in a SOD opener at Crystal, and the three dates at CMS have anchored the SOD series now for well over a decade.
Bill and Brian Tyler competed in “super midgets” over the weekend in South Africa at the Rock Raceway during the South Africa vs. USA Invitational. Brian took the feature victory with Bill behind them with Bill topping the point standings after one round. After soaking up some sun in Cape Town the brothers Tyler are slated to compete in three more rounds of competition.
This is the first Great Lakes Edition since Jim Mouch passed away after a courageous fight with cancer. Jim was the father of former sprint car driver and current owner of I-96 Speedway Mike Mouch. The last time I saw Jim was a year ago after the All Star Circuit of Champions program with his granddaughter as I complemented him on work done to the track surface that season. Our thoughts are with the Mouch family.
On a happier note the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series only date in the state of Michigan for 2018 shifts back to I-96 after a one year absence. The Greatest Show on Dirt returns to the Great Lakes State on June 1st. The Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions and USAC National Sprint Car Series schedules were announced with no Michigan dates on their schedules. Overall 23 sprint car dates are released so far in Michigan for 2018 with several tracks and series expected to announce races over the next three months.