FIRST USAC DIRT SPRINT RACES IN FLORIDA SINCE 1987
From Dick Jordan
The 2010 USAC National racing season will start in the Sunshine State with the announcement today of the February 8-9-10 non-wing 410-c.i. USAC National Sprint Car races at East Bay Raceway Park near Tampa, Fla. It’s part of East Bay’s big six-night February slate which also includes the All Star Sprint Car Series, which competes at the track February 11-12-13.
Located in Gibsonton, the 1/3-mile clay oval has been a hotbed of Sprint racing in recent years but the February races mark the debut of USAC Sprint racing at the track. The only previous USAC appearance at the facility was in 2006 when Ryan Smith and Mike Ward won Ford Focus races at East Bay.
Florida actually hosted the second outdoor race in USAC history, a February 5, 1956 Sprint race at Southland Speedway in West Palm Beach won by Bob Sweikert, who had won the previous year’s Indianapolis 500. Subsequent USAC Sprint races were held the following weekends at Jacksonville and Miami, with Chuck Weyant and Pat O’Connor taking home the trophies. It would be 14 years before USAC Sprint racing returned to Florida, Larry Dickson winning a pair of races at Miami’s Hollywood Speedway.
In 1987 Rich Vogler won the only USAC dirt-track Sprint race ever in Florida, a 30-lapper at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
“We are truly excited about bringing our product back to the Sunshine State,” says USAC President/CEO Kevin Miller. “We’ve had tremendous success with events there through the years and this opportunity presents a great destination for our participants during the Midwestern winter. We hope this will be the first of many annual trips to the Southeast.”
“I remember several Florida trips and how much they were valued by the USAC family,” adds USAC VP/Race Operations Jason Smith. The state has a great motorsports fan base and all of us are excited about this new venue.”
“USAC has long been recognized as a leader in the field of motorsports entertainment,” says East Bay race organizer Al Varnadore, “and we are pleased to be part of their 2010 calendar of events. Their brand of racing is universally recognized as professional and extremely competitive and these February races should be fan favorites.”
The February 8-9-10 dates fall during the annual “Speed Weeks” in Florida leading up to the February 14 Daytona 500. Support classes for the three-night racing program are yet to be announced.