From Andrew Kunas
VANCOUVER, Wash. – The IXL Metal Conditioner NorthWest Wingless Tour’s finalized schedule for the upcoming 2011 racing season is out and on it are a pair of venues which will be hosting the Pacific Northwest’s premier touring non-wing 360 sprint car series for the first time. Both tracks are familiar with “traditional” sprint cars, though for one track it has been five years since the last time it was graced by the wingless wonders. Both tracks will further strengthen the IXL Metal Conditioner NorthWest Wingless Tour, which is entering its third season of racing in Oregon and Washington.
For Coos Bay Speedway, located just south of town on the Oregon Coast, the night of Saturday, June 4th will actually be the NWWT’s second attempt at an event at the 1/4-mile, semi-banked clay oval. The lone event scheduled at that facility in 2010 was cancelled due to inclement weather. This year, there are two events at Coos Bay Speedway on the schedule. The June 4th race is part of a two-race weekend that will see the NWWT visit Willamette Speedway near Lebanon, Ore. the night before. The series will return to Coos Bay Speedway for another show on Saturday, August 6th.
Coos Bay Speedway was originally an asphalt oval, but during 2007 management decided they wanted to try out on some dirt racing and completely covered the track with a new dirt surface. The original pavement is still in place underneath the dirt. The track has held at least a couple of sprint car events each year since, including non-wing events in 2008 and 2009.
After running successful events at the well-known Grays Harbor Raceway the past two years, the NWWT is further expanding into Washington with the addition of another one of the West Coast’s most historic dirt tracks. Drivers were thrilled with the announcement of the NWWT’s inaugural event at Skagit Speedway, located just north of Burlington, Wash. scheduled for Saturday, May 21st.
For decades Skagit Speedway, having operated since 1954, has been well known across the country for it winged sprint car racing, but unlike Grays Harbor Raceway, which didn’t host “traditional” sprint cars ever until the NWWT visited in 2009, Skagit has held a number of non-wing events over the years, though none have been held at the 3/10-mile high-banked clay oval since 2006. Past research indicates that all non-wing sprint car events that have been held at Skagit, including the first in 1995, featured the 410ci engines, making the May 21st NWWT show the first featuring the smaller 360ci engines.
Though three events in the late 1990’s preceded Skagit’s annual Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup for winged 410 sprint cars, the events in 1995, 2004, 2005 and 2006 featured prominent tours based in Southern California. The list of non-wing sprint car main event winners at Skagit Speedway is short but practically elite considering who is on it: Lealand McSpadden, Brent Kaeding (won all of the pre-Dirt Cup races), Cory Kruseman, Damion Gardner and Jayme Barnes. McSpadden and Kaeding are both in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. McSpadden, Kruseman and Gardner are all former Chili Bowl winners and California sprint car champions. Barnes is the only Washington driver on the list, having won the last non-wing race at Skagit back in 2006, but is also a two-time Dirt Cup winner and in 2008 nearly pulled off a giant upset against the World of Outlaws at Grays Harbor.
Coos Bay Speedway and Skagit Speedway are two of the six different dirt tracks in Oregon and Washington hosting a total of 17 events this year. The season kicks off with the NWWT’s return to Cottage Grove Speedway on Saturday, April 30th. The NWWT will hold a general membership meeting on Saturday, March 5th at 1 p.m. at Competition Motorsports in Portland, Ore. More information on the IXL Metal Conditioner NorthWest Wingless Tour can be found online at http://www.nwwinglesstour.com.
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On the web…
Coos Bay Speedway – Coos Bay, OR: http://www.coosbayspeedway.us
Skagit Speedway – Alger, WA: http://www.skagitspeedway.com
IXL Metal Conditioner: http://www.ixldirect.com