By Andrew Kunas
VANCOUVER, Wash. – The third season of competition for the NorthWest Wingless Tour sprint car series is now less than ten days away, and teams are gearing up for the opening event scheduled for April 30th at Oregon’s Cottage Grove Speedway.
That event will be the NWWT’s first at the 1/4-mile, high-banked clay oval located about 25 minutes south of Eugene since the tour’s inaugural season in 2009. After the absence in 2010, the NWWT has a signed contract for four events at Cottage Grove Speedway for 2011, including the Northwest Non-Wing Nationals in September for the first time. In addition to the season opener and Northwest Non-Wing Nationals event on September 23rd and 24th, the Pacific Northwest’s premier “traditional” sprint car tour will also race at “The Grove” on July 30th.
Hillsboro, Ore.’s Theo McCarty is back to defend his 2010 NWWT championship that he won despite winning no main events last year. A little change is in the air also as McCarty is back in his own No. 24 Maxim after winning the championship aboard the Ron Brown No. 14 John Boy a season ago. McCarty is intent on racing for the championship, but his biggest obstacle may be his work schedule, which could see McCarty spending time on the east coast and potentially forcing him to miss races. For the time being, McCarty hopes to make every event on the schedule, including the Northwest Non-Wing Nationals, where he won a preliminary main event in 2009.
2010 season runner-up Mike Romig of Vancouver, Wash. is also back with his No. 22 Eagle, hoping to break into the winner’s circle after some strong runs during the 2009 season. Mill City, Ore.’s Tony Thomas, a many-time main event winner who won the inaugural NWWT main event at Sunset Speedway last summer, is back in his own No. 1 Stealth and figures to be force to be reckoned with again this year. Gaston, Ore.’s Corey Esteban also expects to make his presence felt this year as he embarks on his second full year in sprint cars. Esteban, who won a non-NWWT event at Madras Speedway last August, is back in his Eagle, which he changed to the No. 36, the same number he had during his wildly successful dwarf car racing days.
Afghanistan veteran Tony Offutt of Portland will be out in his No. 8 TCR again after finishing third in the season point standings in 2010. Youngsters Dylan Olsen or Kelso, Wash. and Kyle Mehner of Clackamas, Ore., who finished fourth and fifth in the point standings last year respectively, are both expected to be at Cottage Grove on April 30th also.
Some sprint car newbies are joining the NorthWest Wingless Tour sprint car series as well, and two of them will be driving cars owned by Ron Brown. Camby, Ore.’s Ryan Bothwell, who made his lone appearance in a sprint car last July and finished fifth at Sunset Speedway, will be driving the No. 41 Tognotti, and his teammate will be Scappoose, Ore.’s Doug McVae, who is replacing McCarty in the No. 14.
A number of local drivers are expected to race with the NWWT on April 30th as well. Creswell, Ore. driver Jesse Thistle is a regular at Cottage Grove Speedway and plans to hit as many NWWT events as possible this year. Raquel Ivie of Eugene had an impressive fourth place run with the NWWT last July at Willamette Speedway and has said she plans to run as many events as possible in Oregon this year. The one driver everyone hopes will show up is former NWWT champion Kyle Miller, who blew everyone away at last year’s Northwest Non-Wing Nationals event. Miller, from Eugene, will be an instant favorite should he roll into the pit area on April 30th.
As reported recently, the NorthWest Wingless Tour sprint car series will now use the qualifying-based format used by the old Northern Sprint Tour and the Northwest Sprint Challenge Series. The NWWT believes this will be a better format that will provide great racing for race fans across around Oregon and Washington to see. The NWWT is also going to a new point system that will award season points for qualifying, heat races and main events.
Registration is required for drivers to earn points toward the NWWT championship and an 80% race attendance is also required to be eligible for any points fund and performance-based awards. Drivers are strongly encouraged to register before April 30th to ensure they can receive points for the season opening event. NWWT management will be at the track early on April 30th to take any last minute registrations. A printable registration form can be found on the NWWT website.
More information on the NorthWest Wingless Tour sprint car series can be found online at http://www.nwwinglesstour.com.
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Upcoming NWWT events
April 30 – Cottage Grove Speedway – Cottage Grove, OR
May 14 – Grays Harbor Raceway – Elma, WA
May 21 – Skagit Speedway – Alger, WA
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NWWT: The NorthWest Wingless Tour sprint car series