By T.J. Buffenbarger
(February 28 2020) — Our readers from the Great Lakes State has had a rough off season. Turmoil stemming from the end of last season (before that even depending on your perspective) when SOD cancelled their final appearance of the year when only a handful of cars showed up, finding out there was not a World of Outlaws show scheduled in state for 2020, now to find the SOD series will not travel this season.
The good news is if there was a year for SOD to take a “hiatus” and the Outlaws not to visit this is the perfect time. 2020 is providing one of the best varieties of dirt sprint car racing for Michigan based fans in recent memory.
Here are some of the things Michigan fans can look forward to this season without leaving their home state:
The Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 will make two appearances this year at I-96 Speedway. May 15th kicks off what has the potential to be a great three-night swing for the series at I-96 before going to Gas City I-69 Speedway on Saturday and Kokomo Speedway on Sunday.
The All Stars will make their first appearance following the Knoxville Nationals on Friday August 21st at I-96 paired with the Great Lakes Super Sprints. Last year this program was one of the best of the season with a massive crowd turning out for the all sprint car program. Being paired with nearby Plymouth Speedway in Plymouth, Indiana on Saturday makes for another quality two-night weekend of racing.
The Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by MAV TV made a great impression in their first appearance ever at I-96 Speedway and second all time in the state of Michigan. ASCS will return for another two-night program co-sanctioned with the Great Lakes Super Sprints and Great Lakes Traditional Sprints on May 8-9. While the box score showed a dominating performance by Sam Hafertepe Jr, the GLSS regulars gave the ASCS travelers some stiff competition both nights. Additionally ASCS is scheduled to appear at Plymouth Speedway the Thursday May 7th making for three nights of racing for the 360’s.
For several years there has been a small, but vocal contingent of fans that wanted to see the United State Auto Club return to Michigan. Those fans will get their wish Saturday June 27 with the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series returns to I-96 Speedway. This will be USAC’s first appearance at I-96 on the 3/8-mile layout. Just like the ASCS weekend the I-96 USAC date is preceded by an appearance at Plymouth Speedway on Friday June 26th. The last appearance by USAC was sparsely attended by race fans, so if you are one of the fans that wanted to see USAC in Michigan this is a show that will need a lot of support due to being a Saturday program when I-96 is for the most part a Friday night race track.
Last year the FAST 410 Sprint Car Series made its first appearance in the state of Michigan at I-96 Speedway. The date was successful enough that FAST has races at three Michigan facilities in 2020. FAST will appear at Butler Motor Speedway and Hartford Motor Speedway during the 2020 season along with a return to I-96. This will be the first time in several years a regional traveling tour has visited Butler, which is a positive sign for the state’s only weekly 410 sprint car track.
The FAST date worked out so well that its sister series, the Buckeye Outlaw Super Sprints, will make their first appearance at I-96 Speedway on June 12th.
Locally the Great Lakes Super Sprints led by Barry Marlow and his team have done an excellent job growing the series that has maintained a high level of competition for the 360 sprint car division in Michigan. This year Marlow has stepped up to buy the Michigan Traditional Sprints, rebranding the series the Great Lakes Traditional Sprints. Both series will have double headers this season at I-96 Speedway, Butler Motor Speedway and Hartford Motor Speedway.
GLSS also took on the lightning sprint division to serve as an alternative/feeder division for the Traditional and 360 divisions. Having the premier local sprint car series take on either the lightning or 600cc micro sprints as a feeder division is something that is long overdue in this area.
GLSS is staying entirely in state for all its events in 2020 and more teams seem motivated to run for the championship in 2020. GLSS has quickly ascended to become arguably the most popular local sprint car series on the dirt last year.
GLSS now having a “kickoff weekend” Friday April 24 and I-96 Speedway and Saturday April 25 at Crystal Motor Speedway will provide for two nights of racing at facilities less than an hour apart from each other. Look for more details to be released on a show already on the GLSS schedule with an increased purse and incentives at Merritt Speedway later this spring.
There are a lot of sprint car fans around the country that would love to have this quantity and quality of sprint car racing near them. Michigan fans should feel fortunate to have our promoters step up to book these quality programs. Now it’s up to our teams and fans attend them so we can have more seasons like this in the future.