By Richie Murray
Ocala, Florida (October 14, 2021)………The dates are set to kick off the 2022 USAC National racing season!
The 13th edition of Winter Dirt Games at Ocala’s Bubba Raceway Park will take place over two consecutive weekends in the month of February 2022 with the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget and USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championships making their only visits to the state of Florida.
Winter Dirt Games XIII festivities begin on Thursday, February 10, with a practice night for the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship, followed by two-straight nights of complete shows for the series at the 3/8-mile D-shaped dirt track on Friday, February 11, and Saturday night’s finale on February 12 in which the winner’s share will be $5,000.
On-track action returns just a few nights later at Bubba Raceway Park with a USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship practice night on Wednesday, February 16, followed by three nights in a row of racing on Thursday, February 17, on Friday, February 18, and the finale on Saturday, February 19, which pays $10,000-to-win.
USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets made their debut at Bubba Raceway Park in 2019 with Tyler Courtney sweeping both nights of feature events. Tanner Thorson and Chris Windom each scored Midget victories there in 2020. Buddy Kofoid and Thomas Meseraull each won the midget features in Ocala in 2021.
Twenty-eight previous USAC National Sprint Car events have been held at Bubba Raceway Park since 2011. Kevin Thomas Jr. and Justin Grant won features on each of the two nights back in February. Brady Bacon and Bryan Clauson are the winningest USAC Sprint Car drivers at Bubba’s with four victories apiece.
Grant and Damion Gardner have each won three USAC Sprint features at Bubba’s, while Tracy Hines, Tyler Courtney and Robert Ballou have each scored a pair of victories. Thomas Jr., Chris Windom, C.J. Leary, Darren Hagen, Dave Darland, Thomas Meseraull, Chase Stockon and Hunter Schuerenberg have all won once.
USAC racing and the “Sunshine State” have a history that dates back to the club’s origins in 1956. In fact, the first three USAC Sprint Car races ever held took place in Florida in February of 1956. Bob Sweikert won the first such event at Southland Speedway in West Palm Beach, followed by Chuck Weyant at Jacksonville Speedway and Pat O’Connor at Medley Speedway in Miami.
Likewise, Florida and USAC Midget racing have a history dating back to the initial years of the club. Only 24 times have USAC Midgets ventured to Florida over the years. Prior to the 2019 visit to Bubba’s, the series took part in a 11-race series entitled the Tangerine Tournament in early 1957. Jimmy Knight, Sonny McDaniel, Andy Linden, Al Keller, Al Alpern, Leroy Warriner and Len Duncan were among the winners held at several different Florida venues. Linden took home the overall Tangerine Tournament crown.
USAC Midgets took on the pavement of New Smyrna Speedway for two nights in 2013, won by Bobby Santos and Kyle Larson. The first full USAC National Midget points races in Florida came in a weeklong span during 1963. Johnny Riva and Bob Wente were victorious at Palmetto Speedway while Chuck Rodee and Wente also picked up victories at Golden Gate Speedway. It was another 42 years before the series returned in 2005 for a non-points special event at Orlando Speed World Speedway, won by Josh Wise.