By Randy Worrell
ORRVILLE – After a 201-day off-season, all systems are a go Saturday night for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Wayne County Speedway’s 58th year of racing dirt-track racing.
Following a two-week delay due to inclement weather, the 3-8 mile paper-clip shaped oval near Orrville will feature the first of six Fast Five shows which include the Pine Tree Towing and Recovery 410 sprint cars, the Malcuit Tavern super late models, the Elite Ammunition modifieds, the McKenzie Concrete super stocks, and the JoyRide Transport mini stocks.
The Ohio Valley Sprint Car Association will join Saturday’s program for the first of four visits to the ultra-fast speed plant, with $3,000 going to the winner. Gates open at 3 p.m. with warm-ups slated for 6 and racing at 7.
In addition to Saturday’s opening night festivities, 17 special events dot the WCS schedule, ranging from the ever popular All Star Circuit of Champions Speedweek stop on Monday June 13 and the annual Duffy Smith Memorial to the inaugural appearance of the DirtCar Summer Nationals featuring the super late models and modifieds. NASCAR champion Kyle Larson picked up the victory in last year’s 35-lap ASCoC feature, while national touring star Bobby Pierce claimed the 31-race championship in 2021.
In all, it is one of the most ambitious schedules promoter Jason Flory has assembled since resurrecting the nearly dormant speedway in 2011.
“We started working on this year’s schedule the day after (the 2021) season was over, and for sure this is the most diverse schedule we have put together,” said Flory. “We’ve listened to our fan base over the years and have tried to give them what they want to see, and even though we’ve added some really cool events, we’ve been able to keep our base of our five weekly divisions which is important to us.”
Broc Martin (sprints), Mitch Caskey (late models), Nathan Loney (mods), Chase Alexander (super stocks), and Bruce Wayne (minis) captured victories in last year’s season-opener and are expected to compete on Saturday on the newly reconfigured surface.
“The speedway has developed over the recent years into a really fast place, which we think the fans love, but we didn’t want our surface to be a top-dominate only track,” Flory said. “We wanted the bottom of the track to be another fast way around, and by widening the surface, especially in the turns, we feel this will give drivers the opportunity to pass easier by using the slide-job without losing speed coming out of turns two and four.
“Last year (late model superstar Devin Moran) told me it was a little tight around here during the 4-abreast parade lap, and I told him that will not be a problem this year. We cannot wait to see how it turns out.”
The OVSCA will return on May 7, July 9, and August 20, with the FAST series (June 25) and the wingless BOSS series (August 20) each making a single stop to the speedway this summer. The popular 305 RaceSaver sprints will join the ASCoC Speedweek stop, and will accompany the grandaddy of them all, the non-sanctioned $15,000-to-win Pete Jacobs Memorial sprint car race on Sunday Sept. 4.
“I’d be lying if l said l wasn’t a little nervous with the caliber of shows we are hosting this year,” Flory added. “Since we took over, though, it has been a process of adding shows and more money to our events. It is tough to compete for people’s entertainment dollars, but we feel we have a great product to offer this summer and cannot wait to get started.”
Fans of the full-bodied stock cars will also get their fix in 2022, with a visit from the Steel Block Late Model series on April 23, the Western Pennsylvania-based ULMS travelers on May 14, and the DirtCar Summer Series spectacle on Sunday July 17. The Renegades of Dirt series visits WCS for the Don and Hans Gross Memorial on July 23, while the Danny Gardner Memorial for super stocks hits the speedway on August 11, which doubles up with the very popular Kids Night activities.
For more information, fans are encouraged to visit the new Wayne County Speedway facebook page at WCSOhio, on twitter @wcsohio, and on the web at www.Waynecountyspeedway.com.