Somewhere around the world, auto racing has begun and IndyCar is ready to open in sunny Florida, so it's time to climb back in the saddle and share the excitement that is motor sports in the Quad-Cities. As in the past, you will find me here every Thursday.|
The start of racing season here is as fickle as Mother Nature – literally. Never has that been more true than this year when we're just not sure when winter will end. That plays a big part in getting our race tracks ready and no more so than Quad City Speedway.
The dirt track at the Rock Island County Fairgrounds in East Moline is scheduled to open with a big show on Sunday, April 6 – weather permitting. At this point that's still a big question mark.
Brad Hines, of K&S Promotions, which runs the races at the track, reported recently that they had been unable to do anything with the track. "It's sloppy on top and frozen underneath. We need at least a week of temperatures in the 50s and 60s with no precipitation," he said.
The opening weekend plans call for the inaugural Ray Guss Sr. Tribute Race. Guss Sr. died last year and the race in his honor will feature $2,000 to win for IMCA Late Models. If the weather continues to be problematic, the race will be rescheduled on Sunday, July 20.
The first scheduled date for track points is April 27. Q-C Speedway will be running every Sunday night with a "special" scheduled every few weeks or about once a month.
This year, the races have been scaled back a bit with sanctioned IMCA Late Models and Modifieds, Street Stock and 4-Cylinder classes running each week. IMRA Midget Lites will run every other Sunday and there are 15 dates for Mod Lites.
Gone is last year's plan for Figure-8 racing, which was abandoned midway through the season due to low car counts.
"We tried it and couldn't get support,'' said Hines. "If you believe what you hear at the track there were 14 cars being built, but the most we had was four."
The major emphasis this year is to try and get the car counts up in Late Model and Modified classes with $600 to win and $75 to start. "We're going to concentrate on one Modified class this year," said Hines.
RACEceivers, which provide one-way communications between track officials and drivers, will be mandatory this year except in the 4-Cylinder class. "It's a more efficient and professional way to run a race program," Hines said.
The track is also a founding member of Speedway Benefits which includes 300 tracks across the U.S. and gives them buying power for things like concessions. The track will also participate in the Contingency Connection again in 2014 where a packet worth $1,000 in gift certificates will be awarded to a driver each week and rotate through the classes. "It went over real well with the drivers last year," Hines said.
Following the opening race weekends in April, the next special weekend will be the IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series / Hershel Roberts Memorial race on May 4. Memorial Day Weekend, May 25, will bring the 21st annual Gary Reinhart IMCA Modified race, followed by the Mid Season Championships on June 22.
July 6 will bring a 4-Cylinder Clash special that attracted 40 entries last year, according to Hines. It will also be the inaugural Ken Doty Memorial for Midget Lites – now in its second year and the first big special event.
The 9th annual Ronnie Weedon IMCA Modified event will be Aug. 3, followed by the Aug. 17 Hall of Fame Night at the track. This race night will also feature the Illinois Vintage Racing Club and I will have more on that spectacle here in the weeks ahead.
August will wrap up with the Season Championship on the 24th and then the second annual Ron Marks Memorial for the Street Stock class on the 31st. This race was a huge success last year when it was first run to honor Mr. Marks, Hines said.
Given the beating that the weather has been providing racers the last year or so, plans for September will be determined a bit later in the season and could include some make-ups.
The track has also partnered with the Quad City Mallards, so don't be surprised to see Mo Mallard and cheerleaders at the track for ticket giveaways.
"Our big goal is to make dirt track racing more mainstream family entertainment. We are after the same audience as the Mallards and others," said Hines. "We want to keep growing and make a night at the races a viable option on Sunday nights for families."
Ticket prices remain unchanged at $15 for adults, $7 for kids age 6 to 12, with kids 5 and under free. Pit passes are $30. On Sundays, pits open at 3 p.m. and grandstands at 3:30 p.m. Hot laps are 5:15 p.m. with racing to follow.
This is the third year for K&S Promotions at the East Moline track and they have a deal that would keep them there at least two more years. Consistency is generally a good thing so that racers, and spectators, know what to expect when they show up for a night of racing.
Race To The Finish
If you are a race fan, don't forget our annual Race To the Finish online game at Quad-Cities Online. Just pick the 10 drivers you think will finish 1 through 10 for each NASCAR race and your top 15 races count as your overall score. You could win great prizes. The contest is sponsored by Reynolds Ford. Go to Quad-Cities Online and click on the Race To The Finish icon about halfway down the page, or go to qco.autoracing.upickem.net.
This column appears each Thursday in The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. Please send items of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. Racing results should be sent to email@example.com.