Until we had snow Friday, the weather throughout the early part of spring had been relatively favorable. However, stay-at-home orders have been extended through April 29, with hopes of reducing the impact of COVID-19.
In the meantime, local racers have jumped into the iRacing craze.
Dirt Track Digest has been working on live streams. Three-Nine Productions and GeForce Racing, which is based out of Dundee, have been working on iRacing for a while, and have seen an uptick in hosting activities.
Dirt Track Digest also has begun covering personalities in the racing world beyond the steering wheels, focusing on writers and track staffers. Scott Hixon, nicknamed the “Rooster,” was featured last week. He handles flagging duties at Brewerton and Utica-Rome speedways and Land of Legends Raceway.
In digital racing, which has been garnering national coverage, Dirt Track Digest hosted the Lockdown Showdown. It required only 24 hours for 100 drivers to enter the iRacing event, which was contested at the virtual Knoxville Raceway.
The online version features everyone from pro racers to rookie and novice participants. They were racing in hopes of scoring enough passing points to rank among the top 60, and qualify for the championship program held Saturday.
Renowned iRacing star Alex Bergeron won the main event, holding off Braden Eyler. Eyler had won Thursday night. The pair traded the top spot before Bergeron was able to forge a final lead change and win the 35-lap main.
Bergeron is the defending NOS Energy Drink World of Outlaws Sprint Cars iRacing Series champion. He wins around 60 percent of his starts. The field filled up in about 24 hours, attracting 100 entrants. In qualifying, Australian Craig Dunn posted a fast lap of 14.850 seconds around the half-mile speedway. That broke his own virtual world record.
Earlier last week, Logan Seavey scored an impressive double, winning back-to-back virtual events conducted by World of Outlaws’ Late Model and Sprint Car series at Knoxville Raceway.
Kevin Swindell prevailed in a WoO Sprint Car iRacing event at Knoxville Wednesday. It was the track where Swindell suffered a career-ending spine injury in 2015. Corey Gordon took the WoO Late Model iRacing tilt the same night.
When will the 2020 seasons resume and/or start?
That’s a good question. Here’s an update of recent postponements/cancellations, and a rundown of when real racing might occur:
World of Outlaws
The four-race tour of California’s Merced and Ocean Speedways April 10-11 and Stockton Dirt Track April 17-18 have been canceled, as has the Vado (NM) Speedway doubleheader April 24-25.
The series is set to return to action May 1 at Oklahoma’s Lawton Speedway and May 2 at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas.
Racing in this series was halted until a May 1-2 at Boone Speedway in Iowa. Richmond (Ky.) Raceway and Brushcreek (Ohio) Motorsports Complex lost races, with the Richmond event tabled in hopes of booking a new date.
Super DIRTcar Series
The April 11 event at Can-Am Speedway had been postponed late last month.
The opener is now set for May 25 at Weedsport Speedway.
Fulton Speedway’s Highbank Holdup Weekend April 24-25 was canceled. The card included the Highbank Holdup 60 for the DIRTcar 358-Modified Series, the DIRTcar Central Region Sportsman Series, the Empire Super Sprints and local late models.
The 358-Modified tour is now set to open May 10 at Utica-Rome Speedway.
Short Track Super Series
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hard Clay Open at Orange County Fair Speedway scheduled for April 19 was postponed.
The next STSS event, for the South Region, is set for April 29 at Delaware International Speedway in Delmar, Del. April 29. The North Region races May 3 at Five Mile Point as part of the 70th anniversary of the track.
The series previously lost an event set for March 22 at Port Royal. That will be contested Oct. 18.
Empire Super Sprints
With the Highbank Holdup canceled, ESS is next scheduled to race May 15 at Outlaw Speedway in Dundee.
In the interim, the King of the Quarantine 40 was held Sunday The Dirt Track at Charlotte. It was the second ESS-focused iRacing event.
Patriot Sprint Tour
The opening event at Outlaw Speedway, which had been scheduled for April 17, was lost due to the stay-at-home orders.
Mike Emhof Motorsports will host the MEM iRacing Spring Nationals April 18 the virtual Dirt Track at Charlotte. In all, 40 participants will fill the field. The race will be streamed on the Patriot Sprint Tour’s Facebook page.
Brewerton remains on pace to open May 8 with the modifieds, sportsman, mod lites and four-cylinders. The Empire Super Sprints are booked there May 22.
The cancellation of the Highbank Holdup means May 2 is the new opening date. The card currently includes 358-modifieds, sportsman, late models and novice sportsman.
Land of Legends Raceway
The first scheduled event is now set for May 2. The track intends to open as soon “as we legally can.”
A track-issued statement read as follows: “Spring is always a crap shoot with weather, so don’t over react to this announcement. Until then, be safe, get your cars ready for a fantastic season at the Land of Legends.”
It was announced that Gary Tomkins will race weekly in the Wally Wade Racing-owned No. 82. He drove for the team five times in 2019, posting three top-10s in four points races, highlighted by a third-place finish last Aug. 31.
The Dundee track’s busy April schedule was wiped out by the stay-in-place orders. The track has advised its fans that action and schedule evaluations will resume when restrictions become more relaxed.
“This is a matter of health and safety,” track officials said in a statement. “We want to race as badly as everyone else does, but we need to make sure we follow the guidelines ,which have specific restrictions. We hope that this pandemic passes quickly and we can get back to business as usual. Until then we want everyone to stay healthy.”
Utica-Rome has put all racing in the month of April on hold, and is now looking to open May 3. That card will include 358-modifieds, sportsman, pro stocks, street stocks and rookie sportsman, plus special races for mechanics.
“No discussion has taken place in regards to the 2020 season,” a track statement said. “The health and safety to all involved will be our top priority in any decision made in conjunction with the local, state and federal regulations. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide an update once determined.”
A test session is planned for May 3, and the Heroes Remembered event May 25 will kick off the season there.
The third season of Off Track TV will continue April 15 at 7 p.m. on the Weedsport Productions Facebook page, utilizing Facebook Live and Zoom. Co-hosts Shane Andrews and Dan Kapuscinski will be joined by Super DIRTcar Series champion Mat Williamson, and DIRTcar Northeast Director of Series and Sanctioning Dean Reynolds. Video is available via tape delay through the Weedsport Productions YouTube Channel or at www.offtracktv.com.