It is only one week until the indoor racing season begins.
First up is the only indoor dirt track racing of the year in the northeast. The 600cc micro sprints will headline action inside the Cure Arena in Trenton, New Jersey.
Last year was the first time indoor promoter Lenny Sammons and his crew put dirt down on the cement surface at Trenton after several years of indoor TQ midget racing there. Like many others I took a wait-and-see approach to the indoor dirt surface at Trenton. And, like many others I got a nice surprise.
Sammons was able to get clay from the same source as the former East Windsor Speedway.
With some help from his friends, Sammons’ crew came up with a remarkable racing surface that had no dust. And it was amazing racing action that, no less, had four cars that were in the lead battle coming off the final turn of the event. Whitey Kidd scored the big first win.
News of the racing at the first show spread quickly. When entries were opened for this year’s event, a remarkable thing happened. They got so many entries they had to expand the show by a day. The field of more than 120 micros will be divided in two, with half the participants racing on Thursday, Dec.13, and the other half racing on ‘Friday, Dec. 14.
Those two nights of racing will set up a number of alphabet mains on Saturday, Dec.15, narrowing the field down for the big A-Main event.
Montieth and Rudolph aim for success: With the success of the first show, a number of drivers have made plans to be a part of the event this year. Among them are several who are very familiar to local fans. Last year Lincoln’s sprint car champion Brian Montieth just missed qualifying for the A-Main. He will be back this year with the same team, and this time around, Montieth will have some idea of what to expect in the wingless indoor competition.
He will also have a pretty potent teammate for this year’s race. Erick Rudolph, who has won in both the dirt and asphalt modifieds, will be a teammate to Montieth in this year’s race. While he hasn’t raced on dirt indoors for several years, Rudolph is a multi-time champion on the indoor TQ midget surface with a number of wins in Sammons promoted events.
Wolfe, Smith to race at Trenton: The Central Pennsylvania and Williams Grove sprint car champion Lucas Wolfe will make his first start with the Sammons indoor series at Trenton. When this event was going on last year, Wolfe was racing sprint cars in Australia.
All-star sprint car regular Ryan Smith got his racing start in the smaller cars, and eventually moved on to the bigger cars. He was once a regular on the indoor cement series races. Smith will again be a part of the indoor series when it makes its only dirt start in Trenton.
Buckwalters to compete: Like Smith, popular sprint car racer Steve Buckwalter got his start in the smaller cars and is still an annual visitor to the Chili Bowl for the midget cars in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Buckwalter will take part in the Trenton race, as will his cousin Tim Buckwalter, who races just about anything with wheels. He has been a regular on the cement indoor series, has raced modifieds, midgets, SpeedSTRs and micros on a regular basis. This season he tackled the USAC wingless sprint car series with some success.
Other racers: Billy Pauch Jr. is another driver who excels in just about any kind of motorized competition. He will again set his sights on the big prize at Trenton. Midget racing standout Alex Bright will also take a crack at the indoor series for the micro this year after a good run last season.
Penske Racing NASCAR crewman Ryan Flores has become one of the big names in the TQ series indoor events. Flores, who changes tires for driver Ryan Blaney, is a former champion of the indoor series for the TQ’s. This year, he will also take on the dirt in Trenton.
Last winter's micro sprint standout and occasional 360 sprint competitor Brian Carber moved to Etters to work for the Hyper Chassis company. He also turned in a fine ride in the first indoor dirt race in Trenton and will be back again this year.
As he did last year, Carber’s older brother Michael will step back behind the wheel to race in this event. Michael Carber was one of this area’s most promising sprint car racers before he decided to move south to work on a NASCAR crew. Last year, he got back in the saddle for this race and plans to do it again next weekend.
Reach Bryan Householder at firstname.lastname@example.org