In the middle of the holiday season, it’s time to look ahead to next year.
There's plenty of activity for area race fans, even in the dead of winter.
It will start with a busy month of January. The first weekend of the month offers both indoor racing and one of the area’s best banquets.
Friday, Jan. 4, and Saturday, Jan. 5, the Indoor Racing Series switches back to the cement surfaces and the three-quarter midgets for racing at the PPL Center in Allentown. While the three-quarter midgets headline the two-day show, the slingshots and champ karts will also be racing.
Closer to home, that Saturday is the York County Racing Club Hall of Fame Banquet. Each year, the YCRC inducts six new members into its Hall of Fame. They also offer up some special awards and the overall Central Pennsylvania Sprint Car Champion is officially crowned. Lucas Wolfe will gain those honors this year for the first time.
The YCRC also always has a guest speaker for the banquet, and over the years there have been some pretty special speakers. This year, Erin Evernham will be the speaker. Erin Crocker started her career as an open-wheel racer and remains to this day as the only female winner on the World of Outlaws sprint circuit.
Along the way, she met up with famed NASCAR mechanic turned car owner Ray Evernham. Ray was also a racer before he turned his attention to the mechanical side of things, and after they were married the two still dabbled in race driving. Now a mother, Erin’s racing career is mostly on the media side of things.
While there's not much racing activity close to home during the second weekend of the month, it’s a big weekend on a national landscape. The famed Chili Bowl indoor midget race in Tulsa takes center stage that weekend.
On the third weekend of the month, there's one of the nation's biggest car shows, as well as another popular banquet.
Motorsports show, Gambler's Classic: The Motorsports show on the outskirts of Philadelphia has become one of the area’s biggest winter events. Plenty of race cars, parts suppliers, collectible vendors and much more are the hallmark of the show. Its biggest draw are the racing celebrities who make appearances.
The biggest name this year is NASCAR Hall of Fame driver-turned-broadcaster Darrell Waltrip. Joining Waltrip at the show will be the aforementioned Ray Evernham, who is a New Jersey native and was the mechanic of note during Jeff Gordon’s early rise to stardom. Later he owned his own team which fielded cars for drivers such as Bill Elliott and Kasey Kahne.
The month ends with more indoor racing. It's actually the indoor race that started it all in the Northeast, and it's still the biggest of the winter events — the Gambler’s Classic inside Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.
Again, the event features the three-quarter midgets, with support from the slingshots and champ karts.
February events: The month of February is also a busy one locally, starting with an area car show and ending with the opening of the outdoor racing season.
The first weekend in February is set aside for the Racing Xtravaganza in the Utz Arena at the York Expo Center. The days have been changed for this year’s event. The RX will run on Friday evening and Saturday this year. In recent years the show ran Saturday and Sunday.
Of course, the middle portion of the month is set aside for racing action surrounding Speedweeks in Daytona, Florida. Many local racers join the action at the numerous dirt tracks in the Daytona area.
The month of February ends with the traditional Icebreaker 30 at Lincoln Speedway, which starts the local outdoor racing season.
Area improvements: Since taking over Susquehanna Speedway, owner Scott Gobrecht and promoter Kolton Gouse have had an ongoing improvement process at the venerable Newberrytown oval.
Now known as BAPS Motor Speedway, the improvements continue.
This winter, BAPS has had all new catch fencing added on the spectator side of the track. The really big improvement, however, is the addition of Musco lighting on the front side of the speedway.
Much like was done at Williams Grove Speedway a number of years ago, BAPS has the Musco lighting on the front stretch, with the older lights from that area re-purposed around the rest of the track.
At Lincoln Speedway, as track officials have done for most of the past 25 years, fresh clay has been added to the racing surface for the new season.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.