Speedweek gets series’ second year off to fast start
by Jon Brown, MERIDIAN, Idaho — If the end of the inaugural season is any indication, the second year of the Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcars Series will be the hottest racing ticket in the Intermountain West.
The first WWS season encompassed 10 main events in two states and a Canadian province and yet the championship wasn’t decided until the final night of the season in the longest race of the year.
Series champion Sierra Jackson, who edged her teammate Johnny Giesler for the inaugural WWS title, leads a group of the region’s best open-wheel racers into a new season beginning with Northwest Asphalt Sprintcar Speedweek.
Northwest Asphalt Sprintcar Speedweek visits three different racetracks in seven days, bringing five nights of fast-paced winged sprints action to Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho, Rocky Mountain Raceways in West Valley City, Utah and ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway in Meridian, Idaho.
The action starts Saturday night with the Speedweek Opener at Magic Valley Speedway.
Jackson holds the winged sprints qualifying record at the 1/3rd-mile oval, running a 12.062-second lap on July 31, 2010.
She and the other drivers didn’t get a chance to compete at Magic Valley last year as the race was called because of rain hours before the checkered flag was set to drop. It would have been the first winged sprints race at the speedway since the summer of 2010.
Giesler has never driven a winged sprintcar at Magic Valley, and he won’t see the track until Saturday, even though there is a Friday practice session planned. None of his crew can get out of their day jobs to head down Interstate 84 early.
“The biggest thing about Speedweek is making it through Twin Falls, because everyone is going to be antsy and wanting to win the first race,” Giesler said.
Giesler has driven wingless sprints at Magic Valley, but the prospect of a new experience doesn’t faze him.
“To me, winged racing is easier than non-wing racing,” he said.
After Saturday’s season opener, the racing shifts to Utah for the 50-lap Memorial Day Classic on RMR’s 3/8th-mile oval on Monday.
Speedweek concludes on the quarter-mile oval at Meridian Speedway on Wednesday for the Bob and Tom Naylor Memorial Classic and then Friday and Saturday, June 1 for Diamond Cup XXV.
In addition to the WWS purses up for grabs each night, the $2,500 bounty for the first driver to achieve a 10-second qualifying lap at Meridian is still in the offing. Several different individuals and businesses have contributed to the bounty, which has grown steadily since it was introduced in 2010 when track management poured a new surface on the historic oval.
Wednesday night’s Naylor Classic is a 40-lap event, while the Diamond Cup covers 50 laps on Friday and 75 laps on the second night.
The 75-lap distance is the longest race WWS drivers will have endured since the 75-lap season finale at Meridian in September.
The Western Winged Sprints add two new venues and two new states for the 2013 season.
The first new stop comes June 28 for a 40-lap co-sanctioned race with the ASA Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association at the half-mile oval at Spokane County Raceway in Washington state.
The race haulers cross the border and head for the high-banked quarter-mile oval at Stateline Speedway in Post Falls, Idaho for the Super Shoe on June 29.
Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore., beckons for another WWS/ASA NSRA co-sanctioned weekend on July 19-20. The weekend starts with a Friday night 40-lap race at DCS then concludes Saturday with the prestigious Art Pollard Memorial 50-lap affair. Douglas County is a quarter-mile oval.
On Aug. 16-17, the racers ferry to Canada for the 53rd annual Daffodil Cup at Western Speedway in Victoria, British Columbia.
WWS will hold 50-lap races each night on Western’s 2/5th-mile oval.
The final weekend of the season shows that series organizers are turning up the heat on the series.
On Sept. 13, Meridian Speedway will play host to the 50-lap Prelude to the 200.
On Sept. 14, the season concludes with the Salt City 200, which as the names implies, is an epic, 200-lap race on the 3/8th-mile oval at Rocky Mountain Raceways outside Salt Lake City.