by Jon Brown – MERIDIAN, Idaho — Through collaboration, the movers and shakers of the Northwest winged sprint world have strengthened the sport for drivers and fans alike in 2012.
The new Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcar Series is at the center of the effort to make sprintcar racing in western Canada, Idaho and Utah beneficial for the men and women who strap into the machines each weekend and more of a blast for the spectators who strap into the grandstands.
The management teams at ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway, Rocky Mountain Raceways outside Salt Lake City, Utah, and Western Speedway in British Columbia have teamed up to present a new international winged sprintcar series, which kicks off with the Northwest Asphalt Speedweek.
The five main events covering 240 laps on three tracks between May 26and June 2 is believed to be the only pavement Speed Week scheduled on United States short tracks so far this summer.
The schedule was finalized after Western Winged Sprintcar organizers synched up the schedule with the Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association.
Once the schedule shook out, WWS added the July 20-21 Super Shoe at Stateline Speedway in Post Falls, giving the series four two-day events in its inaugural season.
“We were working together instead of working against each other,” Meridian Speedway managing partner Adam Nelson said.
“The cool part was the group that we relied on for a number of years(NSRA) also saw the benefit for the whole Northwest.”
Rocky Mountain Raceways did its part by dropping the USAC non-winged sprints and adopted a winged class.
“The WWS is very excited to have the Salt Lake City sprintcars putting wings on their cars and joining the action,” Nelson said. “We think these cars and racers are going to be great addition the already great group of winged sprintcar teams that compete locally and regionally.”
Car counts could approach 25 loud and proud wingers nightly.
Other two-day shows include Aug. 17-18 at Western Speedway for the 52nd annual Daffodil Cup and Sept. 7-8 at Meridian for the fourth annual Tom Elliott Sportsman Classic and the 75-lap WWS championship.
The NSRA jumped on board to co-sanction the June 1-2 BOB FM Diamond Cup XXIV at Meridian Speedway.
“I think the challenge will be mixing the two series together competitively,” car owner Mike Jackson said. “Adam has been working hard to do that, so now we just have to line up and see how it all works out.”
The Diamond Cup, which had its first female champion in Middleton, Idaho’s Sierra Jackson last year, caps Speed Week. Five main events covering 240 laps will be run on three tracks between May 26 and June 2.
Other Speed Week races include Speed Week Opener on May 26 at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls; the Memorial Day Classic on May 28 at Rocky Mountain Raceways in West Valley City, Utah; the Bob and Tom Naylor Memorial on May 30 at Meridian and the Diamond Cup two-day show.
“I’m excited to run at the new tracks with all the drivers,” Sierra Jackson said. “I have been successful with the NSRA, but I am hopeful to win anew championship and get more experience.”
Mike Jackson, who is his daughter Sierra’s crew chief, said many of the top Canadian drivers could tow to the series races, including Ron Larson, Matt Mansell, Darren Yates, Scotty Almond and perhaps Jeff Montgomery.
The NSRA affiliation will bring out familiar faces such as Matt Hein and Andy Alberding of Roseburg, Ore.
Idaho’s stable of drivers will be out in force, too, with the likes of Meridian drivers Mike Murgoitio (2011 Meridian track champion), Johnny Giesler (coming off a successful NSRA rookie season) and Bryan Warf, Emmett’s Cody Veenstra and Nampa’s Chris Ratterree.
The Western Winged Sprintcars will boast some of the largest prize purses in the western United States with drivers racing for upwards of $18,000 each night out.
In addition to offering serious prize money in its inaugural season, the WWS has procured the services of former longtime NSRA race director Bill Birdsell to organize race-day action on the track and serve as director of competition.
Additionally, promoters have put together an Idaho-Utah Challenge Series to coincide with the WWS races at Meridian, Rocky Mountain and Magic Valley.