With temperatures slowly beginning to rise in the Wabash Valley, that means that racing season quickly approaches which is music to the ears of fans across the midstate.
The Terre Haute Action Track will be one of the first tracks to officially get under way when they hold their Spring Fling on Saturday, April 9. The event comes a week after their open practice and will feature the Midwest Sprint Car Series along with UMP Modifieds and Super Stocks. With most tracks not officially getting underway for another week, the car count should be a big one and the racing is always tough at the Action Track.
Besides putting together another exciting schedule for the 2005 season, track promoter Jamie Reed and the fair board have continued to improve the facility from last year. Most notably will be the grandstands.
"The Wabash Valley Fair Association recently invested nearly $300,000 in the covered grandstands which is known on race nights as the reserved seating area," commented Reed. "This will give fans more comfort and an overall facelift to the facility."
This project is an extension of an overall effort that includes replacing the entire outside retaining wall at the 1/2 mile oval and replacing it with a concrete barrier. "This was an expensive project," noted Reed. "But will better the facility as a whole. Now that the wall is in place, we'll be painting it the traditional red, white and blue that the Terre Haute Action Track is known for."
According to Reed, the project of replacing the wall, from start to finish, will reach over $60,000.
While the cosmetic additions will improve the visual effect of the track, the real attraction is what will, once more, be one of the most exciting event schedules in the Midwest.
"Terre Haute is a special event track," noted Reed. "Over the past four years we've averaged right around a dozen events. There are many great, weekly dirt tracks in central Indiana. It's not our objective to compete with Lincoln Park, Bloomington, Boswell, Charleston, etc. In fact, Terre Haute works with the weekly tracks on scheduling to eliminate going head-to-head on the same night. This is better for the drivers, fans and promoters."
Racing fans will also be treated to one of the nation's heaviest USAC schedules.
Beginning on May 14 with the Tony Hulman Classic for USAC Sprint Cars, the Action Track will feature the Silver Crown cars during June 4th's First Financial Sumar Classic 100 and will host the final leg of Indiana Sprint Week on July 22 for the Dorsett Mitsubishi Valvoline Sprint Week date.
USAC Midgets will hit the dirt for the Clabber Girl 100 on August 20 and on October 1 the sprints will return for the Fall Harvest Classic.
According to Reed, a heavy slate of USAC competition brings some of the best racing possible to the Wabash Valley's race fans. "If you look at the quality of racing with USAC, you see that it's truly the best in the world as far as dirt oval competition. In the last few years drivers like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, JJ Yeley, etc. have used the experience of USAC to make it to the Nextel Cup Series. While USAC is entering larger venues, they still support the local tracks."
Another special event that returns to the Action Track will be the AMA Motorcycles who will be featured by Wabash Valley Harley Davidson during the State Hog Rally Event on Friday, June 17. "Terre Haute went decades without hosting an AMA Flat Track event," mentioned Reed. "However, in 2002 and 2003 we brought them back thanks to Wabash Valley Harley Davidson and while we didn't book them in 2004, but with the great city of Terre Haute winning the bid to host the State Hog Rally, we are going to be a featured event for the rally."
For bike enthusiasts, the weekend of June 17-19 should be a big one as, according to some officials, there could easily be over 2,000 motorcycles in town. Those interested in finding out more information can call Wabash Valley Harley Davidson or the Terre Haute Convention Visitors Bureau.
The Mid-American Sprint Series will bring winged sprint car action to the track on September 3 and the Midwest Sprint Car Series will visit for the Spring Fling on opening night and return for the July 2 King of Indiana Sprint Series.
While the World of Outlaws won't be on the slate this season and are currently only scheduled for two dates in the state this year (Kokomo - Jun.14 & Lawrenceburg - Aug. 3), Reed believes the MASS is comparable and will present the Valley with some quality competition. "The Mid-American Sprint Series is a great division that is comparable to the World of Outlaws," commented Reed. "In fact, the parity of competition and car count may be just as good or better. Those interested can check out the series website at: www.midamericansprintseries.com.
The very popular, annual NASCAR night will also be back this season and will be in August according to Reed. "While a date hasn't been set for NASCAR Night, we plan to register it soon. We are working diligently on signing a well known driver to come in and sign autographs and hopefully race. We are planning on bringing in the Northern All-Star Late Models and UMP Modifieds for the event."
With 12 nights of quality racing action scheduled this year, Reed hopes that the track can return to some of its past glory. "There's more tradition at the Action Track than most will ever know," mentions Reed. "It is my hope to restore at least a part of that tradition and bring local people back to the track. It's a fun, family oriented venue where you can spend quality time with your friends or loved ones and its just simply good wholesome entertainment."
For more information about the Terre Haute Action Track, check out: www.terrehauteactiontrack.com.