For some, the off-season has been sweet, yet short. There are those that feel it seems like only last week that the racecars were put away for the winter as a well-deserved break was in store. The race teams plodded along the Oil Capital Racing Series sprint car trail in what the National Weather Service recorded was a summer that earned the Sooner state a top six ranking in an all-time average temperature for a period spanning 108 years. What makes this statistic even more head shaking is that it was the second season in a row to record such numbers.
For others, the time of rest was over after Kris Kringle parked his own flying speed bullets for the year. Nerves have begun to twitch and winter pale skin starts to itch and the only remedy for calmness is to whiff the sweet perfume of burning methanol while feeling the ground shake beneath ones feet. This is typical for your diehard race junkie for racing is their drug of choice. Racing calms those erratic nerves while instilling a sinister competitive state of mind all at the same time.
OCRS will embark on their 12th season of competition when the series unloads on March 30th at the Brill Motor Speedway in Meeker, Oklahoma. It will be the second year in a row that BMS has hosted the OCRS season opener. Since Jeremy Allen captured the final checkered flag of 2012 at the astonishing Salina Highbanks Speedway last September, some changes have been instilled into the popular series. Here is a look at the three biggest changes implemented for the 2013 racing season:
Non-Wing Racing Action Returns To The OCRS Schedule!
In a move that brought jaws lowered to neck lines and eyebrows raised to upper forehead levels, OCRS president Barry Grabel announced over the winter that OCRS will return to conducting a few non-wing races in 2013 and those races will indeed apply to the seasonal points chase. OCRS last held non-wing events in 2008. When asked why add non-wing events to the schedule, Grabel replied; “There were car owners and drivers that had always inquired about running non-wing. Early on those inquiries were few and far in-between so we didn’t give a whole lot of thought into it. In the last couple of years, those inquiries grew in numbers. After some consideration, I decided that it would be a good thing for the series if we “shook the tree up a little bit.”
Grabel went on to say, “I always had an inkling that the fans would like some non-wing action, it was just a matter if there were enough teams to want to do it. Since we put the word out we would run some non-wing races, the early feedback has been much greater than I anticipated. We are hearing fans talk very positive about it and the promoters are looking at it with keen interest too. Heck, after we had a schedule set, Mark Brill (BMS promoter) called and asked what we were doing with the non-wing deal. When I explained it to him, he asked that we change his season opening date from wing to non-wing so we did.”
OCRS has three non-wing dates at press time; the season opener at Brill Motor Speedway with the second at Mid-America Speedway on June 7th and the third at Caney Valley Speedway on July 6th. OCRS is actively seeking a fourth non-wing date as well. The race at BMS will have a lot to say about the success of this move. Should the fans and teams respond favorably, it will justify the inquiries series officials have been getting the past couple of seasons.
A-Feature Line Up – Reshuffling The Cards
Another change OCRS is instituting in 2013 is how the race teams will transfer and line-up for the events A-Feature. The number of cars from the heat races transferring directly into the A Feature will change from 16 to 12. The dozen automatic transferred cars that make the transfer to the feature will line up in an inverted manner according to their “Feature Point Averages” beginning with the second race of the 2013 season. What are “Feature Point Averages”?
Point averages on the A & B Feature finishes will be tracked after each event (Heat race finishes are not included in this average calculation). This will simply be the points earned for the A and B features divided by the number of races a driver has entered. Of the 12 “locked in” drivers from the heat races, the driver with the highest feature point average will start fully inverted in the front six rows. Thus if Racer X has the highest feature point average of the 12, he/she will start outside row six. The rest of the locked in dozen will be lined up likewise. This will put the car with the least amount of feature average points of the automatic transferred cars on the pole position. The five lap ‘Pole Dash’ race that had been previously used to determine how the first three rows lined up in the A Feature has been eliminated. The opening night at Brill Motor Speedway will use the 2012 format since there will be no teams with a point average. The first track to use the new format will be Southern Oklahoma Speedway in Ardmore Oklahoma on April 6th as they host round number two on the OCRS 2013 tour.
“ We believe the new format will be an exciting system,” said OCRS president Barry Grabel. “In researching this format carefully after Mike Barros (OCRS technical inspector) first presented it, we have come to find that this will be a system that will place our best teams in a position to work a little harder to achieve their goals of winning an OCRS event while allowing other teams a balanced opportunity to do the same.” Grabel added: “The fans are sure going to like it because they will see just how good the best performers are when they have to start mid-pack at each event.”
NOTE: For a complete rundown on this new line-up format, view the press release announcement dated 1/25/13 at: www.ocrsracing.com.
The third element of change for 2013 is that OCRS is changing tire makes for the new racing season. Out is Goodyear after the Akron Ohio tire maker decided to withdraw from open wheel dirt tracking racing. In is the Hoosier Tire company, which manufactures their tires in Plymouth, Indiana. The new OCRS 2013 tire rule is as follows:
Right Rear Hoosier Racing Tire: 105 x 16.0-15 Medium or 105 x 18.0-15 Hard. No tire preps or tire softeners allowed. All tires must durometer within 5 points of factory specs. All other wheels have an open tire rule providing they are tires manufactured for sprint car dirt track racing.
Hoosier Tire Southwest is the distributor for the Hoosier racing tire in OCRS competition and they will also be instrumental in contributing to the season ending point fund. Hoosier Tire Southwest is under ownership (and operated by) Texas businessman, Tom Lorenz. Of working with OCRS in 2013, Lorenz commented: “Hoosier Tire Southwest is very pleased to be working with OCRS as they are a top notch organization. We have worked with OCRS in the past and our company is proud to be associated with OCRS once again.” Acknowledging Lorenz’s comments, OCRS’ Grabel added: “Hoosier Tires has a long history of producing quality product while supporting sprint car racing at a high level. OCRS is excited about this venture and we look forward to a productive relationship with Tom and his Hoosier Tire Southwest company.”
2013 OCRS Tour Schedule Expands
The racing schedule has expanded from 20 events in 2012 to 27 events for the upcoming season, primarily on the strength of three tracks coming back to the series. Those tracks are:
Outlaw Motorsports Park – Wainwright, OK: OCRS last competed at OMP under the name Outlaw Motor Speedway in 2011. The track changed owners in 2012 and went under another name, South 69 Speedway. The stars didn’t line up for OCRS to perform at the 3/8 mile track in 2012, but 2013 will see the series return on three occasions: April 27th, June 1st and October 5th. All dates are on Saturday nights as the track has switched from Friday’s by new owners Carey and Nicole Menasco. The Menasco’s are successful business individuals with an eye for detail. Hundreds of loads of new clay have been brought into the facility to improve the racing surface.
Lawton Speedway – Lawton, OK: The historic southwestern Oklahoma ¼ mile track is operated by National Sprint Car Hall of Fame member Lanny Edwards, his wife Beverly and their family members. Lawton has selected June 29th as the date for OCRS sprint cars to return to perform for their open wheel crazed fans. OCRS conducted two events on the reddish clay oval in 2011 with Choctaw’s Kyle Cobb sweeping both.
West Siloam Speedway – West Siloam, OK: Under new ownership by modified, turned late model pilot Willie Gammill, OCRS will return to WSS for the first time since July 24, 2010 when the “Gasman”, Whit Gastineau, took checkers. September 28th is the return date and Gammill has reported the track has had clay spread across the surface and that the building structures have been given facelifts that everyone will appreciate. An improved PA system awaits fans and participants alike.
Along with the these tracks returning to the OCRS series in 2013, all racetracks that held OCRS events in 2012 are also on the schedule for the new season. In alphabetical order they are…….……..
Brill Motor Speedway – Meeker, OK: BMS will host OCRS three times 3/30, 5/4 & 7/20. Promoter’s Mark & Debbie Brill first hosted OCRS last year and a solid partnership was made instantly. 2013 OCRS champion Jamie Passmore collected both victories at BMS. The track is the most centered track between Tulsa and Oklahoma City on the schedule. Don’t dare miss the non-wing event that kicks off the 2013 tour in March.
Caney Valley Speedway – Caney, KS: Promoter Kerry Gorby has cultivated his ¼ mile track well and runs a solid program. Action is always tight and furious at CVS. OCRS will swarm across the state line Memorial Day weekend on 5/25 then again on 7/6 for a non-wing show and back for a third time on 8/31 during Labor Day weekend. CVS is one hell of a racy joint.
Humboldt Speedway – Humboldt, KS: “The Hummer” is one of two tracks in the Sunflower State that the OCRS warriors will attack and 2013 will mark the third time in four seasons that the OCRS sprints spread their wings on “The Hummer’s” soil. Whit Gastineau was victorious in 2010 and Jamie Passmore took the trophy last year. The 2011 event was washed out. Best kept secret in southeastern Kansas, The Hummer gets Thunder on 4/19.
Mid-America Speedway – South Coffeyville, OK: – MAS will see if it can produce a first time OCRS winner in 4 of 5 seasons. Evan Sewell (2009), Travis “Hollywood” Jenkins (2010) and Dean Drake Jr. (2011) all got their first wins at General Kenny Gariss’ fort. After the second booked OCRS non-wing show on 6/7, the warriors return with aluminum war foils mounted on 9/20. A noteworthy bit is that MAS switches to Friday nights in 2013.
Monett Speedway – Monett, MO: – Randy Mooneyham opened his gates to OCRS for the first time ever in 2012 and based on the success of the event, he invites OCRS back with a 2013 date of 6/14. Mooneyham has switched to Friday nights from their previous Sunday night spot. Last season saw Whit Gastineau pass Danny Smith on the last lap in an exciting show for the fans. Will 2013 produce another barnburner? OCRS looks to try in the place they call the “Show Me State”.
Oklahoma Sports Park – Ada, OK: One of the faves. Promoter George Welch is as good as they come. He has been a long time supporter of the OCRS series and the feeling is mutual. OSP always has good crowds when the sprinters come calling. Highlights for 2013 include the 5th Annual Harold Leep Jr. Memorial on May 11th, a second OSP tour stop on July 27th and then OCRS makes their last OSP appearance with the 7th annual running of the ‘Oklahoma State Championship’ event on 9/14.
Salina Highbanks Speedway – Salina, OK: What can one say about the great job Keith Sanders, Dave Bohannon and their staff have done since re-opening the track in 2011? The improvements to the facility have been outstanding and race fans know they went to somewhere special when they head home from the Highbanks. OCRS produced the first ever female winner in series history when Shayla “The Princess” Waddell swept the field in a May visit last year. Jamie Passmore took a July stop and Jeremy Allen scored his first career OCRS win in September to close out the season. Not just a place for fast action, but surprise results happen here. The 2013 dates are: 5/18, 7/13 and 8/24.
Southern Oklahoma Speedway – Ardmore, OK: John and Nicky Webb started their promotion careers a bit different than the norm. With the track in limbo while the 2011 season was in progress, the Webb’s stepped up and took control of the track. OCRS was instantly booked and with a good showing, the Webb’s and OCRS have found success in working together. Last year, Passmore took a June race and was on his way to sweep the two bookings as he led the last lap in August only to have Danny Smith pass him in turn four to earn the win. 4/6 & 8/17 are the dates you will find OCRS speeding around the SOS oval. The Webb’s are dedicated, hard working people. Be sure to say thanks.
Thunderbird Speedway – Muskogee, OK: When the phrase “legendary track” is tossed about the region, Thunderbird Speedway is one track that fits the billing. Today, it is the lone remaining ½ mile dirt track in the state and the drivers love the place for its long straight-a-ways and paper clip turns. Promoter Stanley Slader works endless hours to make sure Thunderbird puts on exciting racing action as the track has done since 1955! Fans can get a glimpse of OCRS action on this monster-sized track on 4/12 & 9/6. Listen carefully as the motors sing a full song at the end of those straights.
Tri-State Speedway – Pocola, OK: Promoter Tim Adams reclaimed TSS in 2012 after relinquishing the track for a couple of seasons. By all indications of the events OCRS held at TSS last year, the track is in steady hands. Adams and staff do a fantastic job of promoting their events as evidenced by promotions OCRS assisted in along with TSS. Passmore collected another trophy in June then lost a tough hard race to Whit Gastineau in August where the two waged a torrid battle in what became known as “The Thriller at Pocola”. Look for more of the same when OCRS comes knockin’ on 6/15 and then again on 9/7. One things for certain, those that saw the “Thriller” race will be back for more.
In all, there are 13 venues in three states that will makeup the 12th Oil Capital Racing Series tour. Many of your favorite drivers are expected to compete on the oval battlefields while entertaining one and all to the max. Drivers such as……………….
Jamie Passmore Danny “Caretaker” Smith Whit “Gasman” Gastineau
Beau “The Show” Gastineau Shayla “The Princess” Waddell Joe Wood Jr
Sean McClelland Brian McClelland “The Lindsay Flash” Harli White
Mike Peters Johnny ‘Hotrod’ Kent Matt “Mongoose” Sherrell
Rafe Essary Kyle Clark Michael “Bigfoot” Bookout
Fred Mattox Alex Sewell Chuck Bellefeuille
Kenneth Walker “Lightning” Layne Himebaugh Casey Wills
Jeremy Allen Gary Owens Frank Dittman
Kerry McAllister Alex DeCamp Rob Hooper
Jeff Garnett Danny Jennings Brandon Jennings
Terry Easum Andrew Deal Len Larkin
Derek Cottrell Bobby Springer Cody Brewer
Michael Tyre II Morgan Dowdy Kevin Pickard
Perry Pickard ……………and more!
OCRS is expecting a new crop of rookies that will compete for the Brodix /PM-Pro Rookie of the Year honors including: Chance Morton / Kade Morton / Mickey Walker / Grant Wresche.
Sponsors Offer Their Support To OCRS For 2013
In addition to Hoosier Southwest’s involvement to the 2013 points fund, several sponsors have renewed their support of the OCRS series for the new season and new sponsors have come aboard to work with the growing series. These sponsors include:
AmeriFlex Hose and Accessories: 1st Heat Race and Hard Charger Award
Bob Hurley Auto Family: 2nd Heat Race and Pace Truck supplier
Drive Shaft Inc.: 3rd Heat Race
Car & Fleet Parts: 4th Heat Race
Wesmar Racing Engines: B-Feature
Dyno Services of Oklahoma: Hard Luck Award
Brodix Cylinder Heads: Rookie of the Year
PM-PRO: Rookie of the Year
Grand Prix Auto Parts: Contingency Award
Lightning Wings: Contingency Award
M&W Aluminum Products: Contingency Award
Same Day Auto Repair: Year End Banquet Sponsor
Schoenfeld Headers: Year End Banquet Sponsor
Allen Competition Engines: (Announcement forthcoming)
Morton Excavating: (Announcement forthcoming)
Smiley’s Racing Products: (Announcement forthcoming)
Superior Auto Salvage.com: (Announcement forthcoming)
OCRS 2013 SCHEDULE:
(n/w= non-wing event)
March 30th: Brill Motor Speedway – Meeker, OK (n/w)
April 6th: Southern Oklahoma Speedway – Ardmore, OK
April 12th: Thunderbird Speedway – Muskogee, OK
April 19th: Humboldt Speedway – Humboldt, KS
April 27th: Outlaw Motorsports Park – Wainwright, OK
May 4th: Brill Motor Speedway – Meeker, OK
May 11th: Oklahoma Sports Park – Ada, OK (5th Annual Harold Leep Jr. Memorial)
May 18th: Salina Highbanks Speedway – Salina, OK
May 25th: Caney Valley Speedway – Caney, KS.
June 1st: Outlaw Motorsports Park – Wainwright, OK
June 7th: Mid-America Speedway – South Coffeyville, OK (n/w)
June 14th: Monett Speedway – Monett, MO
June 15th: Tri-State Speedway – Pocola, OK
June 29th: Lawton Speedway – Lawton, OK
July 6th: Caney Valley Speedway – Caney, KS (n/w)
July 13th: Salina Highbanks Speedway – Salina, OK.
July 20th: Brill Motor Speedway – Meeker, OK
July 27th: Oklahoma Sports Park – Ada, OK
August 17th: Southern Oklahoma Speedway – Ardmore, OK
August 24th: Salina Highbanks Speedway – Salina, OK.
August 31st: Caney Valley Speedway – Caney, KS
September 6th: Thunderbird Speedway – Muskogee, OK
September 7th: Tri-State Speedway – Pocola, OK
September 14th: Oklahoma Sports Park – Ada, OK (7th Annual Oklahoma State Championship)
September 20th: Mid-America Speedway – South Coffeyville, OK
September 28th: West Siloam Springs Speedway – West Siloam, OK
October 5th: Outlaw Motorsports Park – Wainwright, OK
Get ready race fans as the warriors of the OCRS sprint car series ready for battle at a track near you.
The time is slowly drawing near……………..
“CAN YOU HEAR THE THUNDER?”
by John Lemon