BY MARVIN HOLMAN
The POWRi series is one of the top series for Midget and Micro racers in the Midwest and the series will make its way to Vermilion County Speedway on Sunday for a big event.
Sunday’s race will mark the end of Illinois Speed Week, an event featuring four tracks in four nights. The week started in Jacksonville on Thursday, went to Lincoln Speedway on Friday and Macon Speedway today.
“This is our first Speed Week,” POWRi Media Director Tim Tuttle said. “We had 49 cars on Thursday, so we had a good-sized field for the first night and we can only pick up more racers with the weekend coming up.”
POWRi, or Performance Open Wheel Racing, Inc., started in 2004 as the brain child of Kenny Brown and Tim Syner, who picked up where some other midget series failed.
“There were a bunch of midget series in Illinois and St. Louis that closed down and Kenny and Tim decided to start it up,” Tuttle said. “It is a major undertaking to get a series off the ground but there were able to expand the number of races and sponsors throughout the years.”
A number that now includes VCS, which will host midget races at the track for the first time in years, but Tuttle believes that people will come out all weekend, especially Sunday.
“This is a class that has been around since the 1930s and it is a grassroots and affordable class,” Tuttle said. “The engines can go up to 330 horsepower, so with the light weight of the cars, it brings a lot of power.”
The micro race class will also take center stage on Sunday; a class that is a proving ground for future sprint car drivers of the future.
“Most of the drivers start out young in the class and it is a bridge before going into sprint cars,” Tuttle said. “They run on motorcycle engines that have to be converted and they can make changes to the wings and other things on the car.”
The series hopes that things will go without a hitch this weekend as the Midgets have only raced four events because of rain.
“I’m really excited about it,” Tyler Thomas, a 17-year old racer from Collinsville, Okla., said in a POWRi press release. “I want to race as much as I possible can. Getting in a rhythm is probably the key to Midget Week. The setups and tracks are all different.
“I’ve been fortunate to have been to all the tracks I have and am able to adapt to them really quickly. I’ve never been to Vermilion County and I’m excited about it because I love going to new tracks.”
Going into the weekend, defending champion Andrew Felker of Carl Junction, Mo., is leading in season points with 610, while Zach Daum of Pocahontas is second at 520 and Thomas is third at 490.
Also in the mix this weekend will be New Zealand’s Michael Pickens and Brad Mosen and USAC Triple Crown winner Jerry Coons Jr.
The midget winner on Thursday was NASCAR Nationwide series racer Kyle Larson, and while Larson and fellow Nationwide racer Justin Allgaier, who was also racing on Thursday, will not be at VCS, Tuttle says there will be many big racers on Sunday.
“Out of the 49 cars, we had 26 make the field and the place was packed,” Tuttle said after Thursday’s action at Jacksonville. “We will have every other racer here along with other racers who couldn’t make Thursday because of jobs.”
For the race at VCS, the prize money will be bigger with the winner in midgets getting $3,000 and the micros winner getting $1,000, above the normal payouts of $2,000 for midgets and $700 for micros.
Along with the Midgets and micros, the UMP modified and UMP street stocks will also be racing.
The pit gate will open at 3 p.m. with grandstands opening up at 4 p.m. and hot laps at 6:30 p.m. before racing starts at 7 p.m.
Admission is $20, with children 10 and under getting in free with a paying adult and pit passes are $35.