BY MARVIN HOLMAN
Vermilion County Speedway co-promoter Bryan Clendenen has had a long couple of days this week.
Clendenen says that the opening Midwest Open Wheel Challenge will go off on Sunday even after Thursday’s downpour thanks to some hard work on Friday and hopefully some good luck over the weekend.
“It was close, but we got everything done except the infield where a drain is clogged,” Clendenen said. “We are pumping water out and hopefully it will be done by the end of (Friday night) and if there is no other rain, we will be ready to go.”
Sunday’s event will feature the Midwest Open Wheel Association Outlaw winged 410 sprint car touring series, along with the non-wing 410 sprints, UMP Modifieds and UMP street stocks.
Along with the prize money, there will be certain incentives up for grabs. Bell Helmet will be giving out a $500 bonus if a driver can win both sprint car features and a $1,500 bonus if a driver can win both sprint races and the UMP modified feature.
“That does bring a twist that will make things more interesting,” Clendenen said. “We have heard from some sprint drivers that they are planning to make to bring both a winged and a non-winged to the event, so we have had interest.”
Clendenen also hopes some big racers will come in as well to help VCS equal the car and crowd turnout from July.
“There is a big show on Saturday from Haubstadt, Ind. and we have gotten some calls from some of the pros that are going to be there,” Clendenen said. “We wanted to do something different for the first show but you can’t argue with the success (of the July show) and there will be some twists.”
For Clendenen, this week’s weather continued a long spring where things he wanted to do for the track was postponed.
“It started to snow when we were supposed to start with working on the outside of the track, so the weather has left us behind in what we wanted to do,” Clendenen said. “As for the track, we are still going to keep the basic shape but we are going to add some more clay and dirt as the season goes on so we can give a new element of racing to the drivers.”
Clendenen says that while some things have gone well in getting the season started, there have been some bumps in the road.
“It (the July show) opened some doors and closed some because we had some sponsors back out of their commitments so we are without a title sponsor for the season,” Clendenen said. “We have a title sponsor in NAPA for the Summernationals race and some smaller sponsors as well, so things will work out.
“I have had some great help from Crop Productions, who have offered a lot of man hours in getting things ready for the season.”
Along with the UMP Summernationals race on July 14, there will be the final stop of POWRi Illinois Midget Week on June 9 and the Sunoco American Super Late Model Series on May 19.
“Our focus this season is to have special events and to get a bunch of different classes,” Clendenen said. “I don’t remember the last time we had midgets here and we are in talks to have racers from Australia and New Zealand for that, so it will bring an international flavor here.”
The pit gate will open at 2 p.m. on Sunday with grandstands opening at 3 p.m. At 3 p.m., there will be members of the Midwest Old Timers Vintage Race Car Club displaying their cars along with a driver meet and greet at the 4-H Food Pavilion from 3-4 p.m.
The hot laps will start at 4:30 p.m. with heat races starting at 5:30 p.m. General admission is $15 for adults and children 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult. Pit passes are $30.