Evansville, IN — The 2008 UMP DIRTcar Racing Summernationals will once again be a supreme test of man and machine.
Even with four Mondays reserved as off days, the 2008 Summernationals schedule released by UMP DIRTcar Racing officials remains the most grueling dirt Late Model series in the nation.
A total of 27 race nights over a 31-day period from June 12 to July 12 are listed on the current slate of the ‘Hell Tour,’ which has only two dates still in negotiation. The 27 scheduled events put the 2008 Summernationals in line to match the single-season record for the most races run in the history of the tour, which has become an annual Midwestern staple since its launch in 1988. There were 27 events completed in both 2002 and 2005.
“We’re trying to make the tour as racer-friendly as we can and still visit as many of the tracks that want an event as possible,” said UMP DIRTcar Racing director Sam Driggers, noting that the popularity of the Summernationals remains so high that there aren’t enough available dates to fit in all the speedways desiring events. “We have to take into account that the teams are working and racing every day in 100-degree heat so they need some time off to rest and regroup, and this year we’ve been able to give them Mondays off.”
With the Monday off-days (June 16, June 23, June 30, July 7), teams will not face more than six consecutive nights of competition in 2008.
The ’08 UMP DIRTcar Racing Summernationals is currently scheduled to kick off on Thurs., June 12, at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway in Calvert City, Ky. A pumped-up purse offering $7,500 to win will be on the line at the three-eighths-mile, high-banked oval, which returns to the series after a two-year absence and hosts the opener for the first time since 2001.
Summernationals barnstormers are set to race in six Midwestern states, with Illinois again serving as the heart of the series. Fourteen events are slated in the ‘Land of Lincoln,’ followed by four in Indiana, three in Missouri, two in Kentucky and one each in Tennessee and Ohio.
The two dates that are still being negotiated, on July 8 and 11, are expected to be finalized in the near future, completing the schedule.
“Releasing the Summernationals schedule in January is always our goal,” said Driggers. “We know how many people schedule their vacations around the Summernationals, so we want to give them an opportunity to arrange their time off so they can attend a bunch of races.”
Twenty tracks that held Summernationals events in 2007 are back this year, including the quarter-mile Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway, which will host the tour for the 20th consecutive year on Fri., June 20. Farmer City has the longest active streak of Summernationals participation.
Two tracks, meanwhile, will be part of the Summernationals for the first time ever in 2008. The series will make its debut at Belle Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill., on Wed., June 18, and Lake Ozark Speedway in Eldon, Mo., will try again to host its first Summernationals show (its scheduled event in 2007 was rained out) on Wed., June 25.
Tracks returning to the tour following extended absences are Kentucky Lake; Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway, which last held a Summernationals event in 2001; and Sedalia (Mo.) State Fair Speedway, a daunting half-mile oval that has been missing from the schedule since 1992. Brownstown will host the second event of the ’08 sked, on Fri., June 13, while Sedalia has a Tues., June 24, date set.
The standard purse for Summernationals events will offer a $6,000 top prize, but 10 races are currently slated to pay more to win. KLMS’s opener is the lone event with $7,500 on top, while $10,000 first prizes are posted for events at Brownstown; Kamp Motor Speedway in Boswell, Ind. (June 14); Farmer City; I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo. (June 21); Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway (June 27); Clarksville (Tenn.) Speedway (June 28); Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill. (July 4); Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway (July 5); and Oakshade Raceway in Wauseon, Ohio (July 12).
Unless otherwise specified, all Summernationals A-Mains will be contested over the 40-lap distance.
Driggers said some minor procedural changes will be made for the 2008 Summernationals, including the addition of a Non-Qualifiers’ Race offering a purse when fields exceed 32 cars.
“A Non-Qualifiers’ Race will give the little guy a chance to make some money if they can’t get in the show,” said Driggers. “We want to do something to help put a few dollars in the pockets of those drivers.”
Other highlights of the ’08 UMP DIRTcar Racing Summernationals include:
* The Herald & Review 100 on Thurs., July 3, at Macon (Ill.) Speedway, which hosts the series for the 20th time (it was missing from only the 1998 edition), will be the longest event on the tour. But the one-fifth-mile oval will have company as the smallest track on the series this year with the addition of Belle Clair, also a one-fifth-mile, albeit with less banking.
* Fairbury American Legion Speedway – UMP DIRTcar Racing’s ‘Track of the Year’ in both 2006 and 2007 – will be part of the Summernationals for the 19th year in a row.
* Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway hosts Summernationals action for the 13th consecutive season on Thurs., June 26.
* The 11th straight year of competition at Clarksville Speedway, which has been a Summernationals stalwart since 1998 when NASCAR star Tony Stewart won the quarter-mile track’s first tour event.
* A return engagement at Quad City Speedway in East Moline, Ill., which was absent from the tour for six years before hosting an event last season.
* Lawrenceburg Speedway is on the schedule for the fifth straight year, but teams will find a new challenge there in 2008. An off-season reconstruction project has enlarged the longtime quarter-mile oval to a three-eighths-mile layout.
* The 11th annual 60-lap ‘Birthday Race’ at Oakshade Raceway, which is operated by 2007 UMP DIRTcar Racing ‘Promoters of the Year’ Terry and Pam Henricks, will conclude the tour’s points race for the fourth year in a row.
Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., who realized a dream by winning the UMP DIRTcar Racing Summernationals championship for the first time in 2007, is expected to defend his crown this season.
For more information on UMP DIRTcar Racing, visit www.umpracing.com.
2008 UMP DIRTcar Racing Summernationals Schedule (Date/Day/Track/Location/To Win):
June 12 – Thurs. – Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway/Calvert City, KY – $7,500
June 13 – Fri. – Brownstown Speedway/Brownstown, IN – $10,000
June 14 – Sat. – Kamp Motor Speedway/Boswell, IN – $10,000
June 15 – Sun. – Tri-State Speedway/Haubstadt, IN – $6,000
June 16 – Mon – OFF
June 17 – Tues. – Highland Speedway/Highland, IL – $6,000
June 18 – Wed. – Belle Clair Speedway/Belleville, IL – $6,000
June 19 – Thurs. – Jefferson Co. Speedway/Mt. Vernon, IL – $6,000
June 20 – Fri. – Farmer City Raceway/Farmer City, IL – $10,000
June 21 – Sat. – I-55 Raceway/Pevely, MO – $10,000
June 22 – Sun. – Vermilion Co. Speedway/Danville, IL – $6,000
June 23 – Mon. – OFF
June 24 – Tue. – Sedalia State Fair Speedway/Sedalia, MO – $6,000
June 25 – Wed. – Lake Ozark Speedway/Eldon, MO – $6,000
June 26 – Thurs. – Paducah Int’l Raceway/Paducah, KY – $6,000
June 27 – Fri. – Lawrenceburg Speedway/Lawrenceburg, IN – $10,000
June 28 – Sat. – Clarksville Speedway/Clarksville, TN – $10,000
June 29 – Sun. – Lincoln Speedway/Lincoln, IL – $6,000
June 30 – Mon. – OFF
July 1 – Tue. – Peoria Speedway/Peoria, IL – $6,000
July 2 – Wed. – Morgan Co. Speedway/Jacksonville, IL – $6,000
July 3 – Thurs. – Macon Speedway/Macon, IL – $6,000
July 4 – Fri. – Tri-City Speedway/Pontoon Beach, IL – $10,000
July 5 – Sat. – Fairbury American Legion Speedway/Fairbury, IL -$10,000
July 6 – Sun. – Quad City Raceway/East Moline, IL – $6,000
July 7 – Mon. – OFF
July 8 – Tue. – TBA
July 9 – Wed. – Spoon River Speedway/Canton, IL – $6,000
July 10 – Thurs. – La Salle Speedway/La Salle, IL – $6,000
July 11 – Fri. – TBA
July 12 – Sat. – Oakshade Raceway/Wauseon, OH – $10,000
Schedule subject to change. Two remaining dates to be filled are under negotiation.