Evansville, IN — DEFENDING HOME TURF: Wes Steidinger is happy that his homestate of Illinois is hosting its biggest dirt Late Model event ever this weekend (April 4-5) – the inaugural ‘Illini 100’ at Farmer City Raceway.
He’s thrilled that the race is taking place at a quarter-mile bullring where he’s cut his teeth as a racer.
And he’ll be ecstatic if he can represent the Land of Lincoln by winning the $20,000 top prize on the line in Saturday night’s World of Outlaws Late Model Series spectacular.
“It would mean so much if I was able to win it,” said Steidinger, a 25-year-old from Fairbury, Ill., who is a rising star in the UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model ranks.
Coming off a career year that saw him win 20 features at eight different tracks and finish second in the UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model national points standings, Steidinger has the confidence that he can race toe-to-toe for the ‘Illini 100’ trophy with the top stars of the WoO LMS and the UMP DIRTcar circuit. The site of the show, which is co-sanctioned by UMP DIRTcar, buoys him even more.
Yes, Steidinger knows how to get around the tough Farmer City fairgrounds oval. He’s turned many laps there, and his list of Farmer City successes is highlighted by the 2006 points title.
“Our standards are pretty high for this weekend,” said Steidinger, who set the second-fastest time and won a heat race during the 2006 WoO LMS program at Farmer City. “We know we can be competitive, but we’re gonna have to strap in, run as hard as we can and make the right decisions.”
Steidinger relishes the opportunity to battle the dirt Late Model division’s biggest names at his hometrack in an event that will draw national attention.
“To have a race like this in our backyard is good for us and all the local racers,” said Steidinger. “We get a chance to run for big money close to home, and we can get some good publicity if we run good.
“I’m not sure if it’s a realistic goal for us or not, but someday I’d like to be able to run a fulltime series (like the WoO LMS) and running good in big races like this is a step toward that.
“I just want to say thanks to Don and Bonnie Hammer (Farmer City promoters) for putting this show on,” he added.
Steidinger, who followed the entire UMP DIRTcar Summernationals for the first time in 2007 and finished third in the points, plans to attempt the grueling month-long tour of the Midwest again this season with his family-operated team. He’s hoping that the new addition that’s soon coming to his operation will help bring an improvement in his Summernationals effort – and perhaps a UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model national title as well.
In a week or two, Steidinger is scheduled to take delivery of a new Victory Circle M1 Chassis. It will put him with a growing brigade of drivers who are looking to the Bakersfield, Calif.-based manufacturer that has seized the headlines thanks to its collaborative effort with dirt Late Model legend Billy Moyer, who has been the division’s hottest racer so far this year.
“We hope that working with someone as knowledgeable as Billy will help us get there (to major-contender status),” said Steidinger, who will continue to campaign his customary Rayburn cars as well this season. “A deal to do something with Billy came up, and it was something we couldn’t pass up.
“I can’t wait to get in the (Victory Circle) car.”
For more information on the ‘Illini 100,’ which features time trials, heat races and a dash on Fri., April 4, and B-Mains, a Non-Qualifiers’ Race and the 100-lap A-Main on Sat., April 5, visit www.farmercityraceway.net or www.worldofoutlaws.com.
LITTLE TRACK, BIG OPENER: Macon (Ill.) Speedway – the high-banked, one-fifth-mile oval co-owned by Bob Sargent and NASCAR personalities Ken Schrader, Kenny Wallace and Tony Stewart – kicks off its 2008 season this Saturday night (April 5) with the first annual ‘Spring Fling’ event.
The track’s UMP DIRTcar Super Late Models will race for $1,500 to win and the UMP DIRTcar Modifieds will chase a $1,000 top prize. Qualifying against the clock will also return for the Super Late Models beginning on opening night.
Macon’s 2008 Super Late Model season is shaping up to be an exciting one, with a couple new programs sure to attract interest. First, the track has announced a Super Late Model driver loyalty promotion that will give a racer a chance to win $10,000 – if the victor in Macon’s 50-lap special on Aug. 16 has raced at the track 10 or more times in ’08 up to that point, their first-place share that evening will be increased with a $7,000 bonus, pushing the prize to an even 10-grand. Also, the track has teamed up with Morgan County Speedway in Jacksonville, Ill., to form the ‘Midwest Big Ten Series,’ consisting of five races at each track and a $10,000 points fund.
NEW NAME: This Saturday night (April 5) will serve as the 2008 lidlifter at I-57/I-64 Raceway in Mt. Vernon, Ill. – the track formerly called Mt. Vernon Raceway.
A full compliment of UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned divisions will be in action, including Super Late Models, Modifieds, crate-engine Pro Late Models, Street Stocks and Four-Cylinders.
The Pro Late Model drivers will get a reward for entering the opener: each racer who competes in the division on Saturday night will receive a free pit pass for the next three weeks of racing at I-57/I-64.
READY TO GO: The first green flag of the 2008 season at Montgomery County Speedway in New Florence, Mo., is scheduled to fly this Saturday night (April 5), with racing for UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, Limited/Pro Modifieds, Street Stocks and Four-Cylinders.
Montgomery County is the only track in Missouri that runs Limited/Pro Modifieds under UMP DIRTcar sanction.
MORE OPENERS: Other notable tracks set to go UMP DIRTcar racing for the first time in 2008 include Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., which is set to host the first weekly UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned Super Late Model and Street Stock events in the Keystone State on Fri., April 4, and Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill., which will host sanctioned action for Pro Late Models, Street Stocks and Four-Cylinders on Fri., April 4.
LET THE COUNTING BEGIN: This weekend marks the official start of the weekly UMP DIRTcar Racing points season.
All races will count toward a driver’s accumulated points through Sept. 28.
UMP DIRTcar RACING INFO: Log on to www.dirtcar.com for more information on UMP DIRTcar Racing.
ATTENTION: Any UMP DIRTcar track or race team with news that could be used in the ‘UMP DIRTcar Racing Weekly Update’ release can e-mail the info to Kevin Kovac at email@example.com.