Mobile International Speedway to start races earlier on Saturday nights
By Mark Inabinett | [email protected] al.com
IRVINGTON, Alabama – Mobile International Speedway will have something of an Opening Night II for its 2013 local racing season on Saturday.
The Bob’s Speed Shop Sportsman and Island Motors Bomber divisions already have had feature races in conjunction with the ARCA Racing Series ARCA-Mobile 200 on a Friday night earlier this month.
This will be the first of this season’s regular Saturday shows at the track, and, again, there will be a guest. The Must See Racing Xtreme Sprint Series cars will be the fastest thing on the half-mile oval all season when they join the sportsmen, bombers and Praytor Realty Super Stocks in Saturday night’s lineup.
Mobile International Speedway has some changes in store for racing fans this season. The pro trucks are a separate class from the super stocks now. The pro late models will stage two features each time they’re on the racing card – a 20-lapper and a 30-lapper. MIS has combined with Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola to offer Gulf Coast championships in all classes, not just the super late models. And the super late model races are joining the new Southern Super Series.
But fans will immediately notice a change if they show up at 8 p.m. Saturday. They’ll be an hour late for the races.
“That’s the biggest change that we’ve made this year in response to a lot of the fans’ requests,” said Tim Bryant, the manager of Mobile International Speedway. “We want this to be family entertainment, and it’s tough for families with kids to be out too late. And with an action-packed lineup like we have, it can be hard to speed things up.
“So we rolled back the starting time to 7 p.m., one hour earlier. We hope to send everybody home one hour earlier.”
Bryant said the local divisions wouldn’t always run heat races as part of the qualifying process, but would alternate in deciding how competitiors line up for the feature from date to date.
“In the interest of time, we can’t run heat races for all the divisions every time,” Bryant said.
Five Flags Speedway usually stages races on the Fridays before Mobile International Speedway’s Saturday dates, and racers have long hauled cars between the tracks to compete on back-to-back nights. The tracks combined the standings from Five Flags’ Blizzard Series and MIS’ Miller Lite Series into the Sunoco Gulf Coast Super Late Model Championship several years ago to crown a unified champ.
This year, drivers from the other local classes will get the same shot at winning track championships and the Gulf Coast title.
“It goes through each and every division, and we’ll crown a combined Gulf Coast champion at the end of the season,” Bryant said. “We don’t expect all the guys will be able to run all the races at both tracks, but they may not have to to win the championship.
“And we like seeing the guys from Mobile in Pensacola on Fridays, and we like seeing the guys from Pensacola in Mobile on Saturdays.”
The super late model drivers are getting another championship to chase, as well. Mobile International and Five Flags form the backbone of the inaugural season of the Southern Super Series. The super late model circuit will feature 16 races at five tracks in 2013, with Montgomery Motor Speedway, Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn., and Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga., joining Mobile and Five Flags.
Half of the series’ first season will be run on the Gulf Coast.
Five Flags and Mobile International will continue to conduct their super late model races on consecutive nights. The Gulf Coast racing weekends will be May 24-25, June 21-22, July 26-27 and Sept. 20-21.
The new regional series is just one reason to look forward to the budding season, Bryant said.
“We’re very optimistic for 2013,” he said. “The season got off to a really good start with the ARCA-Mobile 200. Tommy (Praytor) did a great job promoting that event. We had a good turnout, and our bombers and sportsmen had strong races and gave us a lot of encouragement that our local divisions will have a strong season.
“There’s a good, positive buzz in the air about the local racing scene.”
On Saturday, practice starts at 4 p.m. Local qualifying will begin at 5. The sprint cars will qualify at 6. The racing starts at 7 with heat races and features in the local divisions interspersed with eight-lap and 10-lap runs by the Must See Xtreme Sprints. After an autograph session, the sprint cars will cap the night with a 30-lap feature.
Follow Mark Inabinett on Twitter: Follow @AMarkG1