SMS held drivers meetings on Dec. 1 and 2 at Keen's Automotive in Smithfield, Va. A few changes in division rules and race procedures were announced, while feedback from the drivers was solicited on a number of other initiatives.
Among the highlights:
Adding some spice to the proceedings, the starting lineups for all track division features will be shuffled by an inversion in `04. Based on a post-qualifying draw, the top three, five or seven positions will be inverted.
A "two-tire rule" will be in effect for the LMSC and LLM classes. Drivers in those two divisions will be running the same Goodyear tires. LMSC drivers will start each race on two new tires and two used ones. LLM drivers will have the option of purchasing a maximum of two new tires for each race.
In previous years, an LMSC team could bolt on four new tires each week and other teams were forced to follow suit to keep up, driving weekly expenses beyond the breaking point for some lower-budget operations.
LLM drivers, in the meantime, have been employing all used tires for the past two seasons. While those tires provided tremendous cost savings, consistency in quality among the used tires in the track's stockpile became an issue, prompting the return to new tires under the "two-tire rule."
The new "two-tire rule," coupled with the introduction of "crate engines" in the LMSC class, is another step in SMS's efforts to lower the cost of competing in the upper divisions.
LLM rules regarding such measurements as roof height, crank height, ride height have been changed to facilitate the adaptation of older LMSC chassis to the LLM division. The LMSC sway bar rule will now be applied to the LLM class and LMSC-style truck arms may be used.
Super Streets, U-Cars and Super Fours will be NASCAR-sanctioned divisions in `04. The Super Streets will be SMS's third-tier "Charger" class.
SMS will use Langley Speedway's Super Street and U-Car rules as a starting point for its own regulations. Only slight adjustments are foreseen. Langley's rules will also serve as a guideline for Mini Trucks, which compete in SMS's Super Four class.
With the drivers meetings completed, SMS Chief Technical Inspector Shayne Laws is now hard at work, putting the finishing touches on the `04 division rules. As soon as the rules are ready (hopefully by the end of December), they'll be posted on the track's Web site - SouthamptonMotorSpeedway .com.
SMS will hold a combination `03 Awards Presentation/'04 Kickoff Party on Friday, Feb. 20. The event will feature a social hour, dinner, awards ceremony and a live band and will be held at the Khedive Temple in the Greenbriar area of Chesapeake, Va. Stay tuned for more details!
Preseason practice dates have been set for Feb. 28, March 6 and March 13 - the three Saturdays leading up to Opening Day on March 20. Gates will open at 11 a.m. each day and practice will run from 12 noon to 5 p.m.
Just in time for holiday gift-giving, `04 season passes, `04 season trackside parking passes and `04 ticket booklets (in quantities of 25, 15, 10 and 5 tickets per booklet) are now on sale. Prices are unchanged from 2003. A printable order form may be found at SouthamptonMotorSpeedway.com. For more details, call the Speedway office at (434) 658-RACE. (Note: The number of available trackside parking spots is limited. Reserve your spot soon!)
Southampton Motor Speedway is a 4/10-mile, paved tri-oval, similar in configuration to Richmond International Raceway. The track is located on U.S. Highway 58, one mile west of Capron and 17 miles east of I-95 (Emporia exit).
To learn more about SMS, fans may call the Speedway office at (434) 658-RACE or visit the track's Web site at SouthamptonMotorSpeedway.com.