SWS: Imperial Valley hosts season opener

Boat leads entries for Southwest Sprint opener April 12 at El Centro's Imperial Valley Raceway. Mike Boat of Phoenix, Ariz., USAC's 2002 New Mexico/Arizona Sprint Car Champion, leads the entries for this year's opening event in the...

Boat leads entries for Southwest Sprint opener April 12 at El Centro's Imperial Valley Raceway.

Mike Boat of Phoenix, Ariz., USAC's 2002 New Mexico/Arizona Sprint Car Champion, leads the entries for this year's opening event in the series, which has been renamed the USAC Southwest Sprint Car Series. The series debuts on Saturday, April 12, at the Imperial Valley Speedway, located at the Imperial Valley Expo fairgrounds in El Centro.

Expansion to include five states necessitated the series name change and Boat is ready to challenge for this year's title with renewed enthusiasm. "I'm excited about the expansion and addition of tracks like El Centro," says Boat. "I grew up looking forward to the El Centro fair every year and watched my brother Billy run there a lot. That place has a great history and it's one of my favorite tracks."

Boat won't be a stranger in the car at El Centro either. "I've run Midgets, winged sprints and non-winged sprints there," he adds. "I was running third there in my last appearance but had a flat tire and didn't finish."

Boat's run for a repeat series championship might present some logistical challenges, since he plans to spot for brother Billy at selected Indy Racing League events. "I'd like to be able to run in the Infiniti Pro Series," he says, "but still need financing. Maybe that will happen in the near future. Until then I'll just have to run a little harder in the sprinter if I plan on repeating as the USAC champion."

Mike admits he's not a "local" racer. "When the CRA and SCRA Sprints split I did a lot of traveling and ran a lot of different tracks," he says. "That helped me last year, because it seemed every track we ran reminded me of one I'd run before. The more tracks we run the better, as far as I'm concerned."

In addition to El Centro, tracks in Nevada and Colorado will join Arizona and New Mexico tracks to form the 2003 calendar, presenting a diversified schedule for series participants.

The variety of race tracks comprising the new 2003 schedule seems to give Boat more confidence about his chances of repeating as the champion. That probably spells trouble for the rest of the field, and by early indicators, that field could be formidable!

-USAC-

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Series USAC
Drivers Mike Boat