FF: USCS and Carolina Midgets team up For Hickory

FAYETTEVILLE, NC - United Sprint Car Series officials have announced that the Carolina Ford Focus Midget Series will joining them for the Garrett & Dyer Ford Open-Wheel Spectacular at Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, NC on April 30. For ...

FAYETTEVILLE, NC - United Sprint Car Series officials have announced that the Carolina Ford Focus Midget Series will joining them for the Garrett & Dyer Ford Open-Wheel Spectacular at Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, NC on April 30. For Southeastern race fans, it will mark the time the two series have appeared together.

Over the past several years, many of the new stars of NASCAR have come out of the Open-Wheel ranks. The USCS/CFFMS Garrett & Dyer Ford Open-Wheel Spectacular can give fans an idea of why this phenomena is taking place on Hickory's famed 3/8-mile asphalt oval.

The USCS winged outlaw sprint cars are pound-for-pound some of the most powerful short track racing cars in the world weighing 1,300 pounds with a 700-horsepower, methanol burning, fuel injected V-8 engine. USCS is the only winged outlaw sprint car series in the country that competes on both dirt and asphalt tracks.

"We're excited to have the Carolina Ford Focus Midget Series joining USCS at Hickory Motor Speedway, and we're looking forward to having them with us at several other USCS events on both dirt and asphalt during the 2004 season," USCS Founder and President Pete Walton said. "We both have the same goal, and that is to create a new interest and excitement for open-wheel racing in the Southeastern United States.

Carolina Ford Focus Midget Series Coordinator Tracy Trotter shared Walton's excitement about the two open-wheel series coming together at one venue.

"The traditional progression for a race car driver to move into a sprint car, is to come out of the midget ranks," Trotter said. "It's a natural to put USCS and the Carolina Ford Focus Midget Series together in the same racing program.

"Like USCS, the Carolina Ford Focus Midget Series competes on both dirt and asphalt tracks," Trotter explained. "This gives the drivers in our series, many of whom don't have a lot of experience, a chance to be exposed to sprint car racing, and learn from the USCS veterans."

A Carolina Ford Focus Midget is smaller than a USCS winged outlaw sprint car, weighing about 1,100 pounds with the driver, and powered by a 175-horsepower sealed Ford Focus engine. The thing that makes a Ford Focus Midget unique is the cost in that just about any racer can afford one.

"There are midget race cars out there with more horsepower, but the cost of their engines can be as high as $45,000, and then they're looking at several costly rebuilds during a season" Trotter said. "A sealed Ford Focus midget engine costs $8,250, and with proper maintenance, can last a competitor an entire season without a rebuild."

Many of the Nextel Cup drivers that have roots in open-wheel racing, still have an active interest in this form of motorsports. Tony Stewart owns both sprint cars and midgets, and has competed with USCS during the 2004 season. Cup's hottest rookie driver Kasey Kahne owns a sprint car that has competed with USCS in 2004.

Trotter said Stewart, Kahne, and another open-wheel graduate, Ryan Newman, have all expressed an interest in open-wheel racing in the Southeast, and are all looking to add a Ford Focus Midget to their personal racing stables.

And the open-wheel interest doesn't stop with the Nextel Cup drivers. Many of the Cup team crew members and shop personnel compete regularly with USCS and the CFFMS.

Doug Berryman of Mansfield, OH leads the USCS Asphalt Thunder point standings after winning the season opener at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, GA on March 27. Berryman has a two-point lead over the defending and three-time USCS National Champion Terry Gray of Bartlett, TN.

Another leading entry will be the defending USCS Asphalt Thunder Champion Kenny Adams of Malabar, FL. "The Malabar Missile" is also the defending USCS race winner at Hickory Motor Speedway, and the track record holder at 12.251 seconds for an average speed of 110.195 miles per hour.

Other top entries for the Garrett & Dyer Ford USCS Asphalt Thunder show at Hickory Motor Speedway on April 30 will be Ted Williams of Atlanta, GA, Brad Davis of Rutherfordton, NC, Jim Raptis of Marietta, GA, Joey "The Ace" Aguilar of Tampa, FL, Joe Rebman of Mansfield, OH, Frank Neill of Vickery, OH, and top Asphalt Thunder Rookie of the Year candidate Troy DeCaire of Tampa, FL.

The top Carolina pavement pounders expected include Jimmy Taylor of Green Pond, SC, Chad Allum of Kannapolis, NC, Butch Pendergrass of Winston-Salem, NC, Bill Moore of Denver, NC, Will Ragsdale of Easley, SC, Ben Basinger of Salisbury, NC, Doug Gold of Concord, NC, and Johnny Bridges of Cherryville, NC.

Along with the USCS Asphalt Thunder winged outlaw sprint cars and the Carolina Ford Focus Midgets, the Hickory Motor Speedway Limited Late Model and Super Truck Divisions will also be in action for the Garrett & Dyer Ford Open-Wheel Spectacular. The pit gate will open at 4 p.m., grandstand gates open at 5 p.m., with time trials set for 7 p.m., and racing scheduled for 8 p.m.

For more information about Hickory Motor Speedway call 828-464-3655, or visit the track's web site at www.hickorymotorspeedway.com. Hickory Motor Speedway is located just off I-40 at exit 128. Go south 1/2-mile on Fairgrove Church Road, then west 1/2-mile on U.S. Highway 70, and the track will on the left. Also visit the USCS web site at www.uscsracing.com, and the Carolina Ford Focus Midget series at www.carolinamidgetseries.com.

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About this article
Series Sprint , USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman , Kasey Kahne , Kenny Adams , Ted Williams
Teams Williams