May 24th, St. Augustine, FL -- Fans at Florida Speed Park have come to depend on a strong and competitive field of cars in the Rick's Muffler Modified division this year. George Thrift, III, who dominated the series last year, has been ...
May 24th, St. Augustine, FL -- Fans at Florida Speed Park have come to depend on a strong and competitive field of cars in the Rick's Muffler Modified division this year. George Thrift, III, who dominated the series last year, has been overshadowed this season by the likes of Jimmy Britts, Chuck Cumby and Robert Deal, the current points leader. The competition in the division will be turned up several notches this weekend with the Mod Squad Invasion, a 50 lap $1,500 to win feature -- the final leg in the speedway's busy Motor MAYhem schedule.
Expected to join the already healthy local field are Jerry Symons and Larry Martin, top guns in the traveling SARA Modified series, as well as other strong competitors from throughout the state.
"This is a great track for these drivers to race on," says speedway manager Louis Smith. "The size, and the way it is laid out, make for not only higher speeds but also the opportunity for a lot of passing and maneuvering. It plays right into the hands of this particular type of car."
Modifieds are full sized open wheel cars with wedge type bodies and exposed motors. Like sprint cars, they accelerate very quickly yet are limited in maneuverability by smaller tires. Speedway rules allow for an unlimited motor. The weekly series runs 30 lap features, so this special 50 lap event will create new challenges for the local drivers.
In addition to the $1,500 to win prize, the 8 Ball -- awarded to a driver who starts 8th in the feature and wins the race -- has reached a record $900 heading into the Mod Squad Invasion event, bringing the possible payout to $2,400. $1,500 will already be a record payout for the division.
"The fans really enjoy these Modified races," says Smith. "This one should be over the top. Anything could happen."
Todd Ponce will be back this weekend to try and continue his streak in the Sportsman division. Ponce, who has five consecutive wins, carries a $300 bounty into Saturday's race, a bonus paid to the driver that can end his streak. A bounty can reach up to $500, at which time the driver can collect the money himself if he is able to continue the streak.
Ricky Cooper's return in the Thunder Truck division has raised the competitiveness to a new level. Cooper, who outdueled points leader Wade Lynn to the finish line last week, will look to make it two in a row this weekend. Les Burl and Ron Thomas, 2nd and 3rd in points, are also counted on to be strong factors in the 25 lap event.
The Tattoo Dee's Old Rooster Mini Stocks return to action this week after a one week layoff, with points leader Jay Farris hoping to expand his healthy margin over a field bunched up in the fight for second place in the division. Peedie Allison, Kevin Burkett, Mike Ponce, Troy Kruse and Jake Hartley are all separated by less than 3 points, 14 points behind Farris.
Brad Pilinko and Chris Manucy will resume their battle for superiority in the Alpha Communications Hobby Stock division. Jody Stratton, facing mechanical problems over the past several races, remains in third place but has dropped off the pace set by the division leaders. Rodney Norman, the Hobby Stock defending champion, is in fourth place, followed by L.H. Davis.
The Classic Auto Racing Series (CARS) makes their first visit to the speedway in over a year. CARS features 1932-34 Ford and Chevy coupe and sedan body styles, outfitted as V-8 motor race cars. They will be running a 25 lap feature.
Grandstand gates open at 5:00 pm, with racing beginning at 6:45 pm. The Mod Squad Invasion will begin at approximately 8:00 pm. General admission is $10, $8 for students and seniors, and only $2 for ages 7-12. Under 7 is admitted free. A Family Pack admits two adults and all household children ages 18 and under for only $25.
Florida Speed Park is located approximately 3 miles north of St. Augustine, across from the St. Augustine Airport, on 900 Big Oak Road.