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Holland considers bringing back heats

Holland NASCAR Motorsports Complex and New Humberstone Speedway have been busy preparing for their respective 50th anniversary seasons in 2009 and have revealed some of their plans in the last few weeks.

Holland General Manager Tim Bennett says that he is contemplating reintroducing heat races to his weekly race programs for Holland's four NASCAR sanctioned divisions and has sought driver opinion through the track's Web site.

In a normal night of weekly racing at local speedways, shorter heat races get green flagged early in the program with longer distance feature races following to the event's conclusion.

A few years ago, Holland dropped heat races from its programs mainly in the interest of saving time. They currently run only features.

"I want to listen to the drivers and get their thoughts and feelings on issues such as possibly bringing back the heat races," said Bennett. "So far the opinions from the drivers have been mixed so we'll see about the heats."

If the heats are brought back, it would be for the NASCAR/SST Pro Modifieds, NASCAR Chargers, NASCAR Pro Fours and NASCAR Figure-8 divisions only. A minimum of 20 cars in a class would have to be present on a race night for that class to be given heats.

Holland also has many specials planned for each night, such as their paint can promotion set for opening night, May 23. Fans who bring a gallon of new paint will be admitted free of charge. The track will use the paint to spruce up the speedway facility.

The track also is planning its 50th anniversary celebration night for Aug. 1 on which notable drivers, owners, officials and others from the track's history will be honored.

"Hey, the economy is tough right now both locally and nationally so we need to do everything we can to make the racing here for the fans as affordable as ever," stressed Bennett.

Jonathon Price will defend his NASCAR/SST Pro Modified title this season at Holland. His brother, Jeff Price, will run Holland weekly as well.

The 358 Modifieds will return to New Humberstone for the first time in eight seasons and run an expanded nine-race schedule. New Humberstone runs weekly dirt track programs each Sunday night, 17 miles across the Peace Bridge in Port Colborne, Ont.

The nine shows are enough to make these 358 drivers eligible for season-ending Dirtcar Northeast point fund awards and money.

Promoter Pete Cosco is dropping the Sprint Cars from his lineup due to low car counts. In recent years, the 358 Modifieds ran about once a season at New Humberstone, which the last two years hosted the Lucas Oil 358 Modified Shootout Series. New Humberstone opens April 26 with the 358 Modifieds getting their first green flag May 3.

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>Casey's season set

The Casey's group has a 17-race schedule set for 2009 that includes five races each at Holland and Wyoming County and seven at Dunn Tire Raceway Park (DTRP), of which six will count for points. The group also is part of DTRP's annual US Open in a nonpoint event.

The winged, open cockpit, open-wheel Super Modifieds used to be a popular attraction at DTRP but haven't raced there in many years. They will return May 24. The Super Modifieds, which are the fastest oval track machines ever raced at DTRP, will team up that day with the Modifieds.

The International Super Modified Association (ISMA) used to sanction the event at DTRP but this year the Midwest Super Modified Association (MSA) will provide the racing sanction.

DTRP also is introducing a new IHRA Teen Championship Racing division to its weekly Tuesday night amateur drag racing program beginning May 5. Teens 13-17 who do not possess a driver's license are eligible. An adult co-driver (25 years or older) must drive a street car to the track, through the pits and then ride down the track as a co-driver during a run with the teen.

Erick Rudolph and DeLange Racing, who partnered to win both the Modified and SST Sportsman championships in 2008 at DTRP, have parted ways in what has been termed by both sides to be a friendly split. Finances are the main reason.

Rudolph's father, Charlie, will field a Modified for Erick this season at DTRP while Dave DeLange has tabbed Eric Beers of Northampton, Pa., to drive for him at DTRP and other events.

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>Mapes facing decision

Justin Mapes is enjoying the limelight as the reigning Casey's TQ Midget Series champion, won a race at Holland last season and is a veteran of 11 racing seasons. But he probably will not compete this season because he just purchased a new home, works two jobs and has to attend to family matters.

"I started racing in the Can-Am club and moved to the Casey's group a few years later," said the 29-year-old Franklinville-based driver. "I bought my first Midget when I was 16. Three years ago I got the ride with Gordon Steffen and I am glad I was able to bring him a championship. I clinched the championship on my birthday last Oct. 11. If my career is over it will be hard to walk away from but at least I went out on top."

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>Pit stops

Ransomville Speedway is introducing a new entry level class, the 4-Banger division, similar to the Fire Hall Enduro Cars, which have run at the Niagara County oval the last two seasons.

Hamburg businessman Jeff Giovino will again race the Stock category type of Go-Kart at tracks including Langford, Ransomville, Bliss, Lime Rock in Caladonia and the new infield oval at Arcade International Raceway.

Racing veterans Pete Loretto was named the backstretch flagman and Ken Hangauer Jr. was named chief announcer at Arcade International.

After 22 seasons of operating New York International Raceway Park, the ownership husband/wife duo of Bob and Donna Metcalfe leased the Leicester-based drag strip to Vito and Sylvia Antonicelli in 2008. The Metcalfe tandem will return in 2009 to operate the facility with the opening test/tune/swap meet set for April 18-19.

Show and Cruise News will hold its 16th Advance Auto Parts/Superior Lubricants Cavalcade of Cars on March 6-8 at the Erie County Fairgrounds. Hot rods, custom cars, classic cars, motorcycles and race cars along with the seventh Don Davis Pin Stripers Convention will be featured. Call 656-9734 for information.

Several area drivers have joined the BRP Can-Am 360 Late Model Series and are gunning for the traveling series rookie of the year honors. They are Derek Boyle, 25, Middleport; Craig Cobb, 30, Coudersport, Pa.; Eric Greenlief, 41, Middleport; Dick Park, 42, Pavilion; Brian Knowles, 27, Painted Post; and Brian Conley, 40, Ulysses, Pa.

Ransomville's, Holland's and DTRP's stock car driver preseason registration parties are Feb. 22.

e-mail: lawrence_o_14075@yahoo.com

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