Special Winter Sprint Car Series set for January debut at Cocopah Speedway
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Cocopah Speedway Media Team
Special Winter Sprint Car Series set for January debut at Cocopah Speedway
Somerton, Arizona (April 6, 2014) It’s been a hot topic on the racing grapevine for months, and now it becomes a reality. What officials are hoping to grow into one of the biggest sprint car races in the country is set for a January 2015 debut at Cocopah Speedway. The inaugural Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown is slated for the first two weekends in January at the Somerton, Arizona oval, with a minimum of four nights of racing on the schedule. The event will be a showcase for the best 410 winged sprint car teams from across the country and around the world.
The Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown at Cocopah Speedway will pay $12,000 to win each night out of a total purse approaching a quarter of a million dollars. Race dates are currently set for January 2nd and 3rd, and January 9th and 10th, and Cocopah Speedway officials are confident that the opportunity for teams to get in that many nights of racing within a 10 day period will attract a big field of teams at a time when much of the rest of the country is in the grip of winter cold.
Cocopah Speedway Director of Operations Greg Burgess said, we want to build the Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown into one of the biggest events in the sprint car racing world, a destination event for drivers and race fans alike.”
Burgess noted that the roots of the Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown harken back to February of 2013 when three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart raced in a two night event at Cocopah Speedway and dubbed it the raciest track out west, a race track he wanted to visit again. “Tony talked about Cocopah Speedway being perfect for a winter sprint car series and things progressed from there,” said Burgess, who recalled that one of his staff contacted him and said he was asked to visit Stewart in his trailer when Stewart was at Cocopah Speedway in 2013. There, Stewart asked Burgess about the possibilities of hosting a winter sprint car series at the track.
My initial reaction was, This is big! said Burgess, and, We can do this!
Since that time, the proposed series has gained traction with a wide variety of supporters, enough so, Burgess said, “to take it off the drawing board and make it a reality.” Burgess also took note of the pent-up demand for a winter sprint series, saying, “over the last three years we’ve had numerous requests and comments about bringing back the ‘Slick 50′ Winter Series (a multi-race sprint series that was run in the Phoenix area for two years in the early 1990’s). Now, it’s finally happening!”
Official rules for the four races will be announced shortly and the series will likely follow along the lines of the most popular winged 410 rules in the country, said Burgess, who also credits the big role played by Jimmy Carr, Race Director at Tony Stewart Racing, in helping to generate support for the Showdown.
While driver commitments are yet to be made, Carr, in talking about his involvement in the series, said, this is mainly for my boss and his friends, so they got somewhere where they can go and race.” Of the many drivers interested, Carr noted, they have a small window of opportunity and the weather is perfect in Arizona. This is pushed by Tony and if Kasey (Kahne) is allowed to race it he would like to race too. And I know Kyle Larson would love to race it too. Of Cocopah Speedway itself, Carr said, you know what, its the best race track in the West right now as far as Im concerned. There are good people there, a good fan base, the way the track is prepared and the people who are there running it, its just drawing the people. So its a no brainer to come there.” While individual drivers are yet to be named, Carr said that Tony Stewart Racing plans to field a full team of sprint cars, as do the teams owned by Kahne and Larson.
Between the team committments from Tony Stewart Racing, Kasey Kahne Racing, and Larson Marks Racing, no less than six teams are already on board to run the four races slated so far.
Coming on board as race director for the series is Tommy Estes, Jr., who has an extensive background in sprint car racing, and currently serves as promoter at Dodge City Raceway. Estes has more than a decade under his belt serving as director for the ASCS national tour and it’s many regions. Burgess said, “I’m delighted to have Tommy involved. He is widely respected in the sprint car world. I am excited to work with him again and for Lenna Miller (Cocopah Speedway race director) and the rest of the staff to have the chance to work with him as well.
Cocopah Speedway has played host to a variety of sprint car events, including winged and non-wing 360’s and 410’s under both regional and national touring series. Before coming to Cocopah Speedway, Burgess previously worked as Region Director for the American Sprint Car Series Northwest Region. With the backing of the Cocopah Indian Tribe and under Burgess’ guidance, Cocopah Speedway has undergone a massive transformation over the past three years, with multiple improvements aimed at enhancing both the fans’ and the drivers’ experience. This series is going to be huge. I have just pure happiness for the Cocopah Indian Tribe and the many, many volunteers and supporters who have spent so much time and money to first, just get the track open again, then to not only have their efforts rewarded with such a beautiful facility but to have people of this caliber in the racing world encourage and want to endorse such an event. It really doesnt get any better than that.”
“I have spoken many times about a large signature event for Cocopah Speedway and the community. This can and should mean so much to the entire community. This is the type of event that a town should rally around and make sure that this home run turns into a grand slam.
The days in between the two race weekends will be filled with other special events for racers and for fans, with a full calendar of non-race day events due to be released in the coming months. Details are also coming on a “Fan Pit Pass,” that will enable early purchasers to join in on a pre-event pit party.
Pre-event driver registration and advance ticket sales will soon be announced online at www.cocopahspeedway.com, and Burgess noted, “the entire Cocopah Speedway staff is already hard at work in preparation for what promises to be four awesome nights of racing and to building this event into one that racers throughout the country circle on their calendars each year.”
Prize money to be awarded in the inaugural Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown:
A-Features: January 2nd and 3rd, 9th and 10th – $12,000 to win and $1000 to start
Racing begins at 7:00pm for each night of the Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown at Cocopah Speedway, with special main gate and Pit gate opening times to be announced.
The full 2014 schedule for Cocopah Speedway can be accessed at www.cocopahspeedway.com/schedule/
Cocopah Speedway is located at the intersection of County 15th Street and Highway 95 in Somerton, Arizona.
Greg Burgess – Director of Operations
About Cocopah Speedway: Cocopah Speedway, known as the Diamond in the Desert, is a full 3/8ths mile clay oval, located in Somerton, Arizona, about five miles southwest of Yuma, at the intersection of Highway 95 and County 15th St. The facility features a full program of racing throughout the year with the Cocopah Speedway Racing Series, and numerous special events including the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series National Tour, the IMCA Winter Nationals, and the Thanksgiving weekend Turkey Classic. Cocopah Speedway is also home to the Cocopah Mini-Speedway, which supports youth racing in quarter midgets, go-karts and other cars.
Cocopah Speedway features seating for over 4000 race fans, special hillside VIP suites and a tower top party area, all of which are available for rental on a per event or season long basis. A full menu of food and beverages are available through Cocopah Speedways Pit Stop Bar and Grill, and other amenities include a newly expanded souvenir concession; The Garage – a racers food, apparel, souvenir and general store located in the Cocopah Speedway pits, and clean, roomy restroom facilities.
Cocopah Speedway is part of an entertainment complex including Cocopah Casino, the Cocopah Resort and Conference Center, and the Wild River Family Entertainment Center. Special rates for racers and race fans are available at the hotel and casino, which are located on the southeast corner of Highway 95 and County 15th Street. Additional information is available through www.cocopahresort.com, www.cocopah.com, and through www.cocopahwildriver.com.
Additional information regarding Cocopah Speedway is available via phone at 928-344-1563 or online at www.cocopahspeedway.com and also on Facebook.