Off and running: 2017 Cocopah Speedway schedule begins Jan. 14; includes World of Outlaws appearance
By: Randy Hoeft @YumaSunSports
In 2016, Tom Dalen was excited to become Cocopah Speedway’s new general manager.
Now he’s beside himself when talking about what the 2017 season has in store.
The 2017 schedule kicks off Jan. 14 and includes, among other things, a longer Cocopah Speedway Racing Series season, a revamped Alexander Automotive Center IMCA Winter Nationals event and the crown jewel, an appearance by the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series.
Missing, however, is a third annual Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown. The event’s cancellation was announced in August.
“I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to put on a World of Outlaws show at Cocopah Speedway,” said Dalen, looking down the list of events planned at the Somerton oval this upcoming year.
“People expressed a lot of sadness about Winter Heat, so it’s really great to bring the best talent in the country again to the fans of sprint car racing in the area.”
The Outlaws are scheduled to appear April 7 in a Friday night show billed as the “Yuma Valley Showdown.”
“That is the crown jewel in our 2017 schedule,” said Dalen.
Before the “Greatest Show on Dirt” arrives, the 2017 Cocopah Speedway Racing Series gets under way Jan. 14. The series for IMCA Modifieds, Stock Cars, Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks, will feature 19 races, six more than the 2016 schedule. The series will conclude on Dec. 16.
“Most all of the drivers that I talked to wanted more races for the season so I added some before and some after the summer break,” said Dalen while explaining the longer series.
“The nights that time of year are really nice once the sun goes down so we wanted to try to add some more dates to the schedule. And I think 19 points nights is a good number to decide the champions in each division.”
The 2016 schedule saw the summer break begin after May 23 and resume Sept. 24. In 2017, there will be series events on May 27 and June 10 before the break, resuming Sept. 16.
New to the 2017 Cocopah Speedway schedule is the inaugural Cactus Clash for IMCA race cars, Feb. 3 and 4, with a padded purse — $1,000 to win for the Modifieds, $500 for the Stock Cars, $400 for the Sport Modifieds and $350 for the Hobby Stocks.
The Cactus Clash is, “a prelude to the Winter Nationals,” said Dalen. “I just wanted to have a big race payout to draw more cars — hopefully — for the IMCA Arizona Modified tour.”
A week after the Clash, the shortened 7th annual Alexander Automotive Group IMCA Winter Nationals get under way with practice on Thursday Feb. 9, and racing on Feb. 10, 11 and 12, with the last date a Sunday afternoon event, starting at 1 p.m.
Previously, the Winter Nationals had been a two-weekend, five-night show.
Regarding the new Winter Nationals format, Dalen said, “I teamed up with Jonah Trussel, the promoter at Central Arizona Speedway and Arizona Speedway, to put on an Arizona Winter Tour.
“Cocopah Speedway will kick it off with three nights and then five nights up in Phoenix, so there will be more racing for the guys that make the long pull down to Arizona.
“So in all reality, including the Cactus Clash, we will have more racing in the month of February in the Southwest than ever before. I think we should call it ‘The Month of Modified Madness!’”
In the fall, the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series National Tour will return to again end its season at Cocopah Speedway, with two nights of racing on Nov. 10 and 11.
Familiar dates unchanged on the schedule include the fourth annual Deacon Dick Rautenberg Memorial (Oct. 13 and 14), and the eighth annual Turkey Classic (Nov. 24 and 25).