The winter racing series down south got off to a soggy start.
The All Star Circuit of Champion sprint cars were to have an extended three-day racing weekend, but Thursday's program in Screvens, Ga., was rained out. Action then moved to the Bubba Speedway in Ocala, Fla., on Friday and Saturday, and those programs were completed.
Defending World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz won on both nights. Friday, Schatz was the winner over Daryn Pittman, Hanover's Logan Schuchart, Dale Blaney and David Gravel. Red Lion's Cody Darrah, Cap Henry, Jason Sides, Lance Dewease and Tony Stewart completed the top 10.
Other local cars that made the feature were Steve Buckwlater in 13th, Paul McMahan in 15th, Danny Dietrich in 16th and Mark Coldren in 21st.
Saturday, Schatz was the winner over Tim Shaffer, with Stewart, Blaney and Pittman in the top five. Rounding out the top 10 were Gravel, Greg Wilson, McMahan, Sides and Dewease.
Other locals to make the feature were Dietrich in 11th, Darrah in 12th, Buckwalter in 13th and Schuchart, who dropped out early and was credited with last place.
Florida sprint-car racing resumes later this week at the Volusia Speedway Park. The All Stars kick off two days on Wednesday, while the World of Outlaws then take to the Speedway for three days starting Friday.
ADDED SPONSORSHIP: The local overall sprint-car point series has an added title sponsor for the 2013 season.
The series will now be known as Speedway Motors/Champion Racing Oil Central Pennsylvania Sprint Car Series presented by Hoseheads.
Champion Racing Oil joins Speedway Motors in the role of title sponsor. While all of the associate sponsors haven't been finalized yet, it appears the series total value will increase by $3,000 from $19,000 to $22,000. That's a healthy 16 percent increase.
The series champion will again receive $5,000, while most other positions in the top 10 have been increased, with $1,000 for 10th spot.
The series offers points for all local races involving the central Pennsylvania sprint cars, with the champion crowned following the season's final race. Thomasville's Greg Hodnett was the champion in 2012.
The series is operated independently from the local tracks and offers added incentive for teams to compete in all races during the season.
When MRN race broadcaster Steve Post visited the York County Racing Club's annual Hall of Fame banquet in January, he pointed out that this is the only area in the country with an overall point series for sprint cars.
Post and Kendra Jacobs present MRN's "Winged Nation" program and follow winged sprint-car racing all across the nation.
LOCAL OPENERS: Most of the local tracks have released their schedules for 2013, so it's time to take a look at the upcoming season openers.
Of course, Lincoln Speedway will open the Northeast outdoor racing season with their Icebreaker 30 for the sprint cars.
The Icebreaker 30 is set for Saturday afternoon, Feb. 23. That's one day before the Daytona 500 is reeled off in Florida.
Outdoor racing in February is a chancy business, but Lincoln has managed to do quite well at it. This year will mark the 30th year that local tracks have tried to open the season in February. The first time it happened was in 1984 at Hagerstown, and since then the local season has opened in February 15 times.
Amazingly, Lincoln has hosted 11 of those 15 February openers. The Feb. 23 date is pretty early, but not the earliest the local season has been kicked off. That honor goes back to 1999, when Lincoln opened on Feb. 20.
Of course that statement has to be qualified. Long-gone Bowling Green Speedway raced on New Year's Day in 1955. But, that was a special event, and not the start of the regular season.
Looking to other track openers, Selinsgrove will be the second track to open this season, with a scheduled Sunday afternoon show on March 10 for the sprint cars. Selinsgrove will return the following Friday and Saturday with the Race of Champions Modifieds, before opening their regular season with the 358 sprints on Saturday, March 23.
Port Royal opens its season with the sprint cars on Saturday, March 16, while Hagerstown will attempt to make up the "Brawl in the Fall" on Sunday afternoon, March 17. Hagerstown's regular season will open on Saturday, March 30.
Williams Grove opens its sprint-car season on Friday, March 22, while the super sportsman Saturday Night Series is set to open on April 20.
Trailway offers a special Saturday afternoon micro-sprint race on March 23. The Friday night 358 sprint programs begin on April 5.
Susquehanna Speedway Park kicks off its Saturday Night stock-car programs on April 6, with a sprint-car program set for Sunday, April 14.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdis patch.com.