Race Weekend Central

Not Quite NASCAR: Dirt Racing’s Answer to Monaco, Indianapolis & Charlotte

The Circuit de Monaco. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Charlotte Motor Speedway. This coming Sunday (May 29) is part of Memorial Day weekend in the United States and is arguably the biggest day in motorsports everywhere else in the world.

Dirt racing may not have a one-day trifecta to rival its asphalt brethren this weekend, but over the course of three days the sport has some big-time races to provide a worthy alternative to those not into celebrity worship, kit cars or late-night marathons. 

Show-Me 100 – Lucas Oil Speedway – Wheatland, Mo.

Wheatland, Mo., is a far cry from the streets of Monaco, but the biggest event of the dirt racing weekend will run Saturday night at the picturesque Lucas Oil Speedway, a campus that beyond a modern dirt track with a big-league-caliber grandstand also features a drag strip and a power boat lake.

The facility is gorgeous and the money is big, with Saturday’s (May 28) finale feature going off for $50,000 to win. The event is a centerpiece of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series schedule, as the speedway campus is owned by the series’ title sponsor. 

The storyline of the weekend is all eyes on points leader Brandon Sheppard and the Rocket Chassis house team. With Sheppard and crew now chasing the LOLMDS title in 2022 after winning the World of Outlaws late model championship the last three years, Saturday will mark their first shot at a crown-jewel win that they’ve been unable to contest in recent years. The series newcomer is easily the weekend favorite.

See also
Dirty (Half) Dozen: Shane Clanton's Bad Rap, Lucas Oil Regulars Have Right Stuff

Bob Weikert Memorial – Port Royal Speedway – Port Royal, Pa.

There’s no richer open-wheel race being run on dirt this weekend, and while Port Royal Speedway may not be as famous as the Brickyard, there’s no doubt that the Palace of Speed is the centerpiece of its home community in Port Royal, Pa. 

And fortunately, sprint cars have no problem putting on a fantastic race on the fairgrounds’ half-mile.

Sunday’s finale feature is slated to go off for $29,000 to win, with the All-Star Circuit of Champions squaring up to take on the locals of the Pennsylvania Posse. The ASCoC tour has a closer points race brewing than the World of Outlaws at the moment, with defending champion Tyler Courtney facing heat from an ever-consistent Parker Price-Miller and 2022 two-time winner Justin Peck. 

Pro tip for those potentially making the trip Sunday: No, Port Royal’s grandstand does not have the amenities that Lucas Oil Speedway does. That’s not the view to have, anyhow. Get there early, bring a lawn chair and sit in the track’s massive infield. From turn 2 at ground level, one can see the entirety of the track’s racing surface, and the sensation of speed from any racecars exiting turn 2 at Port Royal is stunning. 

King of Spring 100 – Lebanon Valley Speedway – West Lebanon, N.Y.

It’s not often that dirt racing is blessed with five-figure paydays on a Monday, but the holiday weekend provides just that, as the big-block modifieds of the Super DIRTcar Series are slated to tackle 100 laps on the final day of the Memorial Day break.

Now, yes, it’s not the longest race of the weekend, but in a way watching the big-block modifieds at Lebanon Valley Speedway is dirt racing’s comparable race to NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600. It’s still a marathon at 100 laps, and while Saturday and Sunday’s major dirt races feature super late models and 410 winged sprint cars that race from coast to coast, Monday’s (May 30) big-block race features racecars that are a regional fixture in Yankee country, cars that are arguably the most stock of the headliners this weekend. 

Even if the stock car they most resemble, the AMC Gremlin, is extinct.

See also
Thinkin' Dirty: 2022 World of Outlaws Late Models at Bloomsburg

The story stays the same in the dirt ranks. Stewart Friesen is the points leader and will be among the favorites Monday, but the storyline of most note may well be defending champion Matt Sheppard, who had a disastrous start to the season during Florida Speedweeks. Sheppard, however, has been red hot of late, winning the most recent DIRTcar feature at Can-Am Speedway as well as scoring a mid-week victory on the Short Track Super Series circuit at New Egypt Speedway on Tuesday, May 24

Frontstretch’s own Phil Allaway calls the Lebanon Valley Speedway his home track, so keep your eyes peeled for our longtime sports car and racing TV expert should you make the trip.

The Bottom Dollar

At the time of this writing, the Coca-Cola 600 is supposedly sold out, even though there was no shortage of grandstand tickets available long after the sellout was announced.

As a result, there will be no price comparison this weekend, but for those seeking a dirt-racing fix general admission ticket prices can be found below.

Saturday – Show-Me 100 – $40
Sunday – Bob Weikert Memorial – $30
Monday – King of Spring 100 – $26

Regardless of the race, even with the buffet of racing to be had on TV this weekend, I encourage all who are financially able to support their local racetrack this weekend.

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