Ryan Timms won the final King of the 360s sprint car race at Florida’s East Bay Raceway Park. (Matt Butcosk photo)

HOLLAND: A 12-Race Tour of Speedweeks

DRUMS, Pa. – Florida Speedweeks is over for another year and my plan was to get to 14 shows in four weeks. I only made it to 12 at three different tracks. 

Weather wasn’t an issue this year except for the final Saturday night when every track was rained out. I attended a mix of 360 and 410 winged shows, including World of Outlaws and High Limit Racing events. With multiple tracks and series running on the same nights, I never had a chance to attend any of the six USAC shows.

Something I found interesting was that a half-dozen drivers hit every show I did, even making it all the way down to Hendry County Motorsports Park in Clewiston, Fla. The group included: Oklahoma’s Ryan Timms; Danny Sams III from Florida but racing mostly out of Michigan; Oklahoma’s Wayne Johnson; Iowa’s Chris Martin; and the father-and-son team from Colorado — Bryan and Austyn Gossel.

After the three-day 360 show at Volusia Speedway Park near Barberville, 25 teams towed below Lake Okeechobee for a two-day USCS show at Hendry County Motorsports Park. Billed as the southernmost dirt track in the United States, the fans down there don’t get to see many out-of-state sprint car drivers. Nineteen of those 25 were from outside of Florida.

New Jersey’s Davie Franek won the first night, with Timms claiming the trophy on the final night. There was a good crowd on Saturday night and the fans loved seeing the four-wide parade lap by the USCS sprint cars.

Next up was four nights of World of Outlaws racing at Volusia Speedway Park. Volusia had one of the strongest fields I’ve seen there in a few years with 45 cars. The count included World of Outlaws teams, High Limit Racing teams and teams not committed to either series, plus some 360 teams with 410 engines.

The first night was very cold and the track was very fast as usual with Brad Sweet winning from the pole. The weather got warmer as the week progressed with David Gravel winning on night No. 2. Tyler Courtney topped night three with Sheldon Haudenschild winning the finale.

It was a good week for NOS Energy Drink as two of its sponsored teams won in a series the company will continue to support, having announced a multi-year extension to its contract with the World of Outlaws.

Rookie Landon Crawley caught some attention by making the dash two nights and winning it on Thursday. The Big Gator for total points during the DIRTcar Nationals went to Gravel. The victories at Volusia balanced out nicely with two for High Limit drivers and two for World of Outlaws drivers.

The High Limit Racing series was next with its season opener at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton. There were 56 entries for the first night with Kyle Larson coming away with the victory.

On the second night of High Limit racing, the track had one of the largest crowds I’ve seen at East Bay for a sprint car show. There will be some additional 360 sprint car shows at the track, but the Tuesday night High Limit run was the last 410 show with the track closing at the end of the year. The concession stands even sold out of food on Tuesday night. Tyler Courtney won the finale.

The next night, East Bay had the start of the Ronald Laney Memorial King of 360s. Track officials moved the three-day show up 24 hours because of rain forecast for Saturday. There were 62 cars in the pits but with the date change, the stands were sparsely populated. East Bay always puts on an excellent show and Aaron Reutzel came from seventh for the victory.

The second night belonged to Austin McCarl from fifth and the final King of 360s win on Friday went to Timms, who started 13th. 

I’ve been attending sprint car races at East Bay Raceway Park for 25 years and I’m sorry to see it go. Florida Speedweeks will look a lot different in 2025 with one less track.