Written By: Brian Deitz
The return to dirt at Mansfield was among the many headlines this winter. When Mansfield Raceway opened in 1959 it was a 3/8 mile dirt oval. The track transformed to asphalt in 1999 and was renamed Mansfield Motorsports Speedway. The .44 mile oval hosted the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series from 2004-2008. Having gone through ups and downs since, including a change in ownership, new promoter Cody Sommer thinks the move back to dirt is the way to go.Race fans were excited to see late model and sprint cars get back on the track this week during Georgia-Florida Speedweeks. Before long, weekly shows will fire up with stops from the top touring late model and sprint car series’ set to visit the buckeye state.
“Dirt racing in Ohio is strong and overall across the country it is in a much better situation than asphalt. Mansfield is located in the heart of some of the best racing in the country and with a venue as nice as this (Mansfield), it is a shame it has not been put back on the map like it deserves,” Sommer said in a release.
Sommer has a three year lease with owner Grant Milliron. The deal includes a purchase option of the facility. Crews have worked this winter to remove the old asphalt. Sommer’s team is also using elbow grease to clean 12 luxury suites, concession stands and bathrooms to get the facility ready for the May 25th opener.
Among the shows scheduled for 2017 at Mansfield, The Inaugural Triple Crown Spring Series starts March 25th and continues on the weekends of April 1st and April 8th. The series features 410 sprint cars, late models and wingless sprint cars. The All Star Circuit of Champion Sprint Cars visits Mansfield on May 28th with the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series scheduled to invade on July 2nd.
The Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions is scheduled to make more than 20 stops in Ohio throughout 2017. Among the events on the schedule, the 35th annual Ohio Sprint Speedweek slated to run from Friday, June 16th to Saturday, June 24th. The 2016 event saw 7 different winners in 8 main events, with NASCAR driver Kyle Larson finding victory lane twice. Other notable drivers who took part in the 2016 Ohio Sprint Speedweek were Kasey Kahne, Rico Abreu and the late Bryan Clauson. Owned by former NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, the All Star Circuit of Champions will also be part of the “Dirt Classic Ohio” at Attica Raceway Park on September 2nd. The next night, the All Stars visit Wayne County Speedway in Orrville for the “Pete Jacobs Memorial.” Both races pay $10,000 to win.
The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series will visit Rossburg on May 12th and 13th at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway. The series heads to Attica Raceway Park on Tuesday, July 11th for the “Ohio Logistics Brad Doty Classic.” Two nights later the Outlaws return to Eldora for the “Jokers Wild” on July 13th, the “Knight Before the Kings Royal” on July 14th and the “Kings Royal” on July 15th.
Earlier this month Wooster, Ohio native Sheldon Haudenschild announced he would run with The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series fulltime in 2017. The 23-year-old is a second generation driver. His father Jac is 13th on the series win list with 56. The younger Haudenschild finished third in the All Star Circuit of Champions points race in 2016, leading the series with 9 feature wins.
Atomic Speedway in Chillicothe will host the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models on Friday, May 26th. The series then travels north to visit Wayne County Speedway on Saturday, May 27th. The 37th Annual Dirt Track World Championship returns to Portsmouth Raceway Park on October 20th and 21st. The final event on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series schedule has a $100,000 purse.
For the third straight year, super late model fans will get their fill with Buckeye Late Model Dirt Week presented by Octane Race Products. Featuring 8 events over 10 days, Buckeye Late Model Dirt Week (July 20th – July 29th) rolls into Wayne County Speedway on Saturday, July 22nd, paying $4,000 to win.