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Indy Autonomous Challenge Unveils Race Car for World’s First Head-to-Head, High-Speed Autonomous Race at IMS
Energy Systems Network (ESN) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), organizers of the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC), today unveiled the official race car that will be autonomously driven by scores of university teams in the world’s first high-speed, head-to-head autonomous race at the Racing Capital of the World on Oct. 23, 2021.
The primary goal of the IAC is to advance technologies that can speed the commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), leading to increased safety and performance. In addition, the IAC is a challenging competition to excite the best and brightest university students from around the world to engage in hands-on engineering firsts.
“The Dallara-built IAC race car is the most advanced, fastest autonomous vehicle ever developed,” stated Paul Mitchell, president and CEO of ESN, and co-organizer of the IAC. “Our IAC sponsors are providing radar, lidar, optical cameras and advanced computers, bringing the value of each vehicle to $1 million.”
The IAC is scheduled for Oct. 23, 2021, at the IMS, with a qualifying simulation race during the Indy 500 week in May. The total IAC prize purse is $1.5 million: $1 million awarded to the winning team of the October IAC race, and an additional $500,000 for winners of the hackathons and simulation races, awarded by IAC sponsor, Ansys.
More than 500 undergraduate and graduate students, PhDs and mentors who excel in artificial intelligence software have responded to the challenge, representing 39 universities in 11 countries on four continents and 14 U.S. states.
Inspiration for the IAC was the DARPA Grand Challenge, as explained by 2005 winner, Sebastian Thrun: “The DARPA Grand Challenge proved that robots can drive themselves in very confined environments, but that they don’t have the agility and skill of a really well-trained human racecar driver to act in extreme situations. IMS is the best place in the world to challenge the robotics community to test self-driving cars. By going into a racing context, we will stretch self-driving cars to the absolute limit.”
The Modified Dallara IL-15 Autonomous Race Car
Since 2002, Dallara has been the sole race car supplier of the Indy Lights series, and now the modified Dallara IL-15 is the official IAC racecar.
“Dallara is the best race car engineering company in the world, yet designing the chassis for autonomous racing was really challenging,” explained Stefano dePonti, CEO and general manager of Dallara USA. “Dallara loves innovation and technological challenges, and we share the IAC’s passion for education and motorsports.”
The modified Dallara is retrofitted with hardware and controls to enable automation to enhance safety, control and performance. Components include rugged-edge on-board computing, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, perception systems, high-end graphics processing units (GPUs), drive-by-wire, and artificial intelligence acceleration and powerful central processing units to run IAC teams’ software and algorithms in the racecar.
One of the challenges for autonomous racing is solving edge case scenarios – challenges that occur only at extreme operating parameters, such as avoiding unanticipated obstacles at high speeds.
“We know how the world’s best race car drivers react in the Dallara, in high-speed scenarios, but now we have to anticipate the actions of a robot,” added dePonti.
IMS has been a catalyst and proving ground for motorsport and transportation innovation since its inception in 1909. IMS hosts the crown jewel of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis 500 — annually the world’s largest single-day sporting event. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is North America’s premier open-wheel racing series.
“The IAC is going to bring the best minds from around the world to solve a very complex problem, right here at the Racing Capital of the World,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “As the birthplace of motorsports’ innovation, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a fitting setting for this event, and we can’t wait to see the winning entry cross the Yard of Bricks into history.”
Indiana Economic Development Corporation, ADLINK, Ansys, Aptiv, AutonomouStuff, Bridgestone, Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), Dallara, Microsoft, New Eagle, PWR, RTI, Schaeffler and Valvoline. See IndyAChallenge.com for more information about these amazing companies realizing autonomous mobility.
IMS Museum PR
Members of the National Motorsports Press Association have elected officers and directors for 2021, the organization announced Monday.
Reid Spencer of the NASCAR Wire Service will serve a second one-year term as president of the NMPA. Kelly Crandall of Racer.com was elected to a one-year term as vice president, with Jerry Jordan of KickinTheTires.net set to serve a two-year term as secretary/treasurer.
Elected to the board of directors, with terms expiring in 2022, are Doug Rice of Performance Racing Network (Broadcast), Deb Williams of RacinToday.com (Press), John Harrelson of Harrelson Photography Inc. (Photography) and Justin Schuoler of KickinTheTires.net (Social Media).
Terms for newly elected officers and board members will begin on January 20.
Returning board members, with terms expiring in 2021, are Jonathan Merryman of NASCAR.com, freelance photographer Jim Fluharty and Chris Knight of Catchfence.com.
The ARCA Menards Series has released the schedule for the Sioux Chief Showdown, a ten-race series-within-the-series that allows drivers under 18 years of age to compete for a championship on short tracks and road courses. As it did in 2020, the Showdown will bring in the best teams from the combined ARCA Menards Series platform – including teams from the ARCA Menards Series East and West – to compete for nearly one million dollars in race purses, bonus awards, and point funds.
Additionally, the race at Salem Speedway, originally scheduled for September 25, has been moved to Saturday, October 2.
The highlights –
- The Showdown opens on Saturday, May 22 at Toledo Speedway, the first time the series’ home track has hosted the Showdown opener.
- Two road course races are a part of the Showdown calendar, the first on June 4 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the second on August 6 at Watkins Glen International.
- The month of July will see four consecutive Saturday night short track Showdown events, with stops at Minnesota’s Elko Speedway on July 10, Michigan’s Berlin Raceway on July 17, Iowa Speedway on July 24, and a return to the high banks of Indiana’s legendary Winchester Speedway on July 31.
- The Milwaukee Mile returns to the ARCA Menards Series schedule for the first time since 2007 and will be the longest oval track on the Showdown schedule.
- The final two Showdown races are scheduled for two of the country’s fastest high-banked half-mile ovals, with Bristol Motor Speedway slated for Thursday, September 16 and the finale at the ultra-high banked Salem Speedway on Saturday, October 2. The Salem race has been moved from its previously announced September date.
- All ten races will be televised live. MAVTV will broadcast seven of the ten races, with the other three being the races at Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen, and Bristol which will be televised live on FS1.
Sioux Chief Manufacturing, one of America’s leading rough plumbing component manufacturers, is in the second year of a three-year agreement to be the entitlement sponsor of the ARCA Menards Series Sioux Chief Showdown in 2021 and was the sponsor of ARCA’s former Short Track Challenge since 2017.
The complete 2021 ARCA Menards Series Sioux Chief Showdown schedule –
Date Track Location Network
Sat., May 22 Toledo Speedway Toledo, OH MAVTV
Fri., June 4 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Lexington, OH FS1
Sat., July 10 Elko Speedway Elko, MN MAVTV
Sat., July 17 Berlin Raceway Marne, MI MAVTV
Sat., July 24 Iowa Speedway Newton, IA MAVTV
Sat., July 31 Winchester Speedway Winchester, IN MAVTV
Fri., Aug. 6 Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen, NY FS1
Sun., Aug. 29 The Milwaukee Mile West Allis, WI MAVTV
Thurs., Sept. 16 Bristol Motor Speedway Bristol, TN FS1
Sat., Oct. 2 Salem Speedway Salem, IN MAVTV
** All dates are tentative and subject to change.
JD Motorsports with Gary Keller is pleased to welcome Printville back with the team as an associate sponsor on all four cars in 2021.
Printville, based out of nearby Asheville, North Carolina, will serve as the official media printer for the team, providing various marketing assets such as hero cards, marketing proposals, advertisement posters and more for use throughout the season.
Originally partnering with the team in 2020, Printville has played an integral part in the team’s marketing efforts, providing fans and partners with the highest quality assets available.
Now, an exclusive offer for JD Motorsports partners and fans alike, Printville is offering a 10% discount on all printing services on their website, store.printville.com . Use promo code JDMOTORSPORTS and let Printville take over all of your printing needs today!
The DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship saw one driver conquer 2020 better than any other — Kevin Root.
Root’s first Hoosier championship was powered by 12 victories at four different DIRTcar racetracks.
“For the weird year it was, we were able to do a lot of racing,” Root said. “We just had to travel a little more. We went to some different tracks, like Can-Am Speedway where I have a knack for getting around. I’ve always liked the place.
“We always run well at Land of Legends. I just did the same things I would do normally. No matter where you are running you never come off your game plan and we just went and raced where we could. Hats off to the promoters and tracks that allowed us to race a little bit this year and we were able to be successful in doing it.”
Last year, the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship showed its strength by supporting the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified division with an expanded and ensured point fund at a time when the season’s outlook was grim. Track after track began adding weekly shows and the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series: Central Region completed their schedule with some of the best Sportsman racing in the Northeast.
Root and his formidable #34 made 24 DIRTcar Sportsman Modified starts in 2020 and went home with 12 victories. That winning percentage and Root’s excellence helped propel him to the Hoosier championship and a runner up in the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series: Central Region points.
Root has been racing at the top of his game for years. He’s piled up win after win across New York and is noted as a smooth, clean racer who knows his way around a race car.
It isn’t just what he does on track that gets the job done either.
“I’ve had the same attitude towards preparation that I’ve always had,” Root explained. “I had a little more help in the shop this year and we changed our setup package from torsion bars to coils. I was able to focus on the stuff I haven’t been able to do in the past like working on tires.”
That extra attention to detail was absolutely necessary with the miles Root put on the hauler this year, picking up victories at Land of Legends Raceway, Can-Am Speedway, Utica-Rome Speedway and Weedsport Speedway.
While he’s living the dream and planning on making the move to DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, Root has a lot of knowledge and experience to impart on the huge number of young drivers entering and succeeding in DIRTcar Sportsman Modified division.
“The biggest thing with all the young guys is that you have to learn to work on your own stuff,” Root said. “That’s the bottom line. You’re not going to know your own race cars if you don’t work on them. Hard work has finally paid off for me. The last couple of years we’ve raced we’ve been really good. It’s not just driving, it’s preparing the race car and surrounding yourself with the right people and to learn from them like I did with Scott Jefferies, Vinney Salerno, and watching drivers like Billy Decker, Larry Wight, Matt Sheppard, Brett Hearn, and all those guys.”
It’s not always easy or even fun but for Root, hard work and perseverance have been the way to go.
“Being a youngster you gotta be able to take some lumps and pick yourself up and go back out there,” Root noted. “Move on to the next race. It’s not easy to put a mistake in the back of your mind but you gotta do it. Race clean with everybody. When you don’t tear your stuff up you finish races.”
Root’s swan song in a DIRTcar Sportsman Modified will be Jan. 28-30 at Lake View Motor Speedway in South Carolina where the Sportsman are set to race for impressive purses and bonuses.
“It’s a great purse for two nights of racing,” said Root of the southbound swing. “We’ll do a little bit of testing on the Thursday night before. It looks like there will be some good competition down there knowing the guys that are going. I just want to get down there. It’ll probably be my last race in a Sportsman with the move up to Big Blocks.”
It won’t be all fun and games as Root plans to thoroughly shake down a new car for a new driver.
“I just bought a new Bicknell frame for my car and a motor from Brian Donath,” he said. “We’ll go down and hopefully keep up the momentum we had last year. It’ll be good to make sure everything stays together on the new car.”
But that’s not all.
“When I am done racing it, I am putting Mark Yorker in it for the 2021 season,” he added. “He’s going to take over the reins for me in the Sportsman car.”
At the end of 2020, Root hooked up with legendary car owner Vinny Salerno, who fields the recognizable #4* DIRTcar Big Block Modified. Fans will remember the success Tim McCreadie had behind the wheel of “the four-star car” as many refer to it.
The team has ambitious plans for 2021.
“We are finalizing our plans to go to Bristol,” Root revealed. “Vinny is very open-minded. He’s a great car owner to start with. He’s given me quite a range of options. If we can afford it, we’ll go race it. We are going to start out at the Series race at Can-Am. Then we’ll go to Bristol for the two Series races (April 22-24). After that, we’ll try to run as much of the Series as we can.”
Running a Big Block against the best drivers in the Northeast has been a dream of Root’s for a long time. According to him, he’s ready.
“I’ll also run Brewerton Speedway Friday nights,” Root said. “That will be huge for me. That’s the place to race and get laps against some of the best drivers at one of the best tracks around. Then we’ll get to run the Small Block and DIRTcar Big Block at Orange County on Saturdays.”
After a stellar 2020 season, fans are eager to watch the elite DIRTcar Sportsman Modified driver step into the Big Block ring.
Be sure to follow along on DIRTcar.com and on social media at Facebook and Twitter for videos, photos, features, and more.
DIRTcar Series PR
Will Cox III will join JR Motorsports’ championship-winning Late Model team for 2021, partnering with 2020 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series champion Josh Berry to round out JRM’s two-car effort. The 15-year-old Raleigh, N.C. native will compete in his first full-time Late Model season and join a list of drivers with the program that includes Anthony Alfredo, William Byron, Christian Eckes, Sam Mayer and others. He will also be a member of the Chevrolet Driver’s Edge Development team for 2021.
Cox III comes to JRM after a rapid rise through the karting and U.S. Legend Car ranks, which began in 2017 at the age of 12. After attending a sports-car race at Virginia International Raceway with his father, Cox began racing go-karts following a test at GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, N.C. The following year, Cox III raced in the local karting ranks there and branched into the national touring groups in the United States and Canada. In 2019, Cox III earned his SCCA license and competed in three road races.
“This is amazing and I cannot thank JR Motorsports enough for choosing me for such an awesome opportunity,” Cox III said. “It’s going to allow me to bring my performance up to another level because now I have such great equipment. Instead of it being about relying only on the equipment, I can now focus on improving myself as a driver and enhancing my abilities.”
Cox III is set to work alongside teammate Berry, a veteran driver and mentor who served as one of his instructors during a Late Model test at Hickory (N.C.) Speedway last season. “He’s got so much experience and has accomplished so much,” Cox III said of Berry. “With him having helped me from day one, now that he’s my teammate, I have a great coach standing beside me.”
After consulting with driver development manager Lorin Ranier, Cox III shifted to U.S. Legend Car racing to begin training on ovals. In a summer spent competing in the Young Lions division around the Southeast, Cox III led all 30 laps of the U.S. Legend Car Nationals championship race at Carteret County Speedway in North Carolina to earn the Young Lions national championship. A month later, Cox III was leading the World Road Course Finals in Atlanta when he was hooked from behind by a competitor and finished third.
Last season, Cox III moved up to the U.S. Legend Car Pro Series and planned a full season, only to be derailed by the pandemic. In April, he tested a Late Model Stock Car at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Upon his 15th birthday, Cox III competed in the Carolina Pro Late Model Series, moving up to Late Model Stock Car competition following his first victory in July. Cox III made his first CARS Racing Tour start in July at Hickory, finishing on the lead lap in 15th.
When not racing, the young driver attends online classes through Liberty University’s Online Academy, the same program pioneered by another JRM Late Model driver, William Byron.
MAVTV Motorsports Network, the only television network in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to motorsports, is pleased to announce the launch of its global digital subscription video-on-demand service, MAVTV Plus. The SVOD service is the newest addition to MAVTV’s family of broadcast platforms and to commemorate its kick-off, all subscribers will receive 60 days of FREE access. MAVTV Plus will formally debut with exclusive coverage of the final night of the 2021 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday, January 16, with coverage across all digital platforms as well as the official MAVTV Facebook page.
“We’re thrilled to announce that MAVTV Plus will make its debut by showcasing one of motorsports’ most beloved events with the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals,” said Morgan Lucas, President, Lucas Oil Products. “Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 spectator capacity at the River Spirit Expo Center is very limited, which has provided added significance to MAVTV Plus’ first broadcast. We want to ensure that fans in Oklahoma and across the country still have the opportunity to watch the action unfold, so in appreciation of the passion and loyalty of our audience we want to give back by showcasing Saturday night’s racing on the MAVTV Facebook page. No one should be left out in celebrating this legendary annual showcase of dirt track talent.”
MAVTV Plus is built on the foundation established by Lucas Oil Racing TV and replaces the latter, effective immediately. The rebrand of the digital service will be seamless to subscribers, who will continue to receive access to a uniquely diverse collection of automotive and racing content catered directly to enthusiasts, including the ARCA Menards Series, GNCC Racing Series, Late Model Dirt Series, Pro Pulling League, ASCS Sprint Car Series, GT4 America and much more. As part of the launch, current subscribers will also receive a two-month extension on their current plan.
“With the addition of MAVTV Plus, MAVTV Motorsports Network expands its reach and availability to automotive and motorsports enthusiasts across the globe. We continue to provide our fans with the kind of content they crave. From live racing to automotive lifestyle programming, we are making it available when and where they want it,” said Dan Teitscheid, President, MAVTV Motorsports Network. “Collectively, the family of dedicated motorsports platforms offered by MAVTV is unparalleled, allowing the network to pave new ground in the broadcast world by catering to this passionate audience.”
A yearly subscription to MAVTV Plus, which gives viewers access to all of the Live racing, along with the MAVTV library of content, is priced at $99.99. MAVTV Plus is also offered as a monthly subscription at $6.99, and includes access to select scheduled live events and the MAVTV library. The app is available for download on major mobile and streaming devices, and can also be accessed via an internet browser. Additional information for both current and new subscribers can be found at www.MAVTVPlus.com.
The MAVTV Plus on-demand streaming service is designed to complement the existing MAVTV Motorsports Network, and will feature all types of motorsports programming. From both live and archived race events to automotive restoration shows, MAVTV Plus will provide nothing but the best motorsports content.
When Mullins Racing heads to Daytona International Speedway for the annual pre-season ARCA Menards Series test on Jan. 15-16, Virginia’s Dominion Raceway will be well represented.
Joining team owner and driver Willie Mullins to take part in the test will be a pair of Dominion Raceway mainstays - Robert Bruce and Davey Callihan. NASCAR-sanctioned Dominion Raceway is Mullins’ local track and he be found there on most race weekends helping local drivers like Bruce and Callihan as they battle for supremacy at the four-tenths-mile asphalt oval located in Woodford, Va.
"We are super excited to have local Dominion Raceway talent in our car at the Daytona test,” said Mullins. "My wife Dinah and I are heavily involved with Dominion, so we can't think of a better way to represent our local track than have all three of us testing at Daytona.
“Robert Bruce has tested with us before and has run two short track races with us. It’s also great to add Davey Callihan to our roster,” Mullins went on to say. “He deserves a shot running in good equipment. He has wins in a modified, the Virginia Racer class and in a late model stock car. He is the total package.”
Bruce is no stranger to the Mullins Racing team, having tested for the team at Daytona Int’l Speedway twice in the past while also working as a crew member for the team. The 53-year-old Fredericksburg, Va., native also has two career ARCA Menards Series starts, both coming at Elko (Minn.) Speedway for Mullins Racing. He earned the team’s first top-10 finish on a short track in 2018 at Elko Speedway.
“It’s good to go out there and turn some laps and get a feel for the cars and things like that,” said Bruce, whose son Cole is also a regular competitor at Dominion Raceway. “We’ve got Davey Callihan, who has really never done it before, coming with us and it’ll be great to have him come down and gain that experience. I’m looking forward to that. Plus, Willie has a new car and we need to see what we can do to get him dialed in and fast with his new car while we’re there.”
Callihan is a third-generation driver who also hails from Fredericksburg, Va. The 31-year-old started his racing career in go-karts and motorcycles before transitioning to stock cars in 2010. Callihan focused most of his efforts on the Virginia Racer class at Dominion Raceway last year, earning two victories en route to a third-place championship finish. However, he also competed in the late model stock car and modified divisions when time allowed.
“It mean’s a lot to me to get to test at Daytona,” Callihan said. “I think it’s every short-track driver’s dream to do that in a race car. I’m just really excited for the opportunity and I’m excited to have a team like Mullins Racing believe in me enough to allow me to test their race car. I’m not sure what to expect, but hopefully I can give some good input on the race car and help get this thing as good as it can be.”
Callihan is currently seeking funding to compete in the ARCA Menards Series East New Smyrna ARCA 175 at New Smyrna Speedway on Feb. 8 or the ARCA Menards Series Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 13.
Dominion Raceway is owned and operated by Steve Britt, who said that he’s proud to see three drivers with deep ties to the track with the opportunity to take to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway during the annual pre-season test.
“Our job as a NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series track is to provide an opportunity for people to enter the sport at an entry level and help them fine tune their skillset so they can move up,” said Britt. “That’s really our goal, kind of like minor league baseball where people that have talent that want to be a part of the sport can have a place to start. When we see people starting to move out of our area, that mean’s we’re doing something right.
“That’s our role. That’s one of the things that we’re supposed to do, provide a place for people with talent who want to pursue motorsports as a career. It mean’s we’re doing something right.”
The No. 3 Mullins Racing Chevrolet carries sponsorship support from Crawford Sprinkler of Raleigh, CorvetteParts.net, Crow Wing Recycling, CW Metals, Bugsy's Auto, Snap On by Timmy Brann and Dinah Marie Photography.
For more information on Mullins Racing, please visit mullinsracing.net, like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mullinsracing and follow them on Twitter at @mullins_racing.
Mullins Racing PR
The World Series of Asphalt Racing held annually at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., brings together a great array of pavement talents from across the Nation to jumpstart their respective racing seasons.
And, while the classes are largely made up of Tour Type Modifieds and Late Models, the speedway is testing the waters with a new division this year as the 602 Crate Modifieds have been added to the speed-bill.
New Jersey asphalt Modified veteran Rob Schultz, who races primarily at Wall Stadium Speedway, is spearheading the effort to bring the class to the popular high-banked ½-mile oval.
“I was approached by a number of guys to see if it would be possible to run the 602 cars during the week of the World Series events at New Smyrna so I reached out to the track and they felt it would be a good idea to try a few shows,” said Schultz.
“They were real receptive about the whole idea and it was just a matter of firming up the dates. We’ve already been getting calls and commitments from guys who plan to take part.”
Schultz elaborated more on the varying rules between northeast tracks that run similar cars but are somewhat exclusive to their home tracks.
“The SK Modified and Wall Modified rules differ so much and in the past not a lot of SK type cars have showed up so we figured why not try the 602 Modifieds. The rules are much closer with that class and the other thing is if it goes well this year and perhaps you have an SK car then next year all you need to do is put in a crate motor,” he explained.
“What we are trying to do is so stock crate motors that weren’t worked are now competitive. I’m certain these cars will run really well at New Smyrna.”
There are three slated dates for the 602 crate Modified which are Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, February 7-9.
The rules will be as followed:
Engine used is GM 602 crate motor, Wall Stadium Sportsman rules are used with following exceptions:
Built engine 2675
Built engine non quick-change rear 2700
GM sealed stock crate 2525
GM sealed stock crate non-quick change rear 2550
7” clutch + 50 lbs.
No tire prep
Tires will be tested
Only eight (8) tires allowed for 3 nights
Practice tires allowed
10” wheel, Hoosier F45 - 2 sets-total of eight (8)
Gear - 411 only quick and non-quick change
$200 entry fee due by February 1.
Mahoning Valley Speedway/Evergreen Raceway champion Bobby Jones geared for first run at World Series of Asphalt Racing at New Smyrna Speedway
Over his 30-plus years of racing on the eastern Pennsylvania short track asphalt circuit Bobby Jones has put together a sterling career. Between Mahoning Valley Speedway in Lehighton and Evergreen Raceway in St. Johns, the 48-year old ace who hails from Palmerton, owns a combined 49 feature wins and four championships including this past season when he won the Evergreen Modified class title.
When Jones hits the track at either facility he is immediately pegged as a favorite for the win.
Jones has also been known to race elsewhere too, with stops at Wall Stadium, Stafford Springs, Thompson and other speedways.
Now the popular ace will be adding another new venue, one that he says has been on his bucket list for some time. He has filed an entry to run the 2021 World Series of Asphalt Stock Racing at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida starting the week of February 4.
“It’s something I wanted to do for a long time and everything just fell nicely together and there’s no time than right now to go down there and I’m excited about it,” said Jones.
“This is definitely something I want to mark off my bucket list. I always wanted to it do but honestly never thought I would.”
Preparation began just over three weeks ago and since then he and the team have been burning the midnight oil in readying themselves.
“Some of the preparation I had been doing to the car were things I was doing anyhow for the regular season so this kind of just pushed a little faster to get everything done for Florida,” explained Jones, who will bring his 2016 TA Troyer car with the engine primed by RPM Automotive of Lehighton.
“Prepping to go to New Smyrna for five days is basically like prepping for a whole season.
We’re working on all these things now so that our turnaround will be quick for the next day. We’ll get better day after day I’m sure about that,” he explained.
“Most of my team is coming and we’re all thrilled to be going and enjoy it. Without them this wouldn’t happen and it revolves around them and sponsorships. I’m just a little part of it.”
Along with his hard-working crew whom largely will be accompanying him for the trip, Jones noted that some other key individuals have stepped in to make this journey possible.
“I have been getting a lot of help from Paul French. I have been driving for him at Evergreen and a few times at Mahoning Valley. He comes down from Connecticut each week to help us and we’ve been working together for a while now and it’s been a very solid relationship. He gives me so much good information and gets me the answers that I can’t get,” he said.
“He’s also been a regular at Stafford (Motor Speedway) for a long time and that’s going to be a great resources for me to better get acclimated to New Smyrna and getting around there quicker.”
Jones also reached out to close confidant Tom Wanick III who he has driven for over the past few years.
“Tommy Wanick has also been instrumental in making this happen. Over the years we’ve had a great rapport as an owner and driver and this will be no different though this will be my own car. He’s still involved with helping out with parts and other things and is a big part of this.”
Jones is a driver very accustomed to winning and running at the front and on this venture he plans to be no different in his approach when the racing gets underway.
“Realistically as a racer I want to go there and win races, I can’t stop thinking that. Yes I want to say that I had a good run and was able to compete but I really want to be part of the battles with a shot for winning,” Jones stated.
“For us this is a big deal to travel there and back but we feel we have that and all our other bases covered. I want to win and do the best that I can as well.”
MVS/Evergreen Speedway PR