Weedsport, NY — January 21, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast PR Director
Thirty years ago when Eastern New York racing legend Lou Lazzaro roared under the checkered flag to score his only victory at Volusia Speedway Park, those in attendance paid little attention to what was unfolding right in front of their eyes. In part, due to dusty track conditions that impaired their vision to see any history in the making which very likely clouded any enthusiasm to even spark a return visit to Florida the following year.
The date of February 10, 1978 merely meant the lead-off event in a nine-race swing for Big-Block Modifieds from the Northeast, with seasoned track promoter Benny Corbin able to lure an all-star cast for the inaugural winter time excursion to the storied Barberville oval.
Three decades later as the new millennium speeds on, so do the mighty Modifieds as a now pristine Volusia oval plays host to the Northeast’s premier traveling squad for a 21st season down south. The 2008 edition of the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals marks nearly a quarter-century of competition in the ‘Sunshine State’ for Advance Auto Parts Modifieds, with some of the top modern day heroes again planning to make the haul down I-95 in February.
The Alltel DIRTcar Nationals begins February 13 with a 30-lap Big-Block Modified feature headlining the program. Ground-pounding action continues with 30-lap feature events on Thursday and Friday before a big $5,000-to-win 50-lapper brings the curtain down Saturday, Feb. 16. An optional practice day has been set for Tuesday, Feb. 12.
Since Lazzaro first graced victory lane at Volusia, exactly 100 Modified features have been recorded with second-generation standout Danny Johnson from Rochester, N.Y. last honored in the winner’s circle for the 11th time following his 50-lap triumph on February 17, 2007. In just three more weeks Johnson will be joined in gator country by past Florida tour winners Brett Hearn (17), Jimmy Horton (5), Billy Pauch (4), Billy Decker (2), Jamie Mills (2), Alan Johnson and Andy Bachetti; all among the 40 drivers already registered for the upcoming Alltel DIRTcar Nationals.
Florida remains a winter haven for open-wheel star Hearn as the Sussex, N.J. veteran has captured Alltel DIRTcar Nationals high point honors on six occasions and taken checkered flags 16 times since the DIRTcar Big-Blocks returned south in 1998. Along with all-time winner Hearn and reigning points king Danny Johnson, also expect many of the top point-getters from a year ago back in competition during the ’08 speedfest.
Most proficient of the 42 drivers who participated at Volusia last February, the “Doctor” dominated the Big-Block action, posting a pair of feature wins and adding a runner-up finish to capture his third title. Dale Planck, Mills, Hearn and Horton filled out the front-five on the final points chart in 2007.
For those drivers wishing to add/update team information for the pre-race roster, please contact DIRTcar NorthEast PR Director Tom Skibinski (315/834-6606) at DIRT NE headquarters in Weedsport, N.Y. or through e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org correspondence. Volusia Speedway Park www.volusiaspeedwaypark.com is located 15 miles west of Daytona Beach on State Road 40 in Barberville, Fla. Mail is received at: 1500 E. Highway 40, DeLeon Springs, FL 32130.
All-Time Florida Tour Big-Block Modified Race Winners: 1978-2007
(100 events / 5 tracks / 31 drivers)
WINS DRIVER FIRST WIN LAST WIN
17 Brett Hearn Volusia County, 2/11/93 Volusia Park, 2/18/06
11 Danny Johnson Volusia County, 2/9/87 Volusia Park, 2/17/07
9 Kenny Brightbill Volusia County, 2/13/78 Volusia County, 2/13/87
8 Doug Hoffman Volusia County, 2/18/84 Volusia Park, 2/14/98
6 Jack Johnson Tampa Fairgrnds, 2/14/81 Volusia County, 2/14/89
5 Jimmy Horton Volusia County, 2/12/86 Volusia Park, 2/15/06
5 Tim Fuller Volusia Park, 2/15/01 Volusia Park, 2/16/07
4 Billy Pauch Volusia County, 2/11/85 Volusia County, 2/8/88
3 Merv Treichler Volusia County, 2/13/82 Volusia County, 2/17/83
3 Doug Ingalls East Bay, 2/15/83 Volusia County, 2/16/84
2 Will Cagle Volusia County, 2/17/78 Volusia County, 2/18/78
2 Tommy Hager Volusia County, 2/16/78 Tampa Fairgrounds, 2/8/80
2 Gary Iulg Volusia County, 2/12/78 East Bay, 2/8/82
2 Jeff Kappesser East Bay, 2/7/82 Volusia County, 2/10/82
2 Kenny Tremont Volusia County, 2/13/93 Volusia Park, 2/12/99
2 Bob McCreadie Volusia Park, 2/10/99 Volusia Park, 2/16/01
2 Billy Decker Volusia Park, 2/12/04 Volusia Park, 2/16/05
2 Jamie Mills Volusia Park, 2/15/00 Volusia Park, 2/18/05
1 Lou Lazzaro Volusia County, 2/10/78
1 Walt Breeding Volusia County, 2/11/78
1 Kevin Collins Tampa Fairgrounds, 2/13/81
1 Ray Dalmata Volusia County, 2/15/84
1 C.D. Coville Volusia County, 2/16/85
1 Alan Johnson Volusia County, 2/11/86
1 Richie Tobias Jr. Volusia County, 2/13/89
1 Jeff Heotzler St. Augustine, 2/14/95
1 Steve Paine St. Augustine, 2/16/95
1 Tim McCreadie Volusia Park, 2/16/02
1 Craig VonDohren Volusia Park, 2/11/03
1 J.R. Heffner Volusia Park, 2/13/04
1 Andy Bachetti Volusia Park, 2/15/05
The Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series for Big-Block Modifieds is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Advance Auto Parts, Hoosier Racing Tire and Sunoco Race Fuels. Promotional partners include AMB i.t., Rite Aid Corporation and the University of Northwestern Ohio and the contingency sponsors are Bert Transmission, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Crane Cams, Integra Shocks, MSD Ignitions, Motorsports Safety Systems, Penske Shocks and Wrisco Industries.