43rd Annual Winternationals Scheduled at East Bay Raceway Park
By: Larry Jewett
Since the mid-1970s, East Bay Raceway Park has been a beacon of racing, drawing competitors from throughout the U.S. and Canada to compete in the annual extravaganza known as the Winternationals. January 2019 will mark the 43rd consecutive year for the event, which has been a stepping stone for future success in the sport.
Once again, a diversified schedule will provide an opportunity for countless racers while giving spectators who travel hundreds of miles looking for action with a wide variety to choose from. Fan favorites dot the schedule, no matter when you choose to attend.
Throughout the four-week run, each week starts with a practice session to allow drivers to get their bearings around the Clay by the Bay and prepare for the challenges that lie ahead in the remainder of the week. From the practice day to the end of the week, excitement ramps up as purses gradually increase and stakes are higher with each passing night.
The racing starts Wednesday, January 23 with open wheel action from the UMP (United Midwestern Promoters)/EBRP (East Bay Raceway Park) Modifieds as the headlining division. A long-standing fan favorite, this schedule gives local racers a chance to compete alongside top traveling teams from the Midwest and throughout the country. East Bay’s Winternationals has set the stage for success for many of these travelers who utilize the knowledge gained at East Bay for their racing seasons that start a few months later. Joining the Modifieds, local racers, as well as visitors from throughout the Southeast, compete in the Street Stock class. These cars have four nights of excitement, culminating with a $5,000-to -win Modified feature while Street Stocks do battle for the winner’s take of $1,000.
January 31 will be the opening night for three divisions of racing action that include the Stingray Performance Crate Late Models, Top Gun Sprints and V8 Warriors (aka Thunder Stocks). This variety offers something for everyone with fast-paced Late Models, thrilling open wheel racing and the stars of the future in stock car action. Each class will face three nights of racing and it is not uncommon to see different winners each evening. If someone could win all Crate Late Model mains, there’s a take-home of $7,500 possible for three nights work. V8 Warriors will battle for $500-to-win on Saturday, a good way to offset travel expenses or upgrade a racing program.
One of the most popular attractions of Winternationals is the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, which will return for six nights of intense competition. In 2018, nearly 400 different drivers competed with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series in a year where it all began at East Bay Raceway Park. Jonathan Davenport is expected to begin his defense of the 2018 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship at East Bay with these upcoming events. Davenport captured two Winternationals wins in 2018 to start his road to the championship. The final two nights of the 43rd annual Winternationals (Feb. 8 & 9) will pay a whopping $12,000 for the victor each night.
The action doesn’t stop here, though. The final week of racing opens with a sweetheart racing schedule on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) offering 360 Sprints, Mini-Sprints and Micro Sprints. It’s the open wheel fan’s dream come true as three divisions keep the action exciting for three nights. The final event on Feb. 16 will be the King of the 360s Ronald Laney Memorial, bringing $10,000 to the winner. Three-time winner Terry McCarl is the defending champion of the event.
More information can be found at www.ebrp.co or by calling East Bay Raceway Park at (813) 677-7223.
Winternationals at a Glance
Jan. 23 -26 – UMP/EBRP Modifieds and Street Stocks
Jan. 31 – Feb. 2 – Stingray Performance Crate Late Models, Top Gun Sprints, V8 Warriors (Thunder Stocks)
Feb. 4-9 – Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Feb. 14-16 –360 Sprints, Mini-Sprints, Micro Sprints