New high-purse national race to debut on High Banks in August
By Deb Hadachek
An opening act will get its chance to become the star when the Belleville 305 Nationals debuts on the Belleville High Banks August 3 and 4.
The winged sprints with 305 engines have run on the High Banks in the past as a preliminary show to the Belleville Midget Nationals. The decision late last year by USAC to not sanction a race in Belleville this season opened a window for the 305s to take top billing, say Fair Amusements Committee members.
“Winged sprints are the same body as the 410s, but the 305 motor makes them very competitive and more equally matched between each other,” says Amusements Committee member Raymond Raney. “It’s a more affordable class of race car, and they will run on the big track.”
The Myers Engines-sponsored United Rebel Sprint Series will go into their 13th Season in 2018 with a tentative schedule paying more money than any other season in the past.
“We’ve tried to concentrate more on quality shows this coming year with most races paying a minimum of $1,000 to win,” said founder Rick Salem. The United Rebel Sprint Series is based in Oberlin, Kans.
Salem said the Belleville 305 Nationals will be the highlight of the series’ season. The winner of the 30-lap A feature will pay a whopping $7,000 to win with $1,000 minimum to start the 24 car fi nale. The Friday night prelim will pay $2,500 to the winner and a $350 minimum to start the 24-car A feature.
“This will likely be the largest payout for 305’s in the nation with a purse of over $42,000 for Saturday nights A feature alone,” says a press release on the USRR site.
The Rebels will visit, for the first time, the Thayer Co. Speedway in Deshler, Nebr. for $1000 to win on Thursday night, August 2 to make a three-day weekend of racing.
Raney said organizers believe the inaugural race could attract 50 cars, but that’s only speculation at this point.
Raney said the sprints draw drivers and fans from Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Oklahoma. USRR listed 83 drivers in the points chase during its 2016 campaign.
“We can’t judge racing environment, what will be fan-approved, what will be affordable for the driver,” he said. “We can’t predict the future of a particular car.
“We’ve already had fans who have sat in the same seats for years during the Midgets call and ask us if they can have the same seats for the 305s,” he said. “Some people will come because it’s a sprint race on the Belleville High Banks. These cars are more local, and we think will draw more fans from a 300 or 400 mile radius.”
The Fair Amusements Committee was blindsided in December when USAC released its 2018 schedule with no dates on the Belleville High Banks. USAC previously told the volunteer board it planned to return for the 41st Belleville Midget Nationals in 2018. USAC gave no reason for the decision, but local board members speculate that the death of driver Bryan Clauson on the track in 2016, and concerns over the high speeds on the track led to the pull out.
Races need to coincide with fair
Raney said he has heard about rumors on social media that a Fairbury, Nebr. promoter has suggested offering one of that community’s midget races in July to Belleville, “but no one has ever contacted Fair Amusements about that idea,” he said. The High Banks will host a traditional late model and sprint race on July 3.
But Raney said the Fair Amusements Committee believes that races also need to continue to coincide with the NCK Free Fair the first week of August.
“Crowds that have come from clear across the country say it’s so nice to come to the fair and see the animals and see rural America agriculture,” he said. “Some come just for the races, for others it’s a family vacation.
“(The 305 Nationals) seems to be a viable move to keep races going for the community,” he said.
Raney said the Fair Amusements plans to continue to install new LED lights around the perimeter of the track. About 130 lights were replaced last year.