The auto racing season is getting ready to kick off in the Chicago area, if the snow ever stops. My first event will be the WXRX Stone and Double T 200 Enduro. The following Sunday, April 13th, will be Rockford's Spring Classic. I received my credentials for those two races last week, so I'm feeling good about the start of the season. At Route 66, the first Test & Tune of the season is on Saturday, April 12th, with time trials beginning at 9:30 a.m. Grundy County Speedway opens their stock car program in April and their open wheel STARS midget racing in May. I am very much hoping to be able to get there to photograph the midgets.
In the NASCAR arena, I was happy to hear Robin Pemberton announce their plan to reduce horsepower for the Cup series. We were made aware of this several months back, but we weren't able to discuss it until the formal announcement. Optimally, we were told that they would like to get the horsepower down to around 650, but that will be determined at a later date. You ask why reduce horsepower? The way it was explained, was that with today's car package, the engines are overpowering the cars and the racetracks. The engine builders have done too good a job optimizing the package. NASCAR needs to reduce horsepower to complete their plan for better side-by-side racing. So far this year, I have been impressed by the racing even though there were tire issues at Auto Club Speedway. All the teams claim it wasn't Goodyear's problem, but it was caused by the teams using an over aggressive suspension package on the cars. It appears the teams have yet to determine that fine line between fast and crash fast! This week the Cup series and the Trucks will run at the Martinsville Speedway. In the Cup Series, Martinsville has been a Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin playground. Here's hoping Denny, after missing last week's race, is healthy enough to compete. I have been impressed with the NASCAR racing this year. On the mid-size tracks we are seeing the ability to run side-by-side, draft and slingshot by. As soon as the teams get a better handle on the total car package, it can only improve the on-track performance. If the on-track performance is better, hopefully that will result in more butts in the seats.