ST LOUIS, Mo. — The second running of the Gateway Dirt Nationals will return to The Dome at America’s Center on Dec. 14-16.
The event, which featured late models and open-wheel modifieds on a fifth-mile temporary track inside The Tome at America’s Center, debuted in December of 2016. Shannon Babb was the preliminary winner for the late models while Scott Bloomquist pocketed $20,000 for winning the finale.
The event will have a variety of changes and according to event founder and promoter, Cody Sommer.
“Many things were learned last year, in a first year, we had a lot of things to figure out and when the curtain closed it was obvious that the event was very successful but not perfect,” said Sommer. “Racing was phenomenal and the fan experience was very high but there is always more that can be done. The changes for 2017 will only continue to build the event and cater to racers and fans alike.”
In 2017 the event will have one single round of qualifying for both late models and open-wheel modifieds. There will be a 150-car limit on super late model entries and there will be no eliminations on Thursday night during qualifying. The modifieds will be capped at 100 total entries, with 50 of them coming from performance based results throughout the year at special events as well as specific invitations, including sanctioning body points systems and fan voting results. The remaining 50 invitations will be received the traditional way and will be accepted first come first serve.
Additionally, the event will host a $5,000 to win Race Of Champions event on Thursday night for late models. The Race of Champions will have a variety of ways to qualify throughout the year, but Gateway Dirt Nationals winners Scott Bloomquist and Shannon Babb will be invited to compete in the Race of Champions as previous race winners under the dome.
Friday nights portion of the event will now feature two different features for late models, both $5,000 to the winner. Open-wheel modifieds will have a single main event Dec. 15, also paying $5,000 to the winner.
The Dec. 16 finale will now pay $30,000 to the winner for dirt late models and the open-wheel modified feature will again pay $10,000. In addition, $30,000 in tow money has been added to the event with an overall increase of ore than $100,000 in prize money.
“There were several things to take away from last year but one of the biggest ones, is that the purse needed to be better,” said Sommer. “I made a promise at the driver’s meeting Saturday that it would change, it would be better and that the process would start next year. I think that this format and the purse changes are going to do wonders for teams and fans for this event.”