RODDA: An Early Start In Arizona

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Ron Rodda
Ron Rodda

LINCOLN, Calif. — Changes will make for an interesting early season in Arizona with a bit of everything taking place.

The first two months of next year have at least 27 dirt track events scheduled within the Grand Canyon state, including a new series for IMCA modifieds that offers eight races in 10 days.

Canyon Speedway Park at the northwest edge of the Phoenix metropolitan area has not a new promoter, but a returning one. Owner of the facility, Doug Gabbard, will again be the promoter after a six-year hiatus. Many improvements to the facility are underway with the new access road built last year continuing to make getting there much easier.

As has been the custom, Canyon Speedway Park will race the last two weekends of January. Non-winged sprint cars will not be part of those events as before but IMCA modifieds, stocks, and hobbies will fill the pit area. A month later Canyon will offer a big dollar IMCA modified show to close the first two months of Arizona action.

At the southeast edge of Phoenix’s sprawling metropolitan area, Arizona Speedway will open with the huge Wild West Shootout for super late models and USRA modifieds and X-modifieds. This high-paying, six-race series is promoted by Chris Kearns and Kevin Montgomery, who lease the track from Jonah Trussel.

Held the last few years in Tucson, the new home for the WWS will make the event even more interesting with a third-mile track replacing the former three-eighths-mile and much higher banking at the new location creating some scrambling for setups.

Trussel, promoter of both Arizona Speedway and Casa Grande Speedway, has created a new series for IMCA modifieds to fill the middle of February. The series starts with three events at Cocopah Speedway Somerton, Ariz., takes two nights off, then returns to action at Arizona Speedway for Wednesday and Thursday races. The final three shows are at Casa Grande.

Cocopah Speedway will race five nights in February, all under the lead of track manager Tom Dalen. The Cocopah Indian Tribe selected Dalen last year to fill the spot opened when Greg Burgess left for a new job.

Dalen is a transplant to the Yuma area from Minot, N.D, where he was the flagman at Nodak Speedway, home to the finest short-track grandstands in the country. Upon moving to Yuma, Dalen continued his flagging duties at Cocopah before accepting the track manager job.

The winged 410 sprint series started by Burgess at Cocopah, Winter Heat, will not be on their January calendar, but there is hope for 2018. Dalen is in contact with several racing community people who are offering support bringing the series back.