Marquee events highlight 2018 PDTR schedule

by Jeff Pederson
Special to The Review


SCOTTY THIEL (64) passes Muskego’s Bill Wirth en route to winning the IRA 410 Sprint Car feature last August at the Plymouth Dirt Track. Thiel will be one of the many Wisconsin-based drivers who will compete in the All- Star IRA Challenge on May 19 at the Plymouth track. – Photo by RC Custom Design SCOTTY THIEL (64) passes Muskego’s Bill Wirth en route to winning the IRA 410 Sprint Car feature last August at the Plymouth Dirt Track. Thiel will be one of the many Wisconsin-based drivers who will compete in the All- Star IRA Challenge on May 19 at the Plymouth track. – Photo by RC Custom Design PLYMOUTH – For those who like their racing fast, close and bit on the dusty side, the 14th season of Plymouth Dirt Track Racing at the Sheboygan County Fair Park in Plymouth is shaping up to be one of the most diverse and highly anticipated in the track’s long and tradition rich history.

The 58th overall season of racing at the third-mile oval dirt track facility will feature a total of 22 events, including 20 Saturday night racing programs and two weeknight special events.

The regular Saturday night program, which will kick off on Saturday, April 28 at 6 p.m., looks to be as solid as it as ever been with competition in five weekly divisions on tap in 2018, including 360 Sprint Cars, Late Models, Grand Nationals, B Modifieds and 600cc Micro Sprints.

The jam-packed 2018 PDTR schedule is highlighted by appearances from two of the biggest national touring series in the dirt track racing business.

On Saturday, May 19, the national-touring All-Star Circuit of Champions 410 Sprint Car Series will join the regional Interstate Racing Association 410 Sprint Car Series for a special event that will feature former NASCAR star Tony Stewart, who will return to race at Plymouth for the first time since 2013.

Along with Stewart, the All-Star-IRA Challenge event, which also features the PDTR 360 Sprint Cars, promises to include several of the top 410 Sprint Car drivers in the nation, including expected entries Chad Kemenah, Dave Blaney, Jac Haudenschild, Aaron Reutzel and Parker Price-Miller squaring off against Wisconsin-based standouts such as Bill Balog, Scotty Thiel, Scotty Neitzel and Jeremy Schultz.

For those who enjoy high powered fendered race cars, the World of Outlaws Late Model Series is scheduled to make its first-ever appearance at Plymouth on Monday, July 30 for a special show that will also include the PDTR Grand National division.

According to PDTR marketing and promotions director Bill Weinaug, the 2018 PDTR campaign is shaping up to be one for the ages.

“I think our schedule this year is the best one we’ve ever had at Plymouth,” Weinaug said. “We have a lot of diversity as far as the divisions that we will be featuring both on a weekly basis and for our special events that there is truly something for everyone.

“The All Star Sprint Car race will be very big for us and having Tony Stewart come back to race with us is very exciting,” he said. “We are looking forward to a great field of Sprint Cars on that night and of course Tony Stewart has a lot of fans that will come out to see him. He won the last time he raced at Plymouth after having a great duel with Bill Balog.”

After several years of trying to secure a World of Outlaws race, Weinaug is pleased that the top sanctioning body in dirt track racing will pay a visit to Plymouth in 2018.

“Getting a World of Outlaws Late Model Series race has been something we have been looking at doing for several years now,” Weinaug said. “We have a Dirt Kings Late Model Race last July, which drew several World of Outlaws drivers. They really liked the track and the race turned out to be one of the best of the season, which helped us a lot in securing an Outlaws race this year.

“The fact that our schedule includes two of the top four touring dirt racing series in the country shows that we are gaining a reputation as one of the premier tracks in our area, if not the country. That is something everyone involved with PDTR should be proud of.”

PDTR will also host three additional appearances by the regional touring IRA 410 Sprint Car Series on Saturday, July 21, during the Sheboygan County Fair on Saturday, Sept. 1 and the IRA season finale on Saturday, Sept. 29.

“The IRA always attracts a good crowd and puts on great races at Plymouth,” Weinaug said. “It will be great to have them back at the fair this year and for their final race of the season on September 29th, which will also feature the season finales for PDTR/MSA 360 Sprint Cars, Wisconsin-Illinois Mini Sprints and Wingless Sprint Cars.”

Two other special Late Model events are on the 2018, including the Russ Scheffler Tribute Race on Friday, June 15, which will include all five regular PDTR divisions highlighted by an increased purse for the Late Model A-main event honoring Scheffler who passed away last fall.

“We will be racing on Friday night instead of Saturday night during the week of the Russ Scheffler Tribute Race,” Weinaug said. “The reason we moved it to Friday is to allow the Late Model drivers that normally race at Shawano to come down to honor Russ on Friday night. Russ was a great champion and the most successful Late Model driver in the history of PDTR.

“All of our regular divisions will be running on that night and we will be pushing the start time back by one hour to 7 p.m. to allow people that are working on Friday to get to the track,” he said.

In addition, PDTR will host a Dirt Kings Late Model Series race as part of the regular PDTR program on Saturday, Sept. 8.

Although it is hard to predict the level of competition in each division in 2018, Weinaug expects strong fields to grace each PDTR division throughout the year.

Weinaug says PDTR is looking to build on the reputation it has established over the years and accentuate its strong points.

“In going to trade shows and special events in the offseason, I get a lot of feedback from people and we do have a lot of things that people like, which keep the coming back to our track,” Weinaug said. “People like that we start on time, we keep the show moving and our food is high quality and reasonably priced.

“Last year our track conditions were excellent,” he said. “Our track prep crew did a great job and were able to produce good, consistent tracks each week, which makes drivers and fans happy.

“Aside from that, we are the only track in the state that runs 360 Sprint Cars and Late Models on a weekly basis. That is also a good selling point for us, which sets us apart from other tracks.”

Weinaug says the key to keep racing vital in the years to come is to find ways to attract and involve younger fans each race night.

“We want to do things to encourage more kids to come to the track,” Weinaug said. “We had a Kids Club in past years but this year we are making all of our kids activities open to everyone.

“We also have a number of kids activities each night, including a bike giveaway and rides on the track for the National Anthem, as well as a number of giveaways” he said. “The backpack night has grown to be very popular and that will be on July 28 this year.”

Weinaug says there are a number of opportunities remaining to serve as a sponsor at the track, including division series sponsorships and general support for regular PDTR race nights and special events.

Looking ahead to the 2018 season, Weinaug says he is hoping to continue to build PDTR reputation in the racing community and connect with new dirt track racing fans in the process.

“We were ranked as the No. 3 ‘Must-See Race Track’ in the state by Travel Wisconsin Magazine in 2016 and our Dirt Kings race last year was selected among the top 10 best Dirt Late Model races in the United States last year, so people are really taking notice of us,” Weinaug said.

For more information about Plymouth Dirt Track Racing, call Bill Weinaug at (920) 627- 1217 or send an email to bweinaug@shebcofair.com or visit www.plymouthdtr.com


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