Plymouth Dirt Track goes all in with marquee events
By Jeff Pederson
Since the late 1950s, the third-mile clay oval at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth has served as a mecca for many of the best racers in the rich history of Wisconsin dirt-track racing.
Already boasting one of the strongest weekly programs in the state, co-headlined by the high-powered 360 Sprint Car and Late Model divisions, the track’s sanctioning body, Plymouth Dirt Track Racing (PDTR), is set to kick it up a notch in 2018 with the most ambitious schedule of special events in the track’s 60-year history.
The jam-packed 2018 PDTR schedule is highlighted by appearances from two of the top national touring series in the dirt track racing business – the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars on Saturday, May 19 and the World of Outlaws Dirt Late Models on Monday, July 30.
The All-Star vs. Interstate Racing Association (IRA) Challenge event on May 19 will see retired NASCAR champion and All Star Series owner Tony Stewart strap into his 410 Sprint Car for the first time at Plymouth since he edged eight-time IRA champ Bill Balog of Hartland in a thrilling duel to win an IRA event in June 2013.
The May 19 event will mark the first time the All Stars have raced at Plymouth since 1995 and the July 30 race will feature the debut of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series at Plymouth.
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 had 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,” he said. “We are the only track in Wisconsin that will be hosting the All Stars and World of Outlaws Late Models in 2018. 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 schedule, 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.
Along with its stellar schedule of marquee events, PDTR’s venerable Saturday night program, which runs through Saturday, Sept. 8, looks to be as solid as it has ever been with competition in five weekly divisions on tap in 2018, including 360 Sprint Cars, Late Models, Grand Nationals, B Mods and 600cc Micro Sprints.
Looking ahead to the 2018 season, Weinaug said he is hoping to continue to build PDTR’s 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. “Our goal is to bring a great experience at the track to as many people as possible during the 2018 season and beyond.”