IMSA notes: Riberas, Rum Bum, TRG, tires and more in news

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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A number of notes from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge have popped up over the last 24-odd hours. Here’s a quick recap:

  • What was already a small GS class field in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge took a hit this week with news on Monday that the Rum Bum Racing team announced its withdrawal from the championship. In a statement, the team said, “The team will continue to evaluate competition possibilities in the future as well as investigate partnership opportunities.” The winningest team in series history won 21 times in 66 starts and won series titles in 2012 and 2013. Brothers Matt and Hugh Plumb campaigned the previous generation Porsche 997 car.
  • Alex Riberas will replace Ian James behind the wheel of the No. 23 The Heart of Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R for the balance of the season in the WeatherTech Championship, with James slotting into the third driver role for the remaining two Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds at Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans. “Mario is like the brother I never had,” Riberas said. “We get along extremely well and it’s a dream for me to race alongside him this entire season. He is one of the quickest drivers I have ever seen and he already has some experience in the USA.” Both are Silver-rated; even though both are professional drivers, they fit under the Silver categorization by the FIA. In other words, don’t hate the players, hate the game.
  • GT Le Mans class teams will get the latest 2016 specification Michelin tires, in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Three IMSA teams – Corvette Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing and Risi Competizione – are preparing to carry the flag for the series with their Corvette C7.R, Ford GT and Ferrari 488 GTE at Le Mans this year. Additionally, the drivers from the two Porsche North America entries will be racing Porsche Team Manthey-entered Porsche 911 RSRs at Le Mans. “This will be the first time that our WeatherTech Championship teams race on our latest 2016 specification tires,” said Chris Baker, director motorsport, Michelin North America. “We have run the first three races on our special 2016 ‘low energy circuit’ tires. Our tires used in the FIA-World Endurance Championship (WEC) Series, which includes Le Mans, are designed for double and triple stints, meaning the tires must deliver exceptionally high and consistent performance for over three hours,” said Baker. The WeatherTech Championship has different pit rules permitting tire changes while refueling. Le Mans and WEC separate those functions. The challenges at Monterey are a bit different than at Le Mans, but our technical partner teams welcome the opportunity to get actual race miles with the new tires.”
  • How’s this for a cool Continental note? From the tire manufacturer’s advance release: “Tires from dandelions: Yep. That’s right. We’re constructing tires made from dandelion-derived latex. Continental Tire is using the Russian dandelion to extract latex and produce tires, replacing rubber that is currently extracted from rubber trees. The first tires have been produced and successfully tested but tires aren’t expected to hit store shelves for another five to 10 years. And race tires aren’t out of the question. Find out more about it here: Continental Constructing Tires From Dandelions.”
  • Paralyzed driver Michael Johnson makes his debut this weekend in the series in a BMW 228i, modified as Johnson is paralyzed from the waist down. He’s been in the Mazda Road to Indy the last few years. A separate post on him will follow this week. Johnson posted the livery earlier this week:
  • TRG is going to have a jam-packed weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The team returns its No. 007 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, now driven by James Davison and Brandon Davis instead of the Perez boys (as was done at Daytona), to the WeatherTech GTD class. Davison will also be in one of the team’s new Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2s in the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America, with Derek DeBoer also driving. The full release is here.

  • Jens Klingmann and Bret Curtis will have a new livery on their No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 this weekend, a white, red and black color scheme serving as a major departure from the usual yellow and blue Turner livery thanks to aFe Power. For one race at least, we won’t go a bit crazy trying to distinguish the two similarly liveried cars.

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws
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The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)