WHEELERSBURG, OH-In every racing season there’s certain storylines that are made.  The 2012 season at the Southern Ohio Speedway was no different.   Of all the storylines from what was an action packed 2012 season, we have taken what we believe to be the five biggest storylines and put them together.  Here they are:

#5. Growth of the Sport Mod division

A storyline that brought a lot of talk during the 2012 season and continues to bring a lot of talk into the offseason was the growth the Sport Mod division experienced this year.  During the classes inaugural season in 2011, a total of 3 cars competed in the class.  In 2012, nearly 30 Sport Mods competed in at least one event.  The economical rules package the class has along with a hard tech policy by the track has helped to garner the classes growth.  This class is already proven to be the perfect class for first time racers and racers looking to be competitive without having to spend a lot of money.

This is a storyline that will likely have an impact on the future of dirt track racing in our region.  With the growth experienced, the Sport Mod division has already been picked up by a couple of other regional tracks.  It’s likely the class will be picked up by even more tracks in future years if the growth continues.  If that happens, everyone will look back on the year 2012 and point towards the growth of the class this season setting the class up for a great future.  The class is projected to experience tremendous growth again for the 2013 season.

#4. Incredible seasons by the track champions

It’s not every year that you see a driver have a “career year”; a season full of accomplishments that won’t be soon forgotten.  In 2012 at Southern Ohio Speedway, all four of our track champions had what could well be considered career year’s.  Late Model track champion Eddie Carrier Jr. ended up taking the checkered flag six times this season, winning all three of the track’s special events and a total of $22,000.  Even more incredible was the fact that Carrier’s worst finish of the season was second place.  Carrier’s incredible season in 2012 adds even more accomplishments to a driver that has already accomplished a lot in this sport on a regional and national level.

UMP Modified track champion Jeremy Rayburn has been fast for years, but had a career year in 2012.  The Lucasville, Ohio driver won seven races at SOS in 2012.  Impressively, he only finished outside the top three at SOS one time.  His success at SOS and other UMP sanctioned tracks led Rayburn to capturing the Ohio UMP Modified Championship and a top 10 finish in UMP Modified National points.

Sport Mod track champion Eric Dennison is another driver that had been fast for years but had a career year in 2012.  Dennison, a longtime Bomber competitor, switched to the Sport Mod class in 2012 and found much success.  The Willow Wood, Ohio driver picked up five wins in 2012 to go on and capture the track championship.  Street Stock track champion Tim Cutler also had a career year, claiming his first track championship by picking up one feature win and being a mainstay in the top five all season long.

#3. Return of the high groove

Southern Ohio Speedway has always been known as a track with a very fast high groove.  When the track re-opened in 2011, much to everyone’s suprise, the high side was almost non-existent except for the final race of the season that year.  But in 2012, that wasn’t the case as many nights the high groove was the fastest way around the 4/10ths mile speedway.  The high groove started to make storylines early on in the season when Josh McGuire used the high groove to make a late race pass on Eddie Carrier Jr. to take the win on April 20th.  The following weekend, the high groove propelled Jared Hawkins to the lead in the Southern 50 and eventually propelled Carrier to the $6,000 win.  From there, the high groove was used to win multiple races in multiple divisions.  It is probably safe to say that more races were won in 2012 using the high groove than the low groove.

#2. Great racing all year

The 2012 season at SOS was a year that was defined by a lot of great racing in all divisions.  Each and every week there was a feature event in one of the divisions that could be described as having an above average level of excitement.  We can look back at great battles such as Josh McGuire and Eddie Carrier Jr. on April 20th, Carrier and Jared Hawkins on April 27th, Carrier and Boggs on May 25th, Oliver and Boggs in a qualifying feature on June 15th, Carrier and Steve Francis in the Southern 100, Boggs, R. J. Conley, and Steve Lucas on August 3rd, Kory Crabtree and Jimmy Stinson in the Sprints on August 10th, Eddie Harmon and Luke Jordan in the Modifieds on August 10th, photo finishes in the Sport Mod and Street Stock division, and the list can just keep going on and on.

With great racing in 2011 and 2012, Southern Ohio Speedway has established itself as a place you can go to and expect to see a lot of great racing.  Expect this storyline to dominate again in 2013.

#1. The fix of the dust issue

With drought conditions for much of the racing season, the track unfortunately ran into some dust issues in mid-June through early July.  Unfortunately, these dust issues occured during two of the biggest races of the season, the 17th Annual Southern 100 and the Southern Showdown.  This led to a lot of negative publicity and a problem that required an immediate fix for the track to remain strong.

Following the dust issue at the Southern Showdown, the track took the next week off to work soley on the dust issue to ensure the track would be right for the next scheduled race on July 27th.  The track crew went to work and the results were spectacular.  Every race after the Southern Showdown featured a tacky, multi-groove racing surface with minimal dust.  Not only was the dust issue fixed, those races produced some of the most exciting racing of the entire season.

All of these storylines are things that help set the tone for the future of SOS.  The reason why the fix of the dust issue was chosen as the top storyline from 2012 is because the issue being fixed sets up what is sure to be an absolutely incredible season in 2013.  The dust issue is a thing of the past at SOS.  What race fans and race teams saw at SOS the last part of 2012 is the new normal for track prep.  In a way, it gave race fans a sneak peek of the exciting racing action they will be seeing every week in 2013 and the race teams a sneak peek of the high quality racing surface they will have to race on every week in 2013.

One thing is for certain, the future is very bright for the fans and race teams of Southern Ohio Speedway.  2012 was a great season, but everything in 2012 is only pointing towards an incredible 2013 and beyond for Southern Ohio Speedway.