Touring Series & Sanctioned Divisions: Mid American Sprint Series Tracks·Points
As the Mid American Sprint Series prepares for its inaugural season in 2004, the most frequently asked question from the media, race teams, track operators, and fans have centered around the words "who, what, and why". Hopefully, this report will answer those questions as we prepare for the task ahead.
The Mid American Sprint Series was born from a strong opinion that winged, 410 sprint car racing in certain geographical areas was in a weakened condition and that the potential for a comeback was not promising. Enter Scott Benic, Fairmount, Indiana and Joe Darmofal, Sylvania, Ohio. The two had a customer-supplier relationship dating back to 1998, and occasionally discussed the state of winged 410 sprint racing in the Midwest and Ohio Valley areas. Both had extensive backgrounds in open wheel racing. Benic, owner of Benic Enterprises, a combination speed shop/fabrication business, is a 20-year veteran of open wheel racing. A former crew chief with several World of Outlaw and All Star teams, the 1994 World of Outlaw Crew Chief of the Year award winner also owns dirt and pavement sprinters driven by Boston Reid on the USAC tour. Darmofal, a lifelong racing enthusiast, is president of Performance Metals, a specialty metals warehouse he started in 2002 after ending a 31 year management career at Williams and Company/TW Metals. Joe has personally sponsored numerous sprint cars in northern Ohio for 16 years, including major backing of Alvin Roepke, whose Mountain Dew #99 has been a frequent winner at various Ohio tracks. Joe also had close ties to the All Star Circuit of Champions, and served as Vice President - Operations in 2002-2003, until the Mid American Sprint Series was formed.
Benic and Darmofal felt that the first steps toward reviving and growing winged 410 racing was to put together an appealing schedule for the teams, along with a competitive purse structure that is consistent from track to track. The two felt that the addition of tow money for the current top 10 in points would result in a well-rounded field of cars and a highly competitive event, both of which are prerequisites to achieving solid fan support and a positive bottom line for the promoter. "We recognize that we must produce profitable events for the promoters who host our events", stated Darmofal. "Race fans expect value for their hard earned dollars, and we feel we must deliver a good car count and quality racing to win their approval and continued support." he added. Benic noted that the overall cost of a Mid American program is higher than their predecessor, G.L.O.S.S., but is a necessary element to develop a larger car count over a period of time. Benic and Darmofal believe the rebirth of winged racing in Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan will be a gradual one, with additional teams coming from the non winged ranks, as well as young drivers moving up from entry level forms of racing. The series owners believe some tracks have adopted a "wait and see" attitude about signing on for a race, so the series will also look to other areas to round out a complete schedule for 2004. "We are the new guys on the block", noted Benic, "and we realize that not all track owners we've talked to will jump on board the first year. We are committed to working hard to bring value to the track operators, our series sponsors, the race teams, and the paying public, and as a result we will prove to be a quality organization and grow our business in the future", he added.
The management team of the series has adopted a "user friendly" philosophy, so track operators will be offered the option of using time trials or a pill draw/passing points formula to determine starting lineups. In an effort to contain costs, the series recently signed a one year contract with Hoosier Tire to utilize a DT3 spec right rear tire at most of its events in 2004.