Some of the best dirt track racers in the country will be gathering in Beatrice this weekend for Spring Nationals.
It will be the 29th annual Spring Nationals hosted by Beatrice Speedway and it's become one of the premier events in the country.
"It has become the premier events to kick off the IMCA racing season," said Beatrice Speedway Chairman Derek Fralin. "It has just continued to gain momentum and we get some of the best drivers from all over the nation to compete against our local guys."
The event is slated for a full docket of racing on both Friday and Saturday. Workers have been getting the track ready for the last week and Fralin said he's encouraged with the weather forecast for the weekend.
"It might be a little cool Thursday, but that's just our practice night," Fralin said. "But Friday and Saturday look warm, so I think we'll be in great shape. Even if we get a little moisture, it shouldn't cause a problem because the track has actually been kind of dry."
Drivers are coming in from all over the country. Since drivers are not required to pre-register anymore, it's impossible to know exactly how many drivers will be in Beatrice this weekend, but Fralin said they usually expect between 300 and 350.
"We actually had a driver leave this morning from California and a big group coming out of Wisconsin," Fralin said.
Most of the big name local drivers will be involved in Spring Nationals, including Jordan Grabouski, Hunter Marriot, Terry Phillips and Dylan Smith. Fralin said he’s excited that Ricky Thorton Jr. will be in Beatrice on Saturday.
“Ricky Thorton Jr. has really been tearing up the whole USA,” Fralin said. “He won’t be here Friday, but he’ll be here Saturday.”
One thing local racing fans have always enjoyed about Spring Nationals is seeing how their local racers fare against drivers from all over the country.
“In the past years, the Beatrice drivers held the edge,” Fralin said. “But here recently, these guys have been coming long enough that now they’re getting the track figured out. It has been a pretty even playing ground and it’s great to watch.”
Beatrice Speedway will have another unique event coming up soon. On April 21st, they will host the Beatrice 200 Enduro race, which allows people to bring any type of race car they want to have a 200-lap race. It’s the first time the speedway has hosted such an event in 20 years.
But first thing’s first – which is this weekend’s Spring Nationals -- the official start of the dirt track racing season. Pit gates open at 4 p.m. on Friday with racing starting at 6 p.m. On Saturday, pit gates open at 1:30 p.m. and racing begins at 5 p.m.
“Come out and enjoy the warm weather and exciting races in all five classes,” Fralin said. “We’ll have the best drivers from around the Midwest and I expect them to put on a good show.”