Excitement All Year Long - South Dade News Leader: Opinion

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Excitement All Year Long

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Posted: Friday, April 13, 2018 1:15 am | Updated: 9:35 am, Fri Apr 13, 2018.

Come on out and enjoy the thrill of racing up close and right in your backyard

Everyone familiar with the Homestead-Miami Speedway and its championship lore, looks forward each year to us hosting Ford Championship Weekend, which will occur once again in 2018, November 16-18 (and November 15-17, 2019). The tradition of crowning NASCAR champions continues, and the excitement that comes with having a championship event is gripping, keeping fans on the edge of their seats at every turn.

Ford Championship Weekend is just one aspect of what we do and who we are, though. And while it is certainly the event that has put us on the map and allows us to contribute everything we do to the local economy, our track consists of more than 300 days of activity, encompassing the various parts of our facility, which also includes our karting track – AMR Homestead-Miami Motorplex - and RC track.

This coming weekend we have a unique event in store for the many racing fans in South Florida – the inaugural South Florida SportsCar Challenge. It marries two distinct forms of thrilling racing that will be featured on our 2.1-mile road course – FARA and Trans Am.

While our 1.5-mile championship oval possesses distinct features which make it a favorite among NASCAR’s best drivers, our road course can deliver the same type of excitement, and allows us to host events such as the one coming up this weekend. With everything that each of the two series has to offer, we think it could be a marriage made in heaven.

FARA – Formula Automobile & Racing Association – comes to our track about once a month, while Trans Am has raced at Homestead-Miami Speedway each year since 2014. It is the first time that both will be racing at our track on the same weekend, giving fans a little taste of everything over the course of two days.

FARAUSA was established in the State of Florida and is active in the community with many different types of auto enthusiasts by putting on motorsports events. FARA is designed for all drivers from beginners to experts, and all ages, starting with drivers in their mid-teens going all the way up to those in their 60s. The series consists of both international and local drivers, and everyone who partakes in their events not only enjoy the racing aspect that is involved, but also the camaraderie that exists between the many drivers.

The Trans Am Series has been around for more than 50 years, during which time they have brought their exciting brand of racing to a worldwide stage. Their races feature many iconic American sports cars such as Mustangs, Camaros, Challengers and Corvettes.

The Trans Am series provides a little bit of a cross-section of drivers, both those who have been racing for quite some time and others who are poised on the precipice of escalating to that next level of racing. It gives drivers at all stages an opportunity to not only display their prowess behind the wheel, but also to provide some who have been to the upper levels of racing another chance.

One such instance of the former is Ernie Francis Jr., a four-time series champion who will be driving in the TA Class – Trans Am’s highest level. Ernie is a 20-year-old who grew up in the Davie area and is one of the rising stars on the racing circuit. Not only is he competing and experiencing a tremendous amount of success in Trans Am, but Ernie is one of only six drivers who were tabbed to partake in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program in 2018, which helps identify minorities and women in the racing world who have the potential to race amongst the world’s best on the NASCAR circuit, but just need that chance. He has raced at Homestead-Miami Speedway on many occasions in several different series, and considers us as his “home track.” I’m sure he would like nothing more than to secure a victory, as he has done the last two years here.

Another local driver, but one who already has a familiar name is Rafa Matos, a former IndyLights champion (2008) and the 2009 IndyCar series Rookie of the Year. The Brazilian-born driver now lives in Boca Raton and competes in the Trans Am series. He currently races in several different circuits both nationally and internationally, as he continues to refine his craft in a sport that he loves so much.

In addition to the excitement that the races will provide over the course of the weekend, fans will have the chance to get an up-close view of the cars and many of the drivers at the Fan Walk that will be held on both days. The FARA Fan Walk will be on Saturday from 4:10 – 5:10 pm, while the Trans Am Fan Walk will take place on Sunday from 1:15 – 1:50 pm. It’s something you won’t want to miss!

So while the trophies that the drivers will be racing for this weekend might not be as exquisite as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy, don’t think for a minute that this weekend’s races will be any less important for those who are participating.

Which means that it is likely to be very entertaining for those who come out to watch them at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Ticket Information

Online purchase in advance: $10 each day

Purchase at gate: $20 each day, Children 12 and under are free

Purchase tickets: www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com

NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND

Sunday, April 15

at 2:00 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway

Tune In: FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Saturday, April 14

at 1:00 PM (ET)

NASCAR XFINITY Series Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

*The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will return to action on Friday, May 4

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

April 14-15

South Florida SportsCar Challenge

April 21

Miami Exotic Auto Racing

April 22

Performance Driving Group

May 4

Fast Lane Friday

May 5-6 Championship Cup Series (CCS) Motorcycle Racing

2018 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Nov. 16

Ford EcoBoost 200 Camping World Truck Series Championship Race

Nov. 17

Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race

Nov. 18

Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy Series Championship Race

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