Endless Potential - South Dade News Leader: Sports

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Endless Potential

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Posted: Friday, March 2, 2018 11:24 am

When our founder, Ralph Sanchez, first imagined this beautiful race track, he saw the endless potential that it could have. He envisioned a world-class facility that would be the epicenter of racing to numerous events in South Florida.

And in Homestead-Miami Speedway’s 23-year history it has become just that and much more, bringing more than 300 days a year of track activity in a variety of forms.

Most recently, we had the chance of utilizing two of our track’s featured assets – the 1.5-mile oval and our 2.21-mile road course – during one event. Over the course of a four-day Spring Training last week, more than 40 drivers from Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires tested both track configurations in preparation for their 2018 seasons.

The Road to Indy is a driver and team development program comprised of three Verizon IndyCar sanctioned divisions – Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship presented by Mazda, Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires.

When walking around the garages during the Spring Training, I could feel the optimism in the air. Drivers and their teams had prepared all offseason to get to this point of finally having the chance to drive their car on a race track. You could see them absorbing every detail of the test, hoping that everything that they had learned and accomplished would translate to the beginning of the season.

Another intriguing aspect of the Spring Training was the diversity of the drivers who were testing. There were male and female drivers ranging between 15 to 27 years of age.

Also, the drivers had various international backgrounds and had come from countries such as Russia, England, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa to participate in the Road to Indy this season.

In addition to the international drivers, there was a large contingent of racers from the United States. In fact, there were four drivers who reside in South Florida who participated in the event. Victor Franzoni of Boca Raton is a native of Brazil and is the 2017 Pro Mazda champion. In 2018, he will be moving up the IndyCar ladder, as he is set to compete in the Indy Lights division.

Also ascending the sport’s ranks this season is 2017 USF2000 champion Oliver Askew. During the 2018 campaign, the 21-year-old from Jupiter will be competing in the Pro Mazda division.

Then there is Calvin Ming of Miramar and Darren Keane of Boca Raton who will be competing in the USF2000 division during the 2018 season.

This year, each of these drivers will be focused on one goal, and that is to win their division championship. If one of them is able to accomplish that feat, they will be awarded a Mazda Scholarship that moves them onto the next level of the Road to Indy and also assists them in their development in that division.

They all aspire to be the next Kyle Kaiser, who was the 2017 Indy Lights champion, and as a result earned a $1 million scholarship to participate in four IndyCar races this year, including the iconic Indianapolis 500.

Like the Road to Indy Spring Training, the Speedway hosts a number of other events throughout the year that utilize our championship track– many 

f which are open to spectators. Fans can come out and watch some of the best racing in the region during our Formula & Automobile Racing Association (FARA), Championship Cup Series (CCS) motorcycle racing and Sports Car Club of America (SCCCA) events. During these races, drivers and riders from various racing classes put their skills to the test on our road course.

For fans who would like to participate instead of spectate, there are also opportunities for that at Homestead-Miami Speedway through one of many driving experiences. Performance Driving Group, Miami Exotic Auto Racing, and Porsche and BMW Owners Club are all set to visit Homestead-Miami Speedway this month.

During these driving experiences, participants receive the full motorsports treatment. First, they go through an education session, which gives them tips on how to properly drive the car at high velocities in a controlled environment. Then, they strap on their helmets and head onto the track where they are able to experience firsthand the adrenaline of running a car at fast speeds. Drivers also get to cross the start/finish line on the Speedway’s front stretch and then feel the g-force as they ride the track’s 18-20 degree variable banking.

As we head into the spring months, there are a lot of fun and exciting track activities that fans can look forward to. To see all the upcoming events headed to Homestead-Miami Speedway in March and for the rest of the year, please visit the “Track Calendar” section on our website at www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.

NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND

Sunday, March 4 at 3:30 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Tune In: FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Saturday, March 3 at 4:00 PM (ET)

NASCAR XFINITY Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Friday, March 2 at 9:00 PM (ET)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Stratosphere 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

March 2 Fast Lane Friday Presented By The Ticket Clinic

March 3-4 National Auto Sport Association

March 17 Performance Driving Group

March 18 Miami Exotic Auto Racing

March 24-25 Porsche and BMW Owners Club

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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