More than a year ago when the 2020 schedule was revealed, I said that if we could not be the season finale, then mid-March – our original date for this year – was the perfect fit. It fell right into South Florida’s “Super Season,” and we were included among some of the area’s most iconic events. Unfortunately, the pandemic did not permit that to happen.
Now we get another chance in 2021, only this time the date might be even more attractive. Earlier this week it was announced that our Cup Series race in 2021 – the Dixie Vodka 400 - would be February 21, a date which immediately follows the DAYTONA 500. The dates for Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series will be announced at a later date.
Not only is our race weekend still right around Spring Break time, but it is a prelude of sorts to that long line of spring events in South Florida. What a great way to start one of the most robust calendars for any season in any geographic area.
The fact that it also immediately follows the DAYTONA 500 give it a unique flare as well. Following our race the circuit heads west for consecutive races at Fontana, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Our race will come after the drivers will have been in Daytona for two straight weeks – Speedweeks and then the 500. This caps off the trio, and in a way gives the industry a pair of three-week “spring training sessions’ – one in Florida and another on the West Coast. With the DAYTONA 500 being the single-most iconic event on the calendar, many say the season doesn’t start until the week afterwards. That’s pretty cool.
Coming to Miami, whether you’re part of the industry or a fan, should be all about fun. We know the racing has been great with our variable banking, but South Florida is built on its uniqueness, and we like to think we are a microcosm of sorts for this area as a whole. Last year we unveiled the first-ever beach party in motorsports, and in 2021 we hope to be able add some other elements that are purely Miami, which will be noticed both by fans who join us for the 2021 race weekend and those watching at home as well.
From a historical perspective, it’s the first time since 1952-54 that the NASCAR season has opened with two more straight weekends in the Sunshine State. The ’52 and ’54 seasons opened with races at West Palm Beach, Daytona and Jacksonville. In ’53 it was West Palm and Daytona. It’s something that’s been more than 65 years in the making. Sounds pretty special and looks like more history to be made at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The 2020 season has been nothing short of remarkable in the fact that it looks like we are going to be able to complete a full season. With a hiatus of about two months before resuming, it obviously involved some schedule quirks, such as mid-week races and doubleheaders. The fact we were able to achieve this speaks volumes as to the teamwork that exists in our industry to make, what looked like a monumental task at the beginning, a reality.
The only part of it that has not been gratifying – and I know I speak for most – is that we have not been able to perform in front of fans for the most part. There have been instances, which has made those occasions even more special. And there will be even more over the next several weeks and through the championship races in Phoenix, November 6-8.
Looking ahead to 2021, having fans back in some form is what we are all anticipate the most. Events are not the same without all of you with us, and we know how much you have enjoyed coming to Homestead-Miami Speedway over the past 25 years. We cherish the opportunity to have you as our guests once again and continue a tradition in South Florida that started with a dream by one man – Ralph Sanchez – more than a quarter-century ago.
KURT’S WILD RIDE:
Seeing Kurt Busch win the opening race of the Round of 12 in the Cup Series Playoffs at Las Vegas last weekend was pretty cool and brought back some great memories, as I sit here thinking about our 25th anniversary.
One of my most vivid memories of racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, including all races in all disciplines was the 2004 Championship race when Kurt came away with the only title of his career. That was actually the first year of the Playoffs but well before the era of the Championship 4 format (2014). Busch came in needing a fifth-place finish or better to secure the title.
On the 93rd of the 267-lap race, he lost a right-front wheel just as he got to the commitment line, and missed hitting the outside pit wall by inches. As a result, he was able to make his way into the pits while his tire went rolling into the front straightaway. Because the loose tire was on the track, the race fell under a caution flag and Busch had time to get another tire, and stay on the lead lap as he got back into the race.
If that happens to him 100 yards down and he’s on the front straight when tire comes off, he’s done, championship over. Just the timing of that tire coming off is what saved him. Greg Biffle won the race – his first of three straight wins at our track in the Cup Series – while Busch was fifth.
This Week’s Racing Schedule – Talladega Superspeedway
Saturday, Oct. 3 -
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series 1:00 pm (FS1)*
Saturday, Oct. 3 -
Ag-Pro 300 4:30 pm (NBCSN)*
Sunday, Oct. 4 -
NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 2:00 pm (NBC)*
*Denotes Playoff race
All races will air on
Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90