- Associated Press - Sunday, May 10, 2015

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - From the tiny quarter-midget racers to the mighty drag racers, Fairbanks drivers are ready for the 2015 season.

Races are starting at the Interior’s two main car racing courses, the North Pole Speedway and the Mitchell Raceway.

To get ready for the season and show off their cars, racers set up a motor sports car show on a recent Sunday morning.

In the parking lot of American Tire and Auto on South Cushman, street racers admired and talked shop about their vehicles.

Mitchell Speedway driver Scott Sluka brought a reproduced, modified 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle he races in the modified class and an entirely custom-designed chassis with Corvette markings he races in the late-model class in Kenai. There’s not yet a race series for the late-model cars in Fairbanks, he said.

“That’s strictly a hand-built car,” he said. “It looks like just a bunch of tubes when you take the body off.”

Also on display were cars that can be admired but not tinkered with. At the North Pole Speedway drivers race Legend Cars and other “spec” cars that must be mechanically identical under the rules.

The Legend and smaller Bandolero cars are designed to put drivers, especially the children and teenagers who drive the Bandoleros, on an even playing field, said Sean Ferris, the president of the Arctic Wheels of Alaska, the nonprofit organization that operates races at the North Pole Speedway.

“Racing is more of a head game then it is about your right foot,” he said. “Everyone has the same equipment, it’s about how you develop your skills as a driver.”

Arctic Wheels of Alaska plans to add two smaller classes of legend-style cars at North Pole Speedway in 2015, quarter-midgets and lawn mowers.

The quarter-midgets are a 2.5- to- 4 horsepower car for drivers as young as 5 years old. The lawnmower racing is a racing format sanctioned by the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association.

Arctic Wheels has experimented with it the last few years at the Tanana Valley State Fair.

Like last year, the Interior’s racing schedule will follow a pattern of Thursday and Friday night races each week in 2015.

On Thursday, Legend-car and smaller spec-car races take place at the North Pole Speedway, an asphalt oval off of Badger Road.

On Friday nights, the action is in South Fairbanks at the Mitchell Raceway, where larger stock and modified-class cars race around a dirt track. A handful of special events are mixed in, including the Parrish Racing mud bog races, held each month at the North Pole Speedway.

Partway through the afternoon on Sunday, Matco Tools franchise owner Kelly Murrill got everyone’s attention in earshot when he fired up his Matco Tools Dragster, by far the fastest car on display.

Murrill’s car was adorned with the number 6.80 seconds. That’s the fastest the car has completed a 1,320 foot course, a speed of about 200 miles per hour, Murrill said.

At that speed, it burns 6 gallons of methanol alcohol fuel in 7 seconds.

For now drag racers like Murrill’s don’t have a competition track in the Interior. Murrill and a handful of other local drag racers travel to Palmer for competitions.

That could change in the next few years.

The Fairbanks Racing Lions have secured permits and are working to raise money to build a drag strip adjacent to the North Pole Speedway.

___

Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com


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