Jane Miller: Changes coming to Peoria Motorcycle Club races
While most fans won't notice, there will be some changes in the way the Peoria Motorcycle Club presents its two national races this year.
Yes, there will be races in June and August, as usual. All the fan favorites will be there, like always.
But the June 15 race, which used to be an AMA Hot Shoe event, does not appear on the AMA schedule because it is being promoted by the PMC.
It's called the June TT National and it will be just like a Hot Shoe race, with a few extras.
"It'll be the same riders," said PMC race director Bert Sanders. "There will be the Expert and Pro Sport classes like we've always had. But we're also having a Twins Invitational, so people can hear the big motors. We've had six ex-national numbers (riders) make reservations. One of them is (Hall of Famer) Eddie Mulder."
There also will be an exhibition race for young riders, ages 4 to 7.
The June race is always almost like an AMA Grand National event because all the top riders want to come then to practice for the big August race.
"We're unique, and I appreciate that," Sanders said. "People come out to Peoria to have a good time. Even though it's not the Hot Shoe Series, it's still the same race."
Because of the sale by the AMA of its the Pro Racing Divisions to Daytona Motorsports Group, this year the August race will be promoted by World Dirt Track. That is a group consisting of all the track promoters, including the PMC.
"It will be AMA-sanctioned," Sanders said of the Aug. 17 TT race. "The only difference is, we will handle the point fund and insurance on our own. But the race will not change that anybody can see this year."
This arrangement is a one-year deal. DMG, which is controlled by Jim France of the NASCAR France family, and Roger Edmonson, president of the Grand Am Road Race Series, will be the sanctioning body of record next season.
The Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway this year will be sponsored by Lifelock, an identity theft protection company.
The race will be known as the Lifelock.com 400.
This is the third sponsor in the eight-year history of the race.
Tropicana was on board the first four years (who can forget the day the inflatable orange got loose?), then USG Sheetrock took over in 2005.
Bill Davis Racing restructured the management of its team earlier this week.
Davis, who owns the Caterpillar-sponsored Toyota driven by Dave Blaney, named Marty Gaunt its vice president.
Mark Chambers moved up from team manager of BDR's truck teams to general manager, and Mike Brown moves from general manager to chief financial officer.
"Our truck series program continues to thrive," Davis said in a press release announcing the moves, "but there isn't any doubt that the Cup Series program has struggled this year. Our partnership with Caterpillar is over 10 years strong, and we owe it to them and to ourselves to make sure we have the best possible people in the most important positions."
Peoria Speedway is scheduled to have its first night of racing Saturday, but the weather forecast for the rest of the week – and that day in particular – is not exactly favorable.
Track promoter Sherrie Hamilton said a decision will be made later in the week on the status of the event.
On April 19, however, there will be a special race honoring Don Bohlander to benefit research for Parkinson's Disease. The Late Model race will pay $4,000 to win and Sportsman and Hornet classes also will race that day.
Another big upcoming event is a visit by NASCAR drivers Kenny Wallace and Ken Schrader on May 21.
Among the physical changes to the track this year is an increase in banking, Hamilton said.
Stewart Cooper has replaced Bill Wilburn as crew chief for Kyle Petty's team, which is suddenly in disarray. ... Helio Castroneves' “Dancing with the Stars” partner, Julianne Hough, will sing the national anthem at the Indianapolis 500. Jim Nabors also will return to sing "Back Home Again in Indiana." ... 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever has been hired as a race analyst by ESPN/ABC for the 500. ... Rahal Letterman Racing and Target Chip Ganassi will join forces to field a car for Indy Lights champion Alex Lloyd in the Indianapolis 500.
Jane Miller is the Peoria Journal Star motorsports columnist. Write her at 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, call (309) 686-3207 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.