As many as five TUNDRA Super Late Model Series competitors are beginning preparations to compete in the illustrious World Series of Asphalt Racing at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway in February.
TUNDRA Titlist Nick Panitzke, Rookie of the Year Paige Decker, and 2013 Round Three winner Frank Kreyer have all expressed intentions to take part in the festivities. Claire Decker is rumored to be substituting for Paige on several nights. Dalton Zehr, whose home is about 15 minutes from New Smyrna, is also contemplating an appearance.
"I like traveling around and going racing," Panitzke said. "We went down there to watch last year and [the trip] wasn't as bad as everyone thinks. A lot more goes into going down there to race for a week though. You have to prepare yourself for the worst."
Still seeking additional resources to aid his effort, he said the quality of each race night is going to be the biggest focus of running at New Smyrna. He is not necessarily concerned with competing each night.
"I'm going down there with the thought that if I can't make a night here and there it's not going to be the end of the world," he said. "Once we're down there obviously we want to run well. The main thing is surviving down there. We'll take it step-by-step and race-by-race."
Decker, who attended three nights of the World Series last year, had first-hand experience in Panitzke's thought process. Decker's engine expired the first night she attended, and had to wait for a spare motor to arrive.
In her first experience and New Smyrna, and first experience using a four-barrel carburetor, Decker fared well. The University of Wisconsin-Stout student took a break from academics to study the swift half-mile.
"It was crazy fast at first because I never ran a four barrel," Decker said. "After the first night I really started to get the hang of things. On the second and third night we said, 'we're really going to go for it.'"
Decker improved each night with finishes of 17th, 14th and 11th.
"Even though we only got to race three days it was an awesome experience getting to race with people I never got to race with before," she said. "The people we met and the connections that we made overall made the experience well worth it."
While Panitzke and Decker seem certain to be heading to New Smyrna, the intentions of Kreyer are still surrounded by some question marks.
In November Kreyer's throttle stuck at New Smyrna while practicing for the Governor's Cup. The now-well-known videos and photos are a blurry memory for Kreyer. The reality is that he is still feeling the effects of a violent wreck.
Those effects came into play this past Saturday when Kreyer made his return to New Smyrna for the Red Eye race. Kreyer is adjusting to moderate loss in vision in his right eye that he hopes will be fully restored soon.
"I've talked to some racers who have had the same thing happen," Kreyer said. "We've made some adjustments in how Michele (his wife and spotter) works with me on the radio. It will take some time to fully adjust, but we'll get there."
Driving for RAD Racing, Kreyer fought through an unfamiliar car and situation to finish 20th out of 24 cars.
"After qualifying they impound the cars," Kreyer explained. "We missed the setup and were waiting to come in to make some adjustments at the first caution. That didn't come until lap 60, so it was a little too late by then."
All-in-all Kreyer said he is still up in the air about a full run at the World Series, but is still preparing to be a part of the event, completing at least a trio of TUNDRA racers.
"It's awesome that TUNDRA will be this well-represented, obviously I want to be up front to show everyone what we're about." Kreyer said.
"Nick proved this year that he can adjust to any race track quickly and be a contender. There is no doubt that he'll be making some noise at New Smyrna," Kreyer said. "Paige has last year's experience at New Smyrna to build on, and now has another full year of Super Late Model racing under her belt. She should make some noise too."
The 48th Annual World Series of Asphalt runs from Friday, February 14 to Saturday, February 22. TUNDRA will keep tabs on its drivers' performances on the TUNDRA Facebook page.
The opening race of the TUNDRA 2014 season is Saturday afternoon, May 10 at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wis. The remaining schedule will be released in the coming weeks.
The Unified Northern Drivers Racing Association (TUNDRA) Super Late Model Series was formed in 2011 as the Alive For Five Super Late Model Series at Dells Raceway Park. TUNDRA's business plan is based on a sustainable program for promoters and race teams alike, while still providing high-quality Super Late Model entertainment to fans.
For more information on TUNDRA including news, results and the final 2013 standings, archived results and standings, and more visit www.tundrasuperlates.com. Also, interact with us on Facebook (facebook.com/TundraSuperLateModels) or Twitter (@TUNDRAslms).