After navigating through the minefield that was the 2020 race season at Riverhead Raceway due to the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic track owners & promoters Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz announced their 2021 event schedule for the quarter mile oval that will mark its 71st year of auto racing. The team will start their sixth season as owners of the venue with Opening Weekend 2021 featuring a NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series program Saturday evening May 1st and the May Meltdown Enduro opener Sunday afternoon May 2nd.
The 2021 race schedule finds optimism for a return to normalcy with numerous special races planned for all divisions plus the return of some very popular family entertainment shows that had to be shelved in 2020 due to the pandemic. As has been the standard the NASCAR Modifieds will highlight the weekly Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series and be joined by the Crate Modifieds, Late Models, Figure Eights, Blunderbusts, Super Pro Trucks and INEX Legend Race Cars. Just prior to the holidays track management announced the INEX Bandolero class would be introduced at Riverhead Raceway in 2021 with seven of their eight races set for Saturday nights with one midweek contest set for Wednesday night August 25th. Unfortunately, due to low car counts the Late Models will compete in just six races in ’21.
The NASCAR Modifieds will go to post in 50-lap feature events weekly starting with the May 1st opener with four very special extra distance races planned for the new season. Those four races will encompass the Crown Jewel Series for NASCAR Modifieds and aside from paying the weekly track & state championship points will carry separate points with the winner earning the Ted Christopher Cup. The Crown Jewel Series celebrating the life and career of the late Ted Christopher is the concept of race director Scott Tapley and GM John Ellwood and was slated to debut last season. The Crown Jewel Series NASCAR Modified events in 2021 are the 71st Year Celebration 71 on Saturday July 3rd, the Baldwin Evans & Jarzombek 77 on Saturday July 31st, The Bubba 100 Saturday August 28th and the season ending Islip 300 Saturday November 13th. The Ted Christopher Cup will be presented the Crown Jewel Series winner after the Islip 300. No track points are paid for the 300.
In recent years the Riverhead Raceway faithful have eagerly anticipated the two visits of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to their home track and were bitterly disappointed when logistics prevented the WMT from racing on Long Island in 2020. In 2021 those rabid WMT fans will be elated when they review the new Riverhead Raceway schedule finding three races on the slate starting with Saturday May 15th with events also scheduled for Saturday June 19th and Saturday September 18th. The May 15th WMT will be the earliest ever at Riverhead.
Also new for 2021 the Crate Modifieds, Late Models, Figure Eights, Blunderbusts, Super Pro Trucks and INEX Legend Race Cars will compete for the Miller Lite Triple Crown Series. Miller Lite has been a marketing partner at Riverhead Raceway since 1985 and the Triple Crown Series was formulated by track GM John Ellwood and was to debut in 2020 before plans changed. Not only is the Miller Lite Triple Crown Series on the 2021 Riverhead Raceway schedule but it will also add two more divisions in the Street Stocks and Mini Stocks. The Miller Lite Triple Crown Series will find each class running three races on dates indicated on the new schedule with time trial qualifying setting the field. The driver who accumulates the most points in the three races will earn the Miller Lite Triple Crown Series championship. Track championship points will also be awarded in these races. The Cone Race nights are also planned for May 22nd, June 26th and July 10th.
The Vintage All Stars will turn back the clock for four dates in 2021 with their first appearance on June 5th set aside to honor the late Jim Kelly founder of the Long Island Vintage Auto Racing Series who sadly passed away from complications caused by Covid-19. The very special Jim Kelly Memorial 22 will kick off the Vintage All Star schedule with events also set for July 31st, August 21st and September 11th.
The popular Enduro races are back for 2021 with the May Meltdown on Sunday May 2nd and the Enduro Extravaganza on Sunday September 26th book ending the regular season at Riverhead Raceway. The Street Stocks, Mini Stocks, Truck Enduro, 8-Cylinder Gut & Go and 4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro aside from their two Sunday shows will all see action during the 2021 campaign on Saturday night programs. After not having an event scheduled for 2020 due to Covid-19 Demolition Derby events return in 2021 with four events set on June 5th, July 3rd, August 14th and the National Stock Demolition Derby on September 4th.
Also returning after a one-year hiatus are some wildly popular family entertainment events that complement weekly NASCAR stock car shows. Two Firework spectaculars are set for July 3rd for the 71st Year celebration and I Love America Night on August 14th. The School Bus contests return for 2021 running two daring Figure Eight races on May 29th and June 12th that will be followed by two School Bus Demolition Derby events on July 17th and August 21st. The car crushing Monster Trucks of KSR Motorsports are returning in ’21 with two huge shows Saturday July 24th and the Back To School Monster Truck special Wednesday August 25th. Two Kids Big Wheel Races will be presented on July 3rd and August 14th coinciding with the two Fireworks programs.
Two practice days are scheduled for Saturday April 17th and again on April 24th. Race teams should note the pre-season Safety Tech Inspection days are planned for Saturday April 3rd and April 10th. All race cars must go through and pass the Safety Tech process prior to taking to the track for the two practice days or at any point during the 2021 season.
By Bob Finan
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