Street Car Showdown kicks off summer at BIR

Even after winning a Muscle Car Series championship last year, Warren Peterson refuses to take himself seriously.

“I’m out there just to amuse myself,” he says.

Last year, Peterson won his first series championship, running in the Outlaw class. That class¬† typically is the second-fastest class and features heads-up racing, where both cars leave at the same time and the one reaching the starting line first wins. He’ll be back this year to defend his title, starting Memorial Day weekend during the 8th Annual Street Car Showdown.

Warren Peterson’s ’33 Plymouth.

The Showdown is quickly becoming a Memorial Day tradition for racers and fans alike. As BIR’s first major event of the year, and the unofficial start of summer, the race is gaining popularity by fans who enjoy watching big horsepower on the drag strip and super-competitive road racing on the road course.

_MG_3260_WWhile the drag racers are slugging it out on the drag strip, the Sports Car Club of America will be on BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course for its annual Harvey West Memorial Day Classic. A variety of sports cars will compete on the 13-turn track Saturday and Sunday. Both days begin with practice and qualifying sessions, followed by 10-lap races on Saturday and 12-lap races on Sunday.

Fans have an opportunity to get on the road course both days. For $10 per car, they can tour the track from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Back on the drag strip, Peterson won his championship driving a sharp-looking super-charged 1933 Plymouth, which he had planned to replace with a 1933 Ford sedan this season. But he couldn’t get the Ford together in time for the first race so he’ll be behind the wheel of the Plymouth again.

“We’re just out there to have fun,” he said, adding that the championship came about more because of his competition’s misfortune than his ability to win races. His car was never the fastest one in the class but he made the most of his opportunities.

In Pro Outlaw, which attracts the fastest cars, Rick Schmidt will return and looking to three-peat. He won the class championship the last two seasons and is looking for No. 3 in his 2004 Mustang, which flies down the track at 220 mph, posting times in the 6-second range. He’s been a tough customer to beat, but he knows that he’ll have some fast cars and hungry drivers gunning for him this season.

The Pro Outlaw and Outlaw classes are two of the seven Heads-Up Classes. There are also 10 Index classes, three Strip Eliminator classes and more. The event attracts about 300 cars from throughout the Midwest and Canada. It’s the first of the three-race Muscle Car Series, which also includes the PleasureLand RV Show & Go on the July 4th weekend and the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout on Labor Day weekend.

Time trials and qualifying sessions start Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m., with the Heads-Up Classes qualifying at 1 and 4 p.m. Friday and then 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday. Eliminations for all classes start at 9 a.m. Sunday. Saturday’s program includes live music by Rock Godz.

Daily admission is $25, which allows fans to watch both races. Kids 12 and younger are free. On-site camping is free with a multi-day ticket. Suites in BIR’s Race Tower, which overlooks the starting line, are available for $100 a day.

SCCA Harvey West Memorial Day Classic photo by Rick Corwine