Shayla Waddell wanted to build a good foundation. She wanted to spend a couple of summers racing sprint cars at State Fair Speedway, before branching out and trying other dirt tracks in and around Oklahoma.
And then plans changed. Without the slightest warning.
Waddell, an up-and-coming race car driver, was making progress. She won an A feature and had at least eight other top-10 finishes during the summer of 2009 at State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City.
But when city leaders closed the 55-year-old dirt track after that season, citing major electrical safety issues, Waddell had to begin racing at different tracks and against unfamiliar drivers.
Both offered pros and cons. But nothing hurt more than Waddell's lack of guaranteed seat time each week. While racing at State Fair Speedway, Waddell could learn how to become a confident, aggressive driver every Friday night from March through August, only minutes from home.
“Racing each week at the fairgrounds helped me with my consistency,” Waddell said. “It was the same track. It was the same car. It was same drivers. I could just focus on racing and getting better each week.”
That same formula turned many young drivers into champions, both male and female, at Oklahoma City's historic track.
At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Waddell begins a third summer on the Oil Capital Racing Series sprint car circuit. The season opener, at Brill's Motor Speedway in Meeker, gives the 19-year-old a fresh opportunity to race against exceptional drivers who have been in the business a long time.
*What: Oil Capital Racing Series Sprints
*When: 7:30 p.m. Friday. Gates open at 4:30.
*Where: Brill's Motor Speedway, located off State Highway 18 in Meeker
*Tickets: Available at the track. Prices are $15 for adults; $12 for seniors and youngsters ages 12-15; and $2 for kids ages 6-11. Pit passes are $30.
*Scouting report: The OCRS season-opening points race will likely draw many drivers, including some from the rival American Sprint Car Series. Defending ASCS Sooner Region champion Joe Wood Jr. of Oklahoma City is scheduled to race Friday night. Six-time State Fair Speedway champion Mike Peters of Wichita, Kan., will drive in his first career OCRS event. And then you have the Oil Capital's yearly front runners — Sean McClelland, Mike Goodman, Jamie Passmore, Whit Gastineau, Matt Sherrell, Kenneth Walker and Kyle Cobb. The Friday night event will also feature modifieds, economy modifieds, pro street stocks and economy sprints racing for Brill's Speedway points.
*Track information: www.brillmotorspeedway.com or (405) 769-6927.