LEXINGTON — North central Ohio better gear up because business is about to pick up.
After this weekend, Mid-Ohio Sports Course will have its two biggest events of the season over the following three weeks. Sandwiched in-between is the largest night of racing on the Summit Motorsports Park calendar.
As three weekend stretches go, racing in Buckeye State has never seen more top-level action consecutively.
It kicks off Aug. 2 to 4 with the return of the Izod IndyCar Series to Mid-Ohio. The Honda Indy 200 will bring the biggest names in open-wheel racing in this country with reigning Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan coming to town along with four-time Mid-Ohio winner Scott Dixon, defending series champ Ryan Hunter-Reay and fan favorites like Helio Castroneves, Dario Franchitti, Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti.
Then on Aug. 10, NHRA icon John Force returns to Norwalk for the Auto Plus Night Under Fire, where he’ll go against Funny Car drivers Robert Hight, Chad Head and Blake Alexander. There will be a nostalgia match race, jet dragsters, Bob Motz and his jet Kenworth, plus stunt shows, sportsman racing and Larry McBride gunning to become the fastest nitro motorcycle rider in track history by breaking five seconds.
The string culminates back at Mid-Ohio for the inaugural running of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200, Aug. 16 to 17. This will mark the first time the venerable road course has hosted NASCAR in its 52-year history as the NASCAR Nationwide Series debuts in Lexington. The top up-and-comers of stock car racing will be in the field, and there’s the possibility Sprint Cup racers will be in the fold since they race at Michigan that weekend as well.
Photo: Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti high-fives his fans before the start of last year’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. / Jason J. Molyet/CentralOhio.com
Rob McCurdy covers motor sports for the News Journal and can be reached at email@example.com or 419-521-7241. On Twitter follow @McMotorsport.