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  • 08272016
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  • 09102016

As the few remaining days before the Ocala Speedway Winternationals count down, so does the anticipation of race fans from all over the country. Many will travel to Florida to be on hand this Friday and Saturday to witness the O'Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions, plus many more top sprint car teams from other series, gather at Florida's oldest speedway for two days of thundering action.

But while the All Stars are headlining the event, another group of dedicated sprint car racers is gearing up for their big event, known as the Winter Shootout.  The Florida Mini Sprint Association will be hitting the track opposite the All Stars as part of the Winternationals events, and will thrill the out of town crowd with the same action packed racing that has entertained Florida fans for years.  And leading the pack will be 2009 Florida Mini Sprint Champion, Tim O'Donnell.

Originally from Ohio, and coming from a background that included harness racing rather than the sort of horsepower featured at Ocala Speedway, O'Donnell began racing dirt bikes before discovering the thrill of racing on four wheels instead of two.  But as O'Donnell puts it, when the bikes begin to beat you up, it is time to find something else, and in 1998 Tim O'Donnell began racing with the Florida Mini Sprints.

As the 2009 racing season got underway, O'Donnell set a goal of finishing every race and achieved it in grand fashion.  Not only did he never score a DNF, but every finish was inside the top five with the exception of one sixth place finish.  That consistency earned him the 2009 championship, and sets the bar very high as he prepares to race in the Winter Shootout at Ocala.

And while Tim O'Donnell was busy demonstrating consistency last year, his son, Brett, was doing something that his dad could not accomplish during the 2009 season.  Brett O'Donnell managed to score a victory in his rookie season with the Florida Mini Sprints, and finished seventh in the final point standings, which earned him Rookie of the Year honors.  Brett will begin his second season at Ocala, and would like nothing more than to beat his dad yet again.

When asked about appearing opposite the best in sprint car racing, Tim O'Donnell shrugs it off.  After all, he is not racing against those guys, and as he sees it, their presence only matters in that the big wheeled, alcohol fueled powerhouses will provide the mini sprints with a very fast and smooth surface.  Tim O'Donnell's team is focused on two nights of tough racing action versus the rest of the Florida Mini Sprints, but admits that he will probably watch the O'Reilly All Stars as much as he can.

So as the top teams in sprint car racing exit the track and go to work in their pit areas January 29th and 30th, Ocala Speedway's fans will be thrilled by Tim O'Donnell and the rest of the Florida Mini Sprint Association.  Gates will open on Friday and Saturday at 5PM with racing at 8PM, and a complete schedule of events and prices can be found at www.OcalaSpeedway.com, listed under the 2010 schedule.

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