It may only be the middle of March, but plans for this year's dirt track Saturday night action are well underway, race promoter Chuck Ihde said last week.

Ihde works for Upper Iowa Speedway in Decorah, Iowa, which features a semi-banked quarter-mile clay oval.

"We run five classes at the track," he explained. "Last year two of those classes were part-time (every other week), but this year we'll have all five every week."

Competition will feature United States Racing Association (USRA) Stock Cars, USRA B-Mods, USRA Hobby class, 600 Mod-Lites (featuring 600cc motorcycle engines in cars weighing 900 pounds maximum), and 4-cylinder Hornets.

This year, for the first time in track history, winged sprint cars will compete. A special appearance by members of the Midwest 305 Winged Sprint Car Series will take place on Saturday, April 28.

The cars all run a stock Chevrolet 305 block with a maximum displacement of 316 cubic inches. No, they don't fly. The wings push the racers down onto the track as they appear to "fly" around corners.

Action begins this season when the Iron Man Challenge arrives on April 6 and 7. That series runs both B-Mods and Stock Cars, Ihde said.

Friday night will feature practice laps while the races, with $1,000 purses, will take place on Saturday.

Last year, that series got around with 17 dates, 130 stock car drivers and 237 B-Mod competitors. This year, it will visit 13 oval tracks in six different states, making 26 appearances, including three stops at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley.

No races will be held on April 14, but the season opener for the speedway's weekly points races is Saturday, April 21, with a car show beforehand at NAPA in Decorah.

Sprint cars with support classes are on tap for April 28. May 5 and 12 will feature the weekly classes, while no races are currently scheduled for the 19th. Weekly point series races then resume, with some special events.

The North Iowa Vintage Race Series makes an appearance on June 9.

On June 30 and Aug. 18 the United States Modified Touring Series National Championship will visit, along with the Iron Man Challenge.

The June 30 championship race will feature a $4,000 top prize, while Aug. 18 offers a $3,000 purse.

"Most of my regular B-Mod guys will race in that Iron Man series," Ihde said, "It's more for local racers even though it's a touring series."

Ihde said that sprint cars are currently set to return on July 28.

July 14 and Aug. 4 are no-race weekends, but other than that, the action will continue until Sept. 1 Winneshiek County Fair Races will be held on Thursday, July 12.

Drivers from northern Iowa, southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin met last month in Decorah to honor last year's point leaders at Upper Iowa Speedway.

Tophies given for 2011 season

Trophies were presented to the top 10 finishers in each class at the annual awards banquet held Feb. 25 at the Oaks Steakhouse in Decorah.

John Griffin of Caledonia scored second in Mod-Lites, while Justin Zmyewski of Houston took 10th. B-Mods found Mike Kelly of Lanesboro in 10th.

Pete Solum of Spring Grove finished in seventh place in Stock Cars, while Jay Mensink of Harmony finished fourth in Hornets.

Other area drivers racing last year included:

B-Mods: Cole Konkel of Caledonia, Jacob Bleess of Chatfield, Andrew Kelly of Lanesboro, Jeremy Oakes of Spring Grove, Casey Knutson of Spring Grove and Taylor Knutson of Caledonia;

Hobby Stocks: Adam Sveen of Lanesboro and Carl Colsch of Eitzen;

Stock Cars: Brian Gjere of Mabel, Shawn Peter of Mabel, Jake Lampert of Caledonia and Brent Tweten of Chatfield; and

Hornets: Chad Olson of Harmony.