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This weekend, fans in Southern Maryland will encounter another spectacular sportsman race as the International Hot Rod Association comes to town.

After bursting through the inaugural event last year, the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Spectacular returns to Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek this weekend and will be presented by AMSOIL.

With hundreds of racers from across North America, $5,000 is up for grabs in each IHRA class for winners, as the event features open fields consisting of both the IHRA and National Hot Rod Association competitors, and a spot in the year-end Tournament of Champions.

Action on the track will get underway today with a test and tune for all racers followed by a full day of qualifying Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. The first round of eliminations is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday. Racers will conclude the event on Sunday with more eliminations beginning at 10 a.m., with the finals scheduled to start in the afternoon.

Racing will be conducted in IHRA’s seven regular touring Pro-Am classes of Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, ClassRacer.com Super Stock, ClassRacer.com Stock, Quick Rod, Super Rod and Hot Rod, in addition to competition in Top ET, Mod ET and Junior Dragster.

For Myron Piatek, Keith Mayers and Wesley Washington, the MIR track scene is like home sweet home.

Piatek, of Holly Hill, Fla., was last year’s IHRA Sportsman of the Year, essentially the IHRA Hall of Fame award. He won last year’s Spectacular at MIR in the Stock class and is looking to defend his crown in the event.

“I would like to win it again,” said Piatek, who races a 1975 Dodge Dart and has won three years straight at MIR in IHRA competition. “Every year it’s been competitive and I’m surprised that I’ve been able to win with so many talented drivers. The odds are astronomical to win it a fourth time, it makes me nervous, but I will be ready. I love this track I can call this home.”

Piatek that when he arrives at MIR every year he stays with longtime friend Don Dimeler in Southern Maryland who also races in IHRA.

“I love coming down to this track it’s fun, Don helps me out so much and I can just prepare for my races,” Piatek said.

Piatek, the 2006 Stock World champion, is one of the greatest IHRA drivers on the circuit ever and has countless national event victories.

“I always thank God that I have been able to do this well,” said Piatek, who has a Pro-Am victory this season at Immokalee Regional Raceway in Florida. “I’ve had a lot of supporters and a lot of sponsors have helped me out. All I have to do is focus on driving.”

Mayers, who grew up in Fruitland in Wicomico County, will race his 1985 Porsche, known as one of the most unique cars in the IHRA, in the Hot Rod class.

A 2005 and 2009 Hot Rod champion, Mayers said that he is ready to compete in this huge event, recently winning in a Pro-Am race at Richmond Dragway.

“MIR is my favorite track by far,” said Mayers, who has won multiple national events over the years and resides in the northern part of Delaware. “It’s always been a world class facility; once the stage light is on, I’m ready to go. When I come up to the start line, the CD player is cranking, it gets me going and I take off. I judge what my opponent is going to do and I react to it.”

Washington of King George, Va., will race in the Top Dragster class this weekend.

He lost in the championship round at MIR last year to defending Summitt Sportsman champion Brett Nesbitt, his friendly rival.

Thus far, Washington, 33, has gotten off to a good start in the Pro-Am season, winning at the Skyview Drags in New York and Richmond Dragway.

“This is always a good event, this is my home track,” said Washington, who has been racing for 19 years. “I will have a lot of friends and family that will be watching me. Brett and I are good friends and we’ve battled over the years, beating each other. Last year he ended up on the better end of the stick, so it should be a good one.”

Mayers complimented Washington on being a student of the sport and a consistent racer over the years.

“Wesley is a great guy and has a lot of knowledge for the sport, he goes out there and competes every race,” Mayers said. “This weekend should be another great showing. It’s going to be another spectacular one for fans.”

ajmason@somdnews.com