Motorsports News by David Vodden.
This week the world of winged sprint car auto racing ran for well over a million dollars to win at Tony Stewarts Eldora Speedway located in the fields of Rosberg, Ohio. The Thursday night race there paid $1M to the winner and the Kings Royal race two nights later paid close to $200k more. It was four nights of big money that continues well into August where the Knoxville Nationals will take place on the big track in the little town of Knoxville, Iowa.
It should be noted that not too many years ago sprint car racing and sprint cars in general were on a declining path. The racing was good, but the cost of racing was starting to deplete the fields and the commitment of the passionate people who owned the cars and financed, in the red, the team operations. Travel costs including fuel and hotel nights were topping the added costs because, for the most part, the sprint car is old technology and the ability to buy speed and wins is not that great. In the sprint car world this was accepted as their fate. What to do?
Clearly costs go up. They always do. Tracks disappear. They always do. Purses were low because they always were. “It’s our fate,” one would conclude. But not everyone. Enter Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson, and a handful of other dreamers/visionaries. They saw the problem and took up the challenge. They knew the answer was not in trying to control expenses; that has been tried for years. The solution was on the income side. What if we increased the purses by adding more races that paid good money above and beyond the present World of Outlaws and other one-off events. What if we got celebrity drivers to attend these shows and create large, profitable events for the tracks? What if we, Tony Stewart, Kyle Larsen, and other national celebrities, participated in these events. We all know that fans are attracted to celebrities, sports heroes! The right star attendees can drive attendance off the charts.
Larsen and his brother in law started the High Limits Winged sprint car series paying big money for mid-week races. Stewart bought the All-Star Series and created a celebrity TV racing program called SRX to increase revenue for the tracks and gain massive media exposure for the sport. Larson noted that the Late Model race programs in the USA ran for much larger purses that the sprint cars. Why he asked himself and he set about finding the answers.
Sprint car racing can trace its origin to the beginning of auto racing itself. In the earliest days, “one-man cars” had their driver sitting behind the engine and in front of the fuel tank with not much more involved than four tires.
Today sprint car racing is heading in a positive direction. The exposure brought about by Larson and others racing in these cars, the innate excitement that comes with dirt-track sprint car racing and the absence of long, boring, follow-the -leader shows, is making this form of auto racing thrive and there is the promise of more success on the horizon. Thanks to a handful of men and women, sprint car racing and the Saturday night dirt tracks the fly around, are healthy and here to stay, again. Go see a dirt track sprint car race at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico on Friday and Saturday night, June23-24. You will see in person what is being said here. You will love it. Most fans of sprint car racing use the word love in their descriptions of their involvement. You will too.
NASCAR fans once again got the short end of the weather deal at Atlanta Motor Speedway last weekend. Rain ended the CUP program with a whopping 75 laps to go giving William Byron his fourth win of the season. He leads all other drivers in this category and has a total of eight wins in CUP since he started with Hendrick Motorsports.
Oddly, NASCAR went into extreme conservative mode as the threat of rain approached stopping the cars almost before it rained and ending the race. Many fans felt that it could have gone on longer and that underdogs Daniel Suarez and/or A. J. Almendinger had a shot at winning. They finished second and third, respectively. Another underdog, Michael McDowell took fourth. The Atlanta racetrack got good marks for side-by-side racing and aggressive driving by all. Eric Jones went on a wrecking streak which is out of character for him but during which he took out Kyle Larson and later tagged Cory Lajoie to start the biggest crash of the day. John Hunter Nemechek won the Xfinity race there on Saturday in an overtime restart that saw him power around Daniel Hemric. On that restart, Hemric’s selfish actions effectively denied his Kaulig Racing team a possible one-two finish. Cole Custer took third with Justin Haley, who was leading when the final green flag fell finishing fourth. Corey Heim won the Craftsman Truck race at the rain soaked Mid-Ohio road course. Zane Smith finished second with Christian Eckes, Stewart Friesen, and Ben Rhodes completing the top five. It was a slip and slide event that saw Marco Andretti in the field causing pundits to speculate if the third generation Andretti driver and son of Michael Andretti, is looking to NASCAR to redeem his a
Racing this weekend will see the NHRA back in action as theyhe d west for stops at Sonoma, Washington, and Denver. NASCAR will be in NewHampshire if all the damage from recent floods and rains can be repaired intime. There are seven races left I the regular NASCAR CUP series schedule for2023 before the playoffs start on Labor Day weekend in Darlington South Carolina.Who will be the 2023 NASCAR CUP Series champion? Place your bets!