View from the Stands (1/06/2014)
by Eric Arnold, Knoxville Raceway Track Historian – Blogger – Twitter Commentator
The winter racing blues are in full swing now that we are past the holidays and we have below zero temperatures hitting the Midwest states this week. But to get your fix you can always follow the racing “Down Under” this time of year. The presence of sprint car racing has been growing internationally for some time now, especially in Australia, but this year it seems that more of the main stream racing media is following along and giving it more attention. This is primarily thanks to social media today. Facebook, Twitter, and phone apps have made it very easy for even the casual sprint car fan to follow along with their favorite driver and how their winter months are going. Donny Schatz has won in both New Zealand and Australia this winter. Ian Madsen, Brad Sweet, Steve Kinser, and Kraig Kinser have all won races as well.
Some familiar names are racing the full World Series Sprintcars tour this year, which is the equivalent of the World of Outlaws series here in the states. Shane Stewart is the only American committed to racing the full WSS tour, and familiar names around Knoxville are Aussies Brooke Tatnell and Jamie Veal are also racing the tour. Drivers Ian Madsen, James McFadden, David Murcott, Garry Brazier, Trevor Green, are also familiar to Knoxville fans and have been racing most of the WSS stops so far. McFadden is the champion the past two years of the WSS.
The WSS season is only 14 nights of racing but the travel is brutal covering 5,200 miles total in 8 weeks time. Australia is a much bigger place than we realize.
A few drivers in Australia that we don’t get to see here in the states that are popular names down under are Steven Lines, Robbie Farr, and Luke Dillon. I would love to see these three men find a way to race at Knoxville this coming year for the World Challenge. Lines has won the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic twice but is still chasing his first WSS title. He has won two races so far this season and finished first or second in every race he has finished, unfortunately he has two DNF’s but is sitting second in WSS points. Luke Dillon is leading the WSS points right now, he has no wins but four top ten finishes along with 3 quick times. Robbie Farr was leading the points until this past week but he did not compete this week at Brisbane.
Shane Stewart has struggled a bit so far in the WSS in the Monte Motorsports #7 car. He is currently seventh in points with one top five, and two top ten finishes, and his qualifying average is 14th, not the start to his Australia season that he wanted.
The most prestigious event in Australia is the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic at Warrnambool’s Premier Speedway which is held January 24, 25, and 26. This event is also a qualifier for the Speed Sport World Challenge coming up here at Knoxville in August and I plan to follow that event as close as I can here at home, but Knoxville Raceway will have some ambassadors there in person to help promote the World Challenge.
If you haven’t downloaded the World Series Sprintcars app for your iPhone, I would highly recommend it. It’s about the best app I have seen for sprint car racing. (They only have the app for iPhones as of now.)
We are only 103 days until our season opener here at Knoxville Raceway!
*Eric can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @_EricArnold.
*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Knoxville Raceway.