by Bill Wright
Can you smell the fumes? I can! Another week will find the sprinters tearing it up around Iowa. The Southern Iowa Speedway will hold a practice session on Wednesday night, the 9th. There should be plenty of sprinters on hand to practice up for the April 12 NMRA show there. The 410 show will pay $3000 to the winner and $300 to start. In addition, there will be a $300 bonus to the highest finishing 360, and two dashes worth $500 to the winner of each. Aaron Berryhill, Brian Brown, and Don Droud Jr. are just a few of the drivers that are expected. The race will be broadcast locally on KBOE AM and also on the web at www.kboe.com. SCN announcer Rod Pattison will provide the play by play, while Lannie Nichols will be roaming the pits where he does an outstanding job. The new non-wing 305 class will also be running a full program before they go back into hibernation until May 26.
The 360 Sprint Invaders series will kick off their season at the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson on Friday April 11. This should draw a great car count as well. Terry McCarl is one of those signed up with the series, and he will hit and miss as he can. Jesse Giannetto, who will be a factor in Knoxville's 360 class this season also is expected in Donnellson. The series will continue the next weekend with dates on the Jacksonville, IL quarter-mile, and at 34 Raceway in Burlington. Tune in to the USA Dirt Racing Report this Tuesday night from 8 to 9 central as we will welcome Sprint Invaders' leader, Bart Schneiderman, Bill McCroskey and Brian Brown. It should be a great show. Find it on www.rsbn.net or at www.usadirtracing.com.
The IRA will bring their troupe to the Dubuque Speedway, on Sunday the 13th. This should prove to be very entertaining, as the group always brings a slug of cars and a great format. A number of Iowa and Illinois locals should swell the already big car count considerably on the high-banked 3/8 mile facility. Chad Adams, a.k.a. "The Krazy Korean", has outdone himself with a Sprint Car Show and Cookout planned for Friday night, April 18. The show will not only be a display of sprint cars and a cookout, it will feature a number of prize giveaways including two sets of reserved seat tickets for the Knoxville April 25 World of Outlaw show, an area rug from Phillips' Floors, sprint car decals from Burnham Vinyl Graphics, blow-up chairs, tees and more. The cookout will be at the Hy-Vee next to Southridge Mall in Des Moines on 1107 SE Army Post Road. It will run from 3-7 pm. That same night, there will be a 360 special race at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, a perfect way to cap off the evening. The winged 305 class will also be in attendance that night, and all season at the fairgrounds.
Knoxville kicks off its season April 19 with practice night. Practice night seems to attract more cars every year and this year will be no different. The locals will get to compete against the best in the first week out as the Outlaws come in April 25 and 26, so expect a number of locals to be busy at early season practices and race events around the area.
There are a number of changes for this Knoxville season as far as schedule and drivers are concerned. The first one is obvious, usually opening night is a local show. In addition, one local show has been cut off of the end of the season. In addition to their April dates, the WoO will visit on July 4 and 5, and the nationals will run from August 13 through 16. The newly named "Pella Nationals" (formerly the 1200 pound nationals) will be August 1 and 2. The IRA and All Stars will again be included in that card. The 360 Nationals will be shortened to two days, June 13 and 14, while the Brodix Tournament of Champions will be a part of Iowa Sprintweek on August 10. The Masters Classic will run May 30, with the midgets, a success last year, being on the card Nationals Sprint Car Hall of Fame weekend as well. Other schedule highlights include a visit from the IRA on May 17, and one of my favorites, twin feature night on July 12.
Terry McCarl is going for an unprecedented fifth 410 title in a row, a very impressive accomplishment for a man who has won the last two years with his own equipment. He is bashed for not traveling enough, but he is spending his own money. Besides, he gets around as a recent sixth place finish at Pike County, Mississippi with the WoO attests. This was done on a five-year old spec Wesmar motor. He will have a fresher power plant under the hood as the local season unfolds.
Chasing Terry will be the usual cast, minus a few. Long-time competitor Larry Pinegar II is without a ride as of this writing, and Dennis Moore Jr. is driving for Morrie Williams on the left coast. He already has an early season win in the Golden State Challenge series. In addition, Mike Reinke was let go of the Ed Gifford 17 and replaced with last year's third-place runner Ricky Logan. Rumor has Randy Anderson the new pilot of the Robuck 12, while Eddie Leavitt Jr. will return in Daryle Arend's mount. Clint Garner is rumored to be the new pilot of the Sonner 47, vacated by Tony Norem who will be a car owner this year. Norem will compete mostly with the Minnesota based WISSOTA series, but will be an occasional visitor in the 360 class at Knoxville. The 2002 Gambler will sport the familiar B1st.
Brian Brown will follow up his 360 championship with a run for the 410 title in Lonnie Parsons, Casey's sponsored 6. Adam West, of Ridgetown, Ontario will be this year's driver of the Knoxville International Driver Development program. This 24 year old was NOT the original Batman! Expect frequent visits from Brooke Tatnell and Aaron Berryhill as well.
With Brown and Garner apparently out of the picture in the 360 race, enter veteran David Hesmer, Jesse Giannetto, Josh Higday and Doug Wilson, among others. The electrifying 360 National Co-rookie of the year last year was Nebraskan Billy Alley, and he'll be going for the title as well. This always exciting class is just getting better. Giannetto was on a roll until being slowed by injury a year ago, and Wilson will have long-time 410 owners Jerry and Jeff Smith helping out on race night this year.
Another new face at the raceway will be Prairie City's Nathan Mosher. He will strap in on practice night in Osky to begin the learning curve after a successful kart career. Eric Vanderploeg, another first year guy has been impressive down south already and the rookie race should be a good one. Unfortunately, Kansas native Chris Morgan will not be racing weekly, as his car owner Gary "Sarge" Mussatto passed away in the off-season. "Sarge" was a familiar face at dirt tracks across the Midwest and will be missed by us all. Morgan will race locally in the family car this season. Until next time, see you at the track!