(Bill W) May 22, 2016 – What track won? What track lost? Everyone has to know. That must mean something is going right again somewhere. In the case of 410 sprint car racing, it’s everywhere. As of last weekend, things have fully commenced in the Upper Midwest. Two new beautiful venues are being completed as we speak. The Jackson Motorplex in Minnesota opened with the National Sprint League last Friday. Badlands Motor Speedway (still to be known as Huset’s Speedway by many) has been fully remodeled. The opener in Brandon, South Dakota Saturday went to the promotional extreme, offering silver bars that fluctuated in price leading up to the event. Meanwhile, the undisputed “Sprint Car Capital of the World”, Knoxville Raceway rolls on, with its NSL shows (starting last Saturday) matching Jackson as the biggest single night purse in the country for a weekly track.
For drivers of 410 sprint cars, times have never been better. They have three great choices to run weekly, and for good cash. The National Sprint League has additional dates on their schedule featuring some unique tracks across the Midwest for drivers to choose from as well. All of this doesn’t include the times when the World of Outlaws are in the area (primarily in June and August). Plenty of IRA and MOWA dates are available too.
Millions of dollars are being poured into facilities, and as fans, drivers and owners, we really have to be happy for the sport. Promotions have been innovative this year at all the facilities. Crowds have been great. Yet the full benefits to all of this aren’t even going to be seen for a while.
Though there are many choices for drivers, Saturday nights are causing the biggest stir. We are programmed as humans to look for winners and losers. We don’t waste any time either. Many are quick to pick them after one week…kind of like our awesome choices for presidential candidates (tongue firmly in cheek).
With Knoxville and Badlands on the same night, drivers must make a choice. For most, that choice is geographical, and for some, it’s economical. For others, neither matters. And for some that are prowling message boards and social media, they are demanding that winner and that loser!
Last Saturday night was not the best gauge for what will happen in the short term as far as car counts. The Silver Shootout at Badlands had the attention of drivers from across the country and drew 47 cars. A race paying almost $30,000 to win and $1,000 to start is a huge event, and Knoxville and other venues understandably lost a few teams to it.
Knoxville and Jackson’s NSL purse is almost $10,000 more than Badlands weekly purse will be this summer. Badlands has sweetened the pot with some travel dollars for teams coming from a distance and qualifying money as well, but the bottom line is Knoxville and Jackson will pay more through the middle of the field. On top of its weekly purses, Knoxville always offers the best weekly point fund in the country, thanks to Lucas Oil and its other partners.
That point fund money doesn’t include the giveaways at the banquet that all teams will receive. At last year’s Knoxville Raceway banquet, eight chassis were given away to random teams qualifying for points. This year, it looks like the odds of going away at the end of the year with a new car from Knoxville Raceway have increased. The track is also upping their participation requirements, as drivers in all its classes can only miss two point shows to remain eligible (in the past it was participation in 75% of the shows).
Drivers choosing to follow the National Sprint League schedule will also have a nice point fund at the end of the season. As for Badlands, the weekly purse has essentially doubled from where it was set for decades.
In the short term, we will see both Knoxville and Badlands losing a few cars, but those lost spots create opportunities. The quality of the fields and the racing will not dip one bit. At Knoxville last week, the Fairboard supplied right rear tires to all the 410 competitors that were there. I’m sure Mike Reinke, Bobby Mincer and other drivers just dropping in to compete appreciated that. As word travels about the purses being paid at area tracks, you will see more travelers coming in weekly, or drivers in other classes moving up. We will see a “trickle down” happening, and that is only good for the sport as a whole. More 410’s equals happiness people!
It has been some time since we’ve seen new 410 sprint car teams showing up at Knoxville from Missouri, Nebraska and some other areas of the Midwest. This may spur them on. Badlands looks to see a number of drivers from the North Dakota area expanding their schedules as well. All of this is great for the premiere sprint car class in the country.
It will all take a little time and patience for we the fans. It’s not going to happen overnight, but all of this has been a huge shot in the arm for 410’s. Ultimately, the fans will decide who the winners are. They only have so many entertainment dollars to spread around. We need new fans. Bring someone with you the next time you head to the track. We need every fan we can get!
Can there be awesome crowds at Jackson, Knoxville and Badlands? Last week there were. Will the racing be awesome? Last week it was. Who will the winners be? Hopefully, the fans, owners, drivers and promoters.
A look at the great feature purses being offered 410 sprint car drivers in the Upper Midwest (not including other weekly and year-end incentives) …
National Sprint League A Main (Jackson, Knoxville and other NSL shows): 1. $5,000 2. $3,800 3. $3,200 4. $2,500 5. $2,000 6. $1,900 7. $1,800 8. $1,700 9. $1,600 10. $1,500 11. $1,000 12. $900 13. $850 14. $825 15. $800 16. $775 17. $750 18. $725 19. $700 20. $700
Badlands Motor Speedway Regular Feature Purse: 1. $5000 2. $2500 3. $2000 4. $1500 5. $1250 6. $1000 7. $950 8. $900 9. $850 10. $825 11. $800 12. $800 13. $800 14. $800 15. $800 16. $700 17. $700 18. $700 19. $700 20. $700 21. $700 22. $700