Eleven Days Of Dirt Trackin’


(Knoxville photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

Well gang, I just returned from my annual summer trek to dirt track’s finest racing in these old United States.  This summer I was fortunate to add to my annual trip to Knoxville, Iowa for the 50th Knoxville Nationals, a side junket for my second trip to Belleville, Kansas for the 32nd Midget Nationals.

For those of you who are not familiar to either of these events I will try to explain the significance of these two events.

The Midget Nationals are held at The High Banks at Belleville Kansas.  This track is celebrating its centennial year hosting racing!  This racing facility is a high banked half-mile race track in this “sleepy” little farming town of approximately 3,000 people max!  But every year in late summer this little hallow comes alive with the sound emanating from an 850lb, 400hp screaming race machine!

Competitors travel to Belleville,Kansas from far and wide, North and South, East and West, just  to be crowned the victor of the USAC sanctioned Belleville Midget Nationals.  It is a two day event that is a crown jewel for all who race midgets throughout the USA.  The quality of racing at this event is ultimately the best in the US.  Race drivers that have claimed victory in the event reads like who’s who in open wheel racing over the last 32 years.  The past winners include the likes of the late Stan Fox in 1979 &80, Johnny Parsons,Jr. in 1983, Ron “Sleepy” Tripp in 1985, Jeff Gordon in 1994, Page Jones (Parnelli’s youngest son) in 1993, Kasey Kahne in 2000 & 2001, and Bryan Clauson in 2009 & 2010.

From Belleville, KS I traveled northeast 335 miles to Knoxville, Iowa for the 50th Knoxville Nationals.   The Knoxville Nationals is a four day racing event with competitors from all over the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand as well!  During the middle of August this little town of Knoxville may only have 8,000 inhabitants, but prides itself on filling all the seats of the race track at the Marion County Fairgrounds to the capacity of 25,000 for the four nights of racing that is The Knoxville Nationals.  This little hamlet is the world center of sprint car racing!

The list of winners of The Knoxville Nationals reads like the elite of the sprint car world.  “The King” Steve Kinser has won this event 12 times in its 50 year history!  Donny Schatz has won it four years in a row, 2006-2009.  Mark Kinser, Steve’s cousin won it three times, Kraig Kinser, Steve’s son, has one victory, for a Kinser family total of 16 out of 50 years!  Doug Wollfgang has logged four victories, Danny “The Dude” Lasoski has four wins in this event as well.

To give you an idea of the grandness of this event, the winner of the A main event on the last night of this four day racing crescendo pockets a cool $150,000.00!  So now you can see why these two events generate a large following.

So if there was any doubt, I was really working on my redneck this summer!


The 2009 Knoxville Nationals

(photo by Dave Hill)

On August 12th the 2009 Knoxville Nationals, the single largest Sprint Car races in the U. S. begins.  For four days this little sleepy ruraltown of 8,000 people southeast of Des Moines, Iowa evolves into the mecca of sprint car racing!  At this time Knoxville transforms into a population of 25,000, the capacity of the race track , plus the population of the citizens of the town!

The atmosphere of this tiny hamlet is that of a country, county fair.  The citizens of this community join together and produce this fun, fan friendly, “Woodstock” type event for Sprint Car racing!  The people of Knoxville, IA all come together and produce this great “community affair”!  They make this such a memorable extravaganza.   It is the single largest revenue event in this city each year.  Fans come from all over the U.S. to enjoy the absolute best Sprint Car racing for four nights in August.

This year celebrates the 49th annual staging of this racing classic.  The winners of this event reflect the Who is Who in Sprint Car racing history.  With the names  like Steve Kinser  (12 time winner), Doug Wolfgang ( 3 time winner), Danny Lasoski (3 time winner), Sammy Swindell, Jan Operman, and Kenny Weld reflect the history of this event.  It also reflects the importance of The Knoxville Nationals.  The winner of the four day event will pocket a cool $150,000.00!!! Nor a bad paycheck for four days of work!

This will be my sixth trip to Knoxville, and I might add, I am extremely excited and waiting with great anticipation for the event to get rolling!  There is just something about the smell of alcohol in the air when those big 410 cubic inch, fuel injected, dirt slinging racing machines fire up and get running 2, 3, and 4 wide sliding into the turns!