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While Tony Stewart hasn’t had much reason to celebrate lately, he did get some good news last Saturday night.
Stewart’s driver, Donny Schatz, won the biggest sprint-car race in the land, the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals.
Knoxville Raceway began life as a half-mile horse track on the Marion County (Iowa) fairgrounds. In 1954, the fair board began staging weekly racing at the track.
Lights were added and banking was graded into the track to facilitate auto racing. Before that the track had been kept flat to facilitate horse racing.
The early races featured stockcars. They were generally passenger cars with the glass and upholstery removed. Most sanctioning bodies required that roll cages be welded into the cars. Although drivers wore helmets, they often drove with their cigarettes rolled up in the sleeves of their T-shirts.
When the Southern Iowa Stock Car Racing Association ceased promoting the races, the fair board again started promoting their racing, and they eventually hired Marion Robinson to handle the week-to-week chores.
Under Robinson’s leadership, modifieds began to replace stockcars, and they eventually evolved into modifieds and then into super modifieds. The famed Knoxville Nationals was run in 1961 and was won by Roy Robbins driving a super modified.
The first nationals was a two-day show, with qualifications Friday and the races Saturday.
In 1966 the racing spectacle grew again, to three days. In 1973, Robinson convinced the fair board to allow wings at the Nationals. This was to encourage teams from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and other areas where wings were prevalent to enter the Nationals. However, wings were, again, made illegal following the 1973 season.
In 1974, Robinson was replaced by P. Ray Grimes, who remained at the helm until 1977, when he was sidelined by a snowmobiling accident. Grimes’ major accomplishment was adding the fourth day to the program.
In 1978, Ralph Capitani was hired as director of racing, and he became an engine for the growth of the event. He first teamed up with the World of Outlaws. By 1982, Capitani had increased the purse of the event to $100,000 as compared to the $5,000 payout in 1961. The event continued to grow until the present where the purse was just more than $1 million dollars. Schatz was paid $150,000 for his Saturday night victory.
I attended the Nationals for more than 20 years, and during the past several years I rented a room in a farm house about a mile from the track. When I arrived for the first time, I saw there were no cars at the house, and it appeared that there was nobody at home.
When I went to the door I found a note telling me which room that I was to use and advising me that they had gone to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines and that they would see me after the races.
When Tony Stewart Racing was formed, Tony hired Danny Lasoski to drive his World of Outlaws sprint car, and they won their first Knoxville Nationals in 2001. They won again in 2003 and 2004.
Tony had said that, should he and Lasoski split, he would give the team to Lasoski. When they were done in 2007, that is exactly what he did. Lasoski got the racecars, the semi hauler, the tools, the spare parts and everything else.
Stewart then hired Donny Schatz, who had won the Nationals in 2006 and 2007 with his family-owned team. The new team had to scramble to acquire replacements for the stuff that Stewart had given to Lasoski in time to go racing in 2008. The two went on to win the Nationals again in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Saturday night, Schatz had to make the feature the hard way, by winning the hooligan. The win gave him the dubious honor of starting 21st behind the best winged sprint cars in the land. Before the feature race, Schatz called his 21st-place starting position “motivation.”
NASCAR Nationwide rookie sensation Kyle Larson started 17th and drove to a sixth-place finish all while working around his NASCAR obligations.
Stewart’s other World of Outlaws driver, Steve Kinser, was ninth.
Sprint-car feature: 1. Brady Short 2. Jon Stanbrough 3. Jordan Kinser 4. Nick Bilbee 5. Danny Holtsclaw 6. Chris Babcock 7. Dakota Jackson of Elizabethtown 8. Bub Cummings 9. Daylan Chambers 10. Jake Simmons
Modified feature: 1. Chad Combs 2.Bradley Sterrett 3. Claydon Perry 4. Randy Tarter 5. Kenny Carnichael, Jr. 6 .Steven Godsey 7, Jake Humphrey 8. Bryson Clark 9.Kenny Carmichael, Sr. 10. Jeff Deckard
Super Stock feature: 1.Steve Peeden 2. Chris Hillman 3. Winston Howe 4. Steve Hollars 5. Travis Howe 6. Travis Todd 7. Steve Hawkins 8. Jake Leitzman 9.Jason Sims 10. Justin Jeffries
Hornet feature: 1. Luke Bland 2. Matt Hamilton 3. Tony Robinson 4. Greg Garrison 5. Whitney Baldwin 6. J.P. Matthews 7. Frank Robertson 8. Jordan Wever 9. James Lane 10.Chris Hanners
Late-model feature: 1. Mark Barber 2. Brad Barrow 3. Shannon Reed 4. Steve Godsey 5. Tim Rivers Mason Covey 6. Daniel Bohall 7. Tom Ault 8. Matt Patus 9. Jason Johnson 10. Britan Godsey
Modified feature: 1. Devin Gilpin of Columbus 2. Richie Lex 3. Jason Thomas 4. Jeremy Owens 5. Clint DeMoss 6. Zach Fair 7. Dennis Boknecht 8. Blake Davis 9. Nate Mensendiek 10. Randy Tarter
Super Stock feature: 1. Matt Boknecht 2. Jason Hehman 3. Aaron Fields 4. Rick Gumm 5. Jason Combs 6. Duane Brown 7. Jamey Wilson 8. Jeremy Helton 9. Levi Lokey 10. Jim Pfeiffer
Pure Stock feature: 1. Jim Ruddick 2. Chris Branum 3. Dustin Carr 4. Branden Carr 5. Curt Bennett 6. Ronnie Pardue 7. David Robinson 8. Josh Hayes 9. Brad Kemp 10. Aaron Seay
Hornet feature: 1. Wesley Napier 2. Ryan Hehman 3. Chanler Fleetwood 4. Mike Miller 5. Matt Hamilton 6. Daniel Morgan 7. Tom Matthews 8. Robbin Cart 9. Steve Morgan 10. Brian Mitchell
MMSA Mini Sprint feature: 1. Lynn Ambrose 2. Beau Binder of Hope 3. Drew Dorsett
Gas City I-69 Speedway
Sprint-car feature: 1. Dave Darland 2. Jerry Coons Jr. 3. Shane Cottle 4. C.J. Leary 5. Kyle Robbins 6. Josh Spencer 7. Chad Boespflug 8. Matt Goodnigt 9. Todd Keen 10. Joe Liguori
Modified feature: 1. Joey Kramer 2. Devin Gilpin of Columbus 3. Bill Lewis 4 .Randy Lines 5. Bub Roberts 6. Bruce Hogue 7. Derek Los 8. Terry Hampton 9. Ryan Cripe 10. Robert Johns
Thunder Car feature: 1. Kaleb Nutter 2. Josh Owens 3. D.J. Holt 4. Ron Flaugh 5. Randy Brommer 6. Jerald Owens 7. Josh Owens
600cc Mini Sprint: 1. Todd Kirkman 2. Dakota Busche 3. Kole Kirkmaaaan 4. Matt Ostler 5. Bo Click 6. Ricky Droke 7. Bob Baker 8. Bob Gillespie 9. Gary Gipson
USAC National Midget feature: 1. Christopher Bell in the Keith Kunz Motorsports Midget 2. Darren Hagen 3. Kyle Hamilton 4. Dalton Armstrong 5. Kyle O’Gara 6. Tracy Hines 7. Jim Anderson 8. Bobby Santos 9. Grant Galloway 10. Tyler Trainor
USAC Ford Focus Midget feature: 1. Cooper Clouse 2. Wil Raber 3. Austin Nemire 4. Natasha Cox 5. Cordy Horn 6. Gage Walker 7. Jack Cross
Lincoln Park Speedway
MSCS sprint-car feature: 1. Robert Ballou 2. Chase Stockon of Elizabethrown 3. Brent Beauchamp 4. Dakota Jackson of Elizabethtown 5. Chad Boespflug of North Vernon 6. Jon Stanbrough 7. Kyle Cummins 8. Ryan Pace 9. A.J. Hopkins 10. Brady Short
Modified feature: 1. Eric Varner 2. Randy Shuman 3. Kenny Carmichael, Sr. 4. Bradley Sterrett 5. Wes McClara 6. Kenny Carmichael, Jr. 7. Carlos Bumgardner 8. Dan Lewellen 9. Jeff Deckard 10. Brady Short
Slick Griffin Memorial Super Stock feature: 1. Mike Staggs 2. Steve Peeden 3. Ralph Groomer 4. Josh Boller 5. Doug McCullough 6. Kenny Carmichael, Jr. 7. C.J. Bryan 8 Josh Fagg 9. Scott Carrington 10. Tyler Loughmiller
Bomber feature: 1. Doug McCullough 2. Tim Wright 3. Jordan Almanza 4. Harry Shepherd 5.Blake Cross 6. Carlos bumgardner, Sr 7. Damon Harrell 8. Tom Courtney 9. Bob Farris 10. Mark Dickerson
Montpelier Motor Speedway
MTQRL TQ Midget feature: 1. Tate Martz 2. Chad Hankins 3. Bobby Walton 4. Robbie Roland 5. Jon Steed 7. Logan Arnold 8. Nick Speidel 9. Cody Kiewitt 10. Dalton Miller
Joe James/Pat O’Connor sprint-car feature: 1. Brian Olson 2. Brian Gerster 3. Aaron Pierce 4. JoJo Helberg 5. Jacob Wilson 6. Tyler Underwood 7. Ryan Myers 8. Davey Hamilton Jr. 9. Kevin Blue 10. Ryan Litt
Great American Stock Car feature: 1. Brian Bayer 2. Shawn Smith 3. David Bayens 4. Tony Conway 5. Mike Sharp 6. Roger Williams 7. Todd Kempf 8. Justin Trinkle 9. Scott Caudell 10. Kyle Hadley
Twin Cities Raceway Park
Late-model feature: 1. Jeff Watson 2. Steve Barnett of Franklin 3.Marty O’Neal 4. Mike Bechelli of .Elizabethtown 5. Rob Starkey 6. Zak Blackwood of Columbus 7. Bill Sheets 8. Tory Collins of North Vernon 9. Mark Bechelli of Elizabethtown 10. Jeff Simonton
Modified feature: 1. Joe Godsy 2. Clayton Perry 3. Mike Bechelli of Elizabethtown 4. Elliott Despain 5. Mark Bechelli of Elizabethtown 6.. Broc Burton of Columbus 7. Bryson Clark 8. Rick Hudson 9. Ryan Ross 10. Jesse Strange
Super Stock feature: 1. Randy Petro of Columbus 2. William Burton of North Vernon 3. Bobby Davis 4. Josh Phelps 5. Tim Clark of North Vernon 6. Josh Turner 7. Toby Perry 8. A.J. Clark 9. Greg Owens 10. Ron Lagory
Pure Stock feature: 1. Mark Bruce 2. Brian Sims 3. Troy Clark of North Vernon 4. Mickey Hines 5. Greg Sims 6. Bodi Henry 7. Will McRoberts 8. Jeff Litchfield 9. Ross Smith 10. Kaleb Bunch
Hornet feature: 1. Colton Sullivan 2. Todd Cain 3. Felisha Deweese of Columbus 4. Cody Perry 5. Jacob Cheesebrew 6. Cordell Moore 7. Brandon Alexander 8. Jim Pittman 9. Taylor Alcorn
Tim McKinney writes a weekly racing column for The Republic. He can be reached at 379-5632.
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