HAMMOND, IN: For anyone who believes that dirt is for
racing and asphalt is for getting there, the annual
Knoxville Nationals should probably be the center of
your universe. For those who spend four summer days at
the Marion County Fairgrounds each August, the outside
world simply ceases to exist!

The 2007 version of the Holy Grail of winged sprint
car racing featured everything we’ve come to expect:
rain, oppressive heat and humidity, friendly,
super-enthusiastic sprint car fans from around the
world and one of the smoothest, best prepared dirt
tracks on the planet. Yes…all the pieces seemed to
be in place for another great chapter in the 47 year
history of the Knoxville Nationals. Yet, something
seemed to be missing…

The great Chris Economaki has expressed the opinion
that the tremendous popularity of midget racing
following WWII was killed when the cars became too
similar (i.e.: Kurtis-Offies), which turned the
previously thrilling races into parades featuring
little or no passing. Currently, the same scenario
seems to be playing out in most forms of auto racing,
including the IRL, NASCAR, Champ Car, etc. It is
becoming all too apparent that “spec car” racing tends
to eliminate the very thing that we’re all there to
see: competition.

Sadly, even the World of Outlaws seems to be falling
into this pattern. Given the super-smooth, tacky
Knoxville Raceway, combined with huge tires and wings
and similar, “killer” 410 cu. in. V-8’s, this year’s
Nationals turned into the kind of parade that Mr.
Economaki has tried to warn us about. And, when a
point system is employed that allows the clear
favorite, Donny Schatz, to start Saturday’s A-Main
from the pole, you have created the recipe for a

How can it be made better? A way needs to be found to
“un-hook” the cars somewhat. The same thing applies to
other racing series where more passing is desired.
When everyone is wide-open all the way around with
similar horsepower, what can you expect?

As we all know by now, defending WoO Champ Donny
Schatz captured his second consecutive Knoxville
Nationals title, leading all 30 laps convincingly.
Only the exceedingly brave Iowa native, Terry McCarl,
was able to challenge Schatz, and those attempts came
only briefly on restarts.

Please don’t misunderstand: the sight of 24 “winged
wonders” screaming around the beautiful Knoxville
Raceway for 30 laps is truly awe-inspiring. But, with
little or no passing taking place, is it really

I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder…

Share Button