Veterans Smith And Dumesny Play Key Roles In Making Kele World Challenge A Reality MEMPHIS, TN - For sprint car racing, the 41st annual Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals will be the biggest event of the season. One race within the event, the...
Veterans Smith And Dumesny Play Key Roles In Making Kele World Challenge A Reality
MEMPHIS, TN - For sprint car racing, the 41st annual Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals will be the biggest event of the season. One race within the event, the Kele World Challenge, will also impact the world of sprint car racing as the sport continues to become stronger on an international level.
Two drivers scheduled to compete in the Kele World Challenge have been key reasons why the race exists today. American star Danny Smith and Australian Max Dumesny have been racing in each other's country since the early 1980's. As wily veterans, they both have had tremendous careers and another Kele World Challenge win would only enhance both of their Hall of Fame careers.
Danny Smith's love affair with Australia began in the early 1980's. Smith's full time ride with the World of Outlaws was the Gambler House car in 1982. During the off-season, he was asked to race in Australia so that racers could learn more about the Gambler sprint cars. From his first trip, he was hooked and every winter he leaves the cold and snow of Indiana for the sun and action of Australia.
Smith, who claimed the 1996 Kele World Challenge title, finished second last summer to Danny Lasoski in the Kele World Challenge. After a quick start, Smith looked like he was going to score the popular victory, but couldn't fight off the challenge of Lasoski.
"We just come up a few laps short, but of course Danny Lasoski had a pretty strong team and has a lot of laps around that place," said Smith. "The fun thing for me is seeing this race grow. It's going to just keep getting better. When I first started going to Australia, most of the American fans didn't know much about their drivers. Now almost 20 years later, everyone here has a pretty good idea of what their racing is like."
Smith is having a good season in the states as he recently claimed the Brad Doty Classic. Smith has added a little Australian flavor to his team this summer as Troy Little, the 2001 Australian Rookie of the Year, has joined the team to learn as much as he can. "The key to our success has been a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck," said Smith. "We're kind of small under budget team, but Troy, me and John Baker, who owns the car, really put a lot into making this successful."
After racing several years at the famous Knoxville Raceway, Smith offers this prediction about this annual Kele World Challenge. "It will be like any other race at Knoxville. When the green flag drops the you-know-what stops."
Max Dumesny has done it all. Australian Championships, World Series Championships, Grand Annual Sprintcar Classics and even an Australian NASCAR Championship. Max grew up in Nullawarre near the famous Premier Speedway Warrnambool and started his career in Formula 500's.
Most Americans became familiar with Dumesny during the summer of 1985 when he drove Bob Trostle's #20 at Knoxville Raceway all season. A big highlight from that season was Dumesny's miraculous victory in the "Race of States" at the Knoxville Nationals over Doug Wolfgang. His annual trips to Knoxville to race in the Nationals have helped him build a strong core of fans in the states, and he would like nothing more than to score a crowd pleasing victory in the Kele World Challenge.
Dumesny, who recently earned his first Australian "Driver of the Year" title according to the 2000/01 Australian National Sprintcar Poll, is hoping to land a ride for the Nationals which also would give him a chance to become a two-time winner of the Kele World Challenge after claiming the 1994 Australian-American Challenge Cup.
The increasing number of young drivers that are participating in both Warrnambool Classic and the Knoxville Nationals has helped push the future of sprint car racing, but the efforts of Smith and Dumesny will always be remembered as key to helping promote the internationalization of sprint car racing.
The Kele World Challenge is a joint effort between Knoxville Raceway and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum in Knoxville, Iowa, Premier Speedway in Warrnambool, Australia, and Kele O.E.M. of Memphis, Tennessee.
RACE FACTS: Seventeen drivers have entered this year's Kele World Challenge and the lineup will be determined by qualifying points for the Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals. In order to qualify for the 16-lap race, an eligible driver (one of the 17 entered) must compete in the Nationals and earn points on either the Wednesday or Thursday qualification nights. Those eligible drivers in the top 106 in points will then be fully inverted for the start of the Kele World Challenge Dash, with the drivers outside of the top 106 tagging the dash line-up in order by points.
THE FIELD: 17 drivers have entered the race including: Terry McCarl (USA), Jason Meyers (USA), Danny Lasoski (USA), Brooke Tatnell (AUS), Christi Passmore (USA), Donny Schatz (USA), Danny Smith (USA), Brent Antill (USA), Rick Wilson (CAN), Skip Jackson (AUS), Tommy Tarlton (USA), Chad Kemenah (USA), Max Dumesny (AUS), Peter Murphy (AUS), Kerry Madsen (AUS), Kerry Jones (New Zealand), and Fred Rahmer (USA).
EVENT HISTORY: Since 1994, drivers that have competed in both the Knoxville Nationals and Warrambool Classic have been challenging to be the best "world" sprint car driver.
In 1996, Danny Smith claimed his first Kele World Challenge title by accumulating 787 points leading an American sweep of the top three. Greg Hodnett finished second with 780 and Joey Saldana earned 770 points. Skip Jackson was fourth and Max Dumesny rounded out the top five.
The 1997 version of the Kele World Challenge was the first to be decided on the track. Skip "Action" Jackson drew a front row starting position and led all 10 laps to claim the $5000 prize. Australians Brooke Tatnell and Garry Brazier finished second and third ahead of Danny Smith, Joe Gaerte, Peter Murphy and Trevor Green.