MINOT, ND (December 18) - Last year when Donny Schatz traveled to Australia, there wasn't a hotter driver in the sprint car world. He defended that sentiment by winning the first six races of the World Series Sprintcars Championship series. In...
MINOT, ND (December 18) - Last year when Donny Schatz traveled to Australia, there wasn't a hotter driver in the sprint car world. He defended that sentiment by winning the first six races of the World Series Sprintcars Championship series. In January, Schatz will return to Australia, but this year he's not carrying the heavy monicur that he had a year ago. Even though his 2000 World of Outlaws season wasn't what he was hoping for, he's still confident things will go well "down under".
"Last year when I went to Australia, my expectations were to go out and win," said the 23 year-old, Minot, ND native. " I raced with the premiere series of Australia last year, and we were pretty dominant. Our only problems came when we had mechanical failures. That's something that took the (WSS) championship away from us.
"This year, I'm racing with a new team and am excited to be bringing Shane Anderson along from my Outlaw team (ParkerStores #15). We're starting the trip by racing in the Western Australia Speedweek races. Hopefully, we'll be able to put on a good show, and then travel to the eastside and see if can win the big races."
The "big races", which are the 27th anniversary Grand Annual Sprintcar Challenge and the Gough & Gilmour Cat 50,000, will conclude his month-long sojourn to Australia. The first two weekends in January will see Schatz compete in the Car Craft Wild West Sprintcar Series at Kwinana Motorplex and Bunbury Speedway. This will be the third trip to Australia for Schatz and he can't wait to get back in a race car after finishing the World of Outlaws season on November 1.
"We had a tough year and during the final month of the season, I was looking forward to a break," said Schatz, who finished 11th in the final WoO standings. "After about two weeks, I was already tired of building stuff and getting things organized. I wish I was already in Australia, but when duty calls in January I'll be pumped up and ready. Hopefully, we'll keep that momentum all month long."
Racing in Australia is a role change for Schatz compared to his "regular job". Yes, he still is behind the wheel of a sprint car, but the competition is a lot different and he doesn't have a lot of the same worries that he normally carries in his helmet bag.
"Whenever you race regularly with the level of competition like the World of Outlaws, you're going to have an advantage no matter where you race," continued Schatz, who was the only driver to record multiple clean sweeps in WSS action last year. "It took me some time to adjust, but once we started winning races down there we found a comfort zone. For the most part racing is racing, but I do know the Australian fans really get into sprint car racing and that certainly makes it fun."
"When I'm racing at home its more like a job. We have a family owned team and there is a lot more stress involved. When I go to Australia, I don't own any of the equipment and I just go there to drive. My main goal is to stay sharp during the winter. Having some fun is a part of it as well. The Australian people are really hospitable, and we have a good time over there."
The five-week racing vacation will provide Schatz a chance to keep his racing instincts sharp, but as far as helping his confidence or giving him an advantage for the 2001 Pennzoil World of Outlaws season, the "Minot Missile" claims there's not much carry over.
"You don't really bring anything back," said Schatz, who will begin his fifth full season with the WoO in February. "The big key is keeping at the World of Outlaws pace on the track even though you're not racing against the Kinser's and Swindell's every night. For me and probably every other American driver that has raced in Australia, the most rewarding aspect of the trip is the experience of it all. It's the stories that you can tell your family and friends forever."
Even though Schatz was dominant early on last year in Australia, he failed to win the biggest races. That's all the motivation he'll need as he leads the USA competitors into the "Classic", which will qualify him to compete in the Kele & Associates "Australian-American Challenge Cup" at next summer's Amoco Knoxville Nationals.
"I didn't do real well at the Classic last year," said Schatz, who had a DNF after suffering motor trouble. "Premier Speedway is a pretty awesome place and reminds me a lot of Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, CA. It's a tough place to race, but we won our first race there last year. The track is usually pretty heavy, and the temperatures aren't really warm, but I'm looking forward to having more success there this year."
<pre> 2001 Donny Schatz Australian Tour Date Event Track 1/5 Car Craft Wild West Sprintcar Series Kwinana Motorplex 1/6 Car Craft Wild West Sprintcar Series Bunbury Regional Speedway 1/12 Car Craft Wild West Sprintcar Series Kwinana Motorplex 1/13 Car Craft Wild West Sprintcar Series Bunbury Regional Speedway 1/19 Sprintcar Stampede Speedway City (Adelade) 1/20 Sprintcar Stampede Speedway City (Adelade) 1/26 Kings Challenge Borderline Raceway 1/27 Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic Premier Speedway 1/28 Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic Premier Speedway 2/2 Gough & Gilmour Cat 50,000 Parramatta City Raceway 2/3 Gough & Gilmour Cat 50,000 Parramatta City Raceway
1999-2000 Donny Schatz Australian Tour Statistics
World Series Sprintcar Championship o Finished Second to Brooke Tatnell in final points o won the first six feature events and seven overall (also won a preliminary feature at Parramatta on 1/7/00) o led the most "A" Feature laps (203) o earned the most fast-time Awards (5) o won three Goodyear Eagle Dashes (second most overall)
Won King's Sprint Car Challenge at Mount Gambier's Borderline Speedway (1/28/00)