Australians Making An Impact On World of Outlaws Sprint Series Tour Colorado Springs, CO -- April 19, 2005 -- Packed grandstands at every event clearly indicate how popular the World of Outlaws Sprint Series is with race fans across the United...
Australians Making An Impact On World of Outlaws Sprint Series Tour
Colorado Springs, CO -- April 19, 2005 -- Packed grandstands at every event clearly indicate how popular the World of Outlaws Sprint Series is with race fans across the United States.
It's not much different from a racer's standpoint because the World of Outlaws circuit represents the best collection of sprint car teams in the world. That is why Australia native Brooke Tatnell waded through seemingly endless amounts of paperwork and red tape before finally being cleared to enter the U.S. to drive the Rush Racing machine on the 2005 tour.
After missing the first four races while the Immigration and Naturalization Service processed his forms, Tatnell has been remarkably successful for what is basically a brand new team. In fact, he is coming off of a pole and second-place run Saturday at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind.
"The biggest thing is that we never had a problem once I got off the plane," said Tatnell, 33, of San Souci, New South Wales. "Once we got past that hurdle everything's been pretty smooth for us. We've run eight races and had four top-fives, which is impressive. I'm happy with that, but the nights we haven't been top-five it has been like a roller-coaster ride, we've been up and down. It's not that we've been that far away, but it doesn't take much to lose five spots with these guys nowadays."
Tatnell's perseverance to compete with the Outlaws demonstrates a respect Australians have for the high quality of sprint car racing in the U.S. Last year, he drove most of the season for the No. 66 BG Racing team that considers 81 Speedway near Wichita, Kan., one its home tracks. On Saturday, the World of Outlaws Sprint Series returns to 81 Speedway for the Wichita Twister Showdown after racing Friday night at Outlaw Motor Speedway in Muskogee, Okla.
One reason the series is viewed so highly Down Under is because many of the racers in the World of Outlaws Sprint Series spend part of the winter competing in Australia, and say the fans definitely appreciate their skills. The series also draws favorable reviews from Australian drivers and crews. In fact, this season Titan Racing U.S.A. owner Reeve Kruck is the first Australian to field a car for an entire season with the Outlaws.
"It's the pinnacle of dirt track motor racing in the world," said Glenno Inglis, the crew chief and head mechanic for the Titan Racing team and driver Daryn Pittman, a native of Owasso, Okla., about an hour from Outlaw Motor Speedway in Muskogee. "If you want to be in Formula One, there are various places you go to do Formula One. If you want a sprint car career, the World of Outlaws is the Formula One of dirt track racing. To be the best, you've got to race with the best. I want to be good at what I do."
Pittman has seen that fire in many Australian racers and their crews, which is why he's not surprised to see them striving to come work for teams on the Outlaws circuit.
"Obviously, the World of Outlaws is by far peak of sprint car racing and it's big over there, but they can only race for about four or five months out of the year," Pittman said. "If they're really involved in it in Australia then they want to go as high as they can in sprint car racing and that brings them to the U.S. That's the reason our car owner is involved. He's owned sprint cars for at least 10 years over in Australia and decided that if he's going to be involved he might as well come over and own a team with the best. They all want to be successful and they all have a passion for sprint cars. They want to come over and get experience and try to make a living out of staying over here or learn enough to help their teams in Australia."
Terry McCarl's crew chief, Steve Fitzpatrick, is an Australia native and believes the grueling schedule is a key reason for why the series is so revered.
"It's a total different league," Fitzpatrick said. "Everything over there is kind of just one or two steps behind. Everything over here is the elite. If you want to work on racecars, this is really where you need to be. Over there you race probably 30 times a year. You can do that here in four or five weeks. It's what I always wanted to do so I did what I had to do to come over here, and here I am still."
In addition to the schedule, the distance teams travel from event to event can be taxing. But McCarl believes that doesn't bother veteran crew members from Australia because they're used to traveling long distances to race mainly in coastal cities.
"There's a lot of guys over there that want to come here just to work on a sprint car, especially with the World of Outlaws because it's so famous and so popular," McCarl said. "Most of the guys, like Steve, have a really good work ethic. Traveling is pretty brutal on people if you're not used to it, and Australia is about the same size as America but the towns are basically all coastal so it's nothing for Steve and those guys to drive 12 hours to a race. The World of Outlaws does so much traveling that it's tough to find people who can travel and it doesn't drive them crazy after a while. Steve's the best worker I've ever had and that really pays off for our team."
Ultimately, what drives racers like Tatnell and crew members like Inglis and Fitzpatrick to deal with the immigration red tape just to compete on the Outlaws tour is the series' stature and level of competition.
"This is the Formula One of sprint car racing," Tatnell said. "Everyone strives to be the best, and to be the best you have to race with the best. That's what the World of Outlaws are, the elite in the speedway field. If you look at power-to-weight ratios, they're greater than Formula One. But it's the excitement of it also. The Australians see the World of Outlaws as the No. 1 of all series and that's why guys strive to come over here. I mean, look at a beast like Steve Kinser, the man's not real to be that good for that long. If you want to learn something, either work for him or race against him. If you've got the stamina to be handed-up each night racing against him, you're going to learn a hell of a lot."