HISTORY IN THE MAKING Two Historic Racetracks, Two Racing Communities Come Together To Begin a New Chapter in STP's Racing History INDIANAPOLIS (July 28, 2009) -- If you ask any Sprint car fan to name their favorite racetracks, Knoxville...
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
Two Historic Racetracks, Two Racing Communities Come Together To Begin a New Chapter in STP's Racing History
INDIANAPOLIS (July 28, 2009) -- If you ask any Sprint car fan to name their favorite racetracks, Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway is usually at the top of the list. The storied half-mile, defined by its sweeping turns and distinctive black soil, has played host to some of the best on-track battles in the sport's history and is a facility every race driver would like to have his or her name associated with. Every August for the past 49 years, fans have flocked to Sprint car racing's "Mecca" to watch the world's best drivers do battle for dirt racing's most coveted title.
More than 400 miles east of the small community of Knoxville lies the sprawling metropolis of Indianapolis. With a population almost 10,000 times that of Knoxville, Indianapolis holds its own as the "Racing Capitol of the World." Nestled on the west side of the city is the 2.5-mile asphalt-and-brick Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) oval, which continues to entice drivers from every form of racing and continues to captivate race fans worldwide several times a year with the running of the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400.
While these two legendary facilities differ in the way of racing surfaces and the number of permanent seats they boast, they share one universal similarity. The Indianapolis 500 is the largest single-day sporting event in the world, while the Knoxville Nationals is the biggest Sprint car race of the year. When the checkered flag flies over IMS, and the dirt settles at Knoxville Raceway each year, another chapter in racing's history has two more names permanently etched in the record books.
Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Donny Schatz will take to the track at Knoxville Raceway in the No. 15 STP/ParkerStore/Chevy J&J on Aug. 12 to help write another chapter of racing history. For the first time this century, the STP colors will adorn a 410ci Winged Sprint car in a modern-day Knoxville Nationals event. While the brand has captured victories in the Daytona 500 and the 1969 Indianapolis 500 with driver Mario Andretti behind the wheel, this year's Knoxville Nationals will present the brand with a new opportunity to put itself in the record books with Schatz.
"The Knoxville Nationals is Sprint car racing's version of the Super Bowl," Schatz said. "To win the Nationals is something that highlights any driver's career. If you could only win one race in your entire career, it would definitely be the Knoxville Nationals. We've been fortunate enough to win the event three times, which is really an honor. In a few weeks, we're hoping we can give STP the chance to visit Knoxville Raceway's victory lane for the first time. It would definitely be an honor to carry the brand's colors to a win in Sprint car racing's biggest event."
When the first Knoxville Nationals was held in 1961, the event was originally a two-day affair for Super Modifieds and was expanded over the years from a two-day event to three days. Eventually, the race format was expanded to its current four-day format, also switching the type of cars from Super Modifieds to Winged Sprint cars. Roy Robbins won the 1961 Knoxville Nationals behind the wheel of a Super Modified, which was equipped with what was known at the time as an "air scoop." The air scoop was later banned at the Knoxville Nationals until years later, when it became known as a "wing." They are now required equipment for the Sprint cars that compete at the Knoxville Nationals.
Ray Harroun won the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911 behind the wheel of a Marmon engineered by Henry Goetz. The event has seen several changes in equipment over the past 100 years, including the switching of engine location from the front of the car to the rear. For all intents and purposes, today's Sprint cars closely resemble the cars that competed at Indianapolis in the 1950s. When Andretti won the 1969 Indianapolis 500 in the STP-sponsored Brawner Hawk, the transformation from old-school Sprinters to the modern-day open-wheel car had occurred.
Schatz will attempt to repeat history 40 years later at this year's Knoxville Nationals as he'll look to take STP to victory lane with him in what could be his fourth consecutive event triumph. While his Sprint car will carry a commemorative design resembling the STP-sponsored Brawner Hawk that Andretti piloted to his 1969 Indy 500 victory, Schatz hopes to become only the second driver in Knoxville Nationals history to win the event four consecutive times.
Schatz's No. 15 entry will resemble the look of Andretti's winning Indy 500 machine, with its distinctive "Hunting Red" color and gold wheels. The car will be ceremonially unveiled with Andretti and Schatz on hand at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum in Knoxville at 1 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
The Knoxville Nationals is the largest Sprint car race in the world. Its stature in short-track racing mirrors the magnitude of the Indianapolis 500 in Indy car circles. Each year, the Nationals attracts the best Winged Sprint car drivers and race fans from all over the world to a four-day marathon during which more than 30,000 attendees converge on the "Sprint Car Capitol of the World" in Knoxville. The prestigious event culminates with a 40-lap feature on Saturday, Aug. 15, that will be carried live by SPEED-TV.
For information regarding TSR, Schatz, Armor All, STP, or the Knoxville Nationals, visit www.tonystewartracing.com, www.donnyschatz.com, www.aa-ownercenter.com, www.stp.com, or www.knoxvilleraceway.com. For more information regarding Andretti, log on to www.marioandretti.com.
-credit: - TSR -