KNOXVILLE, IOWA (April 3, 2003) - Donny Schatz of Minot, North Dakota, is keeping the "Spirit of Knoxville" alive within the United States Auto Club (USAC) this season as he chases after the Weld Racing Silver Crown Series point championship in...
KNOXVILLE, IOWA (April 3, 2003) - Donny Schatz of Minot, North Dakota, is keeping the "Spirit of Knoxville" alive within the United States Auto Club (USAC) this season as he chases after the Weld Racing Silver Crown Series point championship in his ParkerStores/Schatz Truckstops #115 machine. Schatz, a two-time runner-up at the prestigious Knoxville Nationals in 2000 and '02, has become the third driver to carry the unique identification since the partnership began in the year 2000 between team owner Roger Johnson of R.E. Technologies, Ralph Capitani of the historic half-mile dirt track, and Tom Schmeh of the Knoxville-based National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum.
According to Johnson, "It is an opportunity to represent where we come from. We have two talented winged sprint car drivers in Tyler Walker, who drives the 'Curb-Agajanian Special', and Donny Schatz, who drives the 'Spirit of Knoxville.' Knoxville Raceway, which is celebrating its fiftieth consecutive season of weekly racing in 2003, is an historic fairgrounds oval and it is a great place to race. In conjunction with the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum in Knoxville, Iowa, it is an honor to carry the title 'Spirit of Knoxville' on the car as a remembrance of days gone by where dirt championship cars carried those special legendary names."
Midget car builder/driver Danny Drinan of Indiana was the first to carry the "Spirit of Knoxville" designation on the USAC Silver Crown Series trail in 2000. Later that year, open-wheel racer Jerry Coons, Jr., of Arizona took over the ride and piloted it to four 'top five' finishes in 2001 and two more last season. This year, two-time Knoxville Kele World Challenge sprint car race winner Donny Schatz will wheel the ParkerStore-sponsored "Spirit of Knoxville" Gaerte-powered J&J Auto Racing machine in all USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Series events on both pavement and dirt. The former WISSOTA sprint car champion made his debut in the Jack French-prepared car at the Copper World Classic in Phoenix with an 18th place finish.
For more information on the "Spirit of Knoxville" program, contact museum director Tom Schmeh at 641-842-6176, or Blake Johnson at 901-385-8271.