Minter Hires Veteran Crew Chief Brad Sparks KNOXVILLE, IA (July 31) -- When Kathryne Minter races at Knoxville Raceway for the first time on opening night of the 17th Annual Knoxville 360 Nationals Thursday, she will have a veteran crew ...
Minter Hires Veteran Crew Chief Brad Sparks
KNOXVILLE, IA (July 31) -- When Kathryne Minter races at Knoxville Raceway for the first time on opening night of the 17th Annual Knoxville 360 Nationals Thursday, she will have a veteran crew chief setting up her #13m Concrete Crushing Company J&J.
Kathryne Minter Racing has hired Brad Sparks, who helped Dustin Lindquist run in the top five in last year's Knoxville 360 Nationals.
"We finished fourth at the Nationals and fifth in the Brodix (Tournament of Champions) with Lindquist last year," Sparks said. "Kathryne is looking forward to going to Knoxville and driving it for the first time, and I'm looking forward to getting back. I really enjoy the place."
Minter couldn't have been happier with the way her car felt when Sparks set it up in last Saturday's American Sprint Car Series Gulf South race at 105 Speedway in Cleveland, TX.
"My car felt perfect," Kathryne said. "I've never felt the car like that before. I didn't have to use the brakes and turn the steering wheel -- it practically drove itself. It was easy to turn and, after it turned in the corner, it stayed straight. It was amazing.
"When Brad told me he changed a bunch of things on the car, I thought, 'Oh no.' I wondered what I was supposed to expect, but he went over it with me when we got to the track. He's been great, and I'm really looking forward to working with him at Knoxville."
Mike Minter, Kathryne's father and car owner, is pleased to have Sparks join the team, too.
"We're excited to have Brad on our team," Mike said. "He and Kathryne are communicating well, and we like how he sets up the car."
Sparks got involved in sprint car racing in 1983 when his father sponsored a sprint car driven by Ron Beechler.
"We ended up owning the team after a while, then I went into the Army from '86 to '90," Sparks said. "Then I came back to racing.
Sparks worked with such drivers as Eldon Dotson, Rich Bubak, Pete Butler, Roger Rager, Chuck Swenson, Jesse Gianetto and Lindquist before hitting the World of Outlaws trail with defending series champion Donny Schatz and rookie Sam Hafertepe Jr. Brad also raced 358 and 410 sprint cars in Pennsylvania in the early 2000s.
"Kathryne has talent, and I'm looking forward to her picking up stuff (learning) every week," Brad said. "Last week at 105, she was very comfortable with the racecar. We're just taking baby steps. We're going to Knoxville this week, and I told her it's an historic racetrack but not to get intimidated by it. She has a good attitude, so she'll be fine. I told her it's like getting in your car and running down a highway. It's big, and there's lots of room to move around. There are just a couple of things you have to watch when you go there. Just keep your car under you and your tires under you -- that's about all you have to do there -- and figure out how to keep it wide open."
Sparks likes the Goodyear tires the team is running, and was pleased to know Kathryne liked the setup he gave her at 105 Speedway.
"I like the way the Goodyear tires wear; they have good rubber," Brad said. "I really like the consistency of the tires from side-to-side. You don't have to measure three 91s to get a 91.
"I'm glad she liked my setup. I told her that every week we can do something a little bit better so the car would be a faster and more comfortable. We're communicating well. She's really open to suggestion and she's talking to me, which is good. Pretty soon, she should be out there racing the heck out of it."
BullMack Custom Coating, one of the team's sponsors, is coating the #13m's headers and mufflers with ceramic so the car conforms to the 360 Knoxville Nationals' rules.