USA drivers Grand Annual Classic preview

Many USA drivers expected to contest 'Grand Annual Classic' to qualify for Kele World Challenge. WARRNAMBOOL, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA (DEC. 31, 2002) - Several of the best sprint car drivers in America are expected to contest...

Many USA drivers expected to contest 'Grand Annual Classic' to qualify for Kele World Challenge.

WARRNAMBOOL, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA (DEC. 31, 2002) - Several of the best sprint car drivers in America are expected to contest The Standard-sponsored January 25-26 Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic (GASC) at Warrnambool's Premier Speedway in order to qualify for the August 15 Kele World Challenge (KWC) at the Knoxville, Iowa, Raceway. In fact, the 'top five' drivers from this past year's Kele World Challenge are all expected to compete at Warrnambool: two-time and defending GASC winner and KWC champion Donny Schatz of North Dakota, P.J. Chesson of New Jersey, Australian Brooke Tatnell, Brent Antill of Iowa, and Brad Furr of California. Past Kele World Challenge champions Skip Jackson and Max Dumesny, both of Australia, are also expected to qualify at Premier. Additionally, six-time GASC winner and 1996 Kele World Challenge champion Danny Smith of Indiana is seeking a quality ride for the 2003 $20,000-to-win The Standard Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic at Warrnambool.

Other globe-trotters that should be in the $84,000+ GASC weekend line-up are Australians Lynton Jeffrey, Kerry Madsen, David Murcott, Peter Murphy, Trevor Green and Garry Brazier, and Americans Jeff Shepard of Maryland, Daryn Pittman of Oklahoma, Joey Saldana of Indiana, and Kurt Winker of Wisconsin. Saldana is making a return to international sprint car racing after finishing third in the Kele World Challenge in both 1996 and '99. Since 1973, a total of thirty-five Americans have participated in the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic, including winners Jimmy Sills, Jac Haudenschild (twice), Danny Smith (six times), Jack Hewitt, Danny Lasoski, and Donny Schatz (twice). In 2002, a record eleven 'Yanks' competed at Australia's Premier Speedway, including second-generation sprint car driver Smith who started his twentieth consecutive Classic! Only multi-time Australian champion Garry Rush, Snr., has won Australia's most prestigious international sprintcar event more times than the journeyman Smith-- a record seven victories!

This year's The Standard GASC is part of Premier Speedway's 2003 Summer Sprintcar Carnival, which includes the prestigious PWR Australian Sprintcar Championship, January 30-February 1. However, unlike the USA's own Knoxville Nationals, the Aussie title race is not an international competition. Monday, January 5, is the entry closing date for January 25-26 The Standard newspaper-sponsored GASC weekend, which includes the Saturday $5,000-to-win Australia/America Challenge Cup preliminary feature and the Sunday $20,000-to-win GASC finale.

Additional 2003 Kele World Challenge qualifiers will occur on February 5 at the Springs Speedway in Auckland, New Zealand, for all international sprint car drivers, and on April 25-26 at the Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa, for Canadian sprint car drivers only. The 16-lap Kele World Challenge on Friday, August 15, during the Knoxville Nationals will again pay $10,000-to-win.

The Standard Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic (GASC) winners:
Zeke Agars (1973), Bill Wigzell (1974), Sid Hopping (1975), Garry Rush (1976, '77, '79, '80, 84, '86, '90), Jimmy Sills (1978), Jac Haudenschild (1981, '82), Danny Smith (1983, '85, '87, '88, '89, '96), Jack Hewitt (1991), Max Dumesny (1992, '94), Garry Brazier (1993), Brooke Tatnell (1995, '99), Trevor Green (1997), Skip Jackson (1998), Danny Lasoski (2000), Donny Schatz (2001, '02).

Kele World Challenge (KWC) champions:
Max Dumesny (1994), Skip Jackson (1995, '97, '98), Danny Smith (1996), Randy Hannagan (1999), Danny Lasoski (2000), Donny Schatz (2001, '02).

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Series Sprint
Drivers Brad Furr , Danny Lasoski , Donny Schatz , Jack Hewitt , Brooke Tatnell , Daryn Pittman , Joey Saldana , Kerry Madsen , Randy Hannagan , P.J. Chesson , Jimmy Sills , Jac Haudenschild , Peter Murphy