MINOT, ND (NOVEMBER 11) - Just days after completing one of the most grueling schedule's in motorsports, Donny Schatz is not taking a vacation. Instead, the 24 year-old Minot, ND native is preparing to begin his second season. On Monday, Schatz...
MINOT, ND (NOVEMBER 11) - Just days after completing one of the most grueling schedule's in motorsports, Donny Schatz is not taking a vacation. Instead, the 24 year-old Minot, ND native is preparing to begin his second season. On Monday, Schatz will depart for Perth, W. Australia and begin his trek to claim the 15th annual World Series Sprintcars championship in Australia.
"Racing sprint cars is what I do, and I've had great experiences in Australia the last three years," said Schatz, who finished a career-best fifth in the 2001 Pennzoil World of Outlaws standings. "Two years ago, I raced the entire World Series and finished second. We won the first six races and just had some bad luck down the stretch. This year, I'll be driving the Luch Monte Motorsports sprint car, and they've done a great job of preparing for this championship chase."
In 1998 and 2000, Schatz's Australian Tour consisted of competing only in the Western Australia Speedweek program and other high profile events. Last January, he won Australia's premiere sprint car race: The Warrambool Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic. The "Minot Missile" won six races in 12 starts last January and February including "The Classic" and the Gough & Gilmour CAT 50,000.
"We had a really good time racing for Luch last year, and he wanted to do the whole (World Series) this year," continued Schatz. "A lot of people around the Outlaws like to give me a hard time and claim that I'll burn myself out in racing. Those people just don't understand how different of an environment it is in Australia. During my Outlaw season, I put so much pressure on myself to win and gain as many points as I can each night. Over there, it's about the basics. Racing hard and having fun doing it."
Since the early 1980's, American sprint car drivers have descended to the land down under and competed during the "off-season". Last year, Schatz dethroned 2001 WoO Champion Danny Lasoski in the Classic and if he hopes to repeat his $50,000 victory at Paramatta City Speedway near Sydney on January 4-5, he will have to deal with 16-time WoO champion Steve Kinser in this year's Gough & Gilmour CAT 50,000. The World Series kicks off at Kwinana Motorplex, where Schatz won last January, on November 16th and will conclude at Newcastle Speedway on January 19th. Schatz's Australian Adventure will conclude following the Grand Annual Warrambool Sprintcar Classic on January 26-27th at Premeire Speedway.
Monte Motorsports Team Manager, Jeff Grubisa spent four weeks with Schatz this summer assembling equipment for this year's World Series run. "It was a great experience to see Donny on top of his game," said Grubisa, after witnessing Schatz win five WoO races in late July and early August. "We wanted to have everything we needed equipment wise, so that he would have the same confidence over here."
A key acquisition to the team is Crew Chief Keith Giles. Giles turned the wrenches for Schatz during his first attempt in the entire World Series Spri ntcars chase two years ago, and he also helped Schatz during the 2000 WoO season prior to the arrival of Kenny Woodruff at Donny Schatz Motorsports.
"This is a team sport, and Keith and I work really well together," continued Schatz. "A driver and crew chief have to be on the same page. We've worked together before, and I am confident we'll work well together again. Kenny (Woodruff) and I really started clicking early in the summer and we ran off a few wins. I'm hoping Keith and I hit it right from the start, and we put another string of six in a row together, but this time we want the championship."
The team will utilize Sander Engineering components and J&J Auto Racing sprint cars while competing with a 372 Cubic Inch motor. A number of other US products will be used in their championship chase. Keep up with all of the action at both donnyschatz.com and sprintcarworld.com.au.