Looking to Add to History: Terry McCarl Strives for National Open Win Mechanicsburg, PA--September 27, 2006 -- Names like Mario Andretti, Jimmy Bryan A.J. Foyt, Ted Horn, Gordon Johncock, and Troy Ruttman dot the history of Williams Grove ...
Looking to Add to History: Terry McCarl Strives for National Open Win
Mechanicsburg, PA--September 27, 2006 -- Names like Mario Andretti, Jimmy Bryan A.J. Foyt, Ted Horn, Gordon Johncock, and Troy Ruttman dot the history of Williams Grove Speedway. All of these drivers have raced at the legendary track at some point in their illustrious careers.
Terry McCarl is well aware of this storied history, and feels a great sense of pride to have raced at and won on the track where all of these legends of open wheel racing have also turned laps.
McCarl tasted victory at the famed track for the first time in July when he won a preliminary feature during the Summer Nationals, in which World of Outlaws Sprint Series drivers captured wins on all three nights.
With the National Open at Williams Grove on tap for the World of Outlaws Sprint Series this Friday and Saturday, McCarl is thrilled to return to a track that he has marveled at since he was just a boy growing up in the shadows of another famed track, Knoxville Raceway.
"It was big for me winning there in the summer," said McCarl, driver of the Big Game Treestands Eagle. "I am a bit of a historian when it comes to sprint car racing. Growing up around Knoxville, I always thought that Williams Grove was the 'Knoxville of the East.' It meant a lot for me to win a feature there, and I look forward to the National Open."
When forming a list of the top sprint car races on the calendar, it does not take long for McCarl to mention the National Open. The event began in 1963, and was won by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Gordon Johncock. This will mark the 44th straight year that Williams Grove will host the National Open.
"It's one of the biggest races of the year," McCarl said. "It's definitely one of the top-three or four races that we race all year long. It's definitely one that you want to win."
Even though there is $50,000 on-the-line Saturday night to win, it's the history and prestige of being mentioned in the same breath as past winners of the historic event that the always well-spoken driver seeks.
"That (the history) is what makes the Knoxville Nationals so big as well," said McCarl, who has won six track championships at the famed track down the road from his Altoona, Iowa home. "The money is great, but money spends. It's nice that the National Open is paying a lot of money this year to win. That definitely wouldn't make us mad. On my end of it, I want my name on that list of winners, who have won there. Now we have that, and I want to add my name to the list that have won the National Open That would be big for me."
Being one of 14 drivers that have won a World of Outlaws A-Feature event this season, McCarl knows that every one of the 24 cars that starts the main event on Saturday night will be capable of winning the $50,000.
"There has been a lot of parity with the Outlaws this year," he said. "The money has been spread out a lot. (Donny) Schatz has won more than most, but Daryn (Pittman) has won a $50,000 race, and Brooke (Tatnell) won the $25,000 at Skagit (Wash.) Speedway. Joey (Saldana) won the $50,000 at the Kings Royal. I think it is Terry McCarl's turn to pick up $50,000 so we can even out that money earnings list."
When asked about the rivalry between the Outlaws and the Pennsylvania Posse, McCarl's eyes light up. It not only motivates him on the track, but also being a promoter himself, he sees the benefit for sprint car racing as a whole when rivalries are formed in different regions of the country.
"I guarantee you that it matters," said McCarl. "For some reason if you are not going to win, then you want an Outlaws guys to win. It's the same with the Posse, if one of those guys can't win, then they want one of the other Posse guys to beat the Outlaws. It's a good deal for the fans and creates a lot of hype. Every track in the country really needs that to think they have a chance when the Outlaws come to town, and they do. They have the toughest weekly racers in the country, and they have a lot of good teams and guys. There are a lot of teams that could be racing on the Outlaws tour financially and talent wise."
While McCarl has raced on countless tracks from coast-to-coast, there is not a single one that he can compare Williams Grove to. Like most drivers, he knows it is a challenge every time the series heads to the uniquely shaped half-mile. While the drivers that compete on the track on a weekly basis know it like the back of their hands, McCarl enjoys the challenge of having to adapting to it and re-learning it every time he takes a lap on it.
"That's what makes Williams Grove what it is, is that it is a unique place," said McCarl. "It's really narrow, and has the long straight-a-ways and real tight corners, especially turns three and four. The car does some really funny things, even when you have a really good car and are winning the race. The car does crazy stuff that you are not use to, if you don't race there very often. That's something that we had to deal with last year, realizing that I was not going to be really comfortable in the car like I am at say a place like Knoxville. You have to be a race car driver at that track."
McCarl who has raced at Williams Grove three times this season, picked up the preliminary feature win on the first night of the Summer Nationals in July, and he followed that up with an eighth-place run in the finale of that three-day show. This will be the third time the World of Outlaws have raced at the track this year, but when they visited for the first time in May, McCarl was at home in Iowa.
"Unfortunately I didn't get to go to the first few races there this year. I broke my leg right before we went there this spring," he said. "Last year I think we really came across a set-up that really made me feel as comfortable as I could. I feel a lot better going there. I think we have a good shot of running up front. If we have good track position, we have a good shot of winning it."
McCarl enters the race with plenty of momentum, after he had one of the fastest cars all night long at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway this past Sunday night and finished second in the non-stop 40 lap feature on the tight quarter-mile. It was his 16th Top-Five finish of the season.
In addition to his preliminary win at Williams Grove, the fan favorite has picked up A-Feature wins at Huset's Speedway, where he has claimed six track titles over his career, and he also won in the World of Outlaws Sprint Series inaugural visit to Nodak (N.D.) Speedway. He will look to add to this total over the weekend at Williams Grove, and more importantly add his to the already list of legendary drivers that have won the National Open.
For ticket information about the National Open, visit: www.williamsgrove.com, or call 717-697-5000. On Friday September 29 adult reserved tickets will be $30, with general admission tickets $28. Tickets for students will be $15, and children 12-under will be admitted free.
On Saturday September 30, adult reserved tickets will be $35, with adult general admission tickets $30. Tickets for students will be $15, while children, 12-under will be admitted free.