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RACING SCENE Column Winged Sprint Car Series

RACING SCENE Column Winged Sprint Car Series

LOS ANGELES – Sprint car racing launched its newest 410 cu. in.winged sprint car series Tuesday, August 16 at the 5/16-mile Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind., west of Indianapolis. The new High Limit Series is the brainchild of drivers Kyle Larson and his brother-in-law Brad Sweet. They saw how much money successful World of Outlaw Dirt Late Model Series and Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model drivers earned each year. Many six-figure incomes approach $400,000. They believe WoO sprint car drivers should make as much, especially because they race from February to November and criss-cross the country to race almost 90 dates a year.
Larson and Sweet, and fellow NorCal sprint car driver Colby Copeland became promoters of Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico (Calif.) this year. They believe WoO sprint car drivers should race for more high-dollar payoffs. Their business plan is to make winged 410 sprint car racing more profitable for successful drivers by offering them more high-paying races in mid-week when races are not scheduled by other sanctioning bodies such as WoO or the All-Star Sprints.
The High Level Series will not compete with the two established 410 winged sprint car series. WoO was founded by the late Ted Johnson in March 1978 and is owned and operated now by World Racing Group. It has rules that its signed drivers may not compete in another race within 48 hours and 200 miles of a scheduled WoO sprint car event. Fines or loss of WoO points could result for its drivers who violate WoO rules.
Back in the early 1980s WoO stars Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell and others were displeased with Johnson's WoO. They joined a new competing organization—the USA 410 winged sprint car series. That body openly tried to lure speedways with WoO races to have USA replace WoO as their sanctioning body for established major races. Most promoters remained loyal to Johnson and the established WoO series. USA Sprints quit the “war” in a year and star drivers returned to WoO.
Larson and Sweet do not intend to make the mistake USA Sprints did and will not compete with WoO, but will complement WoO and the All-Star Series by offering open mid-week dates. Any 410 winged sprint car driver will be able to race for large purses and as an “open”series they do not have to join to compete. They hope to bring 410 winged sprint car racing with star drivers to speedways that do not host such races currently. Tracks could be booked on the travel routes teams normally take to an upcoming WoO or All-Star race so travel expenses would not be increased. Also, racing teams sponsors would benefit by having increased exposure to racing fans.
With proper scheduling, racing teams based in the Midwest would not have to chase points from coast-to-coast for 11 months. That is extremely expensive, especially with rising fuel prices and lodging expenses. Tracks such as Putnamville's Lincoln Park are USAC non-wing speedways primarily and do not host WoO races. That is an example of how the High Limit Series would operate. They would bring drivers from all organizations to compete where they have not raced 410-winged sprints and do so on open mid-week race dates. Bringing their product to new venues will expand the earning potential of drivers and race teams and make new racing fans for WoO and the All-Star Series. Teams also would have new markets to sell their t-shirts and souvenirs.
WoO (World Racing Group) is not likely to welcome what it considers competition. It has a rule that prohibits WoO signed drivers from competing at another speedway if it might harm the interests of a promoter of the next WoO event. None of the top 2022 WoO point drivers, including champion Brad Sweet, raced in the Tuesday, August 16 Putnamville race because WoO had a three-night event scheduled on August 18-20 in the annual high-dollar Jackson (Minn.) Nationals. WoO understandably wants to protect the interests of its loyal track promoters. Rain canceled Thursday's Jackson race.
WoO drivers Schatz, Gravel, Haudenschild, Macedo, Scelzi, Schuchart, Allen, Abreu, and Bayston, all 2022 WoO feature winners, did not appear at Putnamville and were not expected to be at the inaugural and only 2022 High Limit event. High Limit plans to race about 15 mid-week events in 2023. Chances are that most of them would be in Indiana, Ohio and Illinois. Some WoO single date events now pay WoO sprint car feature winners $10,000. The first race in Putnamville had a $35,000 purse and versatile winner Buddy Kofoid earned $23,622 for his 35-lap victory. The 35 driver field had four active NASCAR Cup drivers (Larson, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr, Alex Bowman and Chase Briscoe), USAC, All-Star, MSCS and drivers from Pennsylvania, Indiana and Iowa local tracks.
Working officials at Putnamville were USAC officials and USAC publicist Richie Murray wrote the Putnamville race story. USAC obviously did not feel threatened by the new winged 410 sprint car series operating at a frequent USAC race site. In fact, USAC could eventually award USAC points and other benefits to drivers in this new winged series, a racing discipline USAC does not have currently under its varied umbrella of racing events.
How things proceed remains to be seen. What should happen in coming months is for WRG executives to meet with Larson and Sweet and work out a mutually beneficial agreement that would allow WoO drivers to race in the High Limit Series on non-conflicting race dates. That would allow WoO sprint car drivers and teams to earn more money each year and to give their team sponsors more exposure and value for their sponsorship dollars. \\
Winged 410 sprint car racing also would expand its fan-base by having more races at speedways not on the current WoO schedule. It had 88 race dates booked at 42 speedways in 24 states this season from February 10 through November 5. There were 14 races lost to rain so far and that loss of revenue could be augmented by High Limit Series mid-week race dates. Hopefully, thinking individuals will make this new series a reality. It will help grow 410 winged sprint car racing and be beneficial to everyone involved.