Sprint car racing: America's action sport!

Tim Kaeding leads Tyler Walker at Antioch

Tim Kaeding (#83Jr) holds the high line against a charging Tyler Walker (#24) at Antioch (CA) Speedway, April 4, 2009.


Quick links to the rest of this site:

Sprint Car home / The cars / The drivers / The tracks / Fallen heroes / The California scene / Sprint links


What's New?

Updated 5 April 2009:

new icon Fresh from the track, have a look at a gallery from the Golden State Challenge race at Antioch Speedway on April 4.

What's Sorta New?

Galleries from late 2008:

The Oval Nationals at Perris Auto Speedway:

The 2008 Wagsdash at Ventura Raceway on 6 September.

Non-winged sprint car racing returns to Calistoga Speedway with the Louie Vermeil Classic for USAC National Sprint Cars and USAC Western Midgets:

More USAC/CRA non-winged action from Santa Maria Speedway on 16 August.

What's Old?

Check out the racing in my home state at The California Sprint Car Scene. It's in need of a major update -- let me know what you think!


What is sprint car racing?

Sprint car racing is a uniquely American form of motorsport, spawned during the early 20th century at fairground horse tracks, where it is still popular today. In my opinion it is the most exciting form of auto racing anywhere in the world!

Once considered a steppingstone to the Indianapolis 500 before the arrival of rear-engined Indy cars in the early 1960s, sprint car racing languished for years in obscurity. But the advent of cable TV coverage in the 1980s brought new interest, and sponsor dollars, into the sport. No longer a steppingstone, sprint car racing today may be as popular as it has ever been.

What's it all about?

Why would anyone watch cars go 'round and 'round in a circle? You won't find the answer by watching a sprint car race on television; you have to experience it in person. Even the best home theater setup can't do justice to the sensory overload of sprint car racing.

Imagine you're watching single-car qualifying. The first thing you notice is the noise: the roar of the engine and the whine of the rear gears, and the occasional screech of the big rear tires against the track surface. Then you feel the breeze stirred by the big wings as the car speeds by in excess of 100 MPH. As the car enters the turn, it translates forward momentum into a shower of soft clay in the Turn 1 stands. The distinctive odor of burnt methanol hits you next, as you watch the driver frantically shuffle the steering wheel to keep the car on the track and pointed in the right direction, looking right to turn left. You can't believe a car could be that far sideways and yet not only under control, but accelerating at a fantastic rate!

Multiply this scene by 20, and you begin to understand the thrill of watching a sprint car race in person. Best of all, if you live in the US, it happens most every Friday or Saturday night at a race track near you.

What is a sprint car?

A sprint car is a rolling anachronism; a noisy, powerful, fragile, ill-tempered beast that's a handful to drive. Follow this link to find out more about the machinery behind the mayhem.

The drivers

The real stars of the show are the drivers, who can make these awkward-looking machines dance and fly around a clay oval. Here are a few of the heroes whose bravery and skill get tested every Saturday night.

Sanctioning bodies

There are almost too many sanctioning organizations to mention here! Look for this section to get a page of its own soon.

The World of Outlaws national championship series is the best known winged sprint car racing series in the USA.

Regional clubs throughout the US and Canada produce future Outlaw and NASCAR stars, and some darned good racing in their own right! California organizations include the Golden State Challenge Series (GSC) for winged 410s, California Sprint Car Civil War Series for winged 360s, and USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series for non-winged 410s. The All-Star Circuit of Champions reigns supreme in western Pennsylvania and Ohio. Others include New York State's Empire Super Sprints (ESS), and the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) in the Midwest.

The best known non-winged sprint car series is run by the United States Auto Club (USAC) at tracks throughout the American Midwest. A number of tracks run local series without wings.

Local tracks across the US

Sprint car racing can be found at many dirt ovals across the US, with the exceptions of New England and the Carolinas where stock car racing is king. But it is most popular in Central Pennsylvania, much of the Midwest including the Mississippi valley, Oklahoma and Texas, and throughout California. Here is one race fan's guide to the sprint car tracks of the US.

Sprint car racing outside the United States

Outside the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand also have sprint car racing. But I don't know enough about these other countries to describe their racing here. If you know something about sprint car racing outside the US, please drop me a note so I can add it to this page.

We remember...

By its nature, sprint car racing is a hazardous sport. Despite ever-tighter safety standards, occasionally the unthinkable happens and a driver is severely injured or killed. Follow this link for a tribute to sprint car racing's fallen heroes.

Other sprint car racing links

The list of sprint car links has grown so much it needs a separate page! Check out my new and improved Sprint Links.

Credits

The Sprint Car Page and associated pages are copyright © 1994-2009 Chuck Fry. Photos credited to Steve Lafond are copyright © 1993-2009 Tear-Off Heaven Fotos.

See the full copyright notice for details.

In addition to the folks named above, I offer thanks to the many people who have offered information or links. Sorry to say, there are now too many to list here! But thank you all -- I couldn't have done it without your help.


Sprint Car home / The cars / The drivers / The tracks / Fallen heroes / The California scene / Sprint links

Sprint car racing home page / Copyright © 1994-2009 Chuck Fry / webmaster@chucko.com