A total of seven former winners of Australia’s great Sprintcar race, the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic are among the 102 strong list of entrants that also includes a record 18 American’s stars. Backed by major sponsor Lucas Oil Products and presented by Oval Express magazine, Simonds Homes and Lady Bay Resort, the 41st Classic to be held this weekend already has tongues wagging with a staggering amount of entries that pushed numbers over the century mark for the first time in the events history.
Past winners entered for this weekend’s two day event include Steven Lines (2011), Shane Stewart (2010), Brooke Tatnell (09, 99, 95), Max Dumesny (04, 94, 92), Trevor Green (97), Garry Brazier (93) and Danny Smith (96, 89, 88, 87, 85, 83) are once again among the leading entries.
For the first time since the 2006 washout, this year’s Classic will be without a defending champion as Ian Loudoun literally ended his career with a bang following his stirring win over US ace Craig Dollansky last year. The last time this happened, triple Classic winner Kerry Madsen failed to appear following his 2005 win however the St Mary’s gun followed up with a stunning pair of wins in 2007 and 2008.
Incredibly Classic legend Danny Smith is back for his 25th attempt in 30 years. First contesting and winning the Classic in 1983, the Indiana legend contested 21 straight Classics before missing six years before returning in 2009. Smith’s legacy will be long remembered for his impressive six victories over rivals such as Garry Rush and Max while Smith has been in the top three on a staggering 11 occasions!
Joining Smith and Stewart from the US will be Louisiana star Jason Johnson. Returning for his ninth Classic attempt, the ‘Ragin Cajun’ has finished second twice and will be keen to better that this weekend. Hot on the heels of another successful ASCS National Championship for Nationwide NASCAR champ Ricky Stenhouse Jnr, Johnson is no stranger to victory lane at Warrnambool having won on New Years Day a number of times.
Pittsboro, Indiana’s Daryn Pittman will contest his seventh Classic and is yet to finish on the podium despite impressive qualifying efforts in recent years. The only American to win World Series Sprintcars, Pittman will run for Queensland’s Aprile outfit and with the recent announcement of his return to the World of Outlaws for Kasey Kahne he will be keen for a strong result.
Winning his seventh Knoxville Raceway and Husets track championships this season has Terry McCarl in some of his best form. Teaming with Victorian car owner Colin Bulmer, T-Mac returns to Warrnambool where he won the WSS event following 2010 Classic.
Wayne Johnson comes back to run for long time car owner Brett Smith while this will be his fourth attempt. Based in Knoxville, Johnson has shown tremendous speed in past attempts and is no stranger to big races regularly qualifying for the Knoxville Nationals over the years.
Arguably the form driver coming into this weekend must be Bartlett, Tennessee Outlaw veteran Jason Sides. ‘Double Down’ doubled up last weekend in Sydney defeating the finest WSS stars on both Friday and Saturday night. Sides again enjoyed a solid year back home this season while his crowning glory has to be winning Eldora’s Kings Royal. This will be his third Classic.
Californian Tim Kaeding contested the 2005 Classic yet this will be his best chance aboard the Krikke Motorsport #2. Clearly the best performed Californian this season, Kaeding defeated the Outlaws on four occasions and despite a rocky start to the Australian summer, this team knows how to win the big races.
Four time and reigning All Star Circuit of Champions winner Tim Shaffer will contest his second Classic for Victorian car owner Dave Challons. Ultimately launching the career of Steven Lines, Challons will provide the 50th Knoxville National winner with the best of equipment for his assault. The ‘Steel City Outlaw’ will be on a mission following his debut at the Classic last summer.
As impressive as Shaffer’s recent seasons have been 20 year old David Gravel has finished runner up to Shaffer for the past three seasons in the All-Star point standings! Stepping back into the Bruce Stephens Sprintcar for this weekend, Gravel is fresh from a runner up finish at Simpson Speedway last weekend while over 10 fast time awards in both All Stars and the Outlaws show this kid’s speed.
Likable Ohio racer Caleb Griffith returns for his second crack at the Classic for Victorian brothers Jason and Mark Smith. Coming off a broken leg during his domestic season, Griffith has raced since late December taking in a number of WSS rounds plus last weekends All Star event at Simpson.
There are seven first time Classic contenders from the US including Outlaw veteran Bill Rose, Pennsylvanian livewire Danny Dietrich, Nebraska ‘Gas Man’ Jack Dover, Indiana’s Kody Kinser, Californian duo Kyle Hirst and Rico Abreu while Kevin Swindell will also make his first appearance.
For the first time ever, the Classic will have the names Swindell and Kinser among the contestants yet Kevin and Kody are emerging from the shadow of their famous family members Sammy Swindell and Steve Kinser!
Son of Kelly, Kody Kinser will contest his first Classic for New South Wales owner Gary Rooke while son of Sammy, Kevin Swindell will take the reins of a second car for Domain Ramsay.
It’s easy to get lost in the hype of the US contingent yet the facts state that there have been 8 different American’s that have won the Classic a total of 15 times with Danny Smith owning six of those wins. Despite the quality of the competition, the local Australian’s continue to do exceedingly well winning the race more than often than not including seven of the last eight.
Fresh from his second Australian Sprintcar Title win, James McFadden is without doubt one of the men to beat as the defending WSS champ won on New Year’s Day at Warrnambool against much of the opposition he will face this weekend. Having a natural ability to run Warrnambool successfully will hold him good stead coming into the pressure cooker that’s this weekend’s Classic.
David Murcott could quite well have been the national champion following his stirring run in Brisbane to lead before McFadden went on to win. In stunning form locally also, Murcott could have his best chance at the win in Horrell Motorsport #83.
Hard to believe both Murcott and Robbie Farr have never been on the Classic podium. Despite always being fast, Farr has never been ‘lucky’ at the Classic with a variety of issues that have plagued one of the winningest drivers this country has produced, just not at this race! Farr will one day win this race and add that title to WSS, Australian Sprintcar and Speedcar titles plus countless state titles and over 150 feature wins both here and in the US.
Joint Victorian Sprintcar champ along with Farr is Stephen Bell. Living just a drop punt from the track, Bell would love nothing more than to add his name to the Classic winners list. Bell, Eureka Sprintcar Series champ Darren Mollenoyux and recent Sydney Speedway winner Jamie Veal look to be the local chances along with John Vogels while Tim Van Ginneken is a definite ‘Wildcard’ to make the show.
Sydney’s Ian Madsen is the lone Madsen entered but don’t let that fool you as Ian is in career best form winning in Sydney and in Brisbane. Ian would love to emulate triple Classic winning brother Kerry’s Classic achievements and he may just start that this weekend.
Tasmanian livewire Shaun Dobson will suit up for local car owner Harry Droste while the dark horse may well be Luke Dillon. The South Australian ace won at Warrnambool prior to Christmas during the Twin Feature event and opened World Series Sprintcars with a pair of round victories. Dillon’s ability to find victory lane at Warrnambool will hold him in good stead.
Undoubtedly this is the most open Classic yet with 102 cars plus the above mentioned contestants. Add to the mix Ben Atkinson, Brett Milburn, Bryan Mann, Cameron Gessner, Danny Reidy, David Muir, Grant Anderson, Jamie Bricknell, Jason Dawkins, Matt Egel, Nick Lacey, Ryan Jones, Shaun Bradford and Todd Wanless who are all in the mix.
The weekend kicks off as usual behind the Flying Horse Bar and Brewery on Saturday morning for the annual Fan Appreciation with plenty of displays, giveaways and interviews to keep everyone entertained.
Saturday night will see the Oval Express Australia / America Challenge paying a cool $6,000 to win following time trials, heats and a B-main.
Sunday’s festivities kick off with the first ever Jeff Gordon Foundation Kick It for Kids Cancer Kickball game. Held at the Warrnambool Hockey field, the morning event will feature lots of auctions and spirited competition between team Australia and team America!
Sunday night’s conclusion will see another two rounds of heat races before an E, D, C, B and A-main. The Classic final will be contested over 40 laps with the winner pocketing a whopping $30,000 with almost $100,000 being paid out on the last 40 laps alone!
Once again R&M Security is getting behind the Best Presented Car & Crew as judged by the Premier Speedway maintenance committee who know a thing or two about presentation! $1500 will go to the team judged best presented while $1000 will go to Quick Time while the Allan Pollard Memorial will be awarded to the quickest time triallist. The night isn’t complete without Skwid Signs awarding the Hard Charger for the most cars past in the Classic final worth almost $3,000!
For more details phone General Manager David Mills 0408 529 625
Website – www.premierspeedway.com.au