Rocket with wings5/22/2013
The saying around the track is that if you think racing is boring to watch, then you’ve never seen it live. Well, for those naysayers out there, here’s your chance. The Lucas Oil Knoxville Championship Cup Series is the United States’ premier 410, 360 and 305 sprint car series, with 18 races from April 20 through Aug. 25. Drivers of these rockets with wings compete for a weekly purse and a season championship that can put them on a fast track to the big time. Some of the top drivers in the sport have raced at Knoxville including Al Unser Jr., Jeff Gordon and Doug Wolfgang.
“I think people see the excitement of open wheel dirt track racing,” said Brian Stickel, general manager at Knoxville Raceway. “They can see the power of the cars and the skill of the drivers trying to control a 900 horsepower, 1,425-pound rocket around a slick surface and not crash into the wall at the end of the straight away or crash into another driver.
“Sprint car racing is like the extreme sport of dirt tracks and open wheel racing.”
This Memorial Day weekend, why not check out what all the hubbub is about with these sprint car series? But first, what makes a car a sprint car? Simply put, a sprint car is a high-powered racecar that is designed primarily for the purpose of riding on circular dirt or paved tracks. The 900-horsepower is commonplace with these machines that have a 410-cubic-inch engine displacement, Stickel explained. For those unfamiliar, the larger the cubic-inch engine displacement, the faster the automobile can go. As mentioned before, the 410s get about 900-horsepower while the 360s can get up to 700-horsepower and the 305s a little less than that.
The “rockets with wings” description was no metaphor. In the early 1970s, many sprint car drivers began to put wings with sideboards on both the front and top of their cars. The wings would increase the downforce generated on the car, with the opposite direction of the sideboards helping to turn the car in the corners and thus helping to make the car easier to maneuver and control. The additional downforce also helps prevent the cars from going airborne at top speeds and serve as a defense against roll-overs and lessen the impact on the driver.
Memorial Day weekend marks the sixth race of the Lucas Oil Knoxville Championship Cup Series, and it’s sure to be an exciting one. One can almost feel the heat of the engine as these metal beasts awaken to the enthusiasm of the crowd. See these machines takes corners pushing 140 mph, inches away from potential collisions. It’ll only take one race to explain why this is one of America’s most popular spectator sports.
“Once [people] come, we feel they will come back. Once they are converted to a fan, they will bring more would-be fans with them,” Stickel said. “A sprint car crash is probably the most spectacular crash there is, and that appeals to a lot of potential fans. Thankfully the safety systems that are in place are top notch. We never want to see a crash happen, but when they do, it gives the fans something to talk about.
“These guys are like superheroes out there, the way they are able to handle that rocket.” CVGates open 5:30 p.m; Race 7:15 General Adult – $15 General 13-19 – $8 General 6-12 – $4 Pits – $25