When winter hits in the United States, its summer in Australia and New Zealand. That means the time is here for sprint car drivers to make the long flight Down Under to get in some off-season racing.
Shane Stewart was the first driver to compete in warmer locales this off-season as he made the journey to New Zealand. The veteran driver was a perfect four-for-four in the win department at Western Springs Speedway as part of an international mini-series, which included fellow American driver Kyle Hirst and perennial Australian contender Jamie Veal.
Kerry Madsen also has already been victorious in off-season action, picking up a win in his first start Down Under at the Perth Motorplex. The Australian native, who now calls Knoxville, Iowa home, is piloting a car for the always potent Krikke Motorsport team.
“It’s really exciting to drive for a team like Krikke Motorsport, which has such a legacy behind it,” said Madsen. “We weren’t putting too much pressure on ourselves in our first outing together, but thanks to Dylan (Buswell- crew chief) who did a great job during the off-season, we didn’t have to change too much on the car throughout the night and it really came alive in the feature race to give us a great run.”
Mark Dobmeier, the winningest sprint car driver in the history of River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D., will be making his first trip to Australia in over a decade. The North Dakota native, who has three-career World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series wins, will compete in four races in a week’s span Down Under at four different tracks. Dobmeier will be driving for Kendrick Racing.
“I’ve wanted to go back to Australia several times since my first visit in 2007 and have been in contact with Jeff Kendrick ever since,” said Dobmeier. “This year, it finally worked out where Kendrick Racing needed a driver for basically a two-week stint. We are both eager to get back together, go do some sprint car racing and have some fun.”
Donny Schatz and Brad Sweet, who finished first and second, respectively, in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series standings this past season, will each be making trips to Australian around Christmas. Logan Schuchart, who had the most consistent year of his career this past season, will also represent the Outlaws in Australia. Fellow youngster, Carson Macedo, who will contend for rookie honors with the World of Outlaws in 2019, is also headed Down Under to compete in the Scott Darley Challenge at Sydney Speedway.
Schatz has won at least one race Down Under each and every year since 1999. Schatz is scheduled to race six time at Archerfield Speedway near Brisbane, including in the Australian Sprintcar Open on January 5 and with the World Series Sprintcars on January 9. Schatz’s tour Down Under will begin with the traditional “Boxing Day” event on December 26.
Sweet, who scored the biggest win of his career this past season, taking the top spot in the $150,000-to-win Knoxville Nationals, will make a quick trip Down Under for three races at Valvoline Raceway in Sydney. The California native tentatively will hit the track on December 28, December 30 and January 1.
Schuchart was victorious last year at Archerfield Speedway, taking the lead from Schatz en route to the win. The young Pennsylvania has made the trek to Australia each of the past two off-seasons. Schuchart is tentatively scheduled to compete five times at Archerfield Speedway, beginning on December 29. He will then head to Valvoline Raceway in Sydney for the two-night Scott Darley Challenge, January 11-12.
Cory Eliason, who recently joined Rudeen Racing, will be heading to Australia to stay sharp as he prepares for a full-time run with the All Star Circuit of Champions in 2019. Giovanni Scelzi, who became the youngest winner in World of Outlaws history this season at the famed Williams Grove Speedway, is also on the list of drivers scheduled to head Down Under.
Additional American drivers are also expected make the trip Down Under for the Grand Annual Classic at Sun Gold Stadium, Premier Speedway in Warrnambool, January 18-20.