[quote align=”alignright” width=”200″]Our goal is to grow midget racing internationally and increase its prestige, purses and participation across the board. – Kenny Brown[/quote]
Midget racing is creating some of the closest battles in dirt track racing today. The midget style racing has always been present in the USAC National Midget series to the Chili Bowl, but one series that has been making huge strides in the dirt industry has been the Lucas Oil POWRi National Midget Series. The POWRi Series has recently turned into a series that can garner top name drivers to race on their off weekends. It also has developed drivers who have gone on to see success in other open-wheel series including USAC.
POWRi Promoter Kenny Brown has built the POWRi brand in less than a decade, making it a stronghold for open-wheel racing in the midwest. Brown has treated the racers right to get extraordinary car counts of both local and nationally known talents to make great fields of racing everywhere the series attends. Past series champions include Brad Loyet, Brad Kuhn, and new this year, Andrew Felker. Nick Knepper held strong in previous years, but bad breaks would keep him from grabbing a championship.
2012 included plenty of examples of great midget races including Jerry Coons Jr. and Bryan Clauson banging coming out of turn four at Macon Speedway as they went for the win at a POWRi race earlier this year for an event paying $2,000 to the winner. Another fan favorite was Coons Jr. attacking “Yung Money” Kyle Larson coming to the stripe at Tri-City Speedway for the $10,000 to win Gold Crown. While Coons came out short on both occasions, both races packed the stands and provided fans insanely close dirt track racing.
Now for 2013, Brown has made strides in unifying the midget racing in the Midwest. POWRi and USAC recently announced that they will be co-sanction the annual Hut 100, the Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway Grand Prix, and a double-header at Belle-Clair. The POWRi, USAC and the Badger Midget Auto Racing Association will do something that is very rarely seen in 2013. All three will tri-sanction events at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
“We’ve been able to strengthen Midget events in the Midwest by taking advantage of co-sanction opportunities with USAC and Badger. We all see this as in the best interest of the sport, to bring the best drivers and teams together even though we run our own championships,” explained promoter Kenny Brown.
Off Season? What Off Season?
While most series call this their off season, the rapidly growing Lucas Oil POWRi National Midget Series just took a quick breather before ending their year indoors. They closed out their 2012 campaign at the now infamous DuQuoin Southern Illinois Center, a track that has skyrocketed in popularity since the POWRi Series started racing there.
Located just outside turn two of the “Magic Mile” at the DuQuoin fairgrounds, Kenny Brown and the entire POWRi staff build a mean short track using dirt from the big track that has seen many notorious racers compete on it in the glory days of the USAC Silver Crown Series.
The legendary Tony Stewart capped off an impressive victory at the event, and immediately spoke in victory lane about how large the event had become, “We heard this was a really good event last year,” said Stewart. “So we decided to run it to get ready for the 2013 Chili Bowl.”
POWRi continues to prove its growth and recently expanded. In 2012, they added a secondary series for Midgets in the Lucas Oil POWRi West Series. The new schedule allowed racers to compete on a small scale for a major championship. Winner’s in the inaugural season of the POWRi West Series included Dave Darland, Kyle Larson, and Rico Abreu.
The series also promotes multiple races at Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill. When fans visit the fairgrounds track built in the 1950’s it’s a bit like stepping into a time capsule. The fifth mile track has changed little since it was first built and the well versed dirt track fan know the track by it’s reputation for great shows while hosting POWRi events.
A small track with lots of grip provides plenty of slide jobs and opportunities to pass, but just a small mistake can end your night quickly with you upside down hard. Rico Abreu put on a stellar show after leading the event early, then spinning and running from the rear of the field back to the lead with laps left to spare. The track has provided a tempo of sorts to the type of racing fans can see at any POWRi race: tight racing, a little bump and run and generally plenty of slide jobs.
POWRi has also worked to corner some other major tracks and is the only current midget series to compete at the Diamond in the Dirt, Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri. Up and comer, Jake Blackhurst took the win at the beautiful track this season in early May.
Expansion To Australia, And The World.
This year the series has decided to expand, but instead of hosting events in Florida, or California, they have elected to go slightly further, Australia. At the end of the season, POWRi sent the newly crowned champ, Felker to Australia for a weekend of racing in Australia’s Speedcar Super Series. The weekend didn’t go as planned, but that was just the beginning. After Felker returned Kenny Brown and staff announced the POWRi would be going world wide and will be sanctioning the POWRi Lucas Oil Australian Speedcar Super Series and the POWRi Lucas Oil New Zealand Midget Super Series.
That was just half of the announcement though, starting in the 2013-2014 season, POWRi has announced plans to organize a midget World Championship. Initial plans of the championship would include a few race series in each New Zealand, Australia, and the United States and the driver acquiring the most points would be crowned the World Champion.
“Our goal is to grow midget racing internationally and increase its prestige, purses and participation across the board,” Kenny Brown explained. “We are working on a plan for a series of races in Australia, New Zealand and the United States that would form a world championship series with the winner becoming world champion.”
The POWRi Championship is a tough fought battle as it is, in years past it has been Loyet and Kuhn duking it out, with both drivers capturing their share of championships. This year it came down to Bret Anderson and Andrew Felker. Felker would take it after Anderson would miss a few races due to illness. Chett Gehrke looked strong as the series entered the home stretch, but a bad wreck in Belleville, Ill at Belle-Clair Speedway would end his bid after breaking a collarbone and ending his season.
With everything that is happening under the POWRi banner, 2013 is shaping up to be another marquee year for the series. Just a few weeks ago the series revealed it’s 2013 schedule, and once again Brown explained the schedule was built with the competitors in mind, “We’ve expanded our schedule without adding travel time or cost to our teams by keeping it in four center Midwestern states. We were forced to eliminate some events that we very much enjoyed, but with 39 events in a more compact geographic range, it was best for our series,” said Brown.
Check out the 2013 schedule from the Lucas Oil POWRi National Midget Series below. If you haven’t caught a race yet from this great series, give them a chance in 2013. They wont disappoint!
2013 Powri Schedule:
Co-sanctions: @–USAC National; *–Badger Midget Auto Racing Association; +–POWRi Lucas Oil West Midget
~ Mark Twain