Op/Ed: OneDirt’s View On A Future GrassRoots Sprint Car Series

Quicksilver ProductsAutomotive motorsports have traditionally experienced price creep that eventually forces many car owners and drivers to park their cars. At the very least, pricing routinely forces teams to switch series or car class for budgetary reasons. These same issues inadvertently become a barrier to entry for new racers or teams.

Many promoters and sanctioning bodies have attempted to get a handle on the cost of racing, especially in the entry-level classes. Most of these attempts have met with varying degrees of satisfaction and success/failure. When a new series or type of car is announced, It has become a running joke within the ranks to add the comment “… and it will save racers money.”

Quicksilver Products 357 circle track race engine was slightly modified for Sprint Car use. A Holley Carburetor, MSD Magneto, and Canton oil pan were added to the crate engine package.

Through great investigative journalism (and the fact that the promoter called us), we got a whiff of a rumor that a new budget sprint car was in the works at our local track, Perris Auto Speedway. Armed with the knowledge that anything destined for the racetrack could never be considered “budget” by anyone on a real budget, we started snooping around.

The Genesis

We’ve followed this project for the past nine months and held onto any information under the threat of great bodily harm. Here’s what we can tell you:

  1. A small group of Southern California race promoters began discussing the possibility of starting a budget/entry-level Sprint Car series that would race at different tracks with the individual track championships and an overall champion for drivers that opted to race in the full series.
  2. The original intention was to roll out the new series for the 2020 racing season.
  3. The focus was on a budget based car that would be equal to or similar to the Modified classes.
  4. The engine would likely need to be an inexpensive crate engine already on the market. To keep the cost down, the engine would most likely have to be carbureted.
  5. The Sprint Car design needed to be one that a young driver could evolve with and move into another series if they wanted.
  6. The cars needed to have enough power that fans could enjoy drivers passing each other and putting on a good show.
  7. The cars had to be simple enough that new race teams could work on the cars in their home garage and come to the track ready to win.
  8. The car and rules had to fit into a program that could be adopted and spread to other tracks.

While the series was intended to be ready for the 2020 season, the crew behind the development of the series has moved deliberately and carefully to ensure every aspect is well thought out before rolling any cars on the track for competition. Wisely, Kazarian and his crew resisted the urge to hastily put together rules and rush cars onto the track.

The team unloaded the car with an agenda for the evening. Would the engine hold up to the rigors of Sprint Car racing?

The team has been patient and responsible while performing their due diligence in developing what could become a premier feeder series for open-wheel racing. 

We were invited to watch the initial Beta testing of the crate engine Sprint Car on the half-mile clay oval in Perris, California. Because we were already familiar with the Quicksilver Products race engine, we expected a solid session. The Quicksilver engines were already in use on the East Coast in a series where Quicksilver was the featured crate engine, but other crate engines were invited to compete in a head-to-head environment. The Quicksilver engine had proven that it was dominant in a crate engine stock car class.

A regulation airbox was on backorder so this small air breather was used. Surprisingly, the engine was not choked down too much and still had more power than the car could use on the track.

What It Is All About

Award-winning Race Promoter Don Kazarian, and future Sprint Car Hall of Famer Cory Kruseman have been working to iron down the details on this potential crate engine Sprint Car series. “We’re not trying to get rid of existing Sprint Car classes,” said Kazarian, “We just wanted to close some existing gaps and maybe bring some racers that had parked their cars for budgetary reasons, back to the track. We could help launch some new open-wheel drivers by offering a budget Sprint Car series that could fit within a family’s budget.”

Talking to Kazarian, we became aware of the key components that were driving this potential series. It had to be affordable and entertaining. That point was driven home by both Kazarian and Kruseman.

The team is doing their homework, proceeding slowly as to cover every base, and do their testing with a purpose. “I came to the track to answer four questions,” said Kruseman. “I had a list of things that I wanted to check on the car as we tested, just to make sure this combination was a good fit.”

We watched as the car did laps on a track that resembled a late-race night condition, and saw the pleased look on the crew’s faces each time the car pulled back into the pits. Kazarian was pleased with the initial testing. “I wanted to make sure that we weren’t going to have a group of cars that would be running the bottom, wide open, in a line like a train,” he stated.

Kruseman got out of the car and debriefed Kazarian by saying, “I could spin out anywhere on the track. I could spin the tires anywhere on the track. That tells me there is more power than the car can use, which is the kind of racing that people want to see.”

Where To From Here?

We understand that the crew wants to continue testing to ensure the engine package will stand up to the rigors of dirt track racing. Quicksilver has told us the sealed crate engine should last multiple seasons without having to rebuild or freshen up the engine. There are no “authorized” engine rebuilders. If a sealed engine needs to be rebuilt, the factory pays for shipping to and from the factory. The engines are repaired or freshened up at the factory.

The development team is in work to nail down a rules package and what components will be used in the series. This is the most time-consuming task of the entire project.

All of us at OneDirt.com look forward to watching this series unfold, and we will monitor the objectives, and how close the team comes to hitting all the chords. Stay tuned for more information on this series coming soon.

Article Sources

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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