The Sprint Car Hall of Fame’s annual chassis giveaway has become very popular with racers who hope to win a sweet new chariot for the coming year. However, things are going to be a little different for the 13th edition of the annual event. This year’s giveaway has heavy involvement from Speedway Motors, a company founded on dirt track racing. Speedway Motors built its solid racing reputation with “Speedy” Bill Smith’s famous 4X Sprint Cars.
We were alerted to the project by Speedway Motors’ Marketing Content Manager, Katie Bennett. “We’re really excited about this project,” she began. “We’re going to build a 410 Sprint Car, using Speedway Motors’ parts and our in-house car builders and fabricators.”
Katie directed us to Speedway Motors’ blog, The Toolbox, where an intro article to the Sprint Car build is already posted. The blog already contains answers to most of the questions we had about the build, starting with how the project came about?
How The Project Started
According to Speedway Motors’ Race Project Manager Greg Nicol, “Bob Baker, from the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame called wondering if Eagle Motorsports would be willing to do a chassis for the 13th giveaway.” This got the ball rolling. Nicol took the project idea up the chain to the Smith Family – who still owns the legendary speed shop and parts supplier – to continue the discussion.
“After these discussions, we decided it would be a good project,” Nicol continued. “We also decided we would build an engine because we have our engine shop now. So, basically everything for this car you’ll be able to get from the Speedway Motors catalog.”
Why Speedway Motors?
“Speedy” Bill Smith founded Speedway Motors after several years of motorcycle and auto racing. He was encouraged to stop racing by his mother, who was opposed to the dangerous sport. Being an only child, Bill understood her fears and hired other people to drive his cars. He was destined to be a racer for life, and whether behind the wheel or the wrench, he would always be involved in racing.
Speedy Bill’s cars were always just a little bit better than the others, so it was no surprise the best drivers wanted to race in his cars. By his own count, Bill once claimed to have had 87 different drivers over the years.
His success in Sprint Car racing was legendary. He helped start the careers of many drivers who eventually became members of the Sprint Car Hall of Fame. Speedy Bill was on the original board of directors that launched the Sprint Car Hall of Fame, which made Speedway Motors’ involvement in the project a natural fit.
The Build Team
Speedway Motors is still loaded with racers that are active in the sport. As its blog points out: “You can’t walk down the hall without stopping to talk to someone about how last weekend’s race went or what they have planned for the season. Those are the guys that are going to build this car.”
Dalton Johnson is one of Speedway Motors’ automotive technicians. “The appeal of a sprint car is they’re the rawest race cars on the planet. The horsepower-to-weight ratio is 900 horsepower to 1,400 pounds. The only thing that beats it is a Formula One car.”
Alex Owen works in Speedway Motors’ quality control department. “I love the competitiveness, the adrenaline rush, and the fact that it’s just me in the car.”
Tim Fricke is also a Speedway Motors’ automotive technician. “I like the challenge, but it’s really tough. There’s a lot of good competition out there, no matter where you go. You always try to get your car set up the best you can. It’s a guessing game and whoever has the best setup wins.”
Jason Martin, shock technician for Speedway Motors. “I’ve always known that I’m good with my hands. Whenever I can take a race car that’s not working and make it go fast, or take a piece of straight tubing and turn it into a race car, I’ve accomplished something.“
Riley Fricke is a retail store associate for the company. “This has been my life. I watched from the time I could walk until now. It’s important to really know what these cars can do. Little changes can put you at the front stretch at the end of the night.”
Jason Becker serves as a Speedway Motors’ quality control inspector. “Each car is a little different so you have to use your head a lot more when building them. Putting stuff together is always fun, and so is tearing stuff apart.”
Speedway Motors’ product engineer Thomas Brown. “I started building cars in 1993 back in Wisconsin and Illinois. Going out in a car that you designed and built yourself and beating factory-built cars feels pretty good.”
Tyler Perry works his day job at Speedway Motors as a wholesale specialist. “Continuing the passion I do on the weekends at work by building a car is something I’m on board with!”
What Happens Next
The team will build this project car a little bit at a time, in phases, and against a stringent timeline. Eagle Motorsports will put together a brand new chassis and body panels for the project car. Once complete, they will move the chassis and body across town to Speedway Motors’ shop where the team will make the project into a full roller.
From there, the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame will take the assembled roller on tour, selling raffle tickets for the opportunity to win the completed project Sprint Car. In the meantime, the Speedway Motors crew will be working on the 410 powerplant.
When the tour is complete, the crew will bring the roller back to the shop where the Speedway Motors racing engine and drivetrain will be installed into the roller. The Sprinter will be race-ready and able to hit the track when the winner is chosen.
Stay tuned as the crew assembles the car and posts routine videos on each segment as progress through each phase is completed. For more information on the introduction, the build team, and how to follow the build, visit Speedway Motors blog online at The Toolbox.