Once a year, the small town of Knoxville, Iowa is transformed into the sprint car capital of the world. Last week, the 58th annual Knoxville Nationals brought over 22,000 people to the middle of the US to see over 300 of the best sprint car racers in the world competing for a $1,000,000 purse.
With our heritage rooted in sprint car racing, WELD Racing spent a week in Knoxville, IA taking in the sights, sounds and a little dirt. Founded in 1967, Greg Weld, a championship winning sprint car driver, began WELD Racing as a way to build a better wheel for dirt track competition. The Weld family has a rich history at Knoxville, with wins by Greg and his brother, Kenny. So it is only natural that WELD Racing celebrates its heritage each year at the Marion County Fairgrounds with the best of the best in winged sprint car racing.
The week of the Knoxville Nationals kicks off with a special race, the WELD Racing Capitani Classic, in honor of Ralph Capitani, the famed promoter of Knoxville Raceway for 33 years. This is exciting race is all about the glory and the trophy, a custom piece designed by Cold Hard Art. Several WELD Racing employees were on hand to watch WELD Racing supported drivers sweep the Top 3 spots at the Capitani Classic, with Brad Sweet making a statement on what was to come for the week winning handily.
Another fun activity for WELD Racing during the Nationals week is our involvement in the Tony Stewart Foundations charity event, the WELD Racing Go Kart Spectacular. Contested out at the Slideways karting track in Knoxville, fans and friends get the opportunity to race Slideway’s winged “sprint car” go-karts against some of the top drivers in NASCAR, including Tony Stewart and Kyle Larson, sprint car racing, including Tyler Courtney and Chris Windom. Rounding out the professional driver competitors was four-time NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi and his sons, Dominic and Giovanni, up and coming winged sprint car racers. This year, the Go Kart Spectacular saw the first ever, non-professional win the event, a young man by the name of Tom Nichols with a stunning last lap pass.
The 4-day Knoxville Nationals began a winning streak for WELD racers. With some of the top names in sprint car racing on WELD wheels, including Kyle Larson, Shane Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Brad Sweet, David Gravel, Brian Brown, Carson Macedo, Rico Abreu, Tim Kaeding, Ian Madsen, Kerry Madsen, Tim Shaffer and Daryn Pittman, along with over 60% of the entire fieldat Knoxville, the odds were definitely in our favor.
Wednesday night’s qualifier saw WELD Racing in the Top 4 of the A Main, with Greg Hodnett taking the win. Thursday was another dominating performance by Brad Sweet in his Kasey Kahne Racing car taking the win and WELD Racing on the Top 5 finishers in the A Main. Friday night’s Speed Sport Challenge race saw WELD driver Dominic Scelzi taking the win and getting a coveted spot on Saturday’s A Main.
As a sided note, Jason Johnson Racing and Bobbi Johnson, still mourning of Jason in June, delivered a strong week of racing with up and coming sprint car racer, Carson Macedo behind the wheel of the famed #41. WELD Racing was proud to support Jason Johnson Racing and our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with Bobbi and Jaxx in the weeks and months to come.
Saturday’s emotions were on high as the field of 25 cars rolled onto the track. WELD Racing was along for the ride on nineteen of those twenty-five cars, a true testament to the quality, design and engineering of our racing wheels. Sixteen-year-old Gio Scelzi, a WELD racer, started the A
Main in 9 th and with Rookie of the Nationals honors and a record book entry as the youngest competitor to start the A Main of the Knoxville Nationals. Fifty grueling laps later, Brad Sweet rolled into victory lane for the 3 rd time of the week, capping off an incredible week of racing.
With a great week of safe racing and winning, the WELD Racing crew headed home to get back to the always-present task at hand: making the best and winningest wheels in racing.