THE prospect of a big American contingent for the first three-night Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic at Allansford’s Premier Speedway is growing after positive feedback from US drivers.
Premier Speedway Club general manager David Mills is upbeat about the event’s extended format after returning from an annual trip to America’s biggest race, the Knoxville Nationals.
He said the concept, which will see the field split in half for qualifying on Friday and Saturday nights of the Classic before they all come together for the final on the Sunday, had been welcomed in the US.
With the January Classic more than four months away, Mills earlier this week received the first US entry from Geoff Ensign, who is nicknamed the “Human Highlight Reel”.
Ensign, who raced in Australia towards the end of this season, will contest his first Classic.
Mills said the Classic’s popularity was increasing in America.
“On the back of the interest I had when I was in America at Knoxville we will have a strong American presence,” he said.
Mills said Knoxville Raceway, sponsors and the National Sprintcar Hall of Fame had made changes to the world challenge, which included a qualifying race at the Classic.
He said that after discussions involving Premier Speedway, the winner of the world challenge race at Knoxville, a preliminary feature, was now automatically granted a spot in the Knoxville Nationals final.
“That’s worth $9000 to start,” Mills said. “The emphasis being placed on the world challenge at Knoxville is very strong and that is helping us.”
That means more Americans could add the Classic to their schedule in a bid to increase their chances of making their country’s biggest race, guaranteeing sponsors more exposure.
“The concept of a three-night format at the Classic, whether it be right, wrong or otherwise because it’s untried, the initial response has been well received.”
Mills said Ensign’s entry was good for the Classic.
He will drive for the Smith Brothers Racing team.
Principal Jason Smith said he was upbeat about his team’s prospects.
“We as a team have firmly set our sights on the Classic and after Geoff having been to Premier Speedway back in March he is now acutely aware of the marks he needs to hit and that every time he sits in the car he will be giving 100 per cent and hopefully the rest takes care of itself,” Smith said.
“As a team we have been able to identify a couple of small issues we had with the car, so with our driver locked in, our preparation is well and truly under way.”