Knoxville Raceway in America is regarded as the world mecca for Sprint Car racing. In this exclusive feature article, Totally Speedway’s Daniel Powell has put together this three-part article documenting over 70 Australian drivers that have competed at the famed Iowa venue. Here’s the third and final part of this article.
Skip Jackson (NSW - pictured right)
When it comes to Knoxville Raceway, Jackson is one of Australia’s most respected drivers at the Iowa track, and it led to him being inducted eight years ago into the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame.
Making his first appearance at Knoxville Raceway in 1991 driving for Australian car owners Barry and Vivienne Lewis, Jackson for nearly two decades was one of the best around the famed track.
The highlights for Jackson were back-to-back Knoxville Raceway 410 Sprint Car Track Championships in 1997 and 1998, along with various minor track championship podium finishes, a total of 25 A mains wins in 410 Sprint Cars and a heap of minor 410 Sprint Car A main finishes. He is also a three-time World Challenge winner.
Despite plenty of success at a track championship level, which saw him finish inside the top 10 of the point standings in every one of his 19 seasons at Knoxville Raceway, Jackson didn’t fare too well when the Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals came around in August. He qualified into a total of six Knoxville Nationals Saturday night A mains with a best finish of 14th in the 1991, which was funnily enough his debut in the prestigious event.
Jackson retired from 410 Sprint Car racing at the conclusion of the 2010 season. Despite being retired, he still attends race meetings at Knoxville Raceway and it’s interesting to note that his eldest son, AJ, is developing into a handy announcer at Knoxville Raceway.
Kerry Madsen (NSW)
Despite debuting at Knoxville Raceway way back in 1992, Madsen had to wait until 1998 to get the opportunity to obtain a full-time 410 Sprint Car ride there. Once he got into a regular ride, the Sydneysider hasn’t looked back.
Madsen spent 1998 through to 2005 based at Knoxville Raceway, and he capped this period by claiming the Knoxville Raceway 410 Sprint Car Track Championship. After that, he went on the road with the World of Outlaws in 2007 on a regular basis up until the end of the 2015 season.
Despite not being based at Knoxville Raceway on a full-time basis since 2009 and no longer racing full-time on the World of Outlaws trail, Madsen is always fast whenever he appears there, whether it is for a World of Outlaws round or the famed Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals.
The four-time Australian Sprintcar Champion has collected a total of 23 A main wins in 410 Sprint Cars so far at Knoxville Raceway, along with two minor Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals podium finishes, and earlier this year winning the Knoxville 360 Sprint Car Nationals.
What a lot of people don't remember about Madsen and Knoxville Raceway is the fact he has raced a Midget around the Iowa track. Back in 2002, he contested the Pepsi / Mountain Dew Championship and went on to impress many by finishing second in the A main. The following year, he returned to the driver's seat of a Midget at Knoxville Raceway, where he didn't contest the opening night but ran the second and final night. Due to being at the bottom of the points, Madsen had to qualify into the A main via the B main. In the B main, he finished in second. Unfortnately, he was unable to repeat the A main performance from the previous year and recorded a DNF.
Although Madsen is pushing towards the age of 50, going on current form, there are certainly more Knoxville Raceway successes left in him.
Max Dumesny (NSW)
Debuting at Knoxville Raceway in sensational fashion during the 1985 and romping to victory in the Race of States event, Dumesny has long been one of the most popular Australian drivers at Knoxville Raceway.
After getting the world to stand up and take notice, Dumesny was a regular at Knoxville Raceway throughout the late 1980s and into the early 1990s. It was during this period where he picked up four A main wins in 410 Sprint Cars, along with a swag of minor podium finishes, a pair of top-three Knoxville Raceway 410 Sprint Car track Championship point standing finishes, and his best Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals finish of 10th in the 1993 running of the event.
Dumesny returned to Knoxville Raceway in the late 1990s and competed during the early 2000s. The last Knoxville Raceway appearance for Dumesny was during the 2010 running of the Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals.
The Dumesny surname lives on at Knoxville Raceway, with his youngest son, 21-year-old Marcus Dumesny, making his debut at the track during last year’s Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals.
Lynton Jeffrey (NSW)
Back in 2001, Jeffrey packed up everything that he owned and moved to America to chase his Sprint Car racing dream and to also branch out with his Vortex Race Wings business, and to say he has been successful in both areas would be quite the understatement.
Ever since the 2001 season, Jeffrey has competed in every season at Knoxville Raceway and it over the years it has seen him achieve a lot of standout results, which consists of four 410 Sprint Car A main wins, one 360 Sprint Car A main win, two World Challenge wins and a career-best Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals A main result of 21st in 2010. Aside from wins, he has claimed his fair share of minor A main podium finishes in 410 Sprint Cars at Knoxville Raceway over the years.
Jeffrey is a perfect example of what is possible when you are game enough to chase your dreams. He is certainly part of the fabric around Knoxville Raceway – it’s pretty much like his second home!
James McFadden (Vic)
After first appearing at Knoxville Raceway as a competitor in 2012, McFadden has developed into one of the fastest Australian drivers around the Iowa track.
McFadden started off at Knoxville Raceway by running with various teams before he was picked up by the Kasey Kahne Racing team in 2019. Since linking up with the Kasey Kahne Racing outfit, McFadden has gone to another level as a racer, especially around Knoxville Raceway.
In terms of McFadden’s Knoxville Raceway highlights, his best Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals A main finish was eighth in 2019 and also that year he claimed the victory in the Knoxville 360 Sprint Car Nationals.
There is no doubt that McFadden has the potential to become Australia’s first Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals winner.
Jamie Veal (Vic)
Despite not competing at Knoxville Raceway over the past two years, Veal has certainly impressed since debuting there back in the 2010 season.
Mainly running his family-owned # 35 AU car over the past decade at Knoxville Raceway, which included a brief stint running with the Indy Race Parts team, the current Australian 410 Sprintcar Champion quickly developed into a front-running threat in both 410 and 360 Sprint Car competition.
Veal’s Knoxville Raceway highlights have so far been a sixth-place finish in the 2016 Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals, a single A main win in 360 Sprint Cars, which was the preliminary A main of the 2016 Knoxville Nationals, and an eighth-place A main finish in the 2016 Knoxville 360 Sprint Car Nationals.
Here’s to hoping that Veal returns to America, in particular Knoxville Raceway, sooner rather than later.
Brett Lacey (Vic)
The 1987 Australian Sprintcar Champion was one of the first of his countrymen to race around Knoxville Raceway.
Lacey, who steered the # 20 car owned by Bob Trostle, competed in the 1983 season and finished up 15th in the final Knoxville Raceway Sprint Car Track Championship point standings, which was highlighted a career-best Knoxville Raceway A main finish of a third during a twin A main night.
After running the 1983 season, Lacey never returned to Knoxville Raceway as a competitor, but he was certainly one of the trailblazers for Australians making their Knoxville Raceway dream a reality.
Scott Bogucki (SA)
The Bogucki story is quite an inspiring one, as he had a goal of racing in America and he has done everything he can to achieve it.
After debuting at Knoxville Raceway in 2015, the first couple of years saw Bogucki learn the ropes on a part-time basis. In recent years, Bogucki’s results around Knoxville Raceway have improved out of sight and it’s seen him become a top-10 contender in 410 Sprint Cars and a front-runner in 360 Sprint Cars. This year has seen Bogucki enjoy a solid season, which was highlighted by claiming his maiden A main victory in the 360 Sprint Cars class, and he also finished 13th in the Knoxville 360 Sprint Car Nationals.
When it comes to the Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals, Bogucki’s best finish so far was an eighth in last year’s B main.
With more experience around Knoxville Raceway, there is no question that this talented South Australian has the ability to continue to make his mark around the famed track, no matter if that is in 410 Sprint Cars or 360 Sprint Cars.
Peter Murphy (NSW)
Murphy achieved a life-long dream to get to Knoxville Raceway and it eventually led to him packing up everything and moving to America.
After making his first visit to Knoxville Raceway in 1990, he returned the next year as a competitor, and from there the rest is history.
Starting out running at Knoxville Raceway in the first few years, Murphy then ventured to the west coast of the country and it was where he based himself with the Morrie Williams-owned team and it led to him moving over to America on a full-time basis.
When it comes to Knoxville Raceway, Murphy over the first decade was a regular visitor to the Iowa track and despite not earning any 410 Sprint Car A main podium places during this period, he picked up a handful of top-10 finishes.
Marty Perovich (NSW)
This passionate Sydneysider first visited Knoxville Raceway as a competitor during the 2003 season.
For nearly the next decade, Perovich ran at Knoxville Raceway on a regular basis during the months of July and August, mainly around Knoxville 410 Sprint Cars Nationals time. The last time Perovich contested the Knoxville Nationals was in 2012.
Despite no notable results, Perovich loved the thrill and the experience of taking on the world’s best racers around the mecca for Sprint Car racing.
Jordyn Brazier (NSW)
Brazier and his family created a bit of Knoxville Raceway history, when they five years became the first three generations of Australian racers to compete in a Sprint Car at the Iowa venue.
Competing at Knoxville Raceway across 360 and 410 Sprint Cars from 2015 through to 2018, Brazier, who was relatively in experienced when it came to Sprint Car racing up his Knoxville Raceway debut, has gained valuable experience and his results have improved with every outing.
It’s hoped that we will be seeing more of Brazier at Knoxville Raceway in the near future.
Photo: Wade Aunger
Domain Ramsay (Vic)
The long-time Victorian based Sprintcar racer made a handful of Knoxville Raceway appearances.
Making his Knoxville Raceway debut in 2010, Ramsay competed at the track, which was mainly running the Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals, and he kept travelling there for a few years.
Apart from running in 410 Sprint Cars at Knoxville Raceway, Ramsay ran a USAC Non-Winged Sprint Cars race meeting back in 2010.
Photo: Dean Miller Photography
Mitchell Dumesny (NSW)
Enjoying his best 410 Sprintcar career form in Australia, Dumesny ventured over to Knoxville Raceway in 2010.
Dumesny ran numerous race meetings in the lead up to the Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals and was competitive throughout the Knoxville Nationals weekend and concluded it with a fourth-place finish in Saturday night’s D main and as a result narrowly missed out on a transfer spot into the C main.
Jason Kendrick (WA)
Kendrick made one trip over to Knoxville Raceway and it was during the 2017 season.
The Perth, Western Australian-based racer contested a total of sixth race meetings at Knoxville Raceway. He made a few A main appearances during the early race meetings at Knoxville Raceway and he concluded his trip with the Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals, and he went on to finish Saturday night’s D main in 18th.
Photo: Tony L Hugert Photography
Todd Wanless (Qld)
The 1996 Australian Sprintcar Champion made a few Knoxville Raceway appearances in 410 Sprint Cars, which occurred twice in 2008 and once in 2009.
Heading towards the twilight period of his career, Wanless, who had previous American racing experience on the west coast in California, contested a Knoxville Raceway Track Championship round and managed to get through the night unscratched and ended the night’s B main back in 12th. The previous year, he ran two race meetings and he missed out on the A main and finished up in the B main in eighth and third place respectively.
Photo: The Carrells
Sammy Walsh (NSW)
This third-generation racer made half-a-dozen Knoxville Raceway appearances during the 2018 season.
After a promising American debut during the previous year’s Ohio and Pennsylvania Speedweek Series with his family team, Walsh returned the following year running with the Californian-based Van Dyke Motorsports team.
Despite not a lot of previous experience running around the half mile tracks, Walsh performed strongly at Knoxville Raceway. The Sydneysider managed to make the A mains more often than not, but at the Knoxville 360 Sprint Car Nationals he narrowly missed out on a spot in the final night’s A main and he endured the same fate the following weekend during the Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals.
Photo: Tony Loxley
Ricky Maiolo (SA)
Maiolo competed at Knoxville Raceway back in 2010 in the 360 Sprint Car class.
Running a race meeting leading up to that year’s Knoxville 360 Sprint Car Nationals, where he finished 15th in the B main, Maiolo ran ninth in the C main on his qualifying night of the Knoxville 360 Sprint Car Nationals event, but unfortunately the South Australian was unable to take his place in the E-main field on the third and final night.
Photo: Jacob Coulson
Brett Milburn (Vic)
The current Australian 360 Sprintcar Champion has over his long career competed at Knoxville Raceway on two occasions.
Milburn, from Melbourne in Victoria, made his Knoxville Raceway debut during the seventh running of the Brodix Tournament of Champions for 360 Sprint Cars where he represented Australia in 2005. Running his own equipment, Milburn found the going a little tough as he came to grips with the half mile track and ended the event with an 11th place B-main finish.
Four years later, Milburn returned to Knoxville Raceway, and on this occasion in the middle of July in 2009 he was running with fellow Australian Adrian Parr and his Parr Motorsports team for what was their opening race meeting of their American tour. In what was just a track championship round, Milburn finished eighth in his heat race and then ended the B main in 10th.
Steven Lines (SA)
During the early stages of his Sprintcar career, Lines ventured over to America to spend three months in 2008. During this racing trip running the # 23 car owned by Jeff McCall, where he ran in the 360 Sprint Cars, he contested that year’s Knoxville 360 Sprint Car Nationals.
Despite his maiden visit to Knoxville Raceway not going entirely to plan, Lines set the 18th quickest lap in time trials on his qualifying night, ended up eighth in his heat race and then finished up 18th in the B main. Unfortunately, Lines didn’t compete in the third and final night of the Knoxville Nationals.
Apart from that maiden Knoxville Raceway appearance, Lines hasn’t returned to compete in America, despite achieving a lot of success in his home country, such as two Grand Annual Classic wins and two World Series Sprintcar Championship point standings wins.
Photo: Peter Roebuck
Ryan Farrell (WA)
This controversial racer made one trip to race in America back in 2007 and it unfortunately that turned out to be his one and only trip.
Running for the team of American Kaley Gharst, Farrell lined up for the Knoxville 410 Sprint Car Nationals in what was the biggest event of his trip. After failing to advance of out the B main on his qualifying night, Farrell showed good form throughout Friday night’s non-qualifiers event by qualifying into that night’s A main and charging from position 19 to finish just outside the top 10 in 11th. In the fourth and final night’s action, Farrell ended up winning the D main in impressive fashion but was an early casualty in the C main and recorded a DNF.
It was a shame that Farrell is yet to return to Knoxville Raceway, as he certainly left an impression on the Americans.
Paul Jeffrey (NSW)
The older brother of Knoxville Raceway regular Lynton Jeffrey has made numerous appearances at Knoxville Raceway.
In total, Jeffrey has competed at Knoxville Raceway over five seasons – from 2008 through to 2013. Despite no results, Jeffrey has always held his own and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, especially during Knoxville Nationals time.
Garry Chippindall (Vic)
Chippindall had a life-long dream to race around the famed Knoxville Raceway, and he made that come to reality during the 2006 Brodix Tournament of Champions for 360 Sprint Cars.
Steering the # 1 S owned by Joe Swofford, the Warragul, Victoria-based racer certainly held his own throughout this event and Chippindall, who passed away earlier this year, was rapt to not only qualify into the A main but go on to greet the chequered flag in 17th.
“The entire trip was so much fun, and Garry certainly held his own around Knoxville Raceway and it was definitely one of his career highlights,” recalled Garry’s son-in-law Allan Barlee.
George Tatnell (NSW)
In a story that isn’t well known, Tatnell tried to compete in the 1994 Sprint Car Masters event at Knoxville Raceway.
The 1988 Australian Sprintcar Champion had originally been asked to come over to run the event, but when he arrived, the person had lied about having a car lined up.
Looking at the prospect of missing out on contesting the Masters event, car owner Wayne Simmons and a few of his mates scrounged around and then put together a Sprint Car for him to compete, and George’s son, Brooke, takes up the story.
“When it (the car) turned up at the track late, I went over it thinking no way am I going to let my dad run this car,” he explained.
“He went out in hot laps and was one of the fastest. It then rained out. Later that night, he was offered three top line winning cars. He then asked me, what he should do? I laughed as I already knew what he was going to do. He said, those sobs didn’t want to help us out before, but now that we are fast, I’m now worth helping? I’m going to run Wayne’s car!”
Tatnell went out the following night the engine aboard the Simmons car blew during hot laps.
“The crew guys basically didn’t have a pot to piss in but ran around trying to get dad a car to run the rest of the event,” Tatnell continued.
“They felt so bad, as they were unsuccessful in finding dad a replacement ride. I remember my dad putting his hand in his pocket he had a couple hundred dollars and gave it to them which they refused. Those guys always remind me what a great guy dad was.”
Gavin Punch (USA / Vic)
A relatively unknown Sprint Car driver but what is not well known is that he is actually Australian born.
Born in Melbourne, Victoria, Punch and his family moved over to America when he was 10 years old, and after that he didn’t return to his homeland. In the early 2000s, Punch took up Sprint Car racing after coming from a two-wheel background in motocross and he raced up until 2013.
During his Sprint Car career, which included him competing around the mid-west of America from his home base of Collinsville in Oklahoma, Punch competed in two Knoxville Nationals in 360 Sprint Cars, with his results being an eighth in the D main of the 2005 event and then he returned four years later (2009) and didn’t have the best of runs and failed to take his place in the third and final night’s E main.
Matt Barbara (NSW)
As a long-time crew chief, Barbara had a brief racing period behind the wheel of a Sprint Car.
Barbara, who grew up in Sydney but has been based in America for over 15 years now, ran a Sprintcar at Sydney’s Parramatta Speedway for a one-off race meeting during the 2006-07 season. Before that, Barbara ran at Knoxville Raceway in their 2005 track championship finale in a 410 Sprint Car, which he now takes up the story to explain how this opportunity came about.
“We just had to register the car in qualifying, as we were at the time leading the track championship point standings with Kerry Madsen, so we just wanted to make sure that we had a backup car just in case he junked in hot laps or qualifying,” he explained.
“I just ran the car for hot laps and qualifying, and then we parked the car for the rest of the night.”
Matt Smith (NSW)
To say that Smith impressed during his brief appearances in a Midget around Knoxville Raceway would be quite the understatement.
Back in 2009, Smith competed at Knoxville Raceway over two nights, with the King Doodlebug event on the Friday night and ended up ninth in the A main, while the following night, he finished 10th in the eighth running of the USAC Knoxville Midget Nationals.
This unknown Australian driver certainly held his own up against some of the world’s best Midget drivers during this period, some of which have gone on compete in the NASCAR world.
Photo: Tony Loxley
Michael Kendall (NZ / Qld)
The ex-pat New Zealander, who these days lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland, narrowly makes the cut for this article.
During his four-year stint of living in America, the five-time New Zealand Midget Champion contested the two-night Pepsi / Mountain Dew Midget Championship event at Knoxville Raceway. In this 2004 event driving underpowered machinery, Kendall (pictured below with fellow New Zealand racer Stevie Walsh) finished fifth in his qualifying heat race on the Friday night. The following night, he continued to punch above his weight and managed to qualify into the A main via a third-place B-main finish and went on to finish in 17th after he had started the A main from position 24.