INDIANAPOLIS – One of the most challenging aspects of competing with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series is that no two nights are exactly the same. For the last 18 years, Donny Schatz has been traveling across North America honing his craft on dirt tracks of varying sizes with the best Sprint car drivers in the world. The six-time and reigning WoO champion and driver of the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing’s (TSR) No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J will take advantage of that experience with this week’s challenge of first racing at one of the smallest tracks, Placerville Speedway, Wednesday and then taking on one of the bigger tracks on the schedule, Calistoga Speedway, Saturday and Sunday.
Succeeding with the Outlaws takes a number of skills and versatility is a key attribute. Schatz leads the Outlaws to Placerville Wednesday where the series’ hasn’t competed at since March 1992. It’s the first of five tracks on the 2015 WoO schedule where Schatz has yet to compete at during his Outlaw tenure. That won’t be the case at the picturesque Calistoga Speedway, which sits in the heart of California wine country, a track the Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team has extensive notes on. Schatz is a two-time winner on the sprawling semi-banked, half-mile dirt oval where speed is a major part of the outcome.
The three races continue the Outlaws’ early season run through the Golden State. Schatz has been victorious in two of the first six races on California soil. He won at the Stockton Dirt Track on March 21 and scored the Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico on March 28. Schatz leads the series championship standings with 1,681 points and is the only driver with three victories this season. Those three wins give him 52 triumphs since the start of the 2013 season and momentum towards a seventh championship season.
Despite never racing at Placerville, Schatz and his team of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman are looking forward to making laps at the high-banked, quarter-mile clay ova. The existing track record is under 10 seconds and it’s going to take a complete night to be in position to claim victory at the end of the night. The team is looking to use information they learned in victories at both Stockton and Silver Dollar and test session to build their game plan for Wednesday as Schatz looks to make Placerville the 71st different track where he’s won a WoO A-Feature event.
Saturday’s return to Calistoga will be the 17th time Schatz will race at Calistoga. He earned his first victory at the facility in the fall of 2004 when he won the Harvest Classic. In September 2012, he won his second race at Calistoga leading all 25 laps of the A-Feature. Last spring, Schatz qualified second in the opening night before finishing fourth in the A-Feature and came home ninth the following night.
For Wednesday’s race at Placerville, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. while the grandstands open at 4 p.m. PDT. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.WorldofOutlaws.com/Tickets or call 877-395-8606.
Saturday and Sunday at Calistoga, the pit gates will open at 1 p.m. while the grandstands open at 3 p.m. PDT. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.WorldofOutlaws.com/Tickets or call 877-395-8606.
Race fans unable to attend this week’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO Sprint Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the site features, including updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other race fans.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
After being on the road for 19 seasons, you probably have notes on just about every type of track. Will you look to that information to determine a starting point for Wednesday’s race at Placerville Speedway?
“I’ve always like going to new places and trying to figure them out. I have the privildege of working with the best team in this sport and we really enjoy the challenge of figuring places out. You have to have a baseline and just keep working at it. The tracks out in California have certain attributes, but nothing is going to be exactly the same. Experience helps. I tell the guys what I’m feeling. They tell me what they are seeing. We talked about the next steps and make the adjustments and then just keep working at it. Placerville looks like a California bullring where things are happening a warp speed. Having a car where you can move around is going to be extremely important. You have to be able to get through traffic. You have to take advantage of situations that go your way. It’s a big challenge, but one we’re certainly looking forward to.”
The weekend concludes with a return to Calistoga. You’ve always enjoyed the bigger tracks and Calistoga seems to be right in your sweet spot. Why have you and your team been so successful at the bigger tracks?
“Calistoga is one of those places where we’ve had some success. It’s big, fast and usually has a surface that changes quite a bit throughout the night. I enjoy racing at those type of tracks. We’ve had a consistent car, motor and shock package for a lot of years and that’s translated to us having a chance a lot of nights. It’s been a lot of hard work over the years, and we’ve always tried to keep working on new things to keep getting better. I’m looking forward to the two nights at Calistoga. We’ve raced at a lot of smaller tracks out in California and Calistoga is really the only big track. It seems like it’s been a long time since we raced a half-mile and I’m my guys are ready to get back a bigger track too.”
About Bad Boy Buggies®
Bad Boy Buggies® is a leader in off-road utility vehicles for hunting and outdoor lifestyles. Bad Boy Buggies pioneered the category of electrically powered four-wheel-drive vehicles, ideal for hunting and outdoor recreation due to their silent, odorless operation and environmentally friendly, emissions-free drivetrains.
Today, the Bad Boy Buggies product line ranges from four-wheel-drive electric hunting machines such as the Recoil®, a fully electric, four-wheel-drive vehicle with an innovative, highly efficient 72-volt AC electric drivetrain, to the Work Series of diesel- and gas-powered utility vehicles, including the Bad Boy Buggies XD, a versatile four-wheel-drive, diesel-powered utility vehicle with a total capacity of 1,600 pounds.
In 2010, the Bad Boy Buggies brand and product line were acquired by E-Z-GO®, a business unit of Textron Inc. Information on Bad Boy Buggies models can be found at: www.BadBoyBuggies.com.
About Chevrolet Performance®
Driven by more than 100 years of motorsports heritage, Chevrolet Performance fuels the passions of automotive enthusiasts through high-performance vehicles, parts and racing. Performance cars include Camaro SS, SS 1LE, ZL1, Z/28 and the COPO Camaro. Chevrolet Performance parts include crate engines, transmissions, controllers and street-level components. Chevrolet competes in NASCAR, NHRA, IMSA, IndyCar and a variety of circle track racing series.
More information can be found at: www.chevrolet.com/performance
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine