Veteran Sprint Car racing championship crew chief Ricky Warner. (9D Creative Photo)

Warner On Sprint Car Racing: ‘It Grabs Hold Of You And Doesn’t Let Go’

BROWNSBURG, Ind. — Veteran sprint car racing championship crew chief Ricky Warner, currently serving as the crew chief for Rico Abreu Racing, will be inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.

The 34th induction ceremony will take place on June 1 in Knoxville, Iowa.

Warner’s career started in Central Pa. with Randy Wolfe and hall of famer Kenny Jacobs, before taking the helm for hall of famer Jac Haudenschild, Andy Hillenburg and young gassers Kevin Gobrecht, Joey Saldana and Tyler Walker. The love of sprint car racing began at a young age for Warner and evolved into a hall of fame career.

“From a young age it draws you in (with) the smell of the fuel, the sound of the engines,” Warner said. “It’s pretty much a mix of drag racing and circle track racing. They’re high horsepower, low-weight cars and the racing is pretty intense. It makes you fall in love with it. A lot of it has to do with the people you’re around every day too. It grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go.”

Warner made his name most notably with Tony Stewart Racing and Donny Schatz, winning the Knoxville Nationals 10 times and the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship 10 times, along with three consecutive King’s Royal wins as part of more than 200 World of Outlaws victories as a team.

The strong runs included a six-season stretch between 2013-’18 where they captured over 150 triumphs.

“Donny and I have always been friends, the timing and where he was in his career and where I was in learning the cars, how to have a mindset of being on the road, and how to win races; We fed off each other and it was just perfect,” Warner said. “To have an engine builder like Ron Shaver, chassis builder Jack Elam of J&J Auto Racing, team owners like the Schatz family and Tony Stewart, that gives you everything you need to win races and championships really was a big part of my career.”

Warner teamed up with Rico Abreu Racing in 2022, winning six races with driver Rico Abreu. They exploded this year with 13 feature wins, earning the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame 410 Sprint Car Team of the Year in addition to Warner’s individual hall of fame nod.

RAR and Warner will compete full time in the High Limit Racing championship next year for their first attempt at a national championship together.

“(Rico’s) honed his craft last year and he’s come a long way in understanding how the races play out,” Warner said. “He’s done a remarkable job on driving, and it makes my job easier.

“He’s a very positive person which makes it better for me. It’s been really special to be with him and give him that equipment with good people surrounding him.”

“I can’t say enough about what Ricky has brought to myself and our team,” Abreu said. “Everyone knows how good he is on setting up the car, but on the personal side he is such a great person, friend and leader. Our entire team is honored to work with Ricky, and we could not be prouder for Ricky, wife Danele and his daughter Stevee and son Drew along with the entire Warner family for Ricky getting inducted into the Hall of Fame.”

With the rigorous High Limit Racing schedule awaiting them, Warner hopes to impart some veteran knowledge on Abreu as they aim for the lucrative championship.

“Our first goal is to always try to win the race. There’s some crown jewel races we didn’t finish the way we needed to. There’s some stuff we need to clean up on bigger races,” Warner said. “80 percent of it is mental. You can’t get beat up if you have a bad night.

“Work on the problems you can identify. Try to not repeat mistakes and take every night one night at a time. Be mentally tough and set goals and try to achieve that as a team.”