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Jimmy Oskie (left) and Ralph Sheheen. (SPEED SPORT photo)

A Hot August Road Trip

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — August presented us with our longest road trip of the year.

Beginning in Iowa with the Knoxville Nationals, we continued west to Castle Rock, Wash., for the return of the Castle Rock TT for the American Flat Track racers.

We then headed south to another one of our favorite events — the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Monterey Car Week. We finished our two-week journey with the 57th running of the legendary Sacramento Mile at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds.

While interviewing Donny Schatz prior to the Nationals, we noticed an intensity in the World of Outlaws star we hadn’t seen in recent years. Schatz and the Tony Stewart Racing team have been fighting hard for numerous years to dial in their Ford-powered sprinter in order to provide the 10-time series champion the weapon he needs to battle for victories.

It was obvious that Schatz knew he had the car he has been looking for and he didn’t waste it. He once again masterfully worked his way to the front in claiming his 11th Knoxville Nationals triumph, but first since 2017.

This could spell trouble for the rest of the World of Outlaws title contenders.

• We really like the new infield lighting system that Knoxville Raceway has recently installed. We hear the system cost in the neighborhood of $1 million. The lights shine in a variety of colors, some to help with the safety and operation of the races. The lights are also used to assist in the entertainment of the fans. The MUSCO LED system is a cool addition to an already spectacular facility.

• I can’t thank Richard and Jennifer Marshall enough for their always gracious hospitality in their suite inside the Bryan Clauson Tower at Knoxville Raceway during the Nationals. Racing is about friends and family. They are definitely both!

• This year’s signature display inside the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum featured cars that raced at California’s Ascot Park.

One that caught our attention belongs to Hall of Famer Jimmy Oskie, who ordered the car from renowned builder Hank Henry when Oskie was in the Navy. Henry had five years to complete the sprint car. Oskie sent his mother money while he was in the service and she would drive to Henry’s shop with deposits to keep the build funded.

Oskie eventually got out of the service and jumped right into the cockpit. The car was never crashed and was the last car to win without a cage at Ascot. Oskie won a track championship with it at the famed SoCal speed plant. It is all original. In fact, Oskie thinks there is still some Ascot dirt on it.

•  The Castle Rock TT played out in front of a sold-out crowd, and Estenson Yamaha’s J.D. Beech was the winner. The rider out of Kentucky has won every American Flat Track TT race in the last two years.

• The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race machines on display were stunning as usual. This is still one of the best motorsports events in the world and is a must-attend event for any serious race fan.

The highlight for me was an epic two-lap ride around this world-class circuit with legendary Corvette racer Ron Fellows behind the wheel of the new Corvette Z06 with the Z07 package. It is the baddest production Corvette ever built. Wow! What a ride! What a car!

Fellows hit 131 mph before jumping on the brakes for the Andretti Hairpin and 117 mph before getting deep into the binders for the famed Corkscrew. I attempted to shoot video on my phone while Fellows defied the laws of physics with the throttle and the brakes.

If you own a ’Vette, make sure you go through the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School at Spring Mountain Motorsports Resort just outside of Las Vegas in Pahrump, Nev. I have and it is fantastic.

Lots of new track surface is now open for business at Spring Mountain. They have greatly expanded their facilities with nine-and-a-half miles of race track on which to test and play.

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