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Ryan Litt makes laps in his No. 07 entry. (Rick Kimball photo)

Litt Prepares For ‘Tough’ Open Wheel Showdown

LONDON, Ont. — Ryan Litt is currently the only sprint car driver hailing from Ontario who is entered in Davey Hamilton Jr.’s Open Wheel Showdown, set for The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Dec. 1-2.

The No. 07 Ryan Litt Racing team is anxiously anticipating their opportunity to win $50,000 at the winged asphalt sprint car race — which was designed to be a modern version of the fabled Copper World Classic. 

Litt will be competing against more than 60 sprint car drivers from across North America. 

“I’m excited to not only compete for a shot at $50,000, but also test myself against the best pavement sprint car drivers in the world,” said Litt. “That’s what’s cool about this event — it’s bringing everyone together from both coasts in one spot to see who’s the best. Just qualifying for this race is going to be tough, and we’ll need to be dialed in every time we’re on the track.

“It’s going to be fun and I’m up for the challenge.”

The Bullring will be a new track for Litt. The 36-year-old open wheel veteran and his family team are based in Southwestern Ontario and have competed primarily in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio in recent years.

The semi-banked three-eighths-mile track in Nevada is almost 3,500 kilometres (more than 2,000 miles) southwest of the team’s home base, and will be the westernmost facility that they have ventured to. It opened in 1985 as the Las Vegas Speedrome and was also called Las Vegas Raceway Park prior to Speedway Motorsports purchasing the facility.

“From looking at photos and videos, the track looks pretty similar to Birch Run or Owosso and those are tracks we run well at,” Litt said, referencing two Michigan tracks where he has claimed wins in the past. “Obviously the facility is first class and it’s a privilege to be able to race there. I’m hoping we can get a good baseline setup on the practice day and then make some fine tweaks from there.”

Several other wrinkles will make the event unique for Litt and his team, who have competed almost exclusively in the Must See Racing series over the past few seasons with their Leitch-powered Diablo chassis.

The MSR rules permit 410 cubic inch engines and mandate American Racer tires, whereas winged asphalt sprint cars in other parts of the continent are often powered by 360 cubic inch engines with Hoosier tires. Restrictors are mandated on the injector stacks of the 410’s (and some 360’s) to balance the playing field, and Hoosiers will be the spec tire for the event in Vegas.

“We were going to run them once before in Florida, but had to cancel the trip last minute,” said Litt of the restrictors. “I’ve been told that you can’t really feel the difference too much — just maybe less top-end horsepower and torque pulling you into the corner. We haven’t run Hoosiers for a few years, so it will be fun to get back on those and have a little more bite.”

One of the highlights of the trip for Litt will be the opportunity to meet and race with other Canadian drivers.

There could be as many as 10 Canadians competing in the sprint car portion of the event, and possibly a few in the midgets and supermodifieds. Many of the other Canadian entries are from British Columbia, another region of the country with a long and proud open wheel racing history.

“I believe I’m the only sprint car driver entered from Ontario,” said Ryan. “It’s pretty cool that we will all get to race together there, and I’m hoping to get a picture of all of us.”