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Brad Sweet. (Frank Smith photo)

Sweet: ‘We’re Definitely Trying To Add & Create More Sustainability’

Fresh off his fourth consecutive World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship, Brad Sweet joined the third annual Race Industry Week to discuss a number of topics, including the High Limit Sprint Car Series. 

Sweet was among Monday’s Race Industry Week speakers. The web-based event, which is free of charge, will continue through Friday. Click here to register.

Founded by Sweet and his brother-in-law, Kyle Larson, the High Limit Sprint Car Series was designed to help the sport of sprint car racing grow.

However, the introduction of the series in July raised many eyebrows and has led to lengthy discussions regarding the ability or inability of drivers contracted to compete with the NOS Energy World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series to participate in High Limit events.

While many of those details are still developing, Sweet said helping teams stay afloat with the thousands of miles that go into traveling across the country is a large reason for the creation of the series. 

“The team owners are the ones that invest the most into this and they receive the least,” Sweet said. “It’s a very tough business model to sustain. I think that’s what we’re trying to do is help create some more sustainability for race teams.

“I think we are in a moment in time where the sport is changing. There is a pay-per-view audience watching these races. There is another form of revenue coming in and it’s really elevated the sport. Sprint car racing is as popular as I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. I think it’s just getting more and more popular.

“A lot of that is because of the streaming service and the access that the casual fan now can tune in and watch,” Sweet continued. “The business model was always built around 2,500 to 3,000 fans going to a race track. The World of Outlaws get their sanctioning fee and the racers get a chunk of that toward the purse, and then the promoter takes his chunk.

“Now there’s another revenue stream and, however, many more thousands of people watching each race. So we felt like that needs to be incorporated into the business model. I think that’s what we’re really putting pressure on, is utilizing some of that revenue to spread between promoters and the race teams.”

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Brad Sweet in victory lane at Sharon Speedway. (Trent Gower photo)

With the best interest of the teams in mind, Sweet and Larson maintain that all High Limit Sprint Series events will pay at least $23,000 to win, making the series a positive development for race teams. A single race was run this season at Indiana’s Lincoln Park Speedway, with 12 midweek events in the works for next season.

“The original concept and intent and why we chose 12 races in the middle of the week was obviously to add to the ecosystem,” Sweet said. “Obviously, not try to take away from what’s already good about it (sprint car racing). So we’re definitely trying to add and create more sustainability.

“These drivers, they do sacrifice a lot going up and down the road and being away from their families. I wouldn’t say it’s the most dangerous sport, but there’s definitely things that are less dangerous in this world to be doing.

“I feel like if there’s a way to get them a little more compensation, then I think that was also the goal as well.”

Sweet acknowledged that there are ongoing conversations among High Limit officials, the teams and the World of Outlaws in an attempt to find a middle ground for the coming racing season. Currently contracted World of Outlaws member teams are not permitted to compete in events sanctioned by other series.

“We’re kind of waiting to see where we’re gonna fit into this whole deal with the World of Outlaws. Obviously, we didn’t want to create any controversy,” Sweet said. “I thought we were maybe gonna fit in the gap that was there, and maybe that the World of Outlaws would have chosen to work with us, just because we weren’t trying to be a competing series.

“But there’s just so much going on now that I don’t know exactly how to answer that question to be honest with you. I think we’re kind of in a wait-and-see approach. We do have a nice schedule put together. We’re thinking about our series and we’re thinking about sprint car racing as a whole, and how to make it a little more exciting.

“Maybe make some of those fans that don’t quite understand it, help them to understand it,” Sweet continued. “Maybe make our shows a little quicker. Just certain things that we were listening to from the fan base.

“We want to do a little bit better job with the High Limit series to see if we can keep growing and help grow the sport and do everything that we possibly can to make sprint car racing as big and as good as possible.”

For more information on Race Industry Week, please visit www.epartrade.com/more/onlineraceindustryweek.