Few races in Sprint Car racing are as prestigious as the National Open at the famed Williams Grove Speedway.
This is a race steeped in history. The best in the business show up to compete in the traditional two-day event. And of course, the $50,000 paycheck waiting at the finish line Saturday night doesn’t hurt.
And it’s getting bigger in 2015.
The Open, as it is affectionately referred to by central Pennsylvania fans, will be a three-day extravaganza that takes place Oct. 1-3. The first two nights pay $10,000 to the winner, with Saturday’s winner receiving a minimum of $50,000.
“I just wanted to change up something for next season and make the National Open more of an event than it already is,” Williams Grove Speedway track director/race director Justin Loh said.
“That’s what I wanted when we made it $50,000 to win. It’s our biggest show of the year and now, we are taking it one step further.”
The Grove started paying $50,000 to the champion in 2006. Since then, the weekend has been one of the crown jewels of the local Sprint Car scene as well as the traveling World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series.
This change only adds to the mystique.
The format for the three-day showcase is still being discussed. However, there is a good chance it has a Knoxville Nationals feel.
If there is a drawback, it’s the timing. The National Sprint League is holding a two-day show at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb., which means stars like Brian Brown and Danny Lasoski will stay in the Midwest.
Still, it is big news for fans, drivers and the World of Outlaws, who have been on board with the change from the start.
“I think it is a good thing,” said Lance Dewease, a three-time winner of the National Open. “Any time you add good paying shows, it is a good thing.
“I think it helps the Grove National Open take that next step in being one of the premier races in the country, which it already is.
“The bad thing is that time of year. The weather can be iffy. Hopefully, it works out and will be good for everyone involved.”