Despite no New Zealand born entries in USAC’s Indiana Midget Week there will be a Kiwi racer behind the wheel at the tracks and the current 2NZ & 3NZ, Americans Zach Daum and Zeb Wise join a stacked roster of names familiar to New Zealand Speedway fans.
The short and intense series starts 16th June and is just 6 races in to the 34 race USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Car Championship currently lead by ‘Sunshine’ Tyler Courtney with Chris Windom in 2nd. The pair in New Zealand earlier in the year at Western Springs during the United Truck Parts International Midget Car Series won by Courtney.
Reigning USAC Midget champ Courtney also having competed at Christchurch’s The Racecourse Hotel & Motorlodge, Ruapuna Speedway during the Speedway New Zealand National Midget Car Championship event.
That championship was won a record 9th time by Michael Pickens who has competed on numerous occasions at Indiana Midget week, leading New Zealand’s charge with 3 victories to his name however sadly missing from this year’s iteration.
Zach Daum’s second place finish to Pickens and 2NZ in Christchurch matches his 2017 – 2018 season efforts at Huntly International Speedway. Daum in his own Daum Motorsports ride for the week.
Indiana native, 17 year old Zeb Wise made his 1st tour down to New Zealand last season driving for the famous Seamount Racing team. After flying back to Tulsa for the Chili Bowl, Wise returned to New Zealand claiming a Circle Track Racing Association (CTRA) Midget Car Title to go with his 3rd place in the Speedway New Zealand sanctioned championship.
Another notable entrant with South Island pedigree is 2018-2019 NZ Sprintcar Champion and Californian teenage sensation Michael ‘Buddy’ Kofoid. Raised on a diet of Sprintcars he now drives for the potent Keith Kunz Motorsport Midget Car team and sits 3rd in USAC Points.
2018 USAC National Midget Champion Logan Seavey who has competed in New Zealand the last few seasons for Greenway Racing as Daum’s teammate is the defending series winner now in a Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports ride having vacated the Keith Kunz Motorsport seat.
Currently on a hot streak of wins is Kyle Larson. Having won 5 winged Sprint Car events in a row and the last 3 USAC Midget Car events he entered. Add this to his Chili Bowl win in January and he is one of the drivers favoured to win. He is driving for the Tucker-Boat Motorsports team.
Other IMW drivers who have competed in New Zealand include 5 time World 30 Lap Derby winner Dave Darland, East Coast stand out and 2012-2013 visitor Steve Buckwalter and Rico Abreu who has two visits to New Zealand to his name.
The opening round sees 48 cars set to contest at Paragon Speedway in the first of six nights of competition in a row at five different tracks. Regular IMW track Bloomington Speedway was removed from the series due to COVID-19 crowd restrictions and Lincoln Park Speedway the first to host more than one round in the 16 year history of the series.
Gas City I-69 Speedway hosts round two with the 3rd and 4th rounds at Lincoln Park followed by the largest of the tracks, Lawrenceburg’s 5/8’s mile track. The series concluding at Kokomo Speedway.
Running in support of the series are traditional non wing Sprint Cars which 18 year old Auckland Midget Car driver Max Guilford has a ride in the Goodnight Racing car. The Maxim/Claxton Chevy numbered with Guilford’s usual 79 with a “BT” added in tribute to his former mentor Bryce Townsend.
Guilford’s plans were altered due to travel restrictions and cancelled races but hopes to compete in a slew of traditional Sprint Car races in the mid-west before returning home to prepare for the upcoming home season.
All six nights of racing will be live streamed and available on demand at https://www.floracing.com/