The United Truck Parts International Midget Car Series bursts into action this summer with some of the world’s best set to take on the Kiwis on their own dirt.
Three Australians and seven Americans are revving hard and ready for exhilarating action during this three-track, six-night series.
As with previous years, the series will open at Western Springs on Boxing Day, 26th December then onto Baypark Speedway on the 28th, followed by a return to The Springs on 30th for the time-honoured World Midget 30-lap Derby.
Huntly International Speedway plays host to the series on New Year’s Day before two nights back at Western Springs for the 40-lap King of the Springs and 50 Lap Classic on 3rd and 5th January respectively.
Boxing Night also has the Tri-Nations test races where the three Australian’s take on the top-performing three Americans and New Zealanders from that night’s heat races, in a nine-car, three-race, six-lap war for bragging rights. The titleholders are the Americans and New Zealand the bridesmaid.
The Australian contingent offers a pair of first-time appearances offshore by South Australian Robert Heard in his BREKA – Fontana combination and Victorian Travis Mills driving his Spike with a GRD Eagle. The pair will be hoping their setups are dialled in straight out of the trailer as this will be the stiffest competition they have ever faced.
Heard enters the Midget car ranks after starting in non-wing sprintcars where he placed third in the National Title in 2016. Now in his third season of Midgets Heard has simple goals to achieve.
“I just want to do the best I can,” said the 31-year-old.
Mills owns a hard-earned Australian Speedcar Super Series title two seasons ago yet the 40-year-old is realistic about his prospects on foreign clay.
“It’s going to be extremely tough as we will be competing against the best in the world, along with New Zealand’s best. I’m really looking forward to the challenge and hope we can make all of the A-mains and finish with some top 10’s.”
Making his third series appearance is Former Australian Champion Kaidon Brown who has current form and confidence.
“I believe I’ve improved a lot since my last campaign in New Zealand. I’ve been able to win 9 features in the last year, including the NSW Title which has been a huge confidence booster.
“Because of this, I’ve been able to travel to America to race for Matt Wood Racing which was an unforgettable experience. I’m looking forward to another campaign in New Zealand.”
When asked of Australia’s test race chances Brown said: “It’s going to be a tough challenge for the Australian’s in the test series, especially against the world best drivers from both America and New Zealand.
“Hopefully, myself and my teammates, Travis and Robert who are new to the New Zealand Speedway scene, can have a good run and bag some solid points.”
The American invasion is a seven-man Midget driving who’s who, come to pillage Kiwi prize money and showcase a continuation of this clique’s ongoing battle for ascendancy over each other as seen across the Bullrings of the 2019 USAC and POWRi schedule.
Tyler Courtney is the newly crowned National Midget Car Champion for USAC with eight wins in the series this season. He dominated the stats with most Feature wins, laps lead (175), top-fives (20), top-tens (26), fast qualifying times (8) and Heat race wins (9). Courtney will pilot a fresh Yale, SG Equipment King – Toyota
Logan Seavey finished second in USAC points and continues his partnership with local Greenway Racing team in their Bullet-Toyota. The chassis and motor a match for his stateside mount.
Already with a win at Western Springs this season is Seavey’s Greenway teammate Zach Daum who is enjoying his third extended racing visit to New Zealand.
This time last season Chris Windom’s was making his first and long-anticipated offshore debut but it didn’t go well. The car broke on the first lap, in the first corner of the first race in a harmless-looking incident.
This put him into a Terminator chassis where he finished second at Baypark but motor damage from night one cost him the following meeting which put him in Michael Kendall’s Terminator this time with Esslinger power to finish out the series.
Seventeen-year-old Zeb Wise will drive for the prestigious Seamount Racing. The Angola, Indiana native has three USAC wins this season including the much-coveted and new jewel in the Midget crown the BC39 Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His King-Toyota car will have spanners managed by New Zealander Kaz Townsend who spent time stateside with Petry Motorsports gaining knowledge and experience.
Kyle Larson won the last time all the big guns were racing at the Gateway Nationals. He won four USAC features, second only to Courtney and including a third Turkey Night win. Larson is only a USAC part-timer in between his ‘day job’ as a NASCAR driver where he recently finished sixth in series points.
He purchased a New Zealand designed and built King chassis and has looked to be the driver to beat as he hits the New Zealand speedways mid hot streak. He will once again drive for local car owner Harley Taylor. His New Zealand win-loss ratio is incomparable and ominous to all who grid up with him.
Joining the United Truck Parts team, formally the team of adored world speedway legend Bryan Clauson is Christopher Bell. The driver and crew teaming up for his second series. Bell already has a Western Springs 50-lap Classic winners ring last season and played second fiddle to Larson and Courtney the 2 rounds previous.
The New Zealanders have their work cut out and drivers like early season winner Hayden Williams, regular top-3 Brock Maskovich, Veteran Shayne Alach and eight-time National Champ Michael Pickens might find themselves further down the pecking order than they are used to.
If you cannot make it to the tracks catch the action on www.speedshifttv.com