CONCORD, N.C. — What makes you want to watch one racer over another?
Is it because he or she wins a lot? Is it an exciting driving style, brash personality, classy attitude or something entirely different?
Through nearly 30 years of working in the racing industry, we’ve seen more than our share of exciting performers.
From A.J. Foyt to Tony Stewart and Billy Pauch to Jack Hewitt, we’ve seen hundreds of racers we’d pay money to watch again in their hey-day.
Today, we are graced with hundreds of exciting and interesting performers in our sport. Thus, we’ve assembled a grid of 15 racers we’d pay to see:
Donny Schatz — There is no one better at race craft in all of racing. Schatz sees things on the track, not only corners ahead, but laps ahead of when they happen. Just when you think he’s beaten, there he is battling for the lead. Love him or hate him, he’s always worth watching.
Tyler Courtney — A midget or a non-winged sprint car; a bullring or a half-mile dirt track, it doesn’t matter. Courtney is frequently the man to beat in USAC national competition. He can win from the front or just as frequently romp through the field.
Max Verstappen — Verstappen is fearless. There’s no driver on the Formula One circuit he’s afraid of and no move he’s not willing to make. As difficult as passing can be in Formula One, Verstappen is often worth the price of admission.
J.D. Beach — You’ve got to love a guy who can win on a dirt track one week and one of the world’s most challenging road courses the next. Beach is one of the country’s top motorcycle racers in both the American Flat Track and MotoAmerica Superbike series.
Colton Herta — Another fast charger who is showing speed on ovals and road courses as evidenced by the 18-year-old’s NTT IndyCar Series victory at Circuit of The Americas.
Ryan Blaney — This third-generation racer is fast on all types of tracks where the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races and he’s not afraid to mix it up — even with his Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. He’s not one to coast and collect.
Kyle Busch — I can hear most of you booing already. But I’m not intimidated and neither is Busch. He’s the best NASCAR driver of this time period. No one else is even close. Talent, attitude and bravado — Busch has it all.
Tyler Erb — It’s always fun to see a younger driver start winning races. That leads to a confident driver and more exciting performances. Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series racer Erb is turning heads in his first season racing with the Best Performance team.
Rico Abreu — I don’t generally go to dirt-track races to see drivers tip-toe around the bottom of the track. That’s not something to consider when watching Abreu. He’s usually in the top groove and on the gas.
Christopher Bell — If Bell is driving it, I’m watching it. From outlaw karts to midgets, sprint cars and even the NASCAR Xfinity Series, he’s not only fun to watch, but a contender.
Lance Dewease — This one isn’t all about the driver. Dewease, a Hall of Fame driver, has teamed with fellow Hall of Famers Don Kreitz Jr. and Davey Brown to create the winningest sprint car team in Central Pennsylvania.
Kevin Thomas Jr. — Thomas has the three f’s — fast, flashy and fun. If it’s an open-wheel car, Thomas can drive it and win in it — and he’s usually does so in dramatic fashion.
Bobby Pierce — Second-generation late model driver Pierce has earned the nickname “Smooth Operator,” but speed is his modus operandi. Anywhere in the Midwest and at all of the country’s biggest late model races, everyone is watching Pierce.
Brad Sweet — Last year’s Knoxville Nationals winner Sweet has established himself as a legitimate threat to end Schatz’s reign atop the World of Outlaws standings and his Kasey Kahne Racing No. 49 is a fan favorite everywhere he races.
Takuma Sato — It’s simple; Sato is often a hero or a zero, which makes for excitement every time he’s in contention.