Editor’s Note: The August issue of SPEED SPORT Magazine goes in the mail today. Featured on the cover, shown here, is six-time Knoxville Nationals and five-time World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz.
The question is what is Schatz’s place in sprint car racing history. Here’s an excerpt of the story in that issue where writer Todd Heintzelman attempts to provide the answer.
By Todd Heintzelman
The question is: Where does Schatz stand all-time in the sport and the illustrious history of the Knoxville Nationals?
Sprint car writers, historians and some of his competitors chimed in and most ranked Schatz second only to his TSR teammate Kinser.
“If they built a Mt. Rushmore of sprint car drivers, he would be on it,” said longtime Williams Grove Speedway announcer and racing journalist Bruce Ellis.
Other than Kinser, nobody has quite the record that Schatz does at the Knoxville Nationals.
“Right now, if you look at his record and what he’s done in a relatively short amount of time, he has really surpassed what anybody else has done except Steve,” said Ellis. “In the last eight years, he has six wins and two seconds. Prior to that, he was 12th with two more seconds. Other than Steve, nobody compares with that ever at the Nationals.”
Although he has excelled at Knoxville, Schatz has won major races all over the country and in Australia.
“I think he’s only been surpassed by Steve as far as major accomplishments and big race wins and considering his age, he’s 20 years younger than Steve and Sammy, it’s really remarkable what he has done,” said Ellis.
Alan Kreitzer, Lincoln (Pa.) Speedway promoter and former Williams Grove promoter, agrees with Ellis’ comment about Schatz being on a Mt. Rushmore of sprint car drivers.
“With his record at the Knoxville Nationals and his World of Outlaws point titles, his head would have to be up there with Steve, Sammy and Doug,” said Kreitzer. “I’ve always considered Steve to be the best, but I believe Schatz is second. He has really come on over the past decade. He’s been dominant at Williams Grove where it is hard to win races. He continues to do well and is a top competitor, so there’s probably more he’s going to accomplish.”
The World of Outlaws victories and championships are one thing, but his recent record at the Nationals is absurd. In 11 of the past 13 Nationals features, Schatz has either won or finished second.
“Donny Schatz is one of the best drivers to ever sit in the seat at the Knoxville Nationals,” said Jeremy Elliott, who covers sprint cars in central Pennsylvania for the Patriot-News in Harrisburg. “He has six wins, four straight from 2006 through 2009, on sprint car racing’s biggest stage. Steve Kinser is No. 1 with 12 victories, and Doug Wolfgang’s five wins and epic drives are legendary. Considering Schatz is only 35, he has the potential to be the best driver in Nationals history.”