CONCORD, N.C. — According to reigning World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz, Tony Stewart Racing is currently working with Ford Motor Co. officials to develop a 410 sprint car engine.
Schatz and TSR debuted new sponsorship from Arctic Cat on the TSR No. 15 on Thursday, but also very noticeable on the car was the large Ford blue oval. Despite the appearance of the Ford oval on the car, Schatz said Thursday that for the time being the team will continue to utilize the same engines it ran last year that led him to his eighth series championship.
“Obviously, Ford is there and we are working with Ford developing the 410 for World of Outlaws competition,” Schatz said. “There are a few hiccups in the road that we have to overcome and Ford is well aware of those.
“To start the season we’re going to be using the same power plants we have been using. We’ll still continue to work with Ron Shaver (of Shaver Racing Engines). That’s going to be the way the season starts and as the year transpires, obviously, there will be some sort of a transition to the Ford motor through the development.”
The switch to Ford horsepower coincides with the switch to Ford by Stewart-Haas Racing, which is co-owned by Tony Stewart Racing team owner Tony Stewart. Schatz said there is no definitive timetable for the switch to Ford horsepower and more information will be available in the coming weeks and months.
“We’re all excited about it. We’ll just have to wait and see. At this time there just aren’t any fine details that we can release. We’ll continue to build on that each week and very soon you’ll know something,” Schatz said.
It’s an interesting change, as GM Performance has been a key partner with the No. 15 team in recent years. Ford engines have participated in 410 sprint car racing sparingly through the years. Most notably, Dave Blaney won the 1995 World of Outlaws championship driving a Ford-powered car owned by Casey Luna.
Schatz also revealed that he plans to bring his late model with him again to the season-opening DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. He’s raced his late model there the last few seasons, but has yet to win a race. He qualified for five out of six late model features last year during the DIRTcar Nationals.
“I do plan on running Volusia,” Schatz said. “I have my own car still. I have an XR-1 Rocket that Mark and Josh Richards have built me that I got in the fall of 2016. Hopefully, we can have as decent a run as we did last year…from two years ago not making a race to last year making five out of the six. I’m looking forward to having those nights and having a little bit of fun.”
The eight-time World of Outlaws champion also talked about his Chili Bowl debut in January. Schatz said he enjoyed the experience and has already asked Clauson-Marshall Racing team owners Richard Marshall and Tim Clauson to save a space for him next year.
“I had an absolute blast at the Chili Bowl and I’ll be the first person to say that I’ve told a lot of people that you’ll never see me in a midget and you’ll never see me in the Chili Bowl. I learned a valuable lesson. You never say never,” Schatz said.
“It’s not very often you get to go to a race that is really no pressure, that is all about fun. It is a different atmosphere being indoors in the middle of winter,” Schatz said. “It was really an awesome experience. It was an honor to be a part of Bryan Clauson’s team. I look forward to 2018. Before we left there on Saturday night I said I wanted to make sure I have a place on this camp for next year and they assured me that I did.”
The DIRTcar Nationals are scheduled for Feb. 14-25 at Volusia Speedway Park.