Welcome to this week’s edition of the Short-Track Top Five. Every week NSSN will talk to a different short-track driver and get his or her thoughts and opinions on a series of five questions.
This week National Speed Sport News talks to late-model veteran Scott Hantz. A native of Pleasant Lake, Ind., Hantz is a three-time CRA Super Series late-model champion.
Nicknamed “The Hurricane,” Hantz has a number of major short-track victories under his belt during his career, including the 2006 Winchester 400 at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway.
NSSN: What influenced you to become a race car driver?
HANTZ: Genetics. My grandfather raced and I didn’t even know it. In second grade I can remember drawing pictures of race cars and didn’t know why. As I got older I had an interest in racing. Didn’t know my grandfather even raced. Started racing motorcycles and a buddy of mine had a late model. I listened to it run for the first time and fell in love with the sound. Started in the factory-stock division in 1986 and have been racing ever since.
NSSN: If you had the chance to race in the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500, which would it be and why?
HANTZ: Actually neither. I’d rather race Bristol or the Winchester 400 I think. I think it’d be more fun actually. Restrictor plate racing to me isn’t racing. You hear the drivers talk about it. They don’t like it. I’ve never tried it, but it looks like go-kart racing at your local [track] where you pay. The cars are slow compared to the speed that could be made on that track. Those cars should be doing 230 [miles per hour] around there. But they’re just stuck like glue so they’re like little go-karts going around there just playing bumper cars.
The Indy 500, those are basically airplanes on the ground. That might be interesting. I think I’d probably like that better than Daytona.
NSSN: How healthy is short-track racing in the United States?
HANTZ: On the asphalt side of it I’ve seen the fan count go way down. Our local track base crowd, which is just the Saturday night crowd, usually had 800 in the grandstands and 600 in the pits. It’s in half now. Don’t know why. I don’t know where they’re going.
NSSN: What is the wildest race you’ve ever been a part of?
HANTZ: Actually I raced an enduro back in 1986. You know they don’t throw the cautions. I thought, “This is the craziest damn thing ever.” They just leave the cars on the track and you plow through them.
NSSN: At the end of your career, what do you hope people will remember about you?
HANTZ: Hopefully they’ll know that I was a fair racer and I raced people clean and I expected that in return and usually get it.