The Knoxville Nationals is a four day event that takes place at legendary Knoxville Raceway each year in August on the Marion County Fair Grounds. 30,000 race fans from all across the United States, Canada, and approximately 1,000 people from Australia attend the biggest sprint car race in the world. Over 100 sprint cars enter each year to race for a total of $1,000,000 in prize money that is up for grabs over the four days, including $150,000 to the winner on Saturday night. The 2014 54th Annual Knoxville Nationals will be held August 6-9.
The event was born in 1961 by race promoter Marion Robinson who wanted to have an event billed as the “National Championship” for super modified racing. The first event paid a whopping $1,000 to win, which was an unheard of amount in dirt track racing at the time. 59 cars entered the first year and record crowds flocked to the famed half-mile in Knoxville. The event grew from a two day event to four days in the following years, car counts increased to over 100 regularly, and the prize money increased steadily.
With Knoxville Raceway being centrally located in the United States the Nationals will attract race teams from both coasts and it is the one time each year that the sprint car community comes together in one place to compete.
The cars have evolved over the years, and since the 1970s have been known as sprint cars and reach speeds of 140mph. The event format is unique to sprint car racing to accommodate a large field of cars. The field is split into two groups that racing on separate nights, with every race, every lap, working to the goal of qualifying for the Nationals Championship A-Main on Saturday night.
Steve Kinser holds most of the major Knoxville Nationals statistical records and is a 12-time champion of the event. Kinser is celebrated as the best sprint car driver of all time and winning 12 Knoxville Nationals is at the top of his resume.- Eric Arnold
Arnold is a blogger and Twitter commentator for Knoxville Raceway, a columnist for Flat Out magazine and co-author of the book “Knoxville Nationals – The First 50 Years.”
Have the need for speed but can’t make it to Knoxville Nationals? Then put the pedal to the metal and catch a race at any one of Iowa’s raceways!