When it comes to the quantity and quality of 410 winged sprint car equipment and drivers, one would have to look long and hard to match what area race fans get to watch in competition each week at Attica Raceway Park on Fridays and Fremont Speedway on Saturdays.
One of the top drivers at both tracks is 33-year-old John Ivy of Fremont, who won the Attica track championship in 2000 and the Fremont points title last season while driving the red, white and blue No. 20 winged sprint car owned by Sid and Beth Eickelberry of Wooster, Ohio. This season Ivy is leading the pack in points at Fremont and is fifth at Attica.
Growing up in Fremont, Ivy became a sprint car fan at an early age going to the races with his family. He got his first taste of racing 14 years ago when he began racing go-karts. Soon after, Ivy moved up into the winged sprint car ranks driving a 305, then a 360 before getting his first ride in a 410 six years ago.
To keep his racing skills sharp during the winter, Ivy and his wife, Penny, and their three daughters, Jillian, 8, Kelsey, 6, and Kayel, 1, travel to indoor tracks in the state where he and Kelsey race go-karts. Ivy said that racing karts indoors is very intense.
“There are times I think, `Why am I doing this when I could be home relaxing.' But it's fun.”
What's more, Ivy thinks racing in the winter sets the tone for “the outdoor season.” Last winter, he won 10 features indoors, and he has won four sprint car features in the first two months of this season.
But it's well known around sprint car racing that “if you can go fast at Fremont, you can go fast anywhere.” And Ivy goes fast at Fremont.
This year's Ohio Speedweek features the largest points fund in the 20-year history with the series champion getting $5,000 in addition to his race-night winnings.
Speedweek begins Sunday night at Attica Raceway Park, and continues as follows:
Fremont Speedway's Brian Liskai said that Fremont promoter Jim Ford recently joked that if the track's soft walls needed replacing, he may have to raise the cost of a pit pass by a buck to cover the costs. After slamming into the devices during a race and only bending a radius rod and rear bumper, 305 sprint driver Joe Keegan went down and handed Ford a dollar bill. “A dollar was well worth it,” Keegan said. “If I had hit the concrete, it would have ruined a tail tank, rear end, wheels, front axle ... probably a thousand dollars worth of equipment.”