OSKALOOSA, IOWA (August 5, 2019) – For over a decade, the Ultimate Challenge was a cherished battleground for non-wing sprint car racing’s most daring drivers. However, it quietly faded away in year’s past and the August tradition was suddenly gone. Brought back to life by the POWRi Lucas Oil WAR Sprint League in 2017, Tuesday’s second act at Southern Iowa Speedway will continue to serve as the resurgence for the once booming half-mile hero-maker.
Tracing the origins of the Ultimate Challenge back to 2002, the event was created as an addition to the iconic Non-Wing World Championship tour, sanctioned by Ron Shuman’s SCRA group. Competing for a $30,000 grand prize, 37 entries made their way to Oskaloosa, Iowa for the history-making event.
Full of classic moments past and present, the opening 11 Ultimate Challenge’s from 2002 to 2013 brought fans unforgettable races and drivers life-changing paydays. The “Texas Tornado” Travis Rilat swung the gates wide open with an emphatic 16th-to-1st charge in that 2002 feature, a $30,000 to win affair which set the tone for years to come.
Boston Reid of Logansport, Indiana dominated the 2003 showing for another $30K check, but was quickly outdone in a 2004 feature that is still arguably the greatest in event history. Coming down to a one-lap dash, Dickie Gaines found the bite on the bottom and went by Zach Chappell before holding off a cushion pushin’ Jesse Hockett at the line.
In 2005, it was Levi Jones dominating for a $30,000 score ahead of Cory Kruseman and Damion Gardner. Jerry Coons Jr. ran by Bryan Clauson and Jac Haudenschild with nine to go and held on to win in 2006, while “The People’s Champ” Dave Darland outdid Kevin Swindell to win the 2008 portion.
Another instant classic came in 2009 when Hockett edged Darland by 0.045 seconds to redeem his 2004 defeat and take home the $15,000 payday. Bud Kaeding battled early with Clauson in 2010 and ensued to checked out in the closing stages to put his name on the winners list.
History followed in 2011 and 2012 as “Young Money” Kyle Larson of Elk Grove, Calif. became the first two-time champion of the Ultimate Challenge. Driving the iconic Hoffman Racing No. 69, Larson fended off Brady Bacon in 2011 before making it back-to-back scores one year later over Darland and Justin Grant. The 2013 showing saw Jon Stanbrough win a rain-shortened event over Larson and Bacon, which little did they know, served as the final Ultimate Challenge for years to come.
Soon enough though, the heart started beating again and the Ultimate Challenge resurfaced in 2018 under the POWRi Lucas Oil WAR Sprint League sanction. An exciting 30-lapper, Kevin Thomas Jr. topped Zach Daum and Riley Kreisel to win the iconic championship belt trophy.
Now, the event enters year two with WAR and continues to surge. Along with all of the mighty WAR regulars like Riley Kreisel, Wyatt Burks, Zach Daum, Landon Simon, Korey Weyant, and Kory Schudy, among others, they’ll be joined by non-wing superstars Brady Bacon, Kevin Thomas Jr. and more.
Racing alongside the Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars, this is one extravaganza that you don’t want to miss. You can call the office at (515) 957-0020 from 10:00am to 4:00pm and order your tickets today. Adult general admission is $25 with kids 12 & under at $15.
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