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CROWD PLEASER: Danny Schlafer

The Schlafer name is a prominent name to anyone familiar with Wisconsin sprint car racing as the Schlafers have been active in Wisconsin racing circles for several decades dating back to the early 1960’s.

Forty-four-year-old Sussex, Wisconsin resident Danny Schlafer currently competes with the Interstate Racing Association (IRA) winged dirt sprint car series.
The family’s involvement in Wisconsin racing circles began in 1661, when Schlafer’s WWII Purple Heart/Bronze Star recipient grandfather Neal Schlafer purchased a Wisconsin modified (predecessor to sprint cars). The senior Schlafer hired Jim Higgens to drive it and the family legacy was launched.

Although Neal never competed as a driver, two of his boys, Gary and Al, eventually climbed behind the wheels of sprint cars. Gary focused on pavement while Al preferred the dirt. Among their career accomplishments, Al is a multi-time Wisconsin sprint car feature winner and Gary nabbed a podium finish in the 1986 Little 500.
Danny’s father, Al, still competes today. Al has won several 410 and 360 feature events in and around Wisconsin with the IRA, MSA, SOD, and USA series throughout his career.

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Danny Schlafer

Gary added to the family legacy when he built Beaver Dam Raceway in Wisconsin and opened it in 1993. It is perhaps Wisconsin’s finest dirt racing facility. Gary eventually sold the speedway in 1998.

After several years in karts, Danny began his sprint car career in 1996 at the age of 19. “My father and uncle, Gary Schlafer, raced sprint cars. It was in the family that I was gonna race you could say,” Danny explains with a laugh.

To date, Danny has captured a total of eight sprint car championships in the state of Wisconsin dating back to the 2013 season. That 2013 season he captured four championships, which included the Midwest Sprint Car Association (MSA) championship as well as the Plymouth and Manitowoc Speedway championships.

Thus far, Danny has earned 51 career MSA feature victories and two MSA championships. The Schlafers have even finished first and second a handful of times in MSA feature events, with Al coming out on top almost every time.

After a career of primarily competing in MSA 360’s, Danny wanted to pursue more 410 events in 2021. He purchased two used 2020 J&J chassis that were driven by Tony Stewart last season, in order to contest the full 2021 IRA Outlaw Sprint Series schedule. “This year we set out to win the IRA championship in the 410 series,” Danny says. “I’ve never really ran a lot of 410 stuff. Last year I did a little bit toward the end of the year. Our goal was to run in the top three every night and win the championship. Unfortunately, I destroyed two cars early in the season and that took us out of the points deal. It took me a little while to recuperate physically and get the cars back together. Now we’re just gonna focus on wins and enjoy it when we can to close the season out.”

And, apparently, the family legacy won’t end with Danny. “I do have two boys and both have raced karts and junior sprints. My oldest is 18 now and we’re looking to possibly do some 360 stuff with him this year. We wanna try to do a three generation race a couple of times this year. That would really be special for my dad.”

DANNY SCHLAFER
DOB: – February 27, 1977
HOMETOWN: – Sussex, Wisconsin
SERIES: – Interstate Racing Association, Midwest Sprint Car Association
SPONSORS: – Schlafer Auto Body Inc., The Salt Room, HWY Q Self Storage, HMB Landscape, Robbie’s Custom Flooring, Precision Garage Doors, Premier Floor Coating Solutions, LBMAN Landscape, Just Smokin’ Barbeque, Snow Studs, Main Street Blooms & Bouquets.

So, Schlafer is attempting to earn as many checkers – and possibly an IRA title – prior to handing over the wheel to the next generation. “The next five years I’m probably gonna start hanging it up. The further I go in the next couple of years, I’ll see if I’m still competitive and having fun. If not, maybe I’ll hand the steering wheel over and let the two boys go at it. I’ll see how they do and if they wanna go down that road.”

When asked about his family’s history in Wisconsin sprint car racing, Schlafer contemplates for a moment before responding. “I’ve never looked at the Schlafer name as being predominant in Wisconsin. I guess with Gary and everything he’s done with racing in general around here, getting the race track going, starting USA (now MSA), and introducing 360 racing in Wisconsin, Gary is really the one who started the 360 division in Wisconsin. If it wasn’t for him, who knows if there would even be a 360 division or what it would look like. From that perspective, he has done a lot for a lot of racers who would not have raced in a sprint car.”End Bug

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