Obviously, every race that is contested produces results. Once the race is completed, those results are recorded, published, and hopefully stored by the track or sanctioning body.
In racing, until recently, much of the information within those results remained buried in forgotten piles.
Press coverage of most every other major sport in America obsesses with similar information, and it is calculated, manipulated, and examined to produce statistics of any variety you can imagine.
There are dozens of companies and television channels devoted almost exclusively to sports stats and using those stats to review outcomes and attempt to predict future ones. While the information has been readily available to the short track press community, it has only been in recent years that individuals and groups have begun to break it down and study the statistics.
The godfather of sprint car statistics is undoubtedly Kevin Eckert, who meticulously researched, recorded, and stored results long before the ease of the internet era. A majority of his material was available on his Open Wheel Times database site until it was compromised with a computer virus, resulting in a disheartening loss of data. While most of the information still rests atop his shoulders, it is not nearly as accessible as it once was.
Eckert still posts vintage results on some social media pages and offers consult and research for the Outlaws.
USAC had an infamous number conscious record keeper and historian in the late, great Dick Jordan, whose contributions to the sport and the preservation of its history are immeasurable. D.J. served USAC loyally for more than 50 years and carefully compiled massive amounts of results and information.
Jordan’s successor is current USAC PR man Richie Murray, who shares a like-minded affinity with results and data. Murray does a great job of not only keeping track of current stats, but also combining them with Jordan’s records to produce an incredible amount of entertaining, interesting, and informative content that explores all sorts of statistics throughout the history of the sanctioning body.
One individual was able to capitalize on the increasing interest and popularity in open-wheel statistics and turned a hobby into a bonafide career. Brian Walker began by posting minute-by-minute updates on social media from races he attended and gained a following from race fans from all over the country. He started using the name Walkapedia and analyzing all kinds of statistics and results, most notably from the Tulsa Shootout and Chili Bowl.
Walker secured a paying gig with the WAR Sprint Car Series a few seasons ago and has been climbing the ranks since. He is now employed by the World of Outlaws PR department and oversees social media race updates, as well as sharing statistics in a way that gained him his original following.
One of my personal favorite places to get racing information is Bill Vanselow’s SprintCarRatings.com. His site breaks down stats from winged and non-winged 410 sprint car racing by genre, series, region, and even individual track. According to his page, like many, Bill had an interest in the computer-generated rankings from other sports and decided to apply it to sprint car racing.
Each driver receives a ranking based on a combination of wins, money earned, and average finish. I find the resources he provides extremely valuable, and I use it often to help keep track of, and to judge the success of, my own performance.
My favorite part of SprintCarRatings.com is the fact that it is one of the only sites that provides arguably the most important statistic of all: complete money earning amounts for every driver.
Justin Fiedler, formerly of the popular World of Outlaws podcast Open Red, is taking short track dirt racing statistics to another level with his site DirtTrackr.com. Justin has a complete analytics section on the site that provides nearly 20 statistical categories for each of the major dirt track series, including sprints, midgets, Silver Crown, and late models. He also produces a very entertaining daily podcast that covers the previous weekend’s results, explores stats, and provides previews, predictions, and streaming schedules for that week’s upcoming events.
At less than 10 minutes each episode, the DirtTrackr Daily podcast is an easily-digestible fix for your daily dose of racing information.
I personally find statistics very fascinating and informative, and the quick rise in the popularity of some of the above resources or press strategies suggests that many other people in dirt track racing do as well. It is also very encouraging that many of the individuals producing this content are young and display an incredible amount of passion for the sport.
It appears that the record keeping and preservation of our sport is in good hands for the foreseeable future.