KENNY SCHRADER'S open-wheeled modified race car sounded more like a train as it was driven into the Red River Co-op Speedway press conference Wednesday afternoon at Woodhaven Toyota.
Racing fans can expect more of the same deafening rumble of engines Thursday night when NASCAR makes a stop at the local dirt oval five minutes south of the Perimeter on Highway 75.
Schrader and Michael Waltrip will test the locals in what the speedway bills as the NASCAR Race of Champions. Waltrip won the 2001 and 2003 Daytona 500 NASCAR races, and Schrader's achievements include NASCAR rookie of the year in 1985 and winning the 1988 Talladega DieHard 500 and the 1991 Budweiser 500.
Schrader, 56, praised the short tracks such as Red River as the training ground for future NASCAR drivers. "We have a lot of guys who run real good in all forms of racing, who never really grew up on the dirt at all," he said. "They grew up strictly on asphalt. But the backbone of our sport is all the short tracks, dirt or pavement, that are scattered all over the United States and Canada."
Schrader will race his open-wheeled modified car against top local drivers, including Rick Delaine, Darian Boyce and Ward Imrie, as well as in the four-car Race of Champions along with Waltrip, who arrives in Winnipeg today. The speedway has offered up it's own Paul Veert and Walt Morris, to get in and mix it up with the big boys.
Speedway gates open at 5 p.m., and racing begins at 7:30 p.m.