Established in 1963, the Champion Racing Oil National Open at Williams Grove Speedway is the biggest Sprint Car race on the East Coast.
Slated to consume Mechanicsburg, PA on October 1-2, the “Beer Hill Gang” will be raucous and rowdy as their beloved PA Posse locals face the superstars of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series with $75,000 – the fourth-highest payday for Sprint Cars in the world this year – up for grabs to the winner of the 40-lapper.
The Cumberland County crown jewel is considered the final leg of the “triple crown,” which includes the three most prestigious Sprint Car races on the calendar. As they call it, the “Natty O” has the pleasure of sharing that honor with iconic events like the Knoxville Nationals and the Kings Royal.
For Outlaws and Posse alike, it’s a chance at not only the big bucks but the glory and bragging rights of conquering the famed 1/2-mile too. The list of National Open winners ranges from eventual Indianapolis 500 champion Gordon Johncock to the King of the Outlaws Steve Kinser to Posse faithful Fred Rahmer, Greg Hodnett, and many, many more.
At the 59th edition of the race next month, five former champions will return seeking additional hardware.
Headlining that list is the winningest driver in event history, Donny Schatz. He scored his sixth title over Kyle Larson last October and left the fans with this mic drop in victory lane: “They [fans in turn three] told me that I suck before the race started, so I wanted to remind them that before that race I was the only five-time National Open champion, and now I’m the only six-time.”
The timing of the National Open is perfect for Schatz, who is on a red-hot streak of six straight top-four finishes since his Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing #15 switched to a new Ford Performance 410. The Fargo, ND native will be chasing his 22nd win at Williams Grove, which is the winningest track of his World of Outlaws career.
Leading the charge for the PA Posse is Lance Dewease of Fayetteville, PA, a four-time master of the National Open. He earned his most recent title in 2018, which marked his first driving the iconic Kreitz #69K with the legendary Davey Brown on the wrenches.
This season alone, Dewease and the baby blue bullet have won four races at Williams Grove, including his historic 100th win. He never finished outside the top five in four World of Outlaws shows at the 1/2-mile this year, finishing 2nd, 2nd, 3rd & 5th. Another National Open crown would break a tie with Steve Kinser (4) and make him the second-winningest driver in event history just shy of his 56th birthday.
Back to the Outlaw front, David Gravel is the only other full-time driver with multiple National Open titles. The Watertown, CT native topped the 40-lapper in controversial fashion over Stevie Smith in 2014 when he drove for Roth Motorsports, but added a second score in dominating fashion in 2017 with CJB Motorsports.
This time he’ll rip around Williams Grove in the Big Game Motorsports #2, his new team which he’s won eight races with this year and propelled to second in the World of Outlaws championship chase. The 29-year-old is trying to join elites like Doug Wolfgang, Kenny Weld, Steve Smith, and Stevie Smith with three National Open trophies.
Although Brent Marks of Myerstown, PA was a card-carrying full-time Outlaw when he won $65,000 at the 2019 National Open, he’ll return to “part-time Posse” status this year when his family-owned #19 operation chases a second title as they continue a banner year.
The sixth and final returning winner is Danny Dietrich of Gettysburg, PA, who earned the biggest win of his life at the 2016 National Open. He’s fourth in points at Williams Grove this year, although winless at the track. Along with Marks, the 33-year-old veteran is attempting to become the 13th multi-time champion of the National Open.
Outside of those six, there’s a whole fleet of true contenders aiming to become the 35th champion in 59 years of the National Open.
Earlier this year, Sheldon Haudenschild of Wooster, OH, and Carson Macedo of Lemoore, CA both won their first-career Williams Grove Speedway Features, and they did it in World of Outlaws competition. Haudenschild’s NOS Energy Drink #17 and Macedo’s Jason Johnson Racing #41 will be ones to watch as they try to track down their first-career crown jewel title.
Former full-time Outlaw Aaron Reutzel, who ran fourth at the 2019 National Open, topped the Morgan Cup in May at Williams Grove and is expected to return next month now that his 30-day suspension for violating technical procedures has ended. He’s landed a new gig driving the RSR #83 based out of Knoxville, IA.
At the moment, seven other Williams Grove winners this year are expected to throw their name into the ring to defend PA Posse turf. The likes of Anthony Macri, Freddie Rahmer, Lucas Wolfe, Justin Whitall, Devon Borden, Matt Campbell, and Justin Peck will all be worth watching at the Mechanicsburg oval.
Extra Outlaws to watch include Hanover, PA’s Shark Racing duo of Logan Schuchart and Jacob Allen, newly-welcomed Roth #83 pilot Kasey Kahne, and his KKR squad including championship leader Brad Sweet and rookie of the year contender James McFadden.
With the All Star Circuit of Champions sidelined that weekend, it’s likely you’ll see King Sunshine Tyler Courtney in his Clauson-Marshall Racing #7BC, Cory Eliason in his Rudeen Racing #26, Hunter Schuerenberg in the Tony Vermeer #55, Spencer Bayston in the Sam McGhee #11, and potentially Paul McMahan in the CJB Motorsports #5, among other possible entrants.
The bottom line is this: the National Open is can’t miss.
On October 1-2, 2021, the tight, technical 1/2-mile at Williams Grove will bring the best Sprint Car drivers in the country in front of a possibly sold-out and wild crowd. We’ll crown a National Open champion, make some history, and have a whole lot of fun in Cumberland County.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch every World of Outlaws race live on DIRTVision – either online or through the DIRTVision App.
National Open Titles:
6 – Donny Schatz (’20 – ’12 – ’07 – ’05 – ’04 – ’00)
4 – Lance Dewease (’18 – ‘02 – ’01 – ’96)
4 – Steve Kinser (’03 – ‘94 – ’92 – ’90)
3 – Stevie Smith (’15 – ’92 – ’89)
3 – Doug Wolfgang (’86 – ’85 – ’84)
3 – Steve Smith (’81 – ’76 – ’74)
3 – Kenny Weld (’73 – ’72 – ’71)
2 – David Gravel (’17 – ’14)
2 – Sammy Swindell (’10 – ’97)
2 – Mark Kinser (’99 – ’95)
2 – Lynn Paxton (’83 – ’82)
2 – Bobbie Adamson (’68 – ’67)
1 – Brent Marks (’19)
1 – Danny Dietrich (’16)
1 – Fred Rahmer (’13)
1 – Jason Meyers (’11)
1 – Greg Hodnett (’09)
1 – Cody Darrah (’08)
1 – Doug Esh (’06)
1 – Billy Pauch (’98)
1 – Don Kreitz Jr. (’93)
1 – Kenny Jacobs (’88)
1 – Joey Allen (’87)
1 – Allen Klinger (’80)
1 – Smokey Snellbaker (’79)
1 – Kramer Williamson (’78)
1 – Van May (’77)
1 – Bobby Allen (’75)
1 – Johnny Grum (’70)
1 – Gene Varner (’69)
1 – Lou Blaney (’66)
1 – Henry Jacoby (’65)
1 – Larry Dickson (’64)
1 – Gordon Johncock (’63)