By Joe Buckles
With over four decades of involvement in racing, Terre Haute’s Sam Stockon figures he’s pretty much seen and done it all in the sport.
And just when it appeared that the 73-year-old racer had grudgingly retired to the rocking chair two years ago, he has suddenly resurfaced as founder and director of a new sprint car series.
By his own admission, Stockon knew deep down inside that his medical induced retirement could not keep him from going racing.
“To be honest I was bored. You can only go to so many ball games. It’s hard to stay away from racing,” confessed Stockon. “Racing is all I’ve known since my dad took me to my first race in 1946.”
With maybe too much idle time on his hands, Stockon took on the task of finishing a projected he had attempted earlier — forming a sprint series for steel block engines.
A circuit that would hopefully make it easier and less costly for a car owner to go racing.
“With what it costs to go sprint car racing these days, we wanted to make it where the blue collar guys would have a chance to compete. To be competitive when he went racing,” voiced Stockon.
Welcome the Sprint Car Owners Racing Association series to midwest short track ovals.
With five races under its belt, the upstart series has encountered mixed results. While the racing has offered some excellent competition with five different winners in as many races, the car counts have on occasions been on the short side.
“The racing has been outstanding because the cars are so equal. Our racers race each other clean. They have a lot of respect for each other and their equipment. They know if they use their cars up that’s probably the end,” Stockon said.
One of those drivers is veteran USAC racer Dave Peperak who likes the concept of the SCORA from what he’s seen in the five shows run thus far. The long-time sprint car racer from Clinton says there’s a need to control the spiraling costs in sprint car racing.
“It’s just silly how high the costs to go racing has gotten. At the same time we’re running for the same money as we did in the 70s. You’ve got guys with $35,000 engines running for $500-to-win,” said Peperak.
He says fans will be surprised at the caliber of talent and equipment of the SCORA machines that are scheduled to compete at the Action Track on Saturday night.
“Some thought it would be a junkyard series. That’s not been the case. The racing has been competitive from front to back,” Peperak said.
The former Action Track qualifying record holder fears Stockon’s attempt to make the SCORA a go may be the last chance for those in sprint car racing to make a statement about the rising costs in their form of racing.
“In the big picture the concept of the series is right. A quality show for the promoters at a reasonable cost for both the racers and tracks. The potential is good if the racers will support it,” cautioned Peperak.
In what could be best described as a touch of irony, Stockon and his SCORA racers will share the Action Track card with their fellow sprint car racers of the Midwest Sprint Car Series.
That’s the same series Stockon formed in 2001 and nurtured into one of midwest’s premier non-wing sprint circuits. Declining health forced Stockon to sell the MSCS to highly successful track operator Tom Helfrich at the end of 2005 campaign.
Stockon says it isn’t fair to try and compare the two series.
“We are two separate entities. I feel a since of accomplishment seeing what the MSCS has evolved into today. I built the MSCS on my integrity. My focus now is on the SCORA,” Stockon said. “What we have here is much needed in sprint car racing. It has a good future if we can make it through these formative stages.”
Joe Buckles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.