In with a bang, out with a boom?
Chuck Brennan, who’s tenure as owner of Huset’s/Badlands Motor Speedway has featured a lot more talk than actual racing, is making another attempt – perhaps a final attempt – to make a Vegas-style imprint on the sport.
“I like to do things big, I like to do things different, I like to shock people,” Brennan recently told The Argus Leader. “This is my M.O., this is what I do. This is the craziest, biggest, most shocking thing to ever happen in motorsports.”
Brennan’s Next Big Thing
The thing Brennan is referencing, as I am sure many of you have already heard, is a single high-stakes event unlike anything dirt track racing has ever seen.
I realize that is a very Brennan-esque description, but in this case it actually fits.
He has dubbed it simply “The Race.” Some of the details have been tweaked since the initial announcement was made last month, but the framework has remained consistent.
The first 18-36 race teams to submit a non-refundable deposit of $200,000 will secure a spot, with a max of 24 qualifying for the night’s 40-lap main event.
As startling as that entry fee may be, it is what those drivers will be racing for that's commanded the most attention.
In the beginning, this was presented as a win-to-own deal with Brennan awarding ownership of the facility to the victor. That has since evolved to where the winner will now have his or her choice between the track and a whopping $3.6 million (18 entries x $200k = $3.6 million).
To bring some additional context to that dollar figure, Simon Pagenaud earned $2.6 million for winning this year’s Indianapolis 500, while Denny Hamlin took home north of $1.5 million for winning the Daytona 500.
That would give Brennan’s race – a sprint car event in Brandon, SD – the distinction of boasting the single highest payout in the history of motorsports.
I think we can all agree that is VERY Chuck Brennan.
The Inside Track
This all sounds amazing, but as Brennan stated himself, making things sound big is who he is.
To borrow a line from one of my all-time favorite movies, Brennan believes he’s the type of guy that could “sell a ketchup Popsicle to a woman in white gloves.”
The problem is his big ideas, particularly as they relate to racing, have fallen flat before.
Remember the Rock and Roll Gold Cup? No? That’s because it didn’t happen.
That is precisely why this latest endeavor has been met with significant skepticism. Brennan himself acknowledged that (at least to some degree) during a recent interview with Shane Walters of RacingNews.co.
“At first nobody believed it,” he said. “Now, everybody believes it. You’ve got half the people that are negative Nancys that are saying, ‘There’s no way in hell they’re going to get 18 entries.'"
“Then, you got the other half that are positive and love it. Saying, [expletive], they’ll hit 36 with no problem.’ I don’t know where it lands. But, it’s out there and it’s real.”
I am certainly not ready to say “everybody believes it,” but there are apparently at least some teams that have already bought-in.
As of July 9, the Huset’s website indicated three confirmed entries: Cory Eliason (Rudeen Racing), Aaron Reutzel (Baughman Reutzel Motorsports) and Daryn Pittman (Roth Motorsports).
Those aren’t just names, they’re significant players from two of the top sprint car circuits in the world.
Reutzel is the current points leader and defending champ with the All-Star Circuit of Champions, while Eliason is currently running third. Pittman, meanwhile, won a title with the World of Outlaws in 2013 and has 83 series wins to his credit.
Regardless of where you stand on this, you have to admit that is an impressive start.
There is still a long way to go to reach the minimum, of course, but Brennan continues to spew confidence. He is insisting publicly that the interest is there and that several more entries will be announced in the coming days.
Time will tell.
The Final Turn
I hope this thing happens. I really do. I probably won’t fully believe it until we see cars on the track, but I would love to see it for the novelty alone.
There is just one question I can’t seem to shake.
Even if Brennan does deliver this time, is this really the resolution we have been waiting for?
I’m afraid the best I can come up with there is…maybe.
The only real hope for Huset’s is to have all ties to Brennan severed forever. For that to happen by way of this particular event the winner needs to pick the track over a life-changing payday.
Is it possible? I suppose. Is it likely? You tell me.
If the winner does take the money, where does that leave us?
I guess we will just have to wait for August 13 and take it from there.