By Jacob Seelman
HOLLY, Mich. – As the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series presented by Engine Pro season prepares to kick off this weekend at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway, one of the prevailing storylines circles around the impressive class of rookies that will take to the track this season.
In fact, more than a half-dozen rookie contenders are entered for Saturday’s Must See Racing 50 at the high-banked, quarter-mile Indiana bullring, a testament to the growth and stability of the series.
This year’s Must See Racing rookie battle will be led by an open-wheel veteran in Joe Liguori, who has a wealth of experience in midget and USAC Silver Crown cars through the years, but will be embarking on his first season of touring action in a winged 410ci asphalt sprint car.
From Lebanon, Ind., Liguori is a past recipient of the Rumble in Fort Wayne’s David Lesiecki Award for Untiring Dedication and Devotion to Motorsports, as well as a multi-time feature starter at the historic indoor midget event. He earned three top-10 finishes in four Silver Crown appearances last season.
Liguori is excited by the new challenge of pavement 410ci sprint car racing, as well as looking forward to competing at Anderson, a track he’s had plenty of experience at over the course of his career.
“I grew up racing pavement in Florida,” Liguori noted. “I ran open wheel modifieds, some mini stocks and a handful of sprint car races with TBARA between 2004 and 2008. My record book shows that I’m a better pavement racer than I am a dirt racer, so it made sense as I’ve gotten a little older to come back to pavement racing this season and see what we can make of it.
“I’ve won at Anderson in national midgets, (Ford) Focus midgets, regional midgets and even Kenyon midgets, so it’s a track that I’m familiar with and know how to get around and I’m excited to be back there this weekend.”
Another rookie, albeit less of a household name, hoping to leave his mark on the Anderson quarter-mile this weekend is 14-year-old Brenden Torok, piloting the No. 99 sprinter for car owner Dave Koyan.
Torok will contest select Must See Racing events amid a full-season pursuit of the Crate Sprint championship at Ohio’s Lorain County Speedway, a class in which he won two races last season.
The teenager is eager to get started against the tough competition that Must See Racing provides, especially after spending last season as a crew member for series veteran Charlie Schultz and gaining the opportunity to learn about the mechanics of the asphalt sprint cars he’ll be driving regularly this year.
“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to race on the stage that Must See Racing provides this season, especially being that I’m just 14,” said Torok. “It’s a great opportunity and one that I’m really thankful for. I’ve already been watching a lot of video to learn as much about the track as I can and I’ll be relying on a lot of the knowledge I gained working with Charlie (Schultz) last season to get up to speed quickly during the race weekend. It’s an exciting time and we hope to have a lot of fun.”
Recently announced to the seat of the Mike Blake Racing No. 81 is 15-year-old Clintonville, Ohio, young gun Trey Osborne, who will team with Blake to run six races at Anderson this season, including Saturday’s Must See Racing winged event and the non-winged Pay Less Little 500 on May 25.
Osborne is the reigning United States Speed Ass’n Mel Kenyon Midget Series champion and became the first driver in that series’ history to lock up the championship prior to the final race of the season when he clinched the title a month early in 2018.
Other rookie contenders expected to be in action include Lorain County regulars Tim Henthorne and Joshua Sexton and Indiana hotshoe Tyler Roahrig, who will race at Anderson in the No. 99 entry of longtime asphalt sprint car owner Wayne Stickney.
Roahrig is a pavement late model standout in the Midwest who came back from injury to race again after a frightening super late model crash at Anderson in 2014 forced him to relearn how to walk.
Contending against the rookies will be a loaded crop of veterans seeking to defend their turf, including four-time series champion Jimmy McCune, Anthony McCune, National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Jeff Bloom, former supermodified ace Charlie Schultz and another veteran in Tom Jewell.
Friday evening will see an open practice and cookout for the Must See Racing sprint car teams at Anderson, followed by Saturday’s full racing program.
Pit gates will open at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, with rotating practice beginning at 5 p.m. Qualifying will start at 6:30 p.m. and racing will begin at 8 p.m., immediately following opening ceremonies.
The full night of racing will be broadcast live via pay-per-view on SpeedShiftTV.com, as well as recorded for tape-delay broadcast on MAVTV through the award-winning SPEED SPORT television series. USAC infield reporter Georgia Henneberry will be the pit reporter for the SPEED SPORT telecast.
In addition to the Must See Racing sprint cars, the Mel Kenyon Midget Series, late models, Legend cars and the Midwest Champ Carts will also be on the racing card for the May 4 program.
For more information on Must See Racing, visit the series on the web at www.mustseeracing.com.