Inside Line Promotions

– BRANDON, S.D. (Aug. 2) – Austen Wheatley is starting to get in a groove and it wasn’t an easy one to find.

After a spring filled with scarce racing and a summer devoted to competing in the Midwest and the East against the best in sprint car racing, the 18-year-old from Lake Stevens, Wash., is hitting a solid stride. He has advanced to five consecutive features, including four last weekend throughout Illinois, Iowa and South Dakota.

“Obviously, the more we race, the better I am going to get,” he said. “I’m taking some lumps out on the road against some great competition, so it gives me a lot of confidence when we put together solid nights.”

Last week, Wheatley raced the first two nights of the Midwest Open Wheel Assocation’s Sprint Week across Illinois, where he recorded a pair of top 15s on rubber-down tracks where he’d never raced at.

On Wednesday at Spoon River Speedway in Lewistown, Wheatley was forced to compete in a B Main after a high pill draw put him in the back of his heat. He started fifth and fell to eighth early in the B Main, before rebounding to claim third place – the final transfer to the feature.

He finished 14th in the main event and continued the momentum the following night at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, where he charged from 12th to finish sixth.

“I’d probably say that was the highlight of my week,” he said. “I normally really struggle on rubber-down race tracks. I was just entering above everybody and coming off the rubber in the middle of the track.”

After taking Friday off, Wheatley and his team went to Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa, for one last tune-up before the famed Knoxville Nationals in the middle of August.

“We struggle there quite a bit,” he said. “But the longer the night went on the better we got.”

He qualified 22nd and led his heat race from the pole for the first handful of laps until the bleeder on the right rear tire stopped letting enough air out. The tire began to blister and he held on for fourth place, which locked him into the feature.

Wheatley finished 17th.

He then finished the weekend at Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, S.D., with the All Star Circuit of Champions. After qualifying 14th, Wheatley claimed his heat race and started the main event 14th.

“It was pretty racy,” he said. “There was a top and a bottom. Although it took rubber with about 10 laps to go up on the cushion.

“That was a great way to end the weekend.”

Wheatley placed ninth, which was his fifth top 10 of the season.

His summer trip continues with an All Star Circuit of Champions’ event on Wednesday at Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo, N.D. He will then compete with the World of Outlaws on Friday at Bloomington Speedway in Bloomington, Ind., and Saturday at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo.

Wheatley has never raced at any of those tracks.

“I’m pretty excited about this weekend,” he said. “I’ve played Bloomington and I-55 on the race car game a lot. And we’re pretty good at the banked, 3/8-mile tracks and smaller.”


July 27 – Spoon River Speedway in Lewistown, Ill. – Heat race: 6 (7); B Main: 3 (5); Feature: 14 (15).

July 28 – Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill. – Heat race: 4 (7); Feature: 6 (12).

July 30 – Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa – Qualifying: 22; Heat race: 4 (1); Feature: 17 (15).

July 31 – Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, S.D. – Qualifying: 14; Heat race: 1 (2); Feature: 9 (14).


26 races, 14 features, 0 wins, 1 top five, 5 top 10s, 8 top 15s, 10 top 20s


Wednesday at Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo, N.D., with the All Star Circuit of Champions, Friday at Bloomington Speedway in Bloomington, Ind., and Saturday at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo., with the World of Outlaws


5: Consecutive features made on this summer trip throughout the Midwest and East Coast, where Wheatley is racing in some of the toughest series.


Website: www.austenwheatley.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MiniWheats44w


Wheatley has gray and white t-shirts, gray sweatshirts, and charcoal gray hats and beanies for sale. For more information, visit www.austenwheatley.com.

SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT – Fire-Down Graphics

Based in Monroe, Wash., Fire-Down Graphics provides graphics for helmets and race cars. Owner Brent Anderson crewed for various World of Outlaws teams before focusing on his business. For more information, visit www.firedowngraphics.com.

“I think they make the coolest helmets ever,” Wheatley said. “Brent Anderson is one of the best helmet designers around and the car always look great, too.”

Wheatley would like to thank his sponsors, including Wolfweld, The Oil Medics, SpeedMart, Advanced Racing Suspensions, Astro Titanium, DMI, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, Goodyear and Redlined Welding & Construction for their continued support.