23rd RUMBLE IN FORT WAYNE Auto Races – December 17 & 18

By Bob Koorsen
For a large portion of the world, the time between Christmas and New Year’s is considered the “Holiday Season”, but for more than 20 years, it’s come to be known as “Race Season” as all roads lead to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum Expo Hall for the 23rd running of the “Rumble In Fort Wayne” presented by Jason Dietsch Trailer Sales Friday, December 17 and Saturday, December 18 for two complete shows!

After Covid forced cancellation of the 2020 event, for the competitors and fans, this will be the racing equivalent of an overdue “Family Reunion” that spans more than three generations and has seen the Coliseum become the most historic indoor racing venue in the world! A tradition that began in the Coliseum Arena in 1953 and saw the first-ever race sanctioned by the United States Auto Club (USAC) in 1956, continuing through 1989 before finding a new home in the Expo Hall in 1998. For 59 of the past 68 years, the Coliseum has been home to indoor Midget auto races. Over that span, 19 former Rumble winners have made a total of 111 Indianapolis 500 starts with four former winners (Art Cross, Jimmy White, Larry Rice & Tony Stewart) capturing “Rookie of the Year” honors. A historical marker, recognizing the Coliseum’s place in auto racing history, was erected just outside the Rotunda on Veteran’s Day 2017.
Although there are still more than 10 days until the start of racing, more than 200 drivers representing 11 states and Canada have already filed their entries for the 2021 Rumble. Drivers as young as 4 years-old and up into their 60’s, from California and Colorado to the west and New York and Pennsylvania to the east, all will be coming to test their mettle on a 1/6th-mile concrete oval coated in syrup from soda pop for traction.
Leading the impressive entry list which features TEN former winners, will be the all-time leader in Rumble wins (11) Tony Stewart. This year, the three-time NASCAR and Indy Racing League Champion will head a three-man team of himself, former winner Mike Fedorcak, and Midget rookie Joey “The Jersey Jet” Payne, all driving the legendary “Munchkin” cars created in Fedorcak’s Yoder, IN garage.

Although making his first Midget start, Payne is no stranger to the Rumble, having previously competed in the 600 Mini Sprints and setting a track record which still stands. As a member of Tony Stewart’s crew in 2019, he proposed to his long-time girlfriend in Victory Lane on night one. One of the more interesting “rookie’s” will be USAC Sprint and Midget standout Thomas “TMez” Meseraull. A fan favorite for his swashbuckling style and daring moves, he will be making his Rumble debut in a brand-new car racing out of the stable of veteran Joe Liguori.

Each day will see a full program of qualifying, heats, last chance races and Features for the Midgets, LiUna Non-Wing Dirt 600 Mini Sprints, North Baltimore Custom Cuts Outlaw Modified Winged Midgets, Go-Karts, and Quarter Midgets. Spectator gates will open each day at 11:00 am with two rounds of qualifying heats for the Go Kart and Quarter Midgets along with practice and qualifying for the Midgets, Winged, and Non-Winged 600 Mini Sprints. Go-Kart and Quarter Midget Features are at 4:30; Opening Ceremonies will be at 7:00 followed by the full program of Midget, Winged and Non-Winged 600 heats and Features. Adult tickets are $22 per day ($25 reserved) with kids 2-12 $12 ($15 reserved). Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or the Coliseum Box Office.