National Dirt
Wednesday, 14 December 2016


Shane Golobic on his way to victory in March's "Shamrock Classic" USAC National Midget feature at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin. Shane Golobic on his way to victory in March's "Shamrock Classic" USAC National Midget feature at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin. Neil Cavanah Photo


By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

When Shane Golobic first laid eyes on the Southern Illinois Center’s temporary dirt surface this past Spring, the size of the track immediately struck him.

The one-sixth-mile indoor oval located at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds, site of this Saturday’s “Junior Knepper 55,” is on the smallish side of the spectrum compared to other circuits on the 2016 USAC Midget calendar.  But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in excitement.

Indoor racing, especially on a bullring of this size, can be a rough-and-tumble affair with wheel-banging and close-quarters racing a given.  Like walking a tightrope, there’s a fine line between reaching the desired destination successfully and finding yourself in the middle of calamity.  It’s a non-stop flirtation with disaster, one in which only your right foot and what’s between your ears can help you escape.

Golobic, the 25-year-old Fremont, California native, found the sweet spot of the razor’s edge, switching his line from the bottom to the top with 17 laps remaining on his way to capturing his first career USAC National Midget victory in March’s “Shamrock Classic.”

Golobic, who earned a degree in mechanical engineering from San Jose State University, became a student once again throughout the 50-lap event, surveying the land that lie in front of him and processing the next decision he had to make to put himself in a position to win.  With lapped traffic usually playing a significant role on the tight confines, any driver who’s won an indoor race will tell you that keeping your nose clean and making it to the end lends itself to increasing the chances of standing in victory lane at night’s end.

“Indoor racing seems to be all about decision making,” Golobic gathers.  “You can be the fastest car on the track, but if you make a bad decision and end up in someone else’s mess, your chances of winning are gone.  I just try to limit mistakes, be patient and put myself in position to make a move at the end.  I think it takes a balance of patience and aggressiveness to win in that building and I think that is what helped me win in the spring.”

Golobic’s versatility knows no bounds from big tracks to small.  His racing resume includes a trio of USAC Western States Midget wins on both pavement and dirt as well as a World of Outlaws victory at California’s Antioch Speedway in 2013.  It’s no wonder Golobic is adept at the challenges brought about by changing track conditions and the competition around him that allows him to adapt to whatever situation may arise.

This Saturday, though, Golobic is part of a dream team that features stars from a myriad of disciplines.  With a superteam of eight-time World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz, defending race winner Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 2016 “Knoxville Nationals” victor Jason Johnson and Gas City I-69 Speedway “Indiana Sprint Week” winner Tyler Courtney by his side, Golobic certainly has quite a group of teammates to feed off of.  Plus, there’s the pair of veteran racing superstars making their midget racing debuts who will no doubt look up to Golobic as one of the leaders of the group at Du Quoin.

“I’m excited to be part of such a strong team,” Golobic said.  “I can’t thank Matt Wood enough for allowing me to drive the Elk Grove Ford No. 17w again and I’m looking forward to working with Tim Clauson and Clauson/Marshall Racing as well.  We have a ton of talent on this team and I’m looking forward to working with Donny, Ricky, Jason and Tyler over the next month or so.  I’m sure we’ll all feed off each other and make each other better.”

With the Chili Bowl just a month away, Saturday’s “Junior Knepper 55” acts as a sort of warmup for January’s “Chili Bowl Midget Nationals” in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  However, now in just its second year, the “Knepper” has grown by leaps and bounds to establish its presence as one of the premier short track events on the calendar.  Featuring a pre-entry list of 75 of the top cars and drivers in midget racing, Golobic is pumped at the prospects of repeating his Du Quoin victory against such a stacked field.

“The car count is awesome,” Golobic exclaimed.  “There will be a ton of strong teams at this race and I’m sure it will have a bit of a Chili Bowl feel.  I like our chances to have another strong run.  As long as we have good speed, make good decisions and be selectively aggressive, we should end up with a shot.”

Tickets are now on sale for the Saturday, December 17 “Junior Knepper 55.”  Discounted advance general admission tickets can be purchased at  No reserved seating will be available for the event; only general admission.  Adult tickets are $20.  Kids age 6-12 are $10.  Children age 5 and under get in for FREE!  Pit passes are $35.

Gates open at 1pm with hot laps scheduled for 4pm and racing set for 5pm.

If you are unable to make it to the event in person, will be streaming the race LIVE!