The United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS) makes its 13th appearance in seven years at the Monett Speedway this Sunday.
Drivers throughout the Midwest will descend upon the legendary dirt track to compete in one of the most exciting racing tours in the dirt car series.
NASCAR driver Ken Schrader, a 27-year veteran of the circuit, is scheduled to be in the packed field at the three-eighths of a mile track.
"The USTMS is one of the most competitive series in racing today," said Schrader. "The guys that will race on the dirt this Sunday take it seriously."
Schrader said his love of racing was born in his living room.
"I grew up playing with Hotwheels in my house, and cars became my hobby," said Schrader. "I started racing just to have fun. It wasn't too long, and I realized if I won a little bit more I could pay the bills."
In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, he accomplished four race victories, 185 top 10 finishes and won 23 poles in his 27 years. Schrader has earned a reputation as a driver who will race on any surface, in any vehicle, in any town, on any day.
"All I ever wanted to do is drive," said Schrader. "I have been blessed to earn a living off my hobby. I grew up considering the hotbed of racing to be in southwest Missouri. The fastest cars and best drivers raced at Springfield and on the dirt in Monett."
This year, Schrader Racing is slated to run in 29 events (16 USTMS and 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup). In addition to racing cars, Schrader is part owner in three tracks located in St. Louis, Paducah, Ky., and Macon, Ill.
"I believe that the sport of racing is healthier than four years ago," said Schrader. "The economy definitely took its toll. However, we are starting to see the big crowds come back. This is a resilient sport with a loyal fan base."
According to Schrader, racing is easier to get into, yet more expensive.
"Forty years ago you had to have a shop with a fabricator station, and you built a car," added Schrader. "All the top-notch parts you need to race today you can buy. It takes a lot of money to compete because of the parity."
For those thinking about making a living by racing, Schrader has some advice.
"Take up golf. It is a lot cheaper and has fewer headaches," said Schrader. "I would advise drivers on the local dirt track to enjoy the weekend racing circuit and have fun."
In addition to the USMTS Modifieds, fans will see USRA B-Mods, pure stocks and legends cars in action at the speedway on Sunday. The pit gate opens at 4 p.m. with the grandstand gates opening at 5 p.m. Hot laps are slated to start at 6:30 p.m., and the first green flag will drop at 7 p.m.
"I enjoy racing on dirt the most," said Schrader. "As a driver, you have more control over the car. It's not following the leader around the oval. It's three wide in the corner, and all-out speed wins."