By John Wells
After several years competing in the Midwest Truck Series along with piloting an ASA Late Model and most recently a Late Model at Madison International Speedway, Todd Schmitz of Verona, Wisconsin, decided to try something new and much smaller.
Now fans can catch Schmitz each week at MIS competing on the challenging “Ring of Fire” quarter-mile in the Pellitteri Waste Systems Legends division.
For fans unfamiliar with Legends cars, they are a type of car that is raced throughout the United States and is sanctioned nationally by INEX. This means these drivers can basically go to any track in the United States that runs Legends and immediately be legal to race. These cars are 5/8 scale replicas of American automobiles made in the 1930’s that are powered by motorcycle engines. Cars come in a variety of different styles all uniquely different. Drivers at MIS not only compete for local championship points but regional and national points as well.
Obviously, a Legends car is very different from what Schmitz had previously raced in his career that goes back to 1985 and includes motorcycles and snowmobiles in addition to his truck and car experience.
“I had been looking at a Legends car on-line and decided to go for it. I picked a trailer up in Michigan and kept driving to Ohio and picked up the car. I told the owner I wanted to drive it before I bought it so I raced at Barberton Speedway. The track was a little hesitant to let me race and it was a very interesting experience. I really liked racing the car so I bought it and brought it home,” said Schmitz.
Schmitz noticed immediate benefits from choosing to race a Legends car at MIS. “I guess one of the challenges I had when running a late model was finding the crew help that was necessary to be ready to race every week. It was also more challenging putting in all of the time during the week. With a Legends car I can go to the track without a crew and still be able to race. I was out of racing for a few years and this was a great way to get back into it,” said Schmitz.
Schmitz completed a partial season at MIS in 2011 and liked what he saw on and off the track with the division. “The guys racing at Madison in all the divisions are great. I really enjoy racing with the Legends guys at MIS. Since I don’t have to do as much with the car between races, I’ve had time to get to know my fellow competitors pretty well which is really nice. They are always willing to help each other out, and are a great group,” noted Schmitz.
Now he is looking ahead to the 2012 season. “My goal for the off- season was to learn my car better. I wanted to become much more hands-on with it and I’ve gotten to know the car from the ground up. As for this season I would like to keep improving each week and try to keep up with some of those fast, young guys. Nothing is out of my reach as far as goals go,” he added.
Schmitz also has goals for his division at MIS. “I would love to see this division continue to grow to 20-25 cars each week. It is so economical, even though nothing in this sport is cheap, these cars are so fun to drive. They can be a handful at times and might even be tougher to drive than a late model on some nights. I would encourage younger guys coming into the sport to race a Legends car. They are going to learn a lot about set-ups when you get one of these cars especially if you are thinking of moving up into full-sized cars.”
Fans can see Todd Schmitz and his fellow drivers in the Pellitteri Waste Systems Legends division compete on the “Ring of Fire” at Madison International Speedway beginning on Sunday, May 27th and then every Friday night from June 1st until August 19th.
Madison International Speedway is located on Sunrise Road just south of Highway 138 two miles east of Oregon, Wisconsin.