Donny Schatz wins prestigious Knoxville Nationals

1 Comment

After claiming the B-Main with a last-lap pass, Donny Schatz roared from the 21st starting position to the win Saturday night at the Knoxville Nationals – earning a $150,000 payday for his seventh career triumph in sprint car racing’s biggest event.

Schatz, who was also celebrating his 36th birthday, rewrote the Nationals’ record book as he became the deepest-starting winner in the history of the storied race.

“This is the hardest-earned one we have, especially how we have felt all week long,” Schatz said according to a press release from the Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway.

“We didn’t doubt ourselves, but when things don’t go the way you expect, you get a little nervous. But to start 21st and win the race is just incredible.”

In the 50-lap main event, Brian Brown started on the outside of the front row but quickly got out to a sizable lead. However, while he was ticking off laps at the front, Schatz was on the march – climbing up to fifth place by the time a competition caution came out at the halfway mark.

At Lap 32, Schatz moved to second and then set his sights on Brown. A nearly two-second lead for Brown quickly evaporated and on Lap 41, Schatz took the lead for good.

“This race team is unbelievable,” said Schatz. “I told the guys if we weren’t in the Top 5 at the break, we would be in trouble. It was a lot of fun to pass all those cars and get up through there.”

Brown finished second, followed by Justin Henderson in third, Paul McMahan in fourth, and Chad Kemenah in fifth.

Former 5-time ALMS and Le Mans-winning team owner Dave Maraj killed in accident

Photo courtesy Dave Maraj Facebook page
Leave a comment

Well-known sports car team owner and automobile dealership owner Dave Maraj was killed Saturday night in a boating accident in Florida, according to SportsCar365.com.

Maraj’s Champion Racing teams won five consecutive American Le Mans Series championships from 2004 through 2008, and also captured the overall win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2005, the last American team to do so in the iconic sports car race.

IMSA President Scott Atherton released the following statement mourning Maraj’s passing:

Dave Maraj. Photo courtesy IMSA.

“All of us at IMSA are shocked and saddened by the news of Dave Maraj’s passing. As a team owner in the American Le Mans Series, Dave and his Champion Racing organization were the epitome of professionalism and excellence, as their five series championships and 24 Hours of Le Mans victory will attest.

“Dave was a tremendous competitor and a great friend to all in the paddock throughout his time in our sport. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave’s family and friends and to all of his associates at Champion Motors.”

Maraj was a very successful automobile dealership owner, most notably Champion Motors and Champion Porsche in Pompano Beach, Florida, the latter considered the No. 1 Porsche dealer in the U.S.

Details of how Maraj died have not been released.

Maraj sold his racing operation after the 2008 season and devoted himself to his Porsche and Audi auto dealerships, as well as competitive sailing.