WATCH LIVE: 42nd Annual Slinger Nationals
Dan Casey owns a Mac Tools dealership near the historic quarter-mile, and has been attending races there for more than 40 years.
“I’ve been going to Slinger since 1976,” Casey told Speed51. “I miss very few races. It’s really been a good race to watch. I remember when they went from 12 seconds and broke into 11 seconds. That was a big deal.”
A few years ago, Casey was sitting in the grandstands at Slinger when he hatched an idea to give back to racers during the track’s biggest event each year, the Slinger Nationals.
In 2013, I was at the race the Sunday before the Nationals. I said to my buddies, you know, if we collected $20 for every lap, with 200 laps, someone could collect $4,000 if they led every lap. My buddies said, ‘Go for it.’ – Dan Casey
Casey exceeded that $4,000 target in lap leader money for the 2013 Slinger Nationals, won by Rich Bickle, Jr.
“The first year, we did $6,400 or something like that. I don’t keep up with how much it is. After the race, I get rid of the sheet of paper after I pay everybody out.”
The following year proved to be a great example of a benefit of the lap leader program. Dennis Prunty dominated that year’s Slinger Nationals, leading 169 of the race’s first 176 laps before ignition problems ended his night. Chris Wimmer would go on to win that year’s event ahead of Matt Kenseth and Casey Johnson.
“One year, Dennis Prunty led the race and won almost all the money and broke late in the race. Chris Wimmer won it, but Dennis got a lot of money that year.”
Prunty acknowledged that lap money helped take the sting out of a bitter defeat, and he was quick to show his gratitude to everyone who sponsored laps.
“Obviously, we go there to win the race, but going into 2014, we didn’t know how much the lap money was going to total up to. The car just shut off, it was a burnt wire. It wasn’t something mechanical we had to fix or anything, but we found out at the end of the night the money was right around $4,900 that year, and that was a big help.”
There were people spreading rumors that I was cheating and pulled off because we didn’t want to get caught cheating, and that was not the case. I reached out to everybody who I could get a hold of who donated lap money. Dan Casey really appreciated that, and I appreciated him doing it. Whether it was a business card or a name I could look for on Facebook, I reached out to everyone I could. – Dennis Prunty
The following year, Prunty healed the wounds of that defeat with an even more dominant display, leading 187 laps to win the 2015 Slinger Nationals. That win netted Prunty more than $16,000 at a time where he and his team needed it badly.
“That ended up being over $16,000, with the $10,000 win and over $6,000 in lap money. That was really nice. We blew an engine just before that Slinger Nationals. Pete Wiedmeyer owned that car, and I told him we’ll win the Nationals and be able to pay for that engine. Sure enough, that’s what we did.”
The work is already underway for Casey to put together this year’s list of lap leader sponsors and donors for the Slinger Nationals.
“I started asking people to help me again. I have people who help me all the time. We’ll get started going on it Sunday, and we’ll work this weekend and the next weekend. Everybody who donates money, they read everybody’s name and how much money they gave.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo