For a large portion of the world, the time between Christmas and New Year’s is considered the “Holiday Season”, but for the past 20 years, it’s come to be known as “Race Season” as all roads lead to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum Expo Hall for the 21st annual “Rumble In Fort Wayne” presented by Jason Dietsch Trailer Sales, Friday, December 28 and Saturday, December 29 for two complete shows!
For the competitors and fans, it is the racing equivalent of a “Family Reunion” that spans more than three generations and has seen the Coliseum become the most historic indoor racing venue in the world. A tradition that began in the Coliseum Arena in 1953 and saw the first-ever race sanctioned by the United States Auto Club (USAC) in 1956, continuing through 1989 before finding a new home in the Expo Hall in 1998. For 57 of the past 65 years, the Coliseum has been home to indoor Midget auto races. Over that span, 19 former Rumble winners have made a total of 111 Indianapolis 500 starts with four former winners (Art Cross, Jimmy White, Larry Rice & Tony Stewart) capturing “Rookie of the Year” honors. A historical marker, recognizing the Coliseum’s place in auto racing history, was erected just outside the Rotunda on Veteran’s Day 2017.
Although there are still more than 10 days until the start of racing, 200 drivers representing 11 states and Canada have already filed their entries for the 2018 Rumble. Drivers as young as 4 years-old and up into their 60’s, from California and Colorado to the west and New York and Pennsylvania to the east, all will be coming to test their mettle on a 1/10th-mile concrete oval coated in syrup from soda pop for traction.
Leading the impressive entry list which features TEN former winners, will be the all-time leader in Rumble wins (9) Tony Stewart. This year, the three-time NASCAR and Indy Racing League Champion will head a three-man team of himself, former winner Mike Fedorcak, and rookie Rico Abreu, all driving the legendary “Munchkin” cars created in Fedorcak’s Yoder, IN garage. Arguably one of America’s most popular racers, with wins in the World of Outlaws, USAC, the Chili Bowl National, and a season of NASCAR Truck racing, the 4’4” tall Abreu made his first visit to the Rumble as Stewart’s guest in 2017, and immediately announced that he would be back to RACE in 2018!
Among those joining Abreu as Rumble “rookies” will be twin-sisters from California and a 60-year-old veteran, finally fulfilling a life-long dream. Coming all way from Hillsborough in northern California will be Annie & Antoinette “Toni” Breidinger. Although only 19 years-old, the twins are already in their 10th season of racing. Graduating from go karts up into the California Midget scene, both girls found success with Toni winning the USAC HPD Midget Western Series Pavement Championship in 2016. While Annie has put her full-time racing on hold to attend Purdue University, Toni made three starts in the ARCA Stock Car Series in 2018 and with her 19th checkered flag, became the winningest female driver in USAC history! Toni has also been chosen as one of only eight American women, among 55 finalists, eligible to participate in the new, global “W Series”, the first-ever all-female racing series which features $500,000 to the winner. All of which, along with her model looks, have seen her featured in Sports Illustrated Kids, Flaunt, and Paper magazines, among others. On the opposite end of the spectrum, in almost every possible way is 60-year old Midget Rookie Junior Gould. A stock car veteran from Union City, Michigan, Gould has been a fixture at area short-tracks for more than 30 years. With some help from some friends, Gould has secured a ride in a Midget owned by Kenny Irwin, Sr. for the Rumble. Although a rookie to Midget racing, Gould does have four career Rumble starts in the Outlaw Modified Winged Midgets, with a best finish of 12th in 2008.
Each day will see a full program of qualifying, heats, last chance races and Features for the Midgets, Non-Wing Dirt 600 Mini Sprints, Outlaw Modified Winged Midgets, Go-Karts, and Quarter Midgets. Spectator gates will open each day at 11:00 am for two rounds of Go Kart and Quarter Midget qualifying heats; Midget, Winged, and Non-Winged 600 qualifying will be at 4:45; Go-Kart and Quarter Midget Features are at 6:00; Opening Ceremonies will be at 7:00 followed by the full program of Midget, Winged and Non-Winged 600 heats and Features. Adult tickets are $20 per day ($24 reserved) with kids 2-12 $10 ($14 reserved). Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or the Coliseum Box Office.
-Rumble in Fort Wayne Press Release