When Bubba Pollard’s car rolled out of the hauler at Five Flags Speedway last December and onto the lift gate, many people immediately noticed something strange. Adorning the rear quarter panels of his No. 26 machine was a new sponsor that many hadn’t seen before: Strange Oval. While Strange Oval may be, well, strange to some in asphalt racing, their success cannot be denied.
Strange Oval, headquartered in Illinois, is a relatively new company that was established in 2012, but already has amassed quite the resume.
“We’ve won championships with the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series and World of Outlaws Late Models Series,” explained Jim Kontje, President of Strange Oval. “We’re very strong on the dirt Late Model side. We’ve had many championships over the last few years and we hope to add to that this year. We’re hoping to add a championship on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. More and more people are finding what we do as an advantage. As a result, our asphalt market is really starting to pick up.”
Strange Oval is a branch-off from the Strange Engineering company that has been a household name among drag racers for years. Since Strange Oval started in 2012, the company has had axles on cars for Jonathan Davenport, Steve Francis, Bobby Pierce, Josh Richards and Brett Hearn on the dirt side. Kontje said the asphalt side has been a relatively recent venture that they’re just starting to see really begin to grow.
“We really came into our own in 2017. We started making some real headway in the asphalt market. We spent our first couple of years on the dirt side. One of the objectives as we expanded was asphalt Late Models. In 2017 we really started to see the return on our efforts.”
Kontje can say that Strange Oval’s axles are being used by two of Super Late Model racing’s most prominent drivers. One of their main asphalt Late Model customers is former Southern Super Series champion Bubba Pollard who finished third in the 2017 Snowball Derby and wins just about everywhere he goes. The other is four-time ARCA Midwest Tour champion and Roush Fenway Racing development driver, Ty Majeski.
“Bubba has been with us for many years now. We’ve been able to use him to try some things for us and make people aware of what we offer and how we differ from what else is out there.”
One of the other ways Kontje has been trying to get people aware of Strange Oval is by partnering with the Champion Racing Assocition as a contingency sponsor. Kontje said they will give out a free set of axels to a select driver in the Late Model Sportsman and Street Stock ranks.
“We want to continue to establish awareness and our credibility and widen our exposure, especially for those Street Stock guys and Late Model Sportsman guys. Although we cost a little bit more money, it’s money well spent. We’re not involved with too many sanctioning bodies, but we got involved with CRA because they give back to the racers and that’s what we wanted to do.”
After enjoying so much success in 2017, Kontje said the goal for Strange Oval in 2018 is simple. He just wants to see the company continue to grow and have as many people be aware of what Strange Oval can do as possible.
“We want to own the axle market,” Kontje said. “We’ve down-sized axle diameters. People used to think that a thinner axel would just break, but over the last few years we’ve been able to shelve that thought. Now people have confidence that they can push the limits because we won’t have a failure.”
For more information on Strange Oval, visit StrangeOval.com.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Mojo Photos