Special to The Hays Daily News
JETMORE, Kan. -- If you're a sprint car driver and shooting for the highest of goals, there's only one place to be competing to give yourself the best chance to make it in the big time.
For Zach Blurton of Jetmore, Kan., he'll get that opportunity this racing season when he competes regularly in the 360 division at Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa -- the sprint car capital of the world.
"This is actually how I had it all planned out," said the 18-year-old, who will graduate from Hodgeman County High School in Jetmore in May. "I wanted to go through Knoxville."
Blurton, a second-generation driver, cut his teeth on the sprint car racing circuits of Kansas the last several years, competing in the United Rebel Sprint Series 305 ranks, as well as the NCRA 360 division and a few shows in the 410 World of Outlaws.
Now, the stage is set for Blurton to take the next step in his career, and competing weekly at one of the greatest half-mile tracks in the U.S. has given him a platform to base his racing career off of.
"I'm really excited, thrilled actually," Blurton said. "It's a good opportunity to go up and run a good schedule against some great racers."
Blurton will compete in the 360 division at Knoxville, which runs most Saturday nights. He'll also compete in the 360 Knoxville Nationals and hopes to land a ride for the 410 Knoxville Nationals as well.
Blurton grew up in the small town of Jetmore in the shadow of his father, John, who established himself as one of the best sprint car drivers in the state during his career. His father now serves as his crew chief.
But it didn't take Blurton long to make a name for himself, winning 2010 URSS National and Kansas Rookie of the Year honors. Last year, in his first full season of competing with the NCRA 360s, he captured the Brodix Rookie of the Year award. He's also the two-time defending champ of the Steve King Memorial in the 305 class at the Great American Dirt Track at Jetmore Motorplex.
As a 15-year-old, Blurton was one of the youngest drivers ever to compete in the WoO ranks at Dodge City Raceway Park. He ended up making headlines by winning a B-main at the show battling against some of the biggest names in sprint car racing the country has to offer.
"Hopefully this will lead to even better things," Blurton said. "I mainly want to win the rookie of the year award up there and be able to establish myself."
Blurton and his father will be traveling weekly from their new home in Great Bend, Kan., to Indianola, Iowa, located approximately 25 miles west of Knoxville. The 2J team plans to team with Dwight Snodgrass a former Knoxville track champion and former car owner. The 2j team will be headquartered out of Dwight's Indianola shop.
Along with the weekly shows in Iowa, Blurton plans to compete in approximately 60 shows this season in states ranging from Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas and Arizona.
He is scheduled to begin the season March 15 and 16 at the ASCS 305 Sprint Car Shootout at Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces, N.M. The event features a $5,000 payout.
He'll kick off the NCRA portion of his season at 81 Speedway in Park City, Kan., when several of the nation's top drivers battle for another $5,000 payout March 30. Blurton plans on competing in several divisions this season, including the NCRA 360s, NCRA 305s, URSS 305s, ASCS 305s, ASCS 360s, WoO, USAC and the new Nebraska 360 series.
Blurton's sponsors for the year include MAP Inc., Phillips Physical Therapy Center, Big Ben's Fitness. G&D Auto Electric, TI22 Performance, Tornado Racing Engines, RE Technologies, Just Joe's Trucking, Sweet Arrangements and DC3 Building Tech. For more information on Blurton Racing follow Zach Blurton on Facebook or on twitter @zachblurton. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org