Wheatland, Missouri (March 23, 2021) – Chris Kratzer grew up in a late model racing family, learning the in’s and out’s of the sport at a young age. After spending a good portion of the past twenty years wheeling his own late model, he now looks to take that to the next level when he contends for the MLRA’s 2021 Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Year Award.
Kratzer joins Camp Point, IL’s Justin Reed along with Jake Timm of Winona, MN in what is shaping up to be another competitive battle for one of the MLRA’s most coveted awards.
Nicknamed the “Rocketman”, at 50 years of age Kratzer has compiled a long list of racing accolades from across the state of Kansas. Along with his numerous feature wins he is also a multi-time and back-to-back winner of the “Hutchinson Grand National Championship” at the famed half-mile Kansas State Fairgrounds, along with being a four-time National Championship Racing Association(NCRA) champion (15’ 16’ 17’ 19’).
While the driver from Haysville, Kansas may have more experience than a typical rookie, the 2021 campaign will come with a transition of sorts for Kratzer. After starting his career out in the open late model ranks, he was forced to make the transition to crate late model racing a handful of years ago when late model racing in his area transitioned away from the open ranks.
“There was no open racing around here, everybody went to crates, so I had no choice but to get a crate,” he recalls. “At the urging of good friend and multi-time MLRA winner Ryan Gustin, Kratzer decided the upcoming season was as good a time as any to try and work his way back to the ranks of open late model racing. “I called Barry Wright and told him what I wanted to do and we got this car (Barry Wright ICON) and engine (Clements) deal put together, and here we are ready to see what happens.”
“With a crate everybody has the same engine and it’s all about your shocks and your suspension. We can run stacks and do about everything you can on the open cars, it’s just adjusting from 850 HP to 425 HP. Doubling the horsepower, you’re going to have more load in the right front—the adjustments are going to be different, but the same theories apply, just at a different level.”
“It’s quite a jump to get back into this,” he said of open motor late models. “When I ran open engines before we were running 18 degrees, and now were running wide bore, 10 degree, 11 degree, and technology has changed a lot since then, so it’s going to be a big learning curve for sure.”
The season ahead is shaping up to be the most aggressive travel wise for Kratzer, who is used to racing two-to-three hours from home. The current MLRA schedule will have his team racing across eight Midwestern states, primarily at venues he has never seen before, adding to the learning curve. He will however get a quick dose of seat time to get things going, as the series is slated for seven nights of action over the first two weeks.
“We are going to try and keep it in once piece, that’s the goal to start with and getting better as we go. I think it will come fairly fast, we have good support with Ryan helping me and Barry and Lance Wright. Winning Rookie of the Year would be a major success, but we just want to learn, build a notebook back up with these open engines, race clean, and get some good finishes without tearing any equipment up. That’s a win for me any week, anywhere.”
“I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I never back away from a challenge,” he concluded.
The Lucas Oil MLRA will get under way on April 9th – 10th at the Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO. A practice session is slated for Thursday night, to allow drivers to get dialed in for Friday nights $5,000 to win main event and Saturday’s $10,000 finale.
Chris Kratzer Racing: Wichita Tire & Alignment, O’Hara & O’Hara Attorney at Law, VP Fuels Heartland, Crone Quarter Horses, Barry Wright Race Cars.