Gary Donaldson was en route to Lucas Oil Speedway last August, stopping for lunch with a fellow racer during the two-hour drive, when he received news that USRA Stock Cars would become a part of the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series in 2021.
“Man, I was so pumped when they broke the news that day,” Donaldson said.
The day would get even better. Donaldson, racing at Lucas Oil Speedway for only the second time as the USRA Stock Cars made a guest appearance, won the feature that night after a thrilling, side-by-side battle with Derrick Agee.
“To be in victory lane at Lucas Oil Speedway was so cool,” Donaldson said. “That was one of the highlights of my career so far.”
Donaldson, from Rayville (just east of Kansas City) looks forward to making the weekly trek to Wheatland this season and shoot for more wins in the O’Reilly Auto Parts USRA Stock Car division.
“I hope the fans and the competition open their arms to us,” Donaldson said of the full-bodied division. “I have a feeling it’s going to be very competitive and we are going to have a good car count, too. I’m pumped up about it.”
Known as the “Rayville Rocket,” the 42-year-old Donaldson has been involved in racing for more than 20 years. He’s mostly competed in the Kansas City area in Street Stocks, Pure Stocks, Factory Stocks and the Stock Car classes.
Asked about the USRA Stock Cars, Donaldson said he’s been impressed with the administration under the guidance of USRA President Todd Staley.
“What I like, it’s a good rules package all the way around,” Donaldson said. “It’s a fair package. It gives everybody an equal chance. They look like race cars, but still let you get a little bit with the technology and with competitive engine packages.”
Donaldson is coming off a solid 2020 season, winning five features and earning 19 top-five finishes in 21 starts. Three of the wins came at Lakeside Speedway.
“We had a very solid season and stayed on top of our adjustments,” Donaldson said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Even though he won his last start at Lucas Oil Speedway, Donaldson realizes there will be a learning curve as he plans to run all 14 of the scheduled Weekly Racing Series events.
“Lucas presents a few different challenges,” Donaldson said. “We’re gonna have to get on board with what the track is like on a weekly basis and how it changes. I’ll try to get some notes together.
“The fire is still in my belly,” he added, when asked about running for points. “My plan is to be there every Saturday night, God willing.”
Along with the weekly events, Donaldson said he’s also excited about the inaugural USRA Nationals coming to Lucas Oil Speedway in October.
“Lucas Oil Speedway is well known as one of the nicest race tracks in the United States,” Donaldson said. “The USRA Nationals has huge potential to be a mecca of racing. I think it’s going to grow and grow.
“I’m just pumped about racing there. We love that place. We used to have a cabin on the lake and every Memorial Day weekend, for the Show-Me 100, we were there to watch. I was like ‘it would be so cool to drive on this track.’ Now for the USRA Stock Cars to be there weekly, man I’m pumped.”
Donaldson said he gets some help on the car from friends, but it’s mostly he and wife Kelli who operate the team. He added that “a host of people help us make it happen” and sponsors include Fast Lane Engines, Shocker Chassis, Bangin Bodies by Walker, Demon Decals, BSB Manufacturing and AAA Transmission & Drivelines.
The 2021 Lucas Oil Speedway season is set to begin March 27 with an Open Test & Tune. The Big Adventure Weekly Racing Series Spring Opener Presented by Benne Media is set for April 3 with the Missouri Metal Buildings ULMA Late Models in the spotlight with a $1,000-to-win main event sponsored by HICKAMO Country Store.
The Weekly Racing Series includes 14 events, from opening night through the Rempfer Memorial Season Championship on Aug. 28 crowns division champions. Competing classes include Cedar Creek Beef Jerky USRA Modifieds, Missouri Metal Buildings ULMA Late Models, Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods and O'Reilly Auto Parts USRA Stock Cars.
For ticket information for any event during the 2021 Lucas Oil Speedway season, contact Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or email her. Fans also can use the online ticketing system.
Visit usraracing.com for schedules, points, photos, souvenirs, videos and more. Follow our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Click here to get USRA news delivered to your inbox.
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