Columbus racing family enjoys successful season


The 2019 racing season for the McCarter Partridge family of Columbus was a successful one.

Nine-year-old Rowan Partridge captured the winged junior sprint division championship at Circus City Speedway in Peru. Partridge’s racing companion, his grandfather Fred McCarter, finished second in the track’s senior non-wing micro class.

Partridge, who just completed his third season of racing, won nine of the 12 feature races he participated in at the Peru racetrack. Partridge never finished outside of the top five in the 12 events he started. McCarter, 50, picked up one victory this season while finishing up his second season of racing. In 16 races he was entered in, McCarter had 12 top-five finishes and 15 top-10 finishes.

In the future, Partridge is looking to move up to the 600cc micros, but for next season, he looks to remain in the winged junior sprint class.

“My goals in racing are to make friends, have a blast and win as many races as I can,” said the third-grader who is homeschooled. “I look up to Russ Gamester. He is one of the most successful drivers at Circus City because he is a good guy, and he adapts to the track better than anybody, and he wins a lot of races.”

Gamester, 54, is a veteran of the United States Auto Club and was the 1989 USAC Midget National Champ. Gamester, who lives in Peru, won the track’s senior non-wing micro division just ahead of Partridge’s grandfather.

Other local racers who competed at Circus City Speedway this year were Jessee Holt of Columbus, who won the outlaw wing micro division with two wins. He also finished sixth in the final standings for the non-wing outlaw micros.

Gunnar Setser of Columbus finished with five wins at the track and was fourth in the final standings for the restricted wing micro division. Parker Perry of North Vernon took one win this season at the Miami County track in the winged junior sprints.

Rowan’s parents are Kevin and Casey Partridge. His sisters, Della and Sylvi, also are part of his race team, along with his grandparents, Fred and Lisa McCarter and Terry and Tena Partridge, and great-grandfather, Dennis Alexander.

The McCarter Partridge Racing Team is sponsored by Aviation Tax Consultants, Banister Construction, Mel’s Country Market, Hughes Autotech, Setser Fabrication, Mensendiek’s Auction Service and Real Estate, Driven Performance Midwest and MCR Engine Development.

Chili Bowl entries heating up

With the first 101 entries confirmed, the entry list for the 34th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire has been released.

Taking place Jan. 13 to 18, 2020, atop the clay of the Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Oklahoma, eight of the entries received thus far are still in search of a driver, while 24 are among those who have made the cut.

Among the entered is 2019 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series Champion Brad Sweet, who will be wheeling a Rusty Kunz-RMS mount. He has an average finish of seventh among his five A-Feature starts with a best finish of third in 2013.

Keeping in theme with the World of Outlaws, the first entries received for the 2020 event came from World Racing Group director of broadcast Brian Dunlap, who will field a pair of cars with World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models Series director Casey Shuman, who has five A-Feature starts, and Washington’s Gary Taylor, who has made the show on three occasions.

In terms of who has the most impressive Chili Bowl résumé of those entered so far, that honor goes to Dave Darland, who has 15 A-Feature starts, two podiums and five top-five and eight top-10 finishes since 1998.

While the list of drivers who have made the cut always reads like a list of current and future Hall of Fame drivers, there are currently 15 on the list taking their first crack at the “Mecca of Midgets.”

Continuing the trend of attracting talent from nearly every discipline, Australia’s James Davison is among the list of Chili Bowl rookies. From Formula Ford, Rolex Sports Car Series, IndyCar and some starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the 33-year old racing veteran will be Hayward Motorsports mount for his first shot at the Golden Driller.

Abreu staying with Kunz

For the upcoming Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals in January, Rico Abreu has announced he will be staying put with the Keith Kunz/Curb Agajanian Motorsports Team based in Columbus.

Over the past month, both Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell have announced they will not race with KKM at Tulsa. Larson will be racing his own program, and Bell will be driving for Chad Boat.

Abreu, 27, won back-to-back Chili Bowl titles in 2015 and 2016 to start a run of five straight for KKM as the team looks to rekindle that success in January in his No. 97 Safelite Auto Glass/Bullet/Toyota.

“There’s no team I’d rather race for,” Abreu said than the one led by co-owners Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby, who helped launch the California native’s career nearly a decade ago.

Hoosier Hundred moves to Terre Haute

The Hoosier Hundred, an event that has been contested since 1953, will have a new home in 2020.

The Terre Haute Action Track will host the USAC Silver Crown event for the first time May 21. Tyler Courtney won last year’s event at the Indiana State Fairgrounds track that is being converted to a harness practice facility, ending a long-standing tradition of motorsports events.

James Essex writes a motorsports notebook for The Republic, a sister publication to The Tribune. Send comments to dtrimpe@

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