Charlotte Motor Speedway's Summer Shootout Series Goes International
Drivers from around the world, including two foreign countries and 23 states, do battle each week on one familiar turf: Charlotte Motor Speedway’s frontstretch quarter-mile oval, during the Summer Shootout Series. They come from as far west as California, as far north as Canada, and one driver has even made the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from Switzerland to compete.
The two drivers who will cross international lines on their hopeful journey to victory in the Summer Shootout are Kevin Foisy, of Ottawa, ON, Canada and Horgen, Switzerland, native, Hans-Peter Schaeppi.
For Foisy, the more than 900-mile drive and 14-plus hours he spends driving to the track each week are all worth it to be seated behind the wheel of his Legend Car for a full night of racing.
“There is just so much more competition here than back home,” said Foisy. “The best drivers are here with Charlotte being like the center of the universe for racing and winning here is way more prestigious than winning at my home track.”
In Canada, Legend Car racing is not as popular as it is in the U.S., with fields only averaging 12 cars a night, compared to 120 cars a night at Summer Shootout. Foisy has won the championship at his home track for six years in a row. He is definitely enjoying running with what he calls the “big dogs” at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I heard about the Summer Shootout Series when I attended national events and I was looking for a new challenge as far as winning a different series,” said Fosiy.
The Canadian is well on his way to a successful season in 2011, with two wins and a second place finish in the Legend Car Masters Division already. Foisy attributes his early success to the help Steven Cantrell and Devo Motorsports give him each week by allowing him to keep his car and equipment at their shop in Concord.
“Thankfully I have somewhere to keep my stuff down here so that I can fly back home when I need to,” said Foisy. “Sometimes I need to cram seven days of work into three days so I have to fly to get back home quickly. One night we left at 1 a.m. after the races and drove all night to get home for work the next day.”
Foisy is self-employed, owning several tanning salons and a janitorial business. He also does septic installations.
Another driver who will call the speedway home this summer is Schaeppi or “HP.” However, this is not the Switzerland native’s first time at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In 1996, he saw stock car racing for the first time on the 1.5-mile superspeedway and was hooked for a lifetime.
“Being used to European style racing, I had never seen oval racing before and I fell in love with it,” said Schaeppi. “I immediately wanted to get into a stock car.”
Schaeppi did just that, attending various driving schools across the U.S. and eventually qualifying for an ARCA Series race at Salem Speedway in Salem, Ind.
“Racing in the ARCA Series was something really special, but I just didn’t have the money to be competitive,” said Schaeppi. “I have been around racing for a long time and I have big ears and heard about how the young guys look to get exposure by racing Legend Cars at the Summer Shootout Series.”
This will be Schaeppi’s second season driving in the Masters Legend Car division for Hurricane Racing at the Summer Shootout Series. Schaeppi says the hardest parts of being from a foreign country and racing in the Summer Shootout are handling the “extreme” North Carolina heat and trying to learn the techniques of oval racing.
“We just don’t know about this kind of heat in Switzerland, it is so hot here,” said Schaeppi. “I am also still learning about the footwork and different lines I need to drive on the track. In road course racing, you are always on either the brakes or the gas. This is so much different than what we know in Europe.”
Schaeppi thoroughly enjoys the time he is able to spend in America while he is racing in the Summer Shootout Series.
“I brought my wife and several friends with me,” said Schaeppi. “I love to show them the American countryside and take them to the race shops. You can’t do that in Europe because everything is so secret. It’s not about the fancy mechanic stuff here, it’s about the car, crew and driver. I like the team focus.”
Whether the Summer Shootout Series drivers are from across the street, across the country, or across the globe, Schaeppi can sum up one thing they all have in common.
“My heart burns for racing, I would travel anywhere to race,” he said.
The 18th annual Summer Shootout Series continues Monday, July 4, and Tuesday, July 5, with two big nights of racing. In addition to the on-track action, Charlotte Motor Speedway will host a fireworks extravaganza on both nights after the feature races in celebration of Independence Day.
Monday, children who are members of the YMCA or Boys and Girls Club of America will gain free admission to Round Five of the Summer Shootout, sponsored by Dave and Buster’s.
Tuesday will mark the return of the famous principal school bus race. Fans can watch area school principals beat and bang around the frontstretch quarter-mile oval to take home the win for their respective school.
The first 1,000 kids to enter the gate will receive a pair of glow glasses on Monday and glow necklaces on Tuesday. Families can enter for a chance to win a Myrtle Beach vacation each night courtesy of MyrtleBeachHotels.com.
Gates open at 5 p.m. with opening ceremonies for feature races at 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are just $7 for adults and $3 for kids 6 to 12. Children 5 and under get in free.
For tickets for the Summer Shootout Series contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3264) or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.