Brown made Midgets his main focus. He also created a very successful Micro Sprint feeder series to run under the Midgets. He has put his heart and soul into his series and the car counts prove it. Every year his car count grows and his series expands. Now in its ninth season, he has 39 events planned, started the POWRi West series, and with support from Bill Buckley, has taken over promotions at the legendary Midget track, Angle Park Raceway in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
Brown's philosophies are well liked by the racers and focus on three main areas. First is to treat the racers with respect and kindness, second is to race twice and travel once per weekend, which helps bring down fuel costs and travel expenses, and third is to race on smaller tracks. POWRi primarily runs on quarter-mile tracks, which helps takes cost out of a racer's engine program. You can be competitive without the need for the higher priced engines on the market, and it puts less fatigue on the engine itself.
The Lucas Oil POWRi series, unlike a lot of race series at moment, is progressing for the better, taking on more races with rising car counts, and being the first Midget sanctioning body to reach international status.
Brown adds, "We are working on a plan for a series of races in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States that would form a world championship series with the winner becoming world champion."
I think I can speak for the race community when I say that I am excited to see the shape of things to come.
International Midget Series
Both New Zealand and Australia are no strangers to hosting international drivers in Midget racing, and Western Springs has a superb history of bringing some of the biggest names in the sport down under.
Although having hosted Midget races since Christmas day in 1937, with international drivers seen just a year later, international action really came alive in 1962, with the introduction of an International Series. Back then it was nothing more than a three-car shootout with a representative from New Zealand, the USA, and Australia. But as years went on, the International Series would blossom with fields reaching 12 cars with huge amounts of pride for the four drivers representing their country in the series. Soon, the series moved to the current format of four feature races of 25, 30, 40, and 50 laps across four nights.
Known as "Mr. 100 percent," Graham Standring has tasted more success than anyone at Western Springs, having won 100 feature races on New Zealand's premier speedway. Now the track's expert commentator, Standring, periodically comes out of retirement for a meeting or two each season. He explained just what the International series did to him and his teammates.
"It didn't so much change the way I drive," explains Standring. "I drove flat out every race, hence the Mr. 100 percent nick-name, but a lot of my teammates always said they would be trying that much harder to beat the overseas drivers."
And it was quite a line-up of overseas drivers that Standring and his fellow Kiwis raced against. He rates some of the best he drove against as Jimmy Sills, Ron "Sleepy" Trip, Dave Darland, and more recently Jerry Coons Jr., while other big names such as Bob Tattersall, AJ Foyt, Mel Kenyon, and Stan Fox were regular visitors throughout the '70s and '80s. Even a young Jeff Gordon drove at Western Springs early in his career, albeit in a Sprint Car. More recently, the series has attracted a rare Midget appearance from Sammy Swindell, plus his now four-time Chili Bowl–winning son, Kevin. Young guns Bryan Clauson and Kyle Larson have also become regular visitors.
So what is it about a tight quarter-mile oval jammed in the bottom of a volcano that blew its top long ago in the middle of New Zealand's biggest city, that keeps some of the greatest names in dirt oval racing coming back, including a record eight American drivers for 2012/2013?
"The facility here is just tremendous," says Jerry Coons Jr., who recently completed his sixth tour. "It's honestly probably the best place we race. In the United States, we've got some fun racetracks, but when it comes to the facility here, the stadium, the amount of fans that we get here, there's really nothing else like it."
Kyle Larson adds; "There's not much else to do in The States this time of year, but more than anything just coming down here and getting to race in front of huge crowds—it's a lot of fun to do that. The people are really welcoming, and you also get to explore the country and go do other stuff on off days—the whole trip is a lot of fun.
But it is not just the American drivers who enjoy coming to New Zealand, and for a lot of other drivers, getting to compete against the best drivers in the world is equally tantalizing.
Australian Nathan Smee is rated by none other than Graham Standring as one of the best Australian drivers ever to compete at Western Springs, and he rates the competition at the Springs as good as anywhere.
"Western Springs is such a good facility, and with all the Americans and the local blokes, it makes for tough racing compared to home. It's tough in Australia too, but this place is tough! When you are racing here and you make a mistake, you pay for it. Sometimes at home you can get away with it, there might only be 15-20 cars, over here there are 40 good cars so it is tough just to make the A-main."
Meanwhile Pickens feels that the Americans help him up his game; "They are the best drivers in the world without a doubt, the promoters do a great job to get them here and it is a privilege to put ourselves up against them."