FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Story and photo by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman —
Mike Fedorcak said one year ago that he would “be at the Rumble in Fort Wayne in 2014, 2015, and probably even in 2020.”
And while he is indeed on the grounds at War Memorial Coliseum this weekend, the veteran open-wheel racer will not be competing in the crown jewel class of the indoor classic, the National Midgets.
Fedorcak filed a pre-entry for this weekend’s event, however substantial engine woes kept him from being able to bring his black-and-blue No. 97 Munchkin to compete in this weekend’s 17th edition of the prestigious race.
“We broke a lifter in the motor,” Fedorcak said prior to practice on Friday morning. “We’ve been trying for a couple weeks to get it repaired but it just wasn’t going to come together in time.”
Fedorcak’s car owner, three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, has a second Munchkin that he purchased from Fedorcak in 2004, but Fedorcak said he was not going to bring that machine up unless Stewart was in attendance.
“I was kind of hoping he would be here,” Fedorcak said of his longtime friend. “I know it takes time though. I saw him at the PRI Show (in Indianapolis) a couple of weeks ago and we didn’t talk about this race. It was mostly just casual (conversation).”
During last year’s Rumble in Fort Wayne, Fedorcak had engine issues during the Saturday finale in the same car, and his car owner, three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart allowed Fedorcak to jump in the “Our Gang Poker” No. 2 Munchkin to finish out the weekend.
It was a decision that paid off — Feodrcak finished second to eventual winner Justin Peck on Saturday night.
“Last year, Tony really saved the day for us,” Fedorcak smiled. “We had problems with our car then too and Tony let us jump in his car and we went out and almost won the thing. I couldn’t stop smiling after that one.”
Fedorcak is still smiling despite the problems with the National Midget, because he will still be in competition at this weekend’s Rumble — driving his own No. 9 machine in the 600cc non-winged dirt modified midget class.
“That car really salvages the whole weekend for me,” Fedorcak said. “I love competing up here, it’s always so much fun and I’m just glad we can still try and go get something out here.”
“It’s not the perfect scenario, but I’m still a racer. I’ll take whatever I can get.”