FORT WAYNE, Ind. – A tradition renewed every year during the holiday stretch between Christmas and New Year’s will fill out its second decade this weekend at the Allen County Memorial Expo Center.
The Rumble in Fort Wayne sits annually as the final major motorsports event of the year, and this weekend’s 20th edition of the indoor midget car classic marks both a milestone in event history and the return of the most famous and most-decorated name ever to grace the Expo Center floor.
Nine-time Rumble winner and three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart is making his first appearance in Fort Wayne as a driver since 2012, fresh off a season in which he returned to his roots by competing in dirt sprint car and other short track events across the country following his retirement from NASCAR racing.
That’s a nugget that has fans and competitors alike amped up and ready to take in the action as ‘Smoke’ chases double-digit wins and a chance to finally reclaim his Rumble crown from the likes of young guns Justin Peck and Billy Wease.
Below, check out some more nuggets from recent (and all-time) Rumble history…
– Stewart is the most prolific driver in Rumble history across virtually all facets. He has an event-leading nine wins, 10 fast qualifying efforts and is tied with Dave Darland for the most-career podium finishes in Rumble history with 10.
– Not only are those stats impressive, but Stewart will be bringing back one of the most famous cars in midget racing history from a four-year layoff as well, as the ‘Our Gang Poker’ No. 2 Munchkin re-enters competition at the Expo Center.
The last time the famed black-and-gold car raced around the one-seventh-mile polished concrete-and-coke syrup oval was in 2013, when ‘Liquid’ Lou Cicconi and Mike Fedorcak split driving duties of the car and Fedorcak nearly won on the final night, falling just short to then 15-year-old Justin Peck.
– Since Stewart’s last Rumble win in 2011, when he swept the weekend, six different drivers have scored their first-career Rumble victories.
That list includes Derek Bischak (2012-2), Russ Gamester (2013-1), Peck (2013-2), Anthony Nocella (2014-1), Brandon Knupp (2014-3) and Kyle Hamilton (2016-2).
– Peck is a notable name on that list for more than one reason, as the now 19-year-old from Monrovia, Indiana has successfully made every Rumble A-Feature that he has attempted.
Carrying a streak of 11 consecutive A-Main starts since his debut as a 14-year-old in 2012, Peck is the only driver with 10 or more starts to have a perfect record in features made.
– Despite Peck’s impressive resume, he is still not the current active Rumble Ironman.
That honor goes to Derek Bischak, who won the 2012 finale and has made 12-straight Rumble features entering the weekend’s events, dating back to Dec. 31, 2011.
– Dave Darland holds the all-time record for consecutive Rumble A-Mains made, with 16 in a row from 2004 through 2011.
– Gamester is the oldest Rumble winner after his opening night triumph last year, coming in at 51 years, 11 months and 21 days old, while Peck was the youngest to win at 15 years, three months and 11 days old in 2013 when he broke through for victory.
The 20th annual Rumble in Fort Wayne kicks off Thursday with practice before racing begins Friday night, with a full program of national midget, winged 600cc outlaw midget and non-winged 600cc midget car racing being supplemented by multiple classes of go-karts and quarter midgets.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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