By Thomas Pope
Photo: Karl Fredrickson
August 16, 2021, St. Louis Region – World Wide Technology Raceway, located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis in Madison, Illinois, will present its biggest event weekend of the year with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota 200 presented by CK Power on Friday, August 20 and the fifth annual NTT INDYCAR SERIES Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline on Saturday, August 21.
When the opportunity to make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut arose, Derek Griffith had a very serious question for the team owner: “Do you think I’m ready for this?”
Kyle Busch’s answer was short and to the point: World Wide Technology Raceway is a lot like Griffith’s home state NASCAR track, New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“You have a ton of laps on that track,” Griffith said Busch told him. “As long as you don’t do anything stupid, you’ll be okay.”
Given his brief, illustrious short-track career, it’s unlikely the 24-year-old Griffith will do anything but shine.
The driver of the No. 51 Hudson Speedway/JBL-sponsored KBM entry is the 2020 and ’21 champion of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing in Florida. He’s won on back-to-back days this year in PASS-sanctioned races at famed Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway, and he’s scored three top-five finishes in his first 10 ARCA starts.
“If he gets in the right equipment, I think he could definitely climb the motorsports ladder,” said his longtime short-track crew chief/mentor, Louie Mechalides. “He adapted right away to those ARCA cars … and the first time he was in it did great; drove it like a Super Late Model.”
His first start in a NASCAR national series show is a far cry from his debut as a teen at his hometown track, Hudson (N.H.) Speedway, in a $600 Volkswagen Golf GTI — a race that he won. A few short years later, he captured the Granite State Pro Stock Series title, and he’s since been victorious all along the Eastern Seaboard.
To prepare for the race at WWTR, Griffith spent two days in North Carolina last month getting time on a simulator. Now, the time has come to put his lessons, and his experience, to the test.
“I’m pumped. For me to be on a stage like this with what could be the best equipment in the truck series, I’ve got to prove that I belong on that stage,” Griffith said. “I watch those guys every week, and they race like animals because they’re really comfortable in their equipment. I’m going to have to man up, do what I’ve got to do, and finish where I’ve got to finish.”
SCHEDULE (all times CDT)
Thursday, August 19
4-6:30 p.m. – Fanfest at Ballpark Village at the Together Credit Union Plaza (downtown St. Louis).
Friday, August 20 – Arrive by 5 p.m. for the best race day experience
11 a.m. – Spectator gates open.
11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Indy Lights practice.
12:30-1 p.m. – Indy Pro 2000 practice.
1:25 p.m. – Vintage Indy Cars.
3 p.m. – Indy Lights qualifying.
3:45 p.m. – Indy Pro 2000 qualifying.
4:45 p.m. – Vintage Indy Cars.
5:30 p.m. – First Indy Lights race (75 laps).
7:35 p.m. – NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota 200 presented by CK Power (160 laps, 200 miles).
Saturday, August 21 – Arrive by 4 p.m. for the best race day experience
9 a.m. – Spectator gates open.
9:15 a.m. – Vintage Indy Cars.
11:30 a.m. – Indy Pro 2000 warm-up laps.
12:15 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice.
2:05 p.m. – Indy Lights warm-up laps.
2:45 p.m. – Indy Pro 2000 race (55 laps).
4 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying.
5:30 p.m. – Second Indy Lights race (75 laps).
6:30 p.m. – Bommarito Automotive Group 500 pre-race show.
7 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline and Axalta (260 laps, 325 miles).
10:15-11:45 p.m. – Monster Energy Boom After the Zoom concert featuring Steel Panther.
Schedule subject to change.
About World Wide Technology Raceway
World Wide Technology Raceway is the home of INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region. Located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis and covering more than 600 acres, WWTR is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the area. WWTR’s facilities include a 1/4-mile drag strip, 1.25-mile superspeedway, recently-expanded 2.0-mile road course, a state-of-the-art karting facility, a 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue and the Gateway Drive-In Theater at World Wide Technology Raceway (a drive-in entertainment venue able to accommodate 3,000 cars). WWTR acquired Gateway National Golf Links, adjacent to the speedway property, in 2019. WWTR was the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Facility of the Year Award from the Race Track Business Conference and the 2017 Spirit of St. Louis Award from the St. Louis Attractions Association. In 2018, owner and CEO Curtis Francois received the Innovator Award from the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission in recognition of his work for restoring World Wide Technology Raceway (known then as Gateway Motorsports Park) to prominence. In 2020, WWTR received the Track Award at the annual NASCAR Drive for Diversity Awards. The 2021 season marks the 10th year of Francois’ ownership of the facility.