Story By: NICK GRAZIANO / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – KNOXVILLE, IA – Aussies Ian and Kerry Madsen are heading home. Not to Australia. Their other home – Knoxville, Iowa.
When the Madsen brothers moved to America, they landed in the Marion County city of 7,000 people. Their reason?
“It’s kind of the center of the Sprint Car Universe,” said Kerry Madsen, the elder of the two brothers.
The core of that universe is Knoxville Raceway – a half-mile track that’s turned heroes of the Sprint Car world into legends. And the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series is returning to the iconic track for the first time this season on Friday, June 14, and Saturday, June 15 for the Brownells Big Guns Bash.
Since starting their 410 Sprint Car careers at the raceway in the early 2000s, both Madsen brothers have found success there. Kerry Madsen won the 2005 track championship and has 21 career Feature wins at the raceway – including a World of Outlaws Feature win. He was leading the points at the raceway before skipping the latest race to compete with the World of Outlaws at Granite City Speedway.
“I’ve always loved Knoxville,” Kerry Madsen said. “Fun place to race. Great crowd. Obviously tuning up for later in the year (for the prestigious Knoxville Nationals). Looking forward to it.”
Ian Madsen won the track championship in 2014 and 2017. He has 12 career Feature victories at the track, but is still seeking his first World of Outlaws Feature win there. A win this weekend would go a long way for Madsen and his KCP Racing team.
Madsen, the 2018 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year, claimed his fourth career Series win at Thunderbowl Raceway in March, but he has been searching for a return to the top-five since the beginning of April. Lately, his results have been a mix of top-10 and top-15 finishes.
“The last few weeks have been pretty rough,” Ian Madsen said. “We’ve had a lot of bad luck. I feel like a lot of it has been out of our control. We just really need to get a good night in and turn our luck around. I think if we just get some luck on our side it’ll take care of itself.”
Along with getting to go home, Madsen said he’s happy to get back to a bigger track after spending the last month mostly on smaller tracks.
“That’s what’s good about the Outlaws, you get to mix it up on all sorts of different tracks,” Madsen said. “Knoxville is the best track in the country, I feel. I look forward to going there.”
Kerry Madsen shares Ian’s sentiment, stating he enjoys the bigger tracks and loves the dedication people in Knoxville have to Sprint Car racing.
Not running full-time with the World of Outlaws, unlike Ian, Kerry Madsen said his one goal every race is to just win.
“Pretty simple,” he said with a grin.
His season this year started off slow, barely cracking the top-10, but lately Kerry and his team have found their rhythm, clicking off top-five finishes more consistently – including two podium finishes in his last five races.
While both he and Ian will be eyeing the win at Knoxville, the brothers don’t let the competition get between them. While many drivers isolate themselves to just their team during a race weekend, every time the Madsen brothers are at the same track its guaranteed you’ll find them together throughout the night.
“We’re always pretty close together,” Ian Madsen said. “It can get pretty lonely out here sometimes. So, it’s good to have him out here to hang out with on the off nights and stuff like that. I enjoy being out here with him. It’s just cool we can both be out here at the same time.”
Before Ian began his racing career at Knoxville, he worked on Kerry’s team.
“We’ve always been fairly close that way,” Kerry Madsen said.
While they’re close, and will share anecdotes about their race car, they’re still competitive. Advice isn’t always shared. For more than one reason, too.
“I try not to give him too much advice,” Kerry Madsen said. “I feel like I try to tell him something and it back fires and he ends up going slower. I just let him figure it out.”