AMSOIL Sprints
Friday, 4 February 2022


Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) Josh James Artwork


By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Speedway, Indiana (February 4, 2022)………Few individuals have done it in the manner Robert Ballou has throughout much of his racing career.  And, the truth of the matter is, he doesn’t mind it being that way.

With 31 career feature wins in USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship competition, Ballou’s past 26 victories have come in a car owned and operated by the Madman himself, making him the winningest driver/owner in the history of the series, which dates back to 1956.

With a full USAC National Sprint Car schedule planned for the 2022 season, the Rocklin, Calif. native, who now resides in Tipton, Ind., is still operating like Sinatra said, doing it “his way.”

After picking up the first of his five career series victories for the MPHG Promotions team between 2007 and 2012, Ballou has seen both sides as a hired gun, and as a driver/owner.  He explained some of the benefits of being your own boss, your own crew chief, and the intrinsic motivation that it requires to run your own team from top to bottom.

“I don’t have to worry about the opportunity to be fired,” Ballou noted about driving for himself.  “Car owners are a unique breed and spend a lot of money to do what they do, and they expect results.  There’s a little more peace of mind for myself knowing I always have a ride, plus I have more control of what’s going on as far as the parts on the car and the engines.

It’s stressful to do it on your own,” Ballou continued.  “I’ve got to work 60 hours a week to try and make enough to get to the racetrack, and then you’ve got to have good enough stuff to beat those guys.  But that brings gratification with it when you know you’ve gone to work all week and then come out and beat these guys.  That’s some of the best satisfaction you can ever have.”

Ballou is a trucker by trade, and makes routine trips from state to state throughout the Midwest during the daylight hours all while chasing a full slate of USAC Sprint Car racing by night and finding those moments in between to prepare his racecars in the shop.

During the season openers at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. on February 17-18-19, Ballou has the opportunity to become just the seventh driver in series history to reach the 400 starts mark with the series, joining Dave Darland (785), Tracy Hines (484), Chris Windom (470), Jon Stanbrough (448), Tom Bigelow (447) and Brady Bacon (401).  Ballou currently stands at 398 and has been driving his own car regularly on the tour dating back to the 2014 season.

The most recent season was Ballou’s most successful in a while, winning for the first time with USAC in three seasons, emerging ahead in a classic duel with Tyler Courtney during May at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway.  Ballou followed up in June with another score at New Jersey’s Bridgeport Motorsports Park en route to his second career Eastern Storm championship, his first crown in the mini-series since winning the USAC National Sprint Car driving title in 2015.

Those wins, and the satisfying feeling that comes along with standing in victory lane, are among the parts of the sports that never get old.  Through the work and the grind, and the recovery from a serious neck injury in 2016 and a compound fracture of the arm in 2019, winning truly makes all the effort and time invested just that much sweeter.

“It’s one of those things you always wonder; you know that if you’ve done it before, you ought to be able to do it again; it’s all about getting your ducks in a row,” Ballou explained.  “The USAC Sprint Car series is an unbelievable grind, and everyone puts forth their best effort whether it’s the guy wiping dirt off, mounting tires or making the setup decisions for any of these teams.  To show you can do it again gives you a shot of B12 in the arm, if you will, showing that we can still do this and that we have good enough stuff, and that I’m not completely washed up yet.  It does give you a shot of life.”

Winning is not taken lightly by Ballou, and he treasures those moments past, present and future that have led to a celebratory situation, and he ensures you to know that he’s got plenty left in the tank.

“It just goes to show you how tough the series is as a whole at the moment, which is great,” Ballou praised.  “The sport of non-wing sprint car racing is in a great spot.  To be able to win one is huge, and there’s guys who’ve gone their whole career without one.  To look back and see how fortunate I’ve been to win as many as I’ve won at this point, it’s really remarkable.”