For many sprint car fans, Knoxville Raceway Track Announcer Tony Bokhoven is an integral part of their experience at the Knoxville Nationals, as he narrates the stories of the driver’s chasing the shot at being a part of racing history. Bokhoven is a lifelong Pella resident, but he says he’s just part of several connections between Pella and Knoxville, that includes drivers, teams and fans.
“Over the years we’ve had drivers that have been from Pella, but [now] Tony Vermeer at TK Concrete owns the race car that Ian Madsen drives, and they’ve won a championship here at Knoxville before,” says Bokhoven. “Ian has won a race already this summer here, so there’s a tight connection there; and then there’s just a lot of race fans that live in Pella.”
Bokhoven says he’s always excited to be a part of the Knoxville Nationals each year, and says its been thrilling to see the races grow to become one of the premier events in all of racing.
“It’s become a nationally recognized event. People like [NASCAR drivers] Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne own race cars,” says Bokhoven. “It’s gone from a grassroots event where people from the local area were supporting it to and event that now people from all across the nation are supporting it. But more importantly, the folks in NASCAR are paying attention to this event, and they’ve got teams and drivers that are here competing. It’s a really big deal for racing, and it’s a really big deal for the city of Knoxville.”
Saturday brings with it the chance for one special driver to add their name to the exclusive list of champions, and Bokhoven says he’s looking to see if this will be a year for an upset. He adds that while there are veteran favorites in the field such as 4-time winner Donny Schatz and the event’s winningest driver, Steve Kinser, he’s still looking to see if an underdog can break through and put themselves in a position to become one of the stars of the sport.