SPOTLIGHT: Ralph Capitani
One year ago the racing world lost Ralph Capitani, longtime Director of Racing at the Knoxville (IA) Raceway. The statement of his passing from Knoxville Raceway’s read: “A visionary to the sport, Cappy aimed to make sprint car racing at Knoxville Raceway grander, the purses bigger, and the grandstands fuller.”
“Cappy” was a college football standout, a U.S. Army veteran, and a high school football coach and teacher in Iowa before his tenure at Knoxville Raceway which began in 1978. Coincidentally, 1978 was also the year Ted Johnson created the sanctioning body of the “World of Outlaws”. Capitani, Johnson, and Earl Baltes (founder of Eldora Speedway) have been recognized as the top 3 leaders in Sprint Car racing.
The Knoxville Nationals was created by Capitani which continues to be one of the grandest auto racing events in America. When it comes to the speedway and its popular events, Capitani always gave credit to his officials and the Marion County Fair Association for reinvesting in the facility and working with him towards his visions.
Capitani initiated the National 360 Sprint Car Council in 1993, a standardization of 360 Sprint Car (a more economical version of the popular 410 Sprint Cars) rules which continue to race weekly at Knoxville today. He also helped found the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum in 1985. Ralph Capitani is an inductee of the Sprint Car Hall of Fame and the Midwest Racing Hall of Fame.