As the Knoxville Raceway celebrates its 50th year of racing the schedule at the half-mile oval begins to pick up. Next week the track will host the mid-season championship before hosting the World of Outlaws over the July fourth holiday. Quite a change from the track’s start in June of 1954. The track has gone from wooden seats to a 25-thousand seat stadium and while the annual Knoxville Nationals fills it up, longtime racing director Ralph Capitani says the weekly events draw good crowds as well. He says they first ran “Jalopies” at the track until the care evolved into the modern sprint car.This year’s Knoxville Nationals will have a purse of 750-thousand dollars. Capitani says the rewards have grown as the popularity of sprint car racing has grown. He says it’s an American sport and that’s why people love it. Capitani says the drivers are accessible too, which endears the fans to the sport.This year’s Knoxville Nationals are August 13th through the 16th.