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06/27 2018

INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY REVEALS TWO-NIGHT USAC MIDGET RACE FOR NASCAR WEEK

 

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host a USAC Midget race the week leading up to the Brickyard 400.PHOTO BY TOYOTA RACING

It will take place the Wednesday and Thursday before the Brickyard 400

BY:  MATT WEAVER

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway confirmed its new temporary dirt track on Tuesday and revealed details of the USAC Midget race scheduled in the days leading up to the NASCAR Brickyard 400 in September.

The quarter-mile inside turn 3 of the Racing Capital of the World will host the two-night Driven2SaveLives BC39 on Wednesday, Sept. 5 and Thursday, Sept. 6. The event honors late USAC champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Bryan Clauson and increases awareness of the Indiana Donor Network and Driven2SaveLives.

The race will include a unique format ending with a 39-lap feature Sept. 6 in the richest Midget racing event in recent history. The event will feature more than $70,000 in purse and incentives, including a $15,000 winner’s purse — the largest in the discipline.

The race is expected to draw some of the most notable names in professional and grassroots racing, including NASCAR stars who graduated from Midget racing.

“It really started the conversation about can this really be done at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, can we really reconnect to grassroots racing, not just in the state of Indiana but around the country — how can we make that connection?” Boles said.

“When Bryan Clauson ran at the Speedway you couldn’t walk around without every other shirt being a short-track shirt, a Bryan Clauson shirt, a Kokomo Speedway shirt … it made a difference. While this (dirt) track doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for somebody to get to the Indy 500, we are going to make it easier for the short track fan to fall in love with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway again.

“This has been a racing community collective effort to bring short track racing to the Speedway.”

Construction of the circuit began last week. Concrete walls and safety fencing will be constructed during the summer, and portable lights will illuminate the track.

Reece O’Connor of Kokomo Speedway in Indiana is overseeing the track design and layout and supervising the construction. Allegiant International, a multinational advisory and consultancy firm based in Indianapolis, is facilitating the project.

Boles attended several Indiana Midget Week races following the month of May and the Indianapolis 500.

Kyle Larson said last week at Sonoma Raceway that he intended to compete in the event. Fellow NASCAR Cup star Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was at Tuesday’s press conference formally detailing the event and pledged an entry as well.

A similar track was constructed in 2015 as a retirement gift to Tony Stewart.

“A couple years ago when I saw Bryan and Tony running around the dirt track, I was a little jealous they didn’t ask me to come and be a part of that,” Stenhouse said. “It looked like a lot of fun. And then I thought, well surely they’ll keep it there and race here soon. … I’m excited to finally get to race on this.

“I don’t do it near often enough. Being in the grassroots dirt track racing is very important, for all different forms of motorsport, whether it’s IndyCar bringing people to IMS, bringing fans to our NASCAR side. Definitely Kyle’s done an awesome job at running dirt tracks all across the country and bringing fans together, and I think this is an event that will be able to do that.

“I think Bryan would say it’s about time.”

The relationship between USAC and IMS goes back several decades. The sanctioning body was formed in 1956 by IMS owner Tony Hulman. USAC was the sanctioning body for the Indianapolis 500 from 1956 through 1997.

“Over the years, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has played such a critical part not only in the formation but also the successful growth of the United States Auto Club,” USAC President/CEO Kevin Miller said. “Our roots originated at IMS, and our passion continues to reside here. To have USAC return to hosting a race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a historic and exciting new chapter for our Midget series. We are beyond thrilled for both our competitors and fans to add this race to our 2018 calendar.”

Ticket prices will range from $35 to $50; they go on sale in mid-July.

Three-time USAC Midget and two-time USAC sprint car national champion Clauson, a versatile and beloved driver, died in August 2016 following a race accident. As a registered donor, he went on to save five lives as an organ donor and continues to heal the lives of countless others as a tissue donor. In January 2017, Indiana Donor Network partnered with Clauson-Marshall Racing and expanded Driven2SaveLives into dirt track racing in honor of Clauson.