It had been a long time. The last dirt track race I remember attending was the 1970 Hoosier Hundred. It was an event on what was then the USAC Indycar schedule. As for midgets or sprint cars, it had been a much longer time. After watching the BC39 Drive to Save Lives event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week, I have to ask myself, “Why have you waited so long?” This was quite a show and a refreshing change of pace from Indycar.
There is no pit strategy, fuel saving, tire management, or push to pass. All there is is pure, full out hard racing. Cars appear out of control through the turns, but it’s how they need to be driven. The 110 entries provided non- stop action over the two nights.
As usual, IMS did things in a first class way. The track was beautifully done, well prepared, and the surface held up well each night. The grandstands were about 80% full Wednesday and completely full Thursday night. Opening night was great. I loved watching the dirt fly around. But Thursday night the flying mud was even better. The track dried out some as the evening progressed.
The crowd on Thursday was particularly impressive considering it had rained most of the day and the program didn’t start until nearly 9 pm. These are some of the most dedicated fans I’ve seen. Hardly anyone left their seat during the track action and not many got up when there was an extended break in the proceedings.
The race was a great way to honor three time Indy 500 starter Brian Clauson and it also paid homage to the original feeder series that helped prepare drivers for the 500. Sadly, the skills required for midgets and sprints today translate more to stock cars than Indycars.
An Annual Event?
The big question is whether this will become an annual event. There is no answer at the moment. The track will to revert to a parking area for the 500. The infrastructure is in place to reassemble the track, however. I think it can be a staple on the IMS calendar.
Some have suggested the race move to pole night. I think May is a more appropriate time for it and qualifying weekend would be great. I have also seen a suggestion that it become a part of Indiana Sprint/Midget week. It’s a nice idea, but I would hate to see one of the small tracks lose their spot. If it were an addition to the week, that would be fine.
I have just a couple things the Speedway could improve here. There is no signage on the outside of the grandstands indicating section locations. It would have been nice to know which walkway to enter to be close to where I sat.
The rows were not well marked. There was not a designation for every row. In my section everyone in two rows were one row too high.
Shuttle stops for infield parking were not clearly marked. I ended up walking to turn 3. I didn’t have a problem doing that, but others may need transportation.
My Favorite Car
If you were there and you know me, you can guess which one it was. It is pictured here:
I think that should this event return, more cars should adopt old Indy 500 liveries. A heat race with the cars in tribute liveries would be fantastic.
It was great to be a part of something special. I plan to get to more dirt short track races the rest of this year and next summer. These were two fun nights and helped bridge the two week gap between Indycar races.