Another part of Indycar’s heritage dies at the conclusion of the May 23 Hoosier Hundred. The Indiana State Fairgrounds will convert the famous one mile dirt oval to an all weather track for harness race training year round.
I find sadness in this announcement for many reasons. The Hoosier Hundred was the first major race I attended in 1958. I loved watching the cars slide through turns 1 and 2 with the dirt flying behind them. This race was at one time one of the best paying races on the USAC Championship Trail.
The early September date gave me one more day of racing before winter came to Indiana. It was something to hold onto until the following May. School had started about a week before the race, so it was also one of the last weekends to relax before the homework load got heavy.
Closing this track is another loss of racing heritage as the sport on all levels seems to be divorcing itself from its roots. The dirt tracks are where the eventual stars of the Indianapolis 500 honed their skills. While there used to be many one milt dirt tracks- the Fairgrounds, Langhorne, Sacramento, Springfield, Duquoin, and some others I’m not remembering right now- I believe only Springfield and Duquoin remain. I have always thought removing dirt tracks from the Indycar championship was a mistake. Today’s news reinforces that view.
The link below contains the release from USAC. I have been planning a series on the old dirt tracks. My timeline has just moved up.