By Dick Jordan
The legendary Hoosier Hundred serves as the kickoff to the nation’s biggest motorsports weekend. One of America’s most prestigious dirt-track motorsports events, the 100-lap Hoosier Hundred for USAC Silver Crown cars will bring wheel-to-wheel action to pull the crowd to its feet at the Indiana State Fairground’s one-mile dirt track in Indianapolis on Thursday, May 22.
Race promoter Bob Sargent, who also organizes Silver Crown races at Terre Haute, Ind., plus Springfield, Ill., and DuQuoin, Ill., made the switch to the Thursday event last season from the traditional Friday race because of a change in schedule at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Thursday running of the Hoosier Hundred allows the race to become the grand opening of the nation’s best auto racing weekend by reducing conflicts with events surrounding the Indianapolis 500.
By running the Hoosier Hundred on Thursday, fans now may enjoy the dirt track race before heading to Carburetion Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the following day. Also, this will allow Track Enterprises to work closely with the local race tracks in the area by not running on the same night.
“We’re into our second year of building a new tradition with the Hoosier Hundred kicking off a huge race weekend in Indianapolis by racing on Thursday night at the Indiana State Fairgrounds,” Sargent said. “It adds another day to an already action packed schedule surrounding the Indianapolis 500.”
The Hoosier Hundred dates back to 1953 and began as a September event. It moved to May and had been a Friday fixture for many years. This year, it’s part of the 11-race USAC Silver Crown Championship Series, which began in April and ends in October.
Last season, Levi Jones won the Hoosier Hundred to end the three-peat hopes of Jerry Coons Jr. of Tucson, Ariz. Coons aimed to become the third driver to win three in a row. Al Unser won four straight from 1970-1973 and Jimmy Bryan won from 1954-1956.
Over the years, the Hoosier Hundred has served as the perfect complement to the Indy 500, and the race still reminds long-time Indy 500 fans of the country’s racing roots on dirt tracks. Seven winners of the Hoosier Hundred have also won the Indy 500, led by A.J. Foyt, who won the Hoosier Hundred six times and the Indy 500 four times.Thus, the historic one-mile dirt oval at the fairgrounds complex is known as the Track of Champions.
The Hoosier Lottery Grandstand opens at 3 p.m. on May 22 for the Hoosier Hundred with practice at 5 p.m., qualifying at 6 p.m. and racing at 7 p.m. UMP modifieds will also race. To purchase tickets, please call 217.764.3200. For more information go to www.trackenterprises.com or www.hoosier100.