From Indianapolis Speedrome®
The World’s Home of the Figure 8® plugged the cord back in for the USAC Regional Midget series in 1990 after two seasons in the dark. The very successful partnership between the Indianapolis Speedrome® and the United States Auto Club revolutionized the sport beginning in 1981. The relationship’s next wave goes under the green flag on May 26, 2010. Motorsports fanatics will observer four classes of USAC machines take to the famous fifth-mile during the summer campaign. Visit www.usacracing.com or www.speedrome.com for more details. In this press release, we continue looking back at the storied history of the Midgets at the Speedrome with our focus on names from the 1990”s.
The decade began with second-generation racer Ted Hines coming in to his own at the eastside Indianapolis track. Entering 1990, the son of legendary driver Jim Hines had only 1 Speedrome feature win on his resume in 56 career starts. But that was about to change. The next three campaigns saw the New Castle, Indiana native capture 16 more main event triumphs on his way to three consecutive track championships, a feat never accomplished up until this point. Ted’s smooth, but aggressive style was one to be reckoned with over his time on the track. During those title years, the racing world was also introduced to his younger brother Tracy who would find vast success at tracks around the nation.
The Speedrome/USAC record book seemingly revolves around this next star from the 1990’s, Michael Lang. After a decade or so learning his craft against the best in the Regional Midget series, he blasted into Speedrome dominance. The veteran driver has made the track his personal playground over the years. He owns the mark for most division championships with five (1994 to 1997 and 1999), most consecutive titles with four, and all-time feature victories with 54. That main event win total is nearly double of his closest rival. Lang was also a four-time series runner-up. Michael was a model of speed and sportsmanship on the historic short track.
A consistent presence over the decades at the Speedrome (and everywhere else for that matter) is the legendary Mel Kenyon. The 1984 National Midget Hall of Fame inductee garnered 21 total Speedrome feature victories, but it was his consistency in the season standings that always impressed. Mel finished USAC Regional Midget series runner-up on three occasions and in third place five times. The Speedrome world was delighted when in 1993 Kenyon finally topped the championship standings. What statistics don’t tell is the countless number of young and inexperienced drivers Mel and his equally legendary brother Don have helped over the years. Their contributions through guidance and wisdom are priceless in the history of the sport.
A very notable battle waged for the 1991 M.A. Todd Memorial rookie-of-the-year award in the Speedrome USAC Regional Midget series. Future NASCAR Sprint Cup top rookies and USAC National driving champions Kenny Irwin Jr and Tony Stewart were the contestants. Tony won the 50-lap main event on August 9, 1991 (his career first USAC victory) and went to the winner’s circle again in a 100-lapper just weeks later to garner the freshman honor. Irwin would take a Speedrome feature win a year later before moving upward. Stewart’s amazing resume now includes a championship in the Indy Racing League and two in the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Irwin would unfortunately lose his life in 2000 at a Cup race ironically won by Stewart.
The USAC Regional Midgets, Ford Focus Midgets, Ford Focus Young Guns, and Mopar .25 Midgets are back at the Indianapolis Speedrome®. The dates, all Wednesday nights, for this heralded racing return are May 26th, June 2nd, June 9th, June 23rd, June 30th, and July 7th. Each event will see test drives and a driver school in the afternoon before preliminary heats begin at 7:15pm. The feature lineup is 40-laps for Ford Focus Midgets, main events for the Mopar .25 Midgets, a traditional 50-lapper for the Regional series, and the capper 20-laps for the new Ford Focus Young Gun cars. Each USAC event will also be special for the latest innovation, a live broadcast. The programs will all be streamed in real time on their web site www.usacracing.com. This unparalleled showcase will see some of the best blossoming talent develop on a true drivers track. Join us for all the fun.