Having a strong Silver Crown division is important

Jacob Wilson. - Bill Miller Photo

Jacob Wilson. - Bill Miller Photo
Jacob Wilson. – Bill Miller Photo
By T.J. Buffenbarger

Last night’s Hoosier Hundred featured a 29 car field of USAC Silver Crown cars with 27 starting the feature. Compared to just a few years ago this is a complete turnaround for a series that was on life support. Having the Silver Crown division alive and healthy is good for open wheel racing overall for a multitude of different reasons.

Looking at the schedule comparing it to a lot of the major sprint car series the first thing that stands out is there are not many races. 10-12 races any given year about what a Silver Crown Series schedule consists of. That smaller schedule plays to its advantage though. The Silver Crown Series has drawn drivers that want to race at a high level, but do not want to do so every weekend. Drivers such as Levi Jones and Ricky Hood were among the entries on Thursday. Silver Crown gives these top flight drivers an outlet to race a National type series without as many race dates. The same can be said for teams in the division. Silver Crown allows a car owner to field a top flight race team for a smaller number of races on a National scale.

The Silver Crown series used to be the only division that ran uncontested from the National Sprint Car and Midget Car series. When Tony Stewart won his Triple Crown in USAC the midget and sprint car divisions were still very much separate entities under the same umbrella with conflicting races at times. Now USAC clears the schedule for all of its National divisions, but Silver Crown still seems to be the melting pot for some of the drivers that may only run the midget of sprint car series full time.

The 100 lap races on the mile are really different. It can be an acquired taste much like pavement racing at times. I enjoy seeing the strategy play out even on the sandiest of miles at times. Is it like a 30-lap throw down non-wing sprint car race at Kokomo? No, but watching a big car slide on the rail or cushion at any mile is worth the price of admission and should be on every sprint car fans bucket list at some point. Most of the mile races are conducted as part of other major events such as fairs, the Indy 500, and others. Sprint Cars and Midgets also are not suitable replacements on a mile dirt track, where the Silver Crown cars are built specifically for that application. If the Crown Cars go away there is not another open wheel division to fill the void.

There might not be many silver crown races in quantity, but they play an important role in the world of open wheel racing. Thanks to the efforts led by Andy Hillenburg with USAC hopefully the division will continue on the upswing.