By Bryan Gapinski
Belleville, Kan., July 29— Winning the Belleville Midget Nationals is a career highlight upon any racing drivers resume, no matter what happens during their career after the checkered flag flies on the Belleville High Banks. The “39th annual Belleville Midget Nationals” will be next Friday and Saturday August 5-6.
The events only three-time winners: Bryan Clauson (’09, ’10, 15) and Jerry Coons Jr. (’05, ’07, ’12) are the only two returning past winners of the event.
Stan Fox backed up his Belleville win of 1979 with victories the following season at Belleville and the Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway on his way to running the SCCA Super Vee Series, the feeder series, which led to his Indy Car career.
Six veteran drivers were at least 37-years old when their Belleville victory was added to their star studded resume: Eddie Jackson (1978), Mike Gregg (1981), Dave Manes (1982), Johnny Parsons Jr. (1983), Chuck Gurney (1989), Jack Hewitt (1991), and Leland McSpadden (1992).
When Page Jones (1993), Kevin Doty (1994) and Billy Boat (1995) had three of the most dominating years in decades, the Belleville Crown was another checkered flag in their win column.
After Jeff Gordon’s 1990 victory the following drivers scored a Belleville victory before heading to NASCAR competition: Jason Leffler (1997), Kasey Kahne (2000-01), Josh Wise (2003, ’06), Kyle Larson (2011), Christopher Bell (2013), and Rico Abreu (2014). Kahne also scored a victory in the event as car owner for Brad Sweet’s 2008 victory.
Already midget series champions before their victories: Mark Passerelli (1984), Sleepy Tripp (1985, ’87), Tommy White (1986), Steve Knepper (1988, ’98), and Robby Flock (1996) were able to mark a Belleville victory off their “bucket list”. Dave Darland (1999,’02) and Bobby East (2004) accounted for three of car owner Steve Lewis’ six event wins.
Thursday Night August 4 will feature a Tim Dugger Concert in the infield. Admission is $10 per person, under 14-years old free. Also a free BBQ meal will be provided while supplies last.
Friday night will feature qualifications, preliminary races and a 25-lap midget feature race for the USAC National Midget Championship Series. Saturday night will feature last chance races for participants to make the 40-lap Belleville Midget Nationals championship feature.
Two popular support divisions return to add racing excitement. Friday the two-person cruiser stock car division will race on the track’s infield quarter-mile oval. The winged United Rebel Sprint Car Series return for the “4th annual 305 Sprint Nationals”.
General Admission tickets for all events are sold first-come first-served on race day at the ticket gate. Reserved seating tickets are available for the event. General admission available only if the event is not sold out, and available only on the day of the race at the track ticket office. Special children ticket pricing is being offered this year. Link to order tickets from Ticket Force can be found by logging onto the tracks website www.highbanks.org.