By Richie Murray
Tulsa, Oklahoma (April 6, 2021)………Fresh off his third career championship in 2020 and fresh off his most recent USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature win last Saturday at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, Brady Bacon is at the peak of his game behind the wheel.
The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma driver currently leads the Sprint standings, and now ranks 10th all-time in career wins with 36.
However, with the upcoming Werco Manufacturing T-Town Midget Showdown presented by the Rayce Rudeen Foundation coming to the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget trail at Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Port City Raceway on Friday and Saturday, April 9-10, Bacon has positioned himself in the role of race promoter for a second-straight year for the event, while also adding the May 9 USAC Silver Crown season opener at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway.
Geographically, it’s apparent Bacon is promoting events that are meaningful to him, not only in his racing life, but also in his personal life, in his home state of Oklahoma and also in his current residence of Winchester, Ind. Port City’s 1/8-mile dirt oval is where a young Bacon honed his racing craft in micro sprints, making these special events even more special.
“I’d been thinking about it and talking with (wife) Xia Xianna for a while,” Bacon said. “I didn’t want to do something just normal. I wanted it to be a special event. With Mike & Meghan (Eubanks) buying the track, and running it, it just kind of all fell into place. We worked really hard to make that first one work, and we’re working really hard to make the second one even bigger. Everyone had a good time, and the racing was phenomenal. We thought we could do it if we just worked as hard as we do at everything else. The first one seemed to prove that, and we’re hoping to replicate that success in 2021.”
In addition to Port City, Bacon’s promotional efforts have extended to the USAC Silver Crown Series and to another location and place that has been the setting of some of the most major occurrences in his life, including his first career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature win in 2008, the same day in which he also met his future significant other.
“We’ve also added a Silver Crown race at Winchester,” Bacon noted of the race on the high banks of the eastern Indiana paved track. “Winchester is also a special track to us. Winchester changed my life; I met my wife there and we now live in Winchester, so I think that makes it more gratifying that the places we have these races at also have a special place in my life.”
Although he’s not ready to hang up the helmet and firesuit any time soon, Bacon compared the feeling of reward and accomplishment between promoting a successful race and winning a race as a driver.
“It’s a little different,” Bacon said when comparing promoting to driving. “(Promoting) is a lot more stretched out, obviously. You’re working the whole night. I don’t think I really underestimated it, but it confirmed how much work it is if you really want to do it right and staying up with the racetrack. It’s a different feeling, but during the night at Port City, I was never thinking I should be in a car. I’m glad I didn’t try to race and promote at the same time. I think both would suffer. That’ll pretty much limit our promotional endeavors for the next few years, hopefully, because I don’t want to promote and compete at the same time.”
Bacon’s foray into race promoting brings to mind USAC Midget event promoters in recent times, and in times old, where a driver, team owner or someone involved in Midget racing with notable clout has stepped out of the seat and put on the promoting hat.
In recent years, Cody Brewer, a frequent competitor over the past two decades with the USAC Midgets, has promoted events when the series has come to Nebraska and his native Oklahoma.
Bryan Clauson and Lauren Stewart were the promoters of the inaugural Shamrock Classic in 2016 at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, a tradition Stewart has carried on ever since. Nick Knepper, meanwhile, a racer with the series in the 2000s and 2010s, promoted a race named for his grandfather, the Junior Knepper 55 USAC Midget Special Event, between 2015 and 2018.
Jerry Nuckles, a three-time USAC National Midget feature winning driver, was the promoter at Ohio’s Columbus Motor Speedway when the series came in the late 2000s, early 2010s, a track that the Nuckles family had long owned.
Davey Hamilton, an 11-time Indianapolis 500 starter and a five-time USAC Western States Midget feature winner, was part of the promotion team at the Terre Haute Action Track for the 2008 Hut 100.
Steve Lewis, the winningest team owner in USAC National Midget history with 133 wins by the famous “Nine” cars, promoted a series of high-paying Twin 25 USAC Midget events at Indianapolis Raceway Park and Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway during the early 2000s.
Rick Gerhardt, owner of the Western Speed Racing team that won a Night Before the 500 and a pair of Turkey Night Grands Prix in the mid to late 2000s, promoted a USAC National Midget race at Madera (Calif.) Speedway in 2003.
Bobby Wente, son of the 1963 USAC National Midget champ, and a racer in his own right with the series, promoted several USAC Midget events at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill. during the 1980s, 90s and 2000s.
Tom Bigelow was the 1984 USAC National Midget champion, and for a time, he promoted Winchester Speedway in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Car builder Dave Ellis, twice a winner on the USAC National Sprint Car trail during Indiana Sprint Week in 1999 with driver Cory Kruseman, promoted the USAC Midget events at Manzanita Speedway in late November of 1998.
Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt promoted a number of USAC Silver Crown events, most notably at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, but his first foray in promoting with USAC came with the Midgets, in a doubleheader with the USAC Silver Crown series, at the Milwaukee Mile in 1988.
Billy Engelhart, he of 24 career USAC National Midget wins as a driver, promoted the only USAC National Midget event ever held at Cedar Lake Speedway, in Engelhart’s home state of Wisconsin. USAC Sprint and Midget winning driver Bruce Walkup promoted events at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for a number of years, including two USAC Midget events there in 1984 and 1987.
The 4-Crown Nationals were the brainchild of legendary USAC car owner and official Johnny Vance, who promoted the first two years of the event in 1981 and 1982. USAC Sprint Car winner Duke Cook promoted a slew of USAC Midget events in the late 1970s, at the Cincinnati Gardens, Anderson, Kil-Kare, Angola and Limaland.
Sherman Armstrong, the 1977-78 USAC Sprint Car owner champion and an eight-time winning USAC Midget owner, promoted Salem Speedway for a time in the late 1970s. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winning driver Rodger Ward (1959 & 62) promoted a USAC Midget event at Michigan’s Owosso Speedway in July of 1978, Pancho Carter’s final USAC Midget win.
Thirty-time USAC National Midget feature winning driver Johnny Parsons, like Bacon, promoted during the midst of his career with two early 1977 indoor races at Norfolk, Virginia’s Scope Arena and Louisville, Kentucky’s Freedom Hall, former longtime home of the University of Louisville basketball team.
Hall of Fame photographer Gene Crucean not only owned a winning USAC Midget team, he also promoted an event with fellow Hall of Fame racing photographer John Mahoney in 1976 at the Indianapolis Speedrome. Larry Nuber, a longtime racing commentator for IndyCar, NASCAR and USAC races on ESPN, promoted a USAC Midget event at Ohio’s Dayton Speedway in 1976.
Jan Opperman was one of the finest racers to ever strap into a racecar, but yet, while he was at the peak of his career, he threw his hat into the promotion side of things for three races during the 1974 season near his Nebraska home, at Mid-West Speedway in Lincoln and Sunset Speedway in Omaha.
Doug Caruthers, a 97-time USAC National Midget winning owner, promoted the penultimate race of the 1974 season at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway, which marked 1975 and 1976 champion Sleepy Tripp’s first career USAC win.
Larry Rice was busy racing to the USAC National Midget driving title in 1973, but he still had time to promote a series event at the Indiana dirt oval then known as Henry’s Speedway, which has subsequently been called Benton County Speedway, Kamp Motor Speedway and now Daugherty Speedway.
This Thursday’s open practice at Port City runs from 6-9pm CDT. Grandstand admission on practice night is free while pit passes are $20 apiece.
Both nights, the pits open at 2pm CDT, with the grandstands opening at 5pm and hot laps at 6:30 with qualifying and racing immediately following.
For Friday, adult advance general admission tickets are $25. On race day, the tickets are $30 with children ages 6-12 $10 and kids ages 5 and under free.
On Saturday’s racing events, adult advance general admission tickets are $30. On race day, the tickets are $35 with children ages 6-12 $10 and kids ages 5 and under free.
T-Town Midget Showdown tickets can be purchased at: https://usacracing.ticketspice.com/2021-t-town-midget-showdown. Pit passes can be purchased now at: www.TracPass.com.
Both nights of racing action can be viewed live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3dgONXz.