By Richie Murray
Terre Haute, Indiana (May 19, 2021)………After a nearly four-year absence from the series, Robert Ballou will make his return to USAC Silver Crown racing on Thursday, May 27, as the driver of the Bill Rose Racing No. 66 for the Sumar Classic at Indiana’s Terre Haute Action Track.
Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) possesses 13 career USAC Silver Crown starts, the most recent of which came in 2017 at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway. Two past Sumar Classic starts for Ballou have produced finishes of 8th in 2012 and 11th in 2016.
A two-time winner of the Tony Hulman Classic during his USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car championship season of 2015, and again in 2016, Ballou enters the “Week of Indy” at Terre Haute on a bit of a roll following his first USAC Sprint victory in almost three years back on May 8 at Eldora.
The confidence in Ballou’s voice is unmistakable, and with the 51st Tony Hulman Classic for USAC Sprint Cars at Terre Haute the night before on Wednesday, May 26, preceding the Sumar, Ballou hopes to carry the momentum into the half-mile and translate that into Silver Crown success as well.
“Where I’m at with my racecar and, racing as a whole, I feel way better than I have in a long time,” Ballou said, referring to his recovery from an arm injury suffered in a 2019 sprint car crash at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway. “I’ve been catching, but now I’m finally pitching. Obviously, this is an offensive game and if you’re on the defense all the time, it’s not all that fun. I feel like I’m headed in the right direction, so I think it’ll help just getting the run the sprint car the night before. Hopefully, everything goes decent there that that rhythm can carry over.”
As one who’s experienced both a USAC National Sprint Car championship and 30 victories throughout his career, Ballou contrasted the differences between running a Sprint Car for 30 laps and a Silver Crown car for 100 laps at Terre Haute, and how much Silver Crown racing has changed from the time he watched as child to his first series experiences behind the wheel to today.
“The (Silver Crown) cars are so much heavier,” Ballou said. “Over the years, they’ve begun to make them more like a sprint car and it’s sped the pace up quite a bit. It’s more like a long sprint car race now where these guys push the issue the whole time whereas, in years past, I remember when I was a kid at the Cal Expo mile, I’d watch Chuck Gurney ride around for the first 60-75 laps and then give her hell. The cars are better, the shocks are better, the engines are better, and I think you can push the envelope nearly the whole time. Before, I don’t know if you could.”
Car owner Bill Rose is no stranger to USAC racing as a driver and car owner. His 59 career Silver Crown starts rank inside the top-50 while his 273 National Sprint Car starts stand 22nd all-time. As a driver, Rose (Plainfield, Ind.) has scored multiple USAC Sprint victories in his career at Paragon (Ind.) Speedway in 1997 and at Ohio’s Attica Raceway Park in 1999.
Rose’s best career Silver Crown finish as a car owner, unofficially, came during the 2018 Sumar Classic at Terre Haute with driver Chris Windom, who started 13th and finished 4th. The “unofficial” status stems from the Rose No. 66 being renumbered to the Nolen Racing No. 17 prior to the start of the feature after mechanical issues plagued the Nolen Racing ride.
The Sumar Classic will also feature the Scott’s Custom Colors DIRTcar Modifieds. Pits open at 2pm EDT, grandstands at 3pm, hot laps at 6:30pm with racing to follow. Adult general admission tickets are $30. Infield admission is $20. Pit passes are $35.
Track Enterprises, the promotion company for the Terre Haute Action Track, has also announced a three-day SUPERTICKET, which includes general admission for all three days of the Week of Indy events at Terre Haute for just $75, a $15 savings off the single day prices.
For advance sale Wednesday/Thursday tickets or the 3-day SUPERTICKET, visit www.tracpass.com. Tickets will also be available at the gates on each race day.