By Richie Murray
Bridgeport, New Jersey (August 3, 2021)………It’s been 32 years since the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets have visited the Garden State of New Jersey, but this coming Thursday, August 5, the three-plus decade hiatus comes to a close as the series makes its debut at Bridgeport Motorsports Park for round three of Eastern Midget Week, the first time the mini-series has ventured outside of the state of Pennsylvania in its seven-year history.
USAC series have competed at the venue in recent years with Bridgeport hosting the Eastern Storm tour for the AMSOIL National Sprint Cars three times between 2018-2021 as well as the Rapid Tire East Coast Sprint Cars in that same time frame.
For those individuals who’ve competed with the national series at Bridgeport over the last couple of seasons, they were greeted by a newly reconverted 4/10-mile dirt oval. Past USAC National Sprint Car events prior to 2021 have been held on the former 3/8-mile dirt oval which was located inside of the now-defunct 5/8-mile dirt track.
A handful of name drivers do have experience on the newer 4/10-mile dirt oval and have also had their fair share of successes at Bridgeport in its previous iteration as well.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) was the fastest qualifier with the USAC National Sprint Cars at Bridgeport in June of 2021 before going on to finish 6th in that night’s feature. The reigning USAC Silver Crown champion finished 8th in 2018 in the Sprint Car at Bridgeport before upping his performance to a 3rd in 2019.
Defending USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget champion Chris Windom (Ione, Calif.) took 3rd in the June 2021 Eastern Storm USAC Sprint Car feature at Bridgeport. The USAC Triple Crown champ led 11 laps and finished 2nd after his involvement in a memorable back-and-forth tussle throughout the 30-lap distance. Windom also collected an 8th place finish with the sprint car at Bridgeport in 2019.
Kevin Thomas Jr. was the fastest qualifier and the winner of the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car debut at Bridgeport in 2018. The Cullman, Ala. driver followed up with a runner-up finish during the series’ visit in 2019 and was 10th on the new track in June of 2021.
The 2016 USAC National Midget champion and two-time Eastern Midget Week feature winner, Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.), had a 12th place USAC Sprint Car feature result in June of 2021. USAC’s 2018 National Midget titlist, Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), was 13th in his Eastern Storm Sprint Car run in June of 2021.
Alex Bright (Collegeville, Pa.) played a major role in the construction of the all-new and current 4/10-mile version of Bridgeport Motorsports Park. The 2016 ARDC and 2018 USAC Eastern Midget champion operated the bulldozer that carved out the high banks. He tamed those same banks with a USAC East Coast Sprint Car win there in July of 2021.
Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) is always a thrill show at any venue he participates. Twice a USAC National Midget feature winner in 2021, Meseraull made a charge during his debut at Bridgeport in a sprint car during Eastern Storm 2018, cutting through the field to 9th after starting 18th on the grid.
Zach Daum (Pocahontas, Ill.) was 17th on the former 3/8-mile Bridgeport Motorsports Park dirt oval in a sprint car during Eastern Storm 2018.
A plethora of Bridgeport Motorsports Park USAC National debuts are in order throughout the Thursday night’s event with series winners Buddy Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.), Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.), Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.), Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) and Steve Buckwalter (Royersford, Pa.) making the trek to the track along with series veterans Ethan Mitchell (Mooresville, N.C.) and Kevin Woody Jr. (Victor, N.Y.).
USAC Rookies on board for Bridgeport include Kiwi invaders Hayden Williams (Auckland, N.Z.) and Travis Buckley (Auckland, N.Z.), along with Chase Randall (Waco, Texas), Hayden Reinbold (Gilbert, Ariz.), Taylor Reimer (Bixby, Okla.), Jonathan Shafer (Ashland, Ohio) and Jason Bennett (Akron, N.Y.).
USAC’s National Midget history dates back more than six decades ago when 1957-58 Indoor Midget champion Chuck Rodee scored a 100-mile victory at the Fairgrounds in Trenton. The longest midget races in USAC history took place in the state of New Jersey in 1959 and 1960 when Jiggs Peters and Bobby Marshman/Jimmy Davies each won 250-mile races at Trenton, respectively. The Marshman/Davies combo win was the only time in series history that two drivers were credited with a shared victory.
Seven of New Jersey’s previous 14 USAC National Midget events have been held at Trenton, with two at Wall Stadium in 1963, the first night of which was won by Parnelli Jones, who was fresh off his Indianapolis 500 win. Old Bridge Speedway hosted the series in 1964 while Flemington Speedway was the venue for the three most recent of dates in 1971-86-89, the final two of which were won by John Heydenreich, who remains active as a driver to this day.
Thursday’s Eastern Midget Week round number three from Bridgeport features the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship and Modifieds.
Pits open at 3pm Eastern, stands 4:30pm, drivers meeting at 5:30pm and cars on track at 6pm followed by qualifying and racing.
Adult admission tickets are $28, ages 10 to 15 are $15, Children 9 and under will be admitted free.
Every lap of all five Eastern Midget will be aired live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/2ZpafUr.
2021 EASTERN MIDGET WEEK SCHEDULE:
Tuesday, Aug 3: Grandview Speedway | Bechtelsville, PA
Wednesday, Aug 4: Action Track USA | Kutztown, PA
Thursday, Aug 5: Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Swedesboro, NJ
Friday, Aug 6: Bloomsburg Fair Raceway | Bloomsburg, PA
Saturday, Aug 7: Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway | Newmanstown, PA
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-1191, 2-Chris Windom-1154, 3-Emerson Axsom-1123, 4-Justin Grant-1098, 5-Tanner Thorson-1053, 6-Daison Pursley-1023, 7-Logan Seavey-999, 8-Thomas Meseraull-983, 9-Kevin Thomas Jr.-983, 10-Cannon McIntosh-888.
USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINS IN NEW JERSEY: (1956-2020)
2-Bobby Marshman & John Heydenreich
1-Billy Vukovich, Bob Harkey, Jimmy Davies, Chuck Rodee, Eddie Johnson, Jiggs Peters, Jimmy Kirk, Johnny Parsons, Mel Kenyon, Parnelli Jones & Tom Bigelow
EASTERN MIDGET WEEK WINS: (2015-2020)
2-Rico Abreu, Tyler Courtney & Tanner Thorson
1-Chris Windom, Justin Grant & Logan Seavey