By Richie Murray
Belleville, Kansas (May 15, 2023)………A dream weekend of racing on the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks awaits this weekend as USAC makes its long-anticipated return for two consecutive nights on Friday-Saturday, May 19-20.
In fact, both the half-mile and the quarter mile dirt ovals at the fairgrounds will be in play at the track widely regarded as one of the most famed and storied venues in American motorsports – and the fastest of them all too.
For the first time ever, Belleville will host the season openers for both the USAC Silver Crown and USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championships. For the Silver Crown series, this weekend marks a return to the High Banks for the first time since 2015.
Meanwhile, the USAC National Midgets will make their debut on the quarter-mile short track located entirely within the confines of the half-mile. USAC Midgets, which have competed on the accompanying half-mile track on 46 previous occasions dating back to 1964, will utilize the short track for the very first time as the series makes its first visit to Belleville, Kan. since 2017.
Friday night will consist of a full program for the midgets, starting with qualifying, heat races and last chance semi-feature before concluding with a 30-lap main event paying $4,000-to-win. On Saturday, the ante is upped for the midgets with another full program culminating in a 40-lap feature paying $6,000-to-win.
For the USAC Silver Crown division, we’re talking about practice on Friday with three separate sessions scheduled throughout the night’s program. It’s all final preparation for Saturday’s major finale which presents a 50-lap Silver Crown main event paying $8,000-to-win.
At least 30-plus entries are expected for both the USAC Silver Crown and Midget divisions. The Silver Crown event will feature the likes of 2014 Belleville winner Kody Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.), who has won the series title a record seven times, including in each of the past two seasons.
Additional USAC champions in the Belleville Silver Crown lineup include C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.), Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.), Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) and Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.). Furthermore, two talented women will take their first shot at Belleville: series Rookie Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.) and Taylor Ferns (Shelby Township, Mich.), who owns the best career result by a woman with the series, twice finishing third in 2022.
Four drivers are expected to pull double duty this weekend at Belleville by competing in both the Silver Crown and Midget divisions. That includes Grant, Bacon, Seavey as well as the versatile Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio), who owns championships with various sanctioning bodies in sprint cars, midgets, go-karts, late models and modifieds, just to name a few.
Popular Jerry Coons Jr., a USAC career Triple Crown champion and several-time winner on the high banks in a midget during the Belleville Nationals in 1996-1998-2005-2007-2012, will pilot a midget for the Central Motorsports team. Zach Daum, who won a prelim feature during the 2014 running of the “Nationals,” will return to the Belleville midget lineup this weekend as well.
The state of Kansas will be well-represented in the midget field with the likes of Bryant Wiedeman (Colby, Kan.), Andrew Deal (Caney, Kan.), Corey Joyner (Concordia, Kan.), Blake Spicer (Marysville, Kan.) and Laike Imm (Phillipsburg, Kan.) all planning to compete. Additionally, two more talented women will be competing with the midgets as they aim to become the first female to capture a USAC National Midget feature victory – Jade Avedisian (Clovis, Calif.) and Taylor Reimer (Bixby, Okla.).
Wiedeman, a third place finisher in the 2022 USAC National Midget standings, will make his USAC debut for Chad Boat’s CB Industries team. Chad was a victor on the Belleville High Banks with the midgets in three consecutive appearances between 2016-17. Chad’s father, Billy Boat, was a Belleville Nationals winner in 1995 and copped a prelim win in 1997.
While this weekend will mark the first appearances by the USAC National Midgets on the Belleville short track, back in 2004, USAC’s Ford Focus Midget division competed in a 100-lap event on the quarter-mile, which was won by Californian Bradley Galedrige.
On Friday, the pits open at 3pm Central. Front gates open at 5:30pm. Hot laps start at 6:30pm, followed by qualifying and racing. General admission and reserved tickets are $25. General admission and reserved tickets for ages 12 and under are $15. A one-day pit pass is $35 and two-day pit passes are $60.
On Saturday, the pits open at 3pm Central. Front gates open at 5:30pm. Hot laps start at 6:30pm, followed by qualifying and racing. General admission and reserved tickets are $30. General admission and reserved tickets for ages 12 and under are $20. A one-day pit pass is $40 and two-day pit passes are $60.