By RICHIE MURRAY
After a bustling stretch of June that included 14 USAC National races in a 17-day span, including six-consecutive precipitation-free nights of Indiana Midget Week, teams had a chance to take a deep breath, regroup and prepare for the kickoff to a tantalizing summer stretch that begins this Saturday night with three-straight events in the state of Illinois.
The USAC Midget National Championship crosses the border for an Illinois Midget Weekend featuring events at three different Land of Lincoln tracks in three consecutive nights for the first time in 49 years! In 1968, Chuck Arnold and Mel Kenyon split feature wins at Fairbury; Henry Pens captured Rockford a night later and Bob Tattersall concluded the weekend with his triumph at Santa Fe.
Illinois is a hotbed of midget racing, but this coming weekend’s venues have been absent from the USAC schedule for at least a decade and, in some cases, forever. The first of the welcomed additions is this Saturday’s return to Macon Speedway for the first time since 2007. Among the notable past visits by the series was Jack Hewitt’s famed, ahem, critique of the night’s proceedings back in 1996, which is fine. But, it’s also featured a number of USAC National champions who’ve been Macon masters: Don Branson (1959), Jimmy Davies (1960), Bob Tattersall (1965), Tony Elliott (1992) and Brad Kuhn (2007).
The year was 1964. A.J. Foyt had just won his second Indianapolis 500, the first Buffalo Wing had just come out of the fryer and planet Earth had just been overtaken by Beatlemania! More than a half-century and change later, the USAC National Midgets are back in Lincoln, Illinois this Sunday night, July 2!
Bob Tattersall won that event 53 years ago on the old Speedway, but the racy quarter-mile of today at the Logan County Fairgrounds is ready for a new breed of the sport’s heroes including the Clauson-Marshall Racing stable of newly-crowned Indiana Midget Week king Shane Golobic as well as his teammates Justin Grant and Tyler Courtney, who’ve won the last two in the Illini state coming into this weekend. Defending series champ Tanner Thorson won three in Illinois last season while current series point leader Brady Bacon captured the most recent outdoor feature in the southern part of the state last fall.
USAC’s history in the city of Springfield, Illinois is well-established with 175 events taking place within the confines of the state capital between its National Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown divisions combined at the Little Springfield Speedway and the Mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds since 1956. However, the scream of a midget racing engine in Springfield has been silent since 1996.
This coming Monday’s Adam Lopez “Illinois Midget Nationals” presents a return for USAC to the Fairgrounds, but on a new piece of real estate that’s set to make its debut on the series’ schedule – the Illinois State Fairgrounds Multi-Purpose Arena. The outdoor dirt oval has previously hosted events such as motorcycle racing and the National High School Rodeo Finals, but this bullring will showcase USAC’s best midget racers who will attempt to hang onto their bucking bulls for more than eight seconds, more like 40 laps.
Saturday night, July 1 at Macon, pits open at 3pm, grandstands open at 4pm with cars getting on track at 6pm.Adult general admission tickets are $25. If you bring your paid ticket stub from Macon’s June 24th event, you will receive $10 off admission. Children age 11 and under are FREE!
At Lincoln on Sunday night, July 2, pits open at 2pm, grandstands at 3pm. Cars hit the track at 5pm. Adult general admission tickets are $30. Children age 11 and under are $5.
On the weekend’s finale on Monday, July 3, grandstands open at 3pm with cars set for an on-track activity beginning at 5pm. You can purchase tickets for Monday’s “Illinois Midget Nationals” at: https://usacracing.ticketspice.com/2017-illinois-midget-nationals/. Adult general admission tickets are $25 while children ages 6-12 will be admitted for $15. Pit passes are $35. You can also purchase a VIP Package that includes pit and grandstand admission, VIP Parking, entry to VIP Tent & six beer tickets. (ID must be provided at beer stand.)
Monday’s race from Springfield will be streamed LIVE on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/. You can watch each of these USAC events flag-to-flag a day following the event, on-demand at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/!