By RICHIE MURRAY
In the month of May, all roads lead to Indy. It’s the mecca of motorsport – the racing capital of the world. As hundreds of thousands of mass humanity converge on the Crossroads of America this week, eyes will be affixed on all things racing in the Hoosier state.
There’s no better prelude to the grand event this weekend than three elite events on three-straight nights at a trio of Indiana racetracks with over two centuries of combined racing history: Wednesday at the Terre Haute Action Track Thursday at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and Friday at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Three drivers – Robert Ballou, Kody Swanson and Tanner Swanson – are on the verge of history as they seek to achieve what few thought was achievable.
As this triumvirate of drivers aim to keep their streaks alive in what has already been a compelling and competitive season, it’s time to believe the unbelievable. Open your eyes, ears and mind to three nights of USAC racing at its finest in legendary events spread across Indiana’s (and the nation’s) most-storied of racing venues.
The most-storied, annually-contested USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car race of them all is the “Tony Hulman Classic” at the Terre Haute Action Track. The 47th edition begins the Week of Indy this Wednesday night, May 24th. George “Ziggy” Snider was the hero in the first edition back in 1971 and, over the years, the greatest of the greats have etched their name into Hulman Classic and auto racing lore: Jan Opperman, Pancho Carter, Jack Hewitt, Ron Shuman, Rich Vogler, Steve Butler, Dave Darland, J.J. Yeley, Jerry Coons, Jr. and three-time winners Levi Jones and Cary Faas, just to name a few.
However, none of these men were able to accomplish what stands in front of Robert Ballou this Wednesday night at the Terre Haute Action Track.
No driver has won three-in-a-row, but the Rocklin, California driver is accustomed to defying the odds as evidenced by his comeback victory in the most recent series race at Eldora Speedway two weeks ago, his second race back after an eight-month recovery following devastating injuries in a racing crash last September.
In last year’s “Hulman Classic,” it became a slider-fest in the second-half of the 30-lapper as Robert Ballou and Thomas Meseraull took each other on in a see-saw battle at both ends of the racetrack.
With less than 10 to go, Ballou came right back at Meseraull, taking the lead with a monster slide job into turn one. Ballou opened it up in the final stages to capture his second consecutive “Hulman Classic” victory which had previously only been achieved by Steve Butler and Levi Jones.
Pit gates open for the Hulman Classic at 3pm with the grandstands set to open at 4. Cars hit the track at 6:30.
Last May, one driver – Kingsburg, California’s Kody Swanson – reached a stratosphere that hadn’t been touched in over four decades at the Indy Mile as he joined Jimmy Bryan and Al Unser as the only individuals to win the Hoosier Hundred three times in a row.
When Swanson lines up on the grid for the 63rd running at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Thursday night, May 25, a record once thought untouchable will be just within his grasp. The two-time USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series champ from Kingsburg, California has an opportunity to join an exclusive club exemplified by brilliant dominance, especially in this modern era of parity. It’s a club of one in which 1970-71-72 and 73 winner Unser is the sole proprietor.
Pit gates open at noon for the Hoosier Hundred while spectator gates are unlocked at 3. Cars are scheduled to begin on-track activity at 5pm.
In USAC’s Silver Crown Champ Car Series, it’s been a Swanson family affair over the past handful of years, especially at Lucas Oil Raceway where brothers Kody and Tanner have run first and second a total of seven times since 2010. Kody has two wins and Tanner five at the .686-mile paved oval. With a victory at this Friday night’s “Carb Night Classic,” Tanner would surpass Mike Bliss as the winningest Silver Crown driver at the Brownsburg, Indiana track.
The Swansons split last year’s pair of LOR appearances, but on Carb Night 2016, Tanner was in a position to pounce when leader Bobby Santos’ engine expired with 20 laps remaining. Tanner carried on and was able to keep Kody at bay in the final stages to take yet another series victory on the hardtop.
Pit open at noon, front gates at 2:45pm with cars on track at 4pm for practice.
Fans will receive a savings of $20 by purchasing their own “Week of Indy” Superticket now at https://usacracing.ticketspice.com/2017-week-of-indy. The Superticket is your golden ticket for admission to all three of this week’s USAC races at a steal of a price!
Both Wednesday’s “Tony Hulman Classic” and Thursday’s “Hoosier Hundred” will be streamed LIVE on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/. As always, you can watch each and every USAC event one-day after the race, on-demand at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.