Hoosier Hundred is history? UPDATE The American race fans’ intense interest in and devotion to the storied USAC “Hoosier Hundred” auto race has helped in its re-instatement as a May 26 event this year!
The 54th running of the race will take place on the Friday night before the Indianapolis 500 as a result of diligent work by numerous parties dedicated to the event’s continuance as a May tradition.
The combined tireless efforts of the United States Auto Club, Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indiana State Government, K & K Insurance, Bob Parker of Parker Machinery in Indianapolis and race organizer Bob Sargent of Track Enterprises, Inc. in Macon, Ill. created an avenue of opportunity for the race to be re-instated on the calendar for 2006.
The third leg of USAC’s 2006 Silver Crown Championship Series showcases the nation’s most competitive racing series on the Indiana State Fairgrounds’ 1-mile dirt oval in a 100-mile race which has produced a list of champions including America’s greatest drivers. Indianapolis 500 Champions Bob Sweikert, Jimmy Bryan, Rodger Ward, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Mario Andretti and Al Unser are former winners, as are current NASCAR stars/USAC graduates J.J. Yeley and Jason Leffler.
“This is wonderful news for race fans around the state and around the country who make the Hoosier Hundred a traditional part of their Indy 500 weekend,” said Indiana State Fairgrounds Executive Director Cindy Hoye. “I really don’t know how we could have gotten this done if Bob Parker Jr. and Bob Sargent hadn’t stepped in to do what they’re doing. It just goes to show how passionate people are about this event and the State Fairgrounds.”
“The success of this event has been phenomenal and we at Track Enterprises look forward to carrying on this tradition,” said Bob Sargent, who will serve as the race’s new organizer. “We want to build on this success and actually plan some special promotions centered on our three USAC Silver Crown races at the Indiana, Illinois and DuQuoin State Fair miles.”
“Being able to run the Hoosier Hundred in May of 2006 has been brought about by the tireless efforts of many people, said USAC President Rollie Helmling.’ It is very gratifying that everyone involved never gave up, even when it appeared the window of opportunity was closed. The Hoosier Hundred is an institution in American automobile racing and when it appeared to be in jeopardy we were reminded how important its continuation really is.
“Every time USAC called upon anyone involved they were quick to react and dedicated to making it happen. Cindy Hoye and the staff at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, State Representative Bill Davis, a long time USAC Car Owner, Matt Steward as well as our Governor Mitch Daniels all ambitiously contributed and supported every effort. Everyone from the state of Indiana exhibited their support of Motorsports and in particular USAC Racing. Race Fans and participants in Indiana should be very grateful to the efforts of their state administration.
“There were also many USAC Racers who never gave up. USAC Midget Owner Bob Parker of Parker Machinery worked diligently with Larry Rice at K&K Insurance to satisfy the facility concerns. When Bob saw our dilemma he went to work and this would not have happened without him. The race’s former promoters, Tom Johnson and 6-R Racing, are still very active and are working hard with our new race promoter Bob Sargent who brings his expertise as the promoter of the USAC Silver Crown races at the Illinois State Fair on August 19 and the DuQuoin State Fair on September 3.
“This year’s Hoosier Hundred will be special in many ways and now means more than ever to the great heritage of Indiana Racing. It is a large component of Memorial Day Weekend in Indianapolis which truly is the World’s Greatest Open Wheel Racing weekend.”
Parker Machinery will orchestrate the mandated replacement and strengthening of fencing, cabling and walls necessary to satisfy the spectator and participant safety requirements which were integral factors in restoring the May 26 date.
Teddy Beach of Donnelsville, Ohio is the defending champion of the race, recording a surprise victory in last year’s classic. USAC 04/18/06 More fallout from the Champ Car/IRL split as the sport of open wheel racing continues to take a nosedive because there is no strong series at the top.
The insurance underwriter for the Indiana State Fair has told the Fair Board that, unless expensive upgrades are made to the safety barriers along the front stretch immediately, there would be no insurance coverage for the auto races at the Fairgrounds and hence the famous Hoosier Hundred race on the 1-mile oval will be history.
At this time, the 2006 Hoosier Hundred has not been officially canceled. Unfortunately, the Fair Board has let it be known that the funds required to upgrade the facility to meet the requirements of the insurance company do not exist.
A website has been established to attempt to preserve this great annual event. www.savethehoosierhundred.org.