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As we look forward to one final ride, it is difficult to put into words just what the Hoosier Hundred, and racing at the Indiana State Fairgrounds means to me. I’m originally from Kingsburg, a small town in California, and moved to Indianapolis with my wife Jordan for the racing. Let’s be honest, it certainly wasn’t for the weather.
As an open wheel racer, Indianapolis has so many opportunities to race. There are different cars, series and divisions, there is hope that you’ll be able to make a name here, and maybe one day catch your break and find a way into the highest levels of our sport.
In 1953, the Inaugural Hoosier Hundred was contested, featuring the Championship Cars of the day on the one-mile dirt oval. While much has changed in our world since then, the Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds has fundamentally remained the same. Some of the greatest racers in history and legends of our sport have competed in the Hoosier Hundred, including former winners like Mario Andretti, Jimmy Bryan, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Al Unser, Sr., and so many more. For someone like me, it is that tradition and the history passed on before us now, that makes competing in this race, at this racetrack, so special to be a small part of.
If you’ll take a break from the nostalgia with me for a moment – how about the race itself? No, it’s not your three-wide, wheels up, bullring. It’s not your draft to pass, aerodynamic wind tunnel, and it’s not your superspeedway, waiting for the “big one,” racing either. This is the Hoosier Hundred, the 100-miler that is held on one of the most storied tracks in the entire history of auto racing.
There are subtle things about this race and running on the mile, that not everyone notices, but those who do find them and have experienced them, know just what to look for and cherish every bit of it. From the driver’s seat, you get an incredible experience all your own, and completely unique to the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
You’ll try to keep some sort of traction all while you pick up speed down the long front-straightaway, your tires spinning in the loose dirt surface, and just hoping that you’ll have the car pointed back in the right direction before you duck past the gate into turn one.
You’ll try to match your car’s angle, your wheel spin and your momentum, to build all of the speed that you can before corner exit – while walking the tight-rope – keeping your left front tire off of the inside guardrail, and your right rear from sliding out into the dust (and the wall) at the outside of turn two.
You’ll peer through the sun shining in your eyes down the long back-straightaway, feeling the track continue to narrow in alongside on you, while you try to pick your entry to turn three and begin the long slide toward that beautiful red covered bridge just beyond the outside wall.
Then you’ll pick up the throttle, feeling the horsepower beneath your feet as you aim down off of turn four, with the Coliseum to your outside and that huge covered grandstand up ahead, ready to do it all over again – and that’s only hot laps.
The Hoosier Hundred, the race itself, is an experience that you won’t find anywhere else - even no other dirt mile has the shape nor the demeanor of the Indiana State Fairgrounds and the “Hoosier.” You get to race the track and your competition, and for a full 100 miles, the only constant is that everything is changing. Your tires and fuel burn away, while the track rubbers in, but with every tire that crosses ahead of you, the track itself changes some more. The pace will change, the racing line will change, throttle and braking points will change, all while some may never notice them happening – and no one able to notice them all.
I have loved this race for many different reasons, but to me, this might be my last real and tangible opportunity to be connected to the ‘big-time’ and the heroes cemented in the history of our sport. The Hoosier Hundred and the Indiana State Fairgrounds have the rich tradition and legacy that creates an atmosphere capable of sending chills down your spine, that has given us a chance to stand where the legends before us did, and that have turned a racetrack into a landmark for racers everywhere.
I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to drive one of USAC’s Championship Cars in the Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Mile, and to have competed in one of the greatest traditions in our entire sport.
"Hoosier Hundred" activities get underway with pits opening at noon eastern, grandstands at 3pm, drivers meeting at 4pm and practice from 4:45-6pm, with qualifications and racing to immediately follow. Tickets are $25 for advance adult general admission and $30 the day of the event. Infield tickets are $20, while general admission for children 11 and under is $10. Pit passes are $30 for members and $35 for non-members.
A great deal is available for those who don't want to miss a single lap of "The Week of Indy.” A Superticket is being sold for a savings of 25% off of the regular three-day prices for the Wednesday, May 22 “Tony Hulman Classic” for USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars at the Terre Haute Action Track, the Thursday, May 23 “Hoosier Hundred” for USAC Silver Crown at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and on Friday, May 24 for the Dave Steele “Carb Night Classic” Silver Crown race at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
For just $60, a savings of $20, a fan will receive general admission at Terre Haute and Lucas Oil Raceway as well as a reserved seat for the Hoosier Hundred. To purchase a Superticket, visit https://usacracing.ticketspice.com/2019-week-of-indy-ticket-sales.