Connect with us

USAC Silver Crown

How IRP’s Hoosier Hundred Could Start a New Tradition

This isn’t the ‘Track of Champions’ but it’s capable of producing its own legacy.

What’s in a name?

A whole lot, you might imagine, as it pertains to the legendary Hoosier Hundred. Following a three-year hiatus, the event is returning on Friday night but not at its traditional home inside the historic Indiana State Fairgrounds and not even on a one-mile dirt track.

Instead, this iteration of the Hoosier Hundred will take place at nearby Indianapolis Raceway Park, on pavement.


Thus, it begs the question, can this become the Hoosier Hundred if it looks fundamentally unlike any version of the 66 races that came before it? USAC historian Pat Sullivan says the community has short memories about premiere events within the discipline if they don’t think this can become the Hoosier Hundred in time.

READ MORE: IRP’s Hoosier Hundred Nets Historic Entry List

“Turkey Night is the oldest continually operating midget race,” Sullivan said. “It’s been on dirt and pavement. The Hundred at Terre Haute has moved. The Hulman Classic has moved.

“Now I get it. The Hoosier Hundred was without question the biggest dirt race at one time. It was the place to see the drivers who raced at 16th and Georgetown if you couldn’t get a ticket to the 500. The greatest race ever run in 1953 won by Bob Sweikert. That tradition is very important to a lot of people.”

Back then, the race was part of the national championship, owing to the term Champ Cars. There are still those who choose to call the Crown Cars that. Some call them the Big Cars and back then, none were bigger. It was second in prestige to only the Indianapolis 500.

Back in 2019, Mario Andretti told the author that his two wins at the Indy Mile sit alongside his victory in the Greatest Spectacle and Formula as the ones he holds in the highest regard.

“The Hoosier Hundred was a jewel,” Andretti said. “Indianapolis is the race I’m most known for, and my Formula 1 wins are the ones I’m most proud of, but the Hoosier Hundred is the race I worked the hardest for.”

AJ Foyt
Rex Mays
Parnelli Jones
Al Under Sr
Jack Hewitt
Jason Leffler
JJ Yeley
Kody Swanson
Tyler Courtney
Kyle Larson

“There are some who are critical because they worry that it won’t be the same,” Sullivan said. “But that doesn’t mean you don’t try to keep the tradition alive.”

To meet the moment, IRP general manager Kasey Coler and his staff procured every program from the previous 66 runnings to better understand what they wanted to model after. Oh, and the race pays $25,000 to win too with a $5,000 bonus for the best appearing car.

“The first thing we did,” Coler said Tuesday. “We got our hands on every program for the Hoosier Hundred and poured through the details of what made that race so special. We’re not trying to live in the past because this isn’t apples-to-apples but we wanted to be sure that we understood why the community embraced that race so much. We wanted to respect that.”

Kody Swanson won four Hoosier Hundreds in a row, and loves the history of that event, but as a native Californian who also understands the history of Turkey Night, he says Friday night can be the start of something special.

“I love the Indy State Fair but I connect it to where I got my start in USAC,” Swanson said. “Turkey Night was a big deal in Irwindale. Before that, it was at Ascot Park. It led to something new.

“It was still cool to be connected to all of that. It’s not going to be the same but it’s still going to draw attention, it’s going to mean something, and it’s something we’re going to talk about someday.”

Kody Swanson: The Heart and Soul of USAC Silver Crown

Logan Seavey only made one start at the Indy Mile, so he doesn’t have the romanticism that others do towards the name but chooses to take a thousand foot view of it all.

“I see why some people have kind of rejected it, and there are others who will follow the Hoosier Hundred where ever time takes it,” Seavey said. “I understand why it means so much to people. I drive by that place all the time but we can’t change what happened there right now.

“So if Kasey wants to run with it, and give us a big paying race to keep the name alive, that’s what I’m most appreciative of.”

And should the city of Indianapolis change their minds about the surface, and welcome motorsports back on the horse racing facility, Coler would gladly give the name back up. In fact, if another Indiana mile dirt track wanted the name, he’d give it up for that too.

“Right now, we saw an opportunity to create a signature Silver Crown event and we wanted to put something on that matched the expectation of that name,” Coler said. “It’s not the Mile and we would all like to be there in some shape or form.

“But right now, I think we have the next best option.”

If you like what you read here, become a Short Track Scene Patreon and support short track journalism!

Read more Short Track Scene:

Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He also has extensive experience covering NASCAR, IndyCar and Dirt Sprint Cars.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




More in USAC Silver Crown