'Next Generation' for current and future drivers

USAC's New Silver Crown Car Reaches Out To Both 'Next Generation' of Drivers and Today's Competitors Multi-pronged effort underway to reach out to current and new drivers and fans INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Dec. 09, 2004) -- The United States Auto Club...

USAC's New Silver Crown Car Reaches Out To Both 'Next Generation' of Drivers and Today's Competitors
Multi-pronged effort underway to reach out to current and new drivers and fans

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Dec. 09, 2004) -- The United States Auto Club (USAC), recognized for having produced many of American motorsports' greatest drivers, is in the process of taking its premier racing series, the Weld Racing Silver Crown Championship, to a new level -- and new markets.

By modifying the design of the current Silver Crown car, while retaining its characteristic look, legacy and the historical principles upon which the sanctioning body was founded, USAC is intent on targeting new markets and drivers, as well as maintaining its current roster of drivers and owners. The new design will appear in the 2006 season.

"I think it's fair to say that the competitors who have participated in our Silver Crown series make up the elite of American race car drivers," declared Rollie Helmling, president and CEO of USAC. "Winning the Championship is a prestigious milestone in any driver's career." Previous champions include Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, JJ Yeley, Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt and Al Unser, Sr.

Changes to the new Silver Crown pavement car incorporate economics, safety and performance. "We are intent on consistently featuring the traditional open wheel race car that our fans have come to expect," Helmling added. "All these self-regulated criteria have been met. Our rulebook will specify parts dealing with aerodynamics and crashworthiness and single category exclusivity -- to keep pricing down and mandate certain quality control standards."

Insuring that current components on existing Silver Crown cars will be transferred to the new model without compromising safety was accomplished through testing -- first on a half-mile oval and subsequently at Kentucky Speedway's 1.5-mile tri-oval. Participating in those two tests, which were conducted over two weeks, were two drivers representing the current wave of competitors, each on different ends of the spectrum.

Tony Ave, of Indianapolis, has competed at all of USAC's professional levels. He tested the new Silver Crown car alongside Jason McCord of Anderson, Indiana, a nine-year veteran of Silver Crown racing. Both were very impressed with the way the car reacted. "It's different than what we're used to," said McCord, "but the handling characteristics were great. Even with a slightly longer wheelbase, and at higher speeds, the car reacted the same way as our current cars. The speed was very controllable and manageable."

McCord acknowledged that with experience and time, "crew chiefs will adjust shocks and springs and add some speed. But I'm confident Mike Devin and Owen Snyder [USAC's technical staff] will keep a watchful eye so that it doesn't become excessive. Still, we want to keep the racing exciting; that's what our fans demand."

Ave echoed McCord's declaration. "It is time for a change. USAC has to keep moving. Corporate America and the American race fan are all into NASCAR. But its top drivers all came from our series, and I share USAC's belief that it would be good for our series to show new fans where their heroes started.--It's in Silver Crown cars and other USAC series where these great drivers learn that critical kind of car control.

"Competing at new, bigger racetracks would be beneficial," Ave added. "More fans, bigger gate, bigger purses. That will attract plenty of car owners and drivers."

Ave also paid tribute to USAC for its determined effort to keep costs down. "Our current cars become obsolete after next season," he noted, "but the way the new car has been designed, you can pull the running gear off the existing car and with a few modifications, it's basically the same, with specific relevant safety components." Ave also was comfortable with the speeds achieved at Kentucky Speedway. "You can't completely control the speeds; drivers have to be able to pass another, and we still need to have side-by-side racing," he said. "It's important to keep the excitement in it and in turn, generate new fans. I'm definitely looking forward to the 2006 season."

"This project is one of the most ambitious in USAC's history," Helmling stated. "We are extremely excited about the possibilities for this new car as we continue to expand and redefine the Weld Racing Silver Crown Series, and ultimately, reach out to audiences who will get to see some of America's finest racers."

The current rules package for USAC's dirt-track Silver Crown cars remains unchanged, while the new pavement package will debut in 2006. The overall series will remain a combination of pavement and dirt events. Current and new car owners and builders will be able to utilize the new specs to construct their own machines. USAC Director of Competition Mike Devin and veteran crew chief Owen Snyder, who recently joined the association's staff, will oversee the development of the series' new cars.

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Series USAC
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Tony Ave , Mario Andretti , Al Unser