IRL: More to Indy Than 500 Mile Race

GREAT SHORT TRACK ACTION CLOSE TO THE SPEEDWAY When it comes to racing, Indianapolis is a special place. Not just for the Indy Racing League and their teams, but for many of the top teams in U.S. motorsports. Indianapolis is home...


When it comes to racing, Indianapolis is a special place. Not just for the Indy Racing League and their teams, but for many of the top teams in U.S. motorsports. Indianapolis is home to teams competing in IRL, CART, Indy Lights, NHRA and NASCAR.

It's no wonder that Indianapolis and the surrounding areas are home to some of the finest short track racing in the country. If you're heading to the Speedway for practice, qualifying or the race, plan some extra time to catch some of the local racing action.

If you're coming to Indianapolis for qualifying weekend, come early enough to head to Anderson Speedway (Anderson, Indiana) on Friday night, May 15, for the USAC Stoops Freightliner Sprint car series. Sprint cars blitz around the 1/4-mile high banked track in under twelve seconds. After practicing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, J. J. Yeley will head to Anderson to try and catch USAC points leader Brian Tyler. Tyler leads Yeley in the standings by fourteen points.

Saturday night, May 16, the action continues at Anderson Speedway with the Kendall Indiana Late Model Series.

Meanwhile, the USAC racers will be back in action Saturday night with the Coca-Cola 100 at Indianapolis Raceway Park (Clermont, Indiana). The Silver Crown cars will take to IRP for the first race on the newly repaved .686-mile surface. On the card with the Silver Crown cars is the ABB Univerity Spec Series electric formula cars sanctioned by Electronic Vehicle Technologies, Inc.

If you're coming into town from the west, or don't mind the drive out to Terre Haute, the World of Outlaw Sprint Cars will be at the Terre Haute Action Track for a two day show on Friday and Saturday night, May 15 and 16. The Outlaws will surely demonstrate how the track has earned the name "Action Track".

On race weekend, the action starts on Thursday night at the 16th Street Speedway. The USAC National Midget Series will be featured at the 1/4-mile flat track, located in the former Bush Stadium on 16th Street. There's not a bad seat in the house when twenty midgets engage in wheel to wheel combat on the tight 16th Street track.

On Friday, May 22, Bloomington Speedway will try to keep their fans close to home by offering Fan Appreciation Night. Admission is only $5 for adults and children under 12 are admitted free for a full night of racing. Non-wing sprint cars will be joined by the Indiana Street Stocks and Open Wheel Modifieds at the 1/4-mile dirt oval.

Spend Friday afternoon at Fanfest in the Speedway Museum's parking lot or head over to IRP for the first of two days of USAC's Alumni Reunion. Over 100 USAC and vintage open wheel cars are expected for the two day event. Friday's activities include paced demonstration laps around the oval track and a memorabilia display. Two two-hour practice sessions are scheduled for the vintage cars, the first at 10:00 a.m. and the second at 2 p.m.

With a 2:00 p.m. start for the second vintage session everyone should have plenty of time to get to the Indiana State Fairgrounds for A.J. Foyt's Hulman Hoosier 100 USAC Silver Crown race that evening. The Fairgrounds are located on 38th Street on the northeast side of Indianapolis. Don't be surprised if a driver qualified for the Indy 500 spends Friday night racing a Silver Crown car on the flat one-mile dirt track.

On the eve of the Indy 500 you've got two choices, the "53rd Annual Budweiser Night Before the 500" USAC National Midget race at IRP or the "Little 500" sprint car race at Anderson Speedway. The midget race at IRP caps the second day of the USAC Reunion with more track time for vintage cars during the day. Joining the USAC Midgets will be the Star Mazda Series. The first of two Star Mazda qualifying races are scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. The midgets will take the green at 7:30 for the first of their two qualifying races.

The second choice on the eve of the Indy 500 is the "Little 500" at Anderson Speedway located in Anderson, Indiana. Here's how the "Little 500" works. Thirty three of the top sprint car drivers from the midwest take to a 1/4-mile high banked paved oval and run a 500 lap race. Five hundred laps in a sprint car means that pit stops are required. All this at a 1/4-mile track that is not set up for 33 cars, let alone 33 cars making pit stops. Throw in some homemade 55-gallon drum fuel rigs and you'll know why this race is not for the fainthearted. Still, it's a tradition of the 500 weekend and immensely popular.

On race weekend, throw in the Memorabilia show at the Convention Center on Friday evening and all day Saturday, the Parade on Saturday afternoon, Fanfest at the Speedway, the free concerts downtown, and it won't take long to figure out that you've scheduled too little time to visit Indianapolis.

If you only come to Indianapolis for the racing, visit the local tracks. You never know where you'll find the next Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart.

David Reininger - Motorsport News International

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Brian Tyler