Pierce Gets Bigelow "Assist" at Fort Wayne Aaron Pierce of Muncie, Ind. has added his name to the growing list of entries for the "Rumble in Ft. Wayne" midget races Dec. 29-30 at the Memorial Coliseum in Ft. Wayne, Ind. The 2004...
Pierce Gets Bigelow "Assist" at Fort Wayne
Aaron Pierce of Muncie, Ind. has added his name to the growing list of entries for the "Rumble in Ft. Wayne" midget races Dec. 29-30 at the Memorial Coliseum in Ft. Wayne, Ind. The 2004 Weld Racing Silver Crown Series Rookie of the Year, will pilot the No. 95 Covington entry. Though Pierce has experience in Covington's machine, he has yet to race the car indoors.
However, Pierce has experienced success indoors. He's made every indoor show he's attempted since the beginning of his open-wheel career and led 75 laps of a 100-lap event at Ft. Wayne in 1999 before finishing fourth. He's also run sprint cars and legends cars indoors.
"I love racing indoors," Pierce said. "It's totally different, but it sure is a ball. It's kind of like a rodeo. I just want to thank Jerry Covington for letting me run the car."
Pierce, one of USAC's most improved drivers over the last two years, can thank 1978 National Sprint Car Series champion Tom Bigelow in part for his improvement. Bigelow, the all-time winningest National sprint car driver in USAC history, won USAC's last indoors race at Ft. Wayne in 1989. He said driving indoors requires a sort of patience, though drivers won't find it easy to cross paths.
"That's the hardest part," said Bigelow, who is fifth all-time in USAC national wins with 81 to his credit (52 sprints, 23 midgets, six Silver Crown). "Here's an event where you put your manners in your back pocket and you have to use the bumpers and the wheels. You've almost got to bump other people out of the way. You've got to do it in a gentle way, but if you want to win, you can't be afraid to bang wheels. I think it makes a good show for the race fans because of the close, competitive nature there."
"I have passed guys on the outside, but when you ran against Mel Kenyon, Gary Bettenhausen and Pancho Carter, you had to use a little extra persuasion."
Bigelow first took a liking to Pierce seven years ago when he saw Pierce run legends cars. Bigelow assisted him on a regular basis before advising him and joining his Sam Pierce Chevrolet crew on the Silver Crown and sprint car circuits. Bigelow said he has been impressed with Pierce's progress.
"I think the hardest thing with him was to slow him down; he's so aggressive," Bigelow said. "It takes time for a driver to develop patience. Sometimes you have to go slower in order to go faster.
"He's a very good driver," Bigelow continued. "When I first saw him in legend cars, I knew this kid had what he needed to be a good driver. We stayed friends, and I helped him here and there, but now I'm going to the races, watching him on his setups. I know that if he's making mistakes, I can tell him and he'll listen. With Aaron, I've seen him make a lot of mistakes, but that's taught him a lot about setups and driving skills."
Bettenhausen, who has 82 USAC national victories for fourth on the all-time list, will serve as the grand marshal for the event, which will feature a full USAC program with qualifying, heats, a semifeature and 60-lap features each night. National, Regional, Ford Focus and Kenyon midgets are expected to compete in the "special events", the first to incorporate all four cars.
Bettenhausen will make an appearance Dec. 30 to sign autographs. Special limited-edition Gary Bettenhausen posters will be available for fans attending the Fort Wayne events. Tickets for "Rumble in Fort Wayne," which also includes UMRA TQ and Kart action, are available at all Ticketmaster outlets and can be charged by phone at (260) 424-1811.