Revised look adds longevity

Revised Look Of Silver Crown Racecars Adds Longevity To Popular Series USAC embraces history while setting tone for the future INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Dec. 09, 2004) -- The United States Auto Club (USAC), which celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2005,...

Revised Look Of Silver Crown Racecars Adds Longevity To Popular Series
USAC embraces history while setting tone for the future

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Dec. 09, 2004) -- The United States Auto Club (USAC), which celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2005, is eagerly preparing for the sanctioning body's next 50 years, with the announcement of the first major design change to the cars competing in its fiercely contested and best known racing series, the Weld Racing Silver Crown Championship.

Recognized as one of the most competitive major racing series in the world, the Weld Racing Silver Crown cars are traditionally styled, 1500-pound front engine cars that when first introduced, ran on the popular one-mile and shorter dirt track ovals such as the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Until these cars developed their own stand-alone series in 1971, they competed as part of the National Championship Trail, which included the Indianapolis 500.

However, as the popularity of the series grew, USAC officials continually expanded upon the series' reliable format, and moved to include pavement races. Although the Silver Crown cars have been closely tied to the history of open wheel racing, retaining their original design and engine package, it has remained a long-term goal within USAC to update the styling so that the cars better reflected a more modern look. In addition, increased speeds gave rise to incremental safety modifications that have played a significant role in this progressive design.

Versatility has always been the key to success in the Weld Racing Silver Crown Series as teams make regular appearances on tracks of one mile or less in length. High on USAC's list was to expand the series to larger tracks and larger markets, to grow the fan base and ultimately, the purses. USAC has always known it had a great racing series, but it wanted the ability to clearly introduce the Silver Crown cars to new audiences. "Moving to a 1.5-mile track meant speeds would increase and that dictated addressing concerns about safety. We feel we have answered those questions through the car's unique design," said Mike Devin, USAC vice president and technical director.

Working in concert with highly respected car designer and builder Riley Technologies (formerly Riley & Scott), located virtually down the street from USAC's Speedway, Indiana, headquarters, the revised Silver Crown car took shape over the course of 18 months. Riley's design team, well known for its familiarity with high speed dynamics, was commissioned by USAC to complete the prototype. "The parameters were well established going into their office," said Devin.

The modifications therefore, are an effective adaptation of traditional open wheel design and include the addition of sidepods that owe their existence to the modern day Indycar, and are an attempt to defend against touching tires. Along those same lines, the most striking styling change is the creation of a new protective front nose that lessens the chance close-running cars can jump tires. A fuel cell that sits behind the driver in advance of the redesigned tail section will make the car safer at the additional speeds expected on the larger tracks. A secondary function of the new nose, sidepods and tail is to act as an attenuator in the case of impact.

"This car is quite technologically advanced," stated Ron McMahon, vice president and general manager of Riley Technologies. "The traditional Silver Crown car, with its 1960s elements, is essentially limited to a one-mile oval. We've taken into consideration a number of factors that will keep control in the hands of the drivers as we start to see speeds climb, particularly at certain 1.5-mile facilities."

To that extent, the rear tires will both become 14 inches in width; the right rear has been reduced from 18 inches, although the overall diameter will remain slightly larger to accommodate stagger. McMahon added that substantial testing of components for fitment and absorption of additional stresses was conducted over the course of the development stage. Nevertheless, it is USAC's desire to keep costs down, and stay within an economical threshold. "We don't want to alienate any existing team owners," Devin declared.

"Our desire is to create a better open wheel package for our drivers and teams and increase our fan base," said Steve Farmer, USAC national director, sales and marketing. "Going to new tracks gives us a chance to run with other sanctioning bodies. The Weld Racing Silver Crown Championship is a destination series. It is our intent to enable more drivers to remain within this series for their entire career and make good money."

Devin expects to see team owners building cars by mid-season 2005. "Our new rulebook will be out early in the new year," he stated, "and by the end of next summer, we want to consider a demonstration race at a track we haven't previously visited. It will be a great way to help celebrate our 50 years of racing excellence."

USAC will celebrate its 2004 "Champions Night," Friday, Dec. 10, at the Downtown-Marriott in Indianapolis. The awards ceremony begins at 6:00 p.m., and more information and tickets are available by calling the USAC office at 317.247.5151.

USAC will present its 50th season of professional auto racing in 2005. The organization continues to be the most diversified auto racing sanctioning body in the world, and conducts more than 250 races per season in its numerous professional divisions -- from the demanding Weld Racing Silver Crown Series to Quarter Midgets of America, which reaches out to young drivers and teaches them how to compete at an early age. To date, USAC has organized nearly 7,000 events, and has paid out in excess of $200 million in prize money. The driving force behind USAC continues to be the desire to present the safest, most competitive and exciting racing events possible for the hundreds of thousands of race fans who attend USAC series across the United States. For more information, please visit


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