August 30, 2018

Dirt Track Racing Coming To Indianapolis Motor Speedway For First Time

Sarah Fisher takes a lap around the quarter-mile dirt track the Indianapolis Motor Speedway built inside turn three of the asphalt oval. - Doug Jaggers/WFYI

Sarah Fisher takes a lap around the quarter-mile dirt track the Indianapolis Motor Speedway built inside turn three of the asphalt oval.

Doug Jaggers/WFYI

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts dirt track racing for the first time next week.

Crews are putting the finishing touches on a quarter-mile dirt track inside turn three of the famed asphalt oval. The banked, clay surface is enclosed by a concrete wall and catch fence, and temporary grandstands rise above the front stretch.

The purpose-built track will host the Driven2SaveLives BC39, National Midget Championship event sanctioned by the United States Auto Club, Sept. 5 and 6.

The final entry list released Wednesday includes 118 drivers, the most ever in the racing series’ 63 years. The number surpassed the expectations of IMS President Doug Boles, who championed the idea to build the dirt track.

“I’m overwhelmed, frankly. I would’ve said we would get 60 to 70 so twice what you might get at a normal national USAC midget race but to be three times a normal national event is pretty impressive,” Boles says. “And, it really says a lot about the history and tradition of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

Even with the intense interest within the racing community, there’s no guarantee the track will become a permanent fixture of the turn 3 infield. Boles says, for now, USAC and IMS only plan to stage next week’s event leading up to NASCAR’s Brickyard weekend.

“If it’s successful and people like it and want to do it again, I think we’ll definitely consider [continuing] it,” Boles says. “But, right now, the plan is to host this one event and make it a fun midget race and part of that weekend and if it makes sense then we’ll re-evaluate. As a short tracker, I certainly hope it is.”

Racing begins next Wednesday. The 118-car field will be narrowed to 22 cars for the championship race Thursday night.

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