By Joe Jennings
The Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Knoxville Nationals are among America’s long-running iconic racing events. In addition, the Hoosier 100 for the USAC Silver Crown Championship Series is a charter member of the club and should be included high on a race fan’s bucket list.
As always, the 62nd running of the Hoosier 100 will be run on the mile-dirt track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The 2015 edition will take place on Thursday evening, May 21, and the race serves as a lead-in to a weekend of speed that culminates with the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500, some 10 miles away from the Fairgrounds.
Since its debut in 1953, a who’s who of racing has competed and won the Hoosier 100. Superstar A. J. Foyt Jr. leads the way with six checkered flags. Other legends making their way into victory lane include Parnelli Jones, Rodger Ward, Mario Andretti, Al Unser Sr., Jack Hewitt, Jeff Swindell and Dave Darland.
The last five winners have been Shane Hollingsworth, Shane Hmiel, Jerry Coons Jr., Levi Jones and Kody Swanson.
All winners recognize the importance and the challenges of winning the 100-miler, and they are more than proud to be in the elite winner’s club.
Said Swanson, the 2014 winner, “This is such a historic race with so many name drivers winning it and to add my name to the list is special.” The Californian went on to win the season championship but the Hoosier 100 pushed him and his car to the limit. “We started eighth and at a place like this, it is so hard to pass. You have to be aggressive when you have the opportunity, and you have to find something that no one else has and try to make it work. My car worked in every lane tonight, and I am happy to have done it.”
Jones took the checkered flag in 2013 and about his win, he stated, “Words can’t describe winning this race. This is my Indy 500. I have been on the front row here and led a lot of laps, but couldn’t get the win until now. I knew if I could get close to Jerry Coons Jr. (the 2011 and 2012 winner), his crew would tell him I was getting close. It worked out when he got sideways.”
He was driving a car from Tony Stewart’s stable and team partner Mike Curb was thrilled with the outcome, saying, “We won Indy two years ago with Dan Wheldon and the Indy Lights race a year ago, and now this win.”
For this year’s edition, Swanson, Jones, Coons and Darland are expected to be on hand in search of another victory, but they will have to plenty of competition from some two dozen others, all of whom want to take home the trophy for winning the prestigious race.
For USAC’s finest competitors, the grandstands open at 3 p.m. with practice getting underway at 5 p.m. followed by qualifications at 6 p.m. The grueling race takes the green flag at 7 p.m.
Supporting the USAC 100-miler will be the UMP Modifieds with three-time winner Kenny Schrader expected to be shooting for another win.
For more information or to purchase advance tickets for the $5 discount, contact Track Enterprises at www.trackenterprises.com or call 217-764-3200.