News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Auto Racing

September 14, 2011

Windom’s impressive streak evokes lofty comparisons

TERRE HAUTE — In the storied history of the Terre Haute Action Track no name is more synonymous with winning and dominance than the late Jim Hurtubise.

At a time when sprint car racing could be as deadly as it was competitive no driver ruled the local half-mile clay oval like the colorful North Tonawanda, N.Y., driver.

His impressive five-feature USAC sprint win streak of the early 1960s remains the standard even today.

Thus, it seemed only fitting the most recent winner in the race that pays tribute to the Hurtubise name would win in the dominating fashion as he did Saturday night.

Young Chris Windom literally blew away the competition en route to a fifth national sprint car win and his second in a row at the Action Track.

The 20-year-old Illinois hot shoe shrugged off several restarts and a hard charging Levi Jones to lead all 30 laps of the main event. This on the heels of a similar performance earlier this summer in the Tony Hulman/Don Smith Classic.

Not only did Windom win both shows at the Action Track this season, he led 56 of a possible 60 laps. His run Saturday night pulled him even closer to Jones in the tight points race for the sprint car driving championship.

Only 16 markers now separate the pair heading into this Saturday’s show at Haubstadt.

While Windom may not surround himself with the storied exploits of Hurtubise, he was well prepared to offer his thoughts of a night that he simply dominated an outclassed field.

“The car was perfect. You don’t get many nights like this in this business,” beamed the jubilant Windom.

“We sorta lucked out starting on the front row but we had an awful fast race car out there tonight,” offered Windom in what was probably the biggest understatement of the night.

While he is a relative newcomer to the USAC scene, the reputation of winning at Terre Haute has already left an indelible mark on Windom.

“It means a lot winning at Terre Haute. It’s really a cool race track. To have been able to win both races here is really awesome.”

He now turns his efforts to chasing down Jones in the points chase – one he says won’t be easy.

“It’s tough. We’re trying our hardest,” conceded Windom. “It’s hard to beat him [Jones] as consistent as he is. We win a race and he finishes second. All we can do is to continue to run as well as we have. I think we have a shot at [the title].”

“We still have 10 races. We’ll have to stay consistent, have as many good runs as possible. With the type of year we’re having I feel confident about our chances,” he said.

Jones is prepared for the championship run focused on the stretch drive that he hopes will make him the first five-time USAC sprint car champion.

“I’m really hungry to get this one,” stressed Jones. “This is the one to break the record. Steve Butler was a great race driver, a Hall of Famer. I don’t want to wait till 2012 to try and break the record.”

“We’re ready. We’ve got a new car on the way. What happened last year doesn’t count,” voiced the winner of the past two sprint titles. “This is an all new year. Windom has a lot of races under his belt. They are having a great year. Chris has become a heckuva race driver,” Jones said of his closest point rival.

While Jon Stanbrough (now 68 points back) suffered an off night Saturday, Jones cautions not to rule the Avon driver out of the championship picture.

“You can never overlook that Fox team. Jon has been one the finest sprint car drivers in the last 10 years. He knows how to win races.”

Jones looks forward to the final drive in the points chase.

“It’s got me pumped. It makes me want to get up and play with the kids each morning. I’m more excited to go to the race track than I have been in a long time,” revealed the obviously upbeat title contender.

CLASSIC NOTES – The car count for the Classic was a slimmer than expected 26 entrants. The most notable absentees were the normally front-running machines of Keith Kunz and Scott Benic.

It was nice to see the local entries of Chase Stockon, Blake Fitzpatrick and Brandon Mattox competing here. All had their moments in front of their hometown fans: Stockon winning his heat in convincing fashion and running 11th in the 30-lap feature; Fitzpatrick adding to his already rising stock with another top 10 finish.

Mattox continues to be an inspiration for all the young drivers hoping some day to run at the Action Track. He raced himself into the main event with a well-earned third-place finish in his heat. He went on to run 20th in the feature.

With the high profile USAC teams slowing while departing the darkened pit area, Mattox took time to reflect on his most recent outing at the Action Track.

“I know some guys think that maybe I shouldn’t be running here, that I don’t have the equipment or experience to run a big half mile like this. But this place is why I go racing. This is where as a kid I grew up watching races dreaming that someday I’d race at the Action Track,” confided Mattox.

LOOKING AHEAD – When the checkered flag fell on the Classic it brought to a close another unsettling year at the track, it’s future once again up in the air.

 The fair board was scheduled to meet earlier this week. Hopefully the fate of racing was one of the subjects on its agenda.

Word circulating the pits over the weekend was that USAC, which served as promoter at the track this season, would not return in that role in 2012.

USAC official Jason McCord downplayed the talk Monday, stating that the sanctioning body “would do whatever it takes to protect the interest of USAC racing at the track.”

The team of Reece O’Connor and Bob Sargent once again provided the racers and fans with an excellent racing surface. For the fifth time in the past two years the pair had been called in to bail out track promotions with their track prep expertise.

The pair attempted to gain promotional rights to racing at Wabash Valley Fairgrounds this past winter but had their bid rejected. According to Sargent, they have submitted a bid for the 2012 season.

 “They have our proposal. It’s up to (the fair board). USAC has told us they won’t return in a promotional role. That might provide us some leverage that we didn’t have a year ago when made our bid,” said the veteran promoter.

Joe Buckles can be reached at jbuckles4@

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Auto Racing
  • Metro roundup: Post 346 rallies past Rockville

    Wayne Newton Post 346 scored a run in the sixth and two in the seventh to get past Rockville 6-3 in an American Legion baseball regional at Terre Haute North on Wednesday.

    July 23, 2014

  • Todd Golden: Bigelow part of Action Track’s lifeblood

    Many things have changed since the Terre Haute Action Track opened in 1952, but the one constant is dirt.

    July 18, 2014

  • Metro: ISU graduate Johnson sixth in shot at Monaco

    Indiana State graduate Felisha Johnson competed in her first International Association of Athletics Federations Diamond League track and field meeting Friday, placing sixth in a shot put competition that featured six of the top seven throwers in the world for 2014.

    July 18, 2014

  • SPT071614sprints clauson.jpg Clauson breaks Action Track drought in Don Smith Classic

    Bryan Clauson wins the Don Smith Classic at the Terre Haute Action Track.

    July 17, 2014 4 Photos

  • schrader.jpg Joe Buckles: New alliance features powerful figures trying to lower costs

    Possibly no off track developments involving NASCAR racing  over the past 20 to 30 years has generated as much interest and speculation as last week’s announcement regarding the formation of the new Race Team Alliance organization.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Riley 10s go 4-1, place second in state tourney

    Riley’s 10-and-under all-star team finished as runner-up over the weekend at the Cal Ripken baseball Central Indiana tournament.

    July 14, 2014

  • Trackside: Valley race fans should be happy

    Whether your preference is non-wing sprint cars or late-model stock cars, this is the week that Wabash Valley race fans look forward to all summer.
    The best of the best is the only way to describe what will unfold this week at Valley ovals. First comes the continuation of the popular UMP Summer National “Hell Week” tour for late models and its annual stop at Terre Haute Action Track tonight. USAC’s Indiana Sprint Week opens later this weekend with stops at Gas City on Friday night, Kokomo on Saturday and Lawrenceburg on Sunday evening.

    July 8, 2014

  • Metro sports: Pounds among winners at Crossroads Dragway

    Ron Pound was one of the winners in Crossroads Dragway racing on Saturday.

    June 30, 2014

  • Trackside: Rising costs make Valley racing more difficult than ever

    The life and times of your weekly short-track racer has long lived up to the colorful and exciting ways coveted by those in the stands who gather each weekend to watch their favorite team or driver compete.
    While the weekly trek to the race track has always presented its challenges, the task in recent times has made those trips to the many dirt ovals across the country a little more difficult to make.

    June 24, 2014

  • Metro roundup: Lady Rex take Ohio softball tournament

    The Lady Rex 18u softball team had a 5-1 record over the weekend to win the Ohio Premier tournament.

    June 23, 2014

  • Trackside: Likable Dave Darland still chalking up victories at 48

    One of short-track racing’s all-time open-wheel greats continues to add to his growing legacy.
    When veteran racer Dave Darland rolled into victory lane at Lincoln Park Speedway last week, he notched his 94th USAC career win. Add the countless number of open-competition wins over the years and it’s easy to surmise the popular driver is approaching the lofty 200-win plateau.
    His latest checkered flag came in the USAC Indiana Midget Week show at the same 5⁄16-mile dirt oval where he cut his teeth in an open-cockpit car more than 30 years ago.

    June 18, 2014

  • Groomer among Lincoln Park winners; Bell, Abreu take Indiana Midget Week races

    Ralph Groomer was a feature winner in racing on Saturday at Lincoln Park Speedway.

    June 15, 2014

  • Trackside: Thumbs up given for upcoming Indiana Midget Week

    In his many years of serving in the public relation department for the U.S. Auto Club, Dick Jordan has developed a keen sense for rating the overall health and future of dirt-track open-wheel racing.
    So when the veteran publicist voices a note of guarded optimism for the running of an upcoming series, one knows something special looms on the horizon.

    June 10, 2014

  • Metro sports: Cassell wins Lawrence County title

    Chris Cassell put together two rounds of 4-under-par 68 for a two-shot victory for his first Albright Motors Lawrence County Open championship on Sunday.

    June 9, 2014

  • Metro: White wins mile, Sebastian 5K at TH Memorial Day events

    Nolan White won the mile run and Matthew Sebastian won the 5-kilometer walk during Terre Haute Parks Memorial Day events Monday at Deming Park.

    May 28, 2014

  • IndyCar Indy 500 Heli_Tayl.jpg Six former winners chasing Indy 500 championship

    Angst, frustration and heartbreak are all part of the lore of the Indianapolis 500, but when a driver finally takes the checkered flag, all of those words are quickly relegated to the back of their mind and replaced with pure joy. That emotion keeps bringing them back, and for the 98th running of the Indy 500, six former winners will chase that passion again.

    May 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Darland wins Hulman Classic for 50th trip to USAC victory lane

    For once, the Terre Haute Action Track and the U.S. Auto Club got a weather break Wednesday night, a window amidst threatening conditions to allow the 44th Tony Hulman Classic to go off without a serious hitch.
    Some might say Dave Darland got a break too, but most would agree instead that the veteran sprint car driver has learned to make his own breaks by this time. He won the Classic for the second time in his career — the first coming in 1993 — and is a three-time USAC winner this season while no one else has won more than once.

    May 21, 2014

  • Trackside: Tony Hulman Classic set for tonight at T.H. Action Track

    Looking for a potential dark horse winner in tonight’s scheduled running of the U.S. Auto Club-sanctioned running of the Tony Hulman Classic at the Terre Haute Action Track?
    The task is indeed a challenging one. The USAC sprint circuit offers some of the most competitive forms of racing anywhere in the country and picking a potential winner out of a field that has at least eight to 10 drivers capable of making it to victory lane is very much a guessing game.

    May 21, 2014

  • Unlikely duo on Indy GP pole

    Verizon IndyCar drivers in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis showcased rooster tails Friday as the rains came down for the Firestone Fast Six qualifying. Red flag conditions briefly halted the final session as officials stopped action for safety reasons.

    May 9, 2014

  • carpenter.jpg Owner-driver Ed Carpenter getting ready for Indy run

    Before too many pages get torn off the May calendar, IndyCar team owner and driver Ed Carpenter is trying to enjoy his free time away from race tracks.
    Wednesday afternoon was an example of that.
    The Wabash Valley native — born in Paris, Ill., and lived in Marshall, Ill., until he was 8 — signed autographs and granted media interviews while the car he drove in the 2008 Indianapolis 500 sat in the parking lot of the 500 Automotive Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership in Vermillion County.

    May 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drivers give thumbs up to Indy’s new road course

    IndyCar drivers were unified Wednesday: The new road course at Indianapolis is a whole lot better than the old one.

    April 30, 2014

  • Trackside: Track promoters realize rainy weather is part of territory

    The life and times of a race-track operator or promoter is sure to test the patience and character of any individual adventurous enough to journey into such a risky profession.
    Especially if your name is Bob Sargent or Reece O’Connor and your race dates are at the Terre Haute Action Track.

    April 29, 2014

  • SPT 051712 TYLER WAMPLER.jpg Metro roundup: ISU’s Wampler makes national watch list

    Indiana State’s Tyler Wampler has been named to the watch list for the 2014 Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year award.

    April 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 2014 KISS Series opener today at Terre Haute Action Track

    When the 2014 King of Indiana Sprint Series gets underway today, it will be at one of the most challenging ovals on the schedule. The Terre Haute Action Track earned its name years ago.
    The Action Track is a big half mile, with sweeping turns and high-speed straightaways that demand the best from drivers, cars and crew. This may be illustrated by mentioning previous KISS winners at the Terre Haute oval — Jon Stanbrough (three times), Levi Jones, Tony Elliott, Shane Cottle and most recently Robert Ballou.

    April 26, 2014

  • bb8991b19af8b067e44478c_.jpg VIDEO: Windom seeking strong start to USAC Silver Crown Series at Action Track

    Chris Windom has big plans.
    Sure, the 23-year-old would like to make the ascent from success in the U.S. Auto Club to the fame and fortune of the larger racing series of NASCAR.
    The Canton, Ohio, native who makes his home in West Lafayette has his sights on a big USAC season in 2014. Windom was second in Silver Crown points in 2013 and ninth in the sprint series.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo 1 Video

  • Trackside: If weather cooperates, racers are set to start their engines

    With any assistance from the weather, the Wabash Valley motorsports season is expected to shift into high gear this weekend on several fronts.

    April 2, 2014

  • Jim Nabors at Indy 500.jpg Nabors to sing ‘Indiana’ one last time at IMS

    INDIANAPOLIS — Beloved actor-entertainer and legendary Indianapolis 500 icon Jim Nabors will sing “(Back Home Again in) Indiana” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the final time prior to the start of the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25. Watch YouTube Video

    March 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • gary bettenhausen.jpg Action Track great Gary Bettenhausen dies

    Gary Bettenhausen, a legend of the Terre Haute Action Track, has died at age 72.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kurt Busch to try Indy 500, Coca-Cola 600 on same day

    It’s been 10 years since a driver last attempted running both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, a feat so grueling that only Tony Stewart has successfully completed all 1,100 miles.
    Now Kurt Busch wants to give “the double” a try and he will have cars capable of winning both races.

    March 4, 2014

  • Kurt Busch 70 percent sure he’ll run in Indy 500

    Kurt Busch put his chances at “70 percent” at running the Indianapolis 500 this year because of recent developments that have pushed a potential program along.

    January 27, 2014

Latest News
AP Auto Racing News Poll
AP Video
Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails
NDN Video
LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB'

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010