News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Trackside

June 13, 2013

Trackside: Midgets could be on rise in Wabash Valley

TERRE HAUTE — With Indiana Midget Week taking center stage this week at Wabash Valley ovals, it’s time to talk midget racing.

More specifically, it’s time to examine its status in the Hoosier State and what the future might hold for one of open wheel’s most competitive but yet overlooked forms of racing.

It’s no secret the mighty, little midgets have suffered from hard times in recent years. Spiraling engine costs and resulting smaller car counts have led to a sharp reduction in the number of races for the midgets.

Terre Haute Action Track supporters of the midgets know first hand. They lost their popular Hut Hundred a few seasons back and hope of them returning to the local half-mile clay oval remains a question mark.

That’s the bad news.

Now the good news: There remains a glimmer of hope that the midgets just might make a resurgence. The ninth annual version of USAC Indiana Midget Week is bringing the small cars back to where they belong — the Indiana short tracks.

The series was slated to open up Wednesday night at Gas City, then go to Lincoln Park tonight, Bloomington on Friday, Lawrenceburg on Saturday and closes out at Kokomo on Sunday.

The midgets haven’t appeared at the Action Track since 2008 and there aren’t any immediate plans to bring them back any time soon according to promoter Bob Sargent. Although the veteran promoter is leaving the door open for a possible return.

“I’d like to say yes that we’ll have the midgets here in the future, but I can’t say that at this point. We’re only into our second year with the track,” Sargent voiced earlier this week.

“We try to give the fans what they want. We’ll just wait and see. It could happen,” he said.

The seasoned race organizer says there appears to be a rebirth of sorts for the midgets.

“We had 55 cars for our PowrI show this past weekend at our track in Macon [Ill.] as part of the Illinois Powrl Midget Week,” noted Sargent. “There were three races and from what I’ve been told, all three tracks had strong car counts and good fan turnouts.”

“I think we’ve seen sign of growth over the past five years for the midgets, USAC and PowrI are working close together to bring them [midgets] back. There’s still plenty of problems to work out, but I think we might be headed in the right direction.”

One of those problems is engine costs. Today’s midget powerplants can easy go for $35,000.

“They are very, very expensive. That can be a major concern, even for the bigger and better supported teams. It’s something that has to be addressed if we want to get it back to the way it used to be,” voiced the concerned Sargent.

The safety issue for the midgets at the bigger tracks also has been brought up in some circles. Sargent downplays that part of the problem.

“Racing can be dangerous no matter what you run or where you run. It’s just part of the sport. They [midgets] certainly run at tracks as fast or faster than what they would at the [Wabash Valley] Fairgrounds,” he mentioned.

The fan appeal or the lack thereof for the small cars has always been puzzling for promoters — how the bigger sprints can draw so well yet how the small but similar appearing midgets fail to get a fan crossover.

It goes the same for late models, which thrive in Illinois, but lack drawing power in Indiana. It can be the same scenario for the sprints versus the midgets.

“I think that all goes back to what the tracks run on a weekly basis. If they run the sprints like they do in Indiana, then sprint specials are going to draw better. It’s that way no matter what you run,” Sargent explained.

Joe Buckles can be reached by email at jbuckles4@frontier.com.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Trackside
  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Trackside: Crossroads drag strip taking big steps to keep racers

    The eyes of the racing world may have been focused on Indianapolis, Charlotte and Monte Carlo this past weekend. But for Terre Haute area fans and racers, the attention was directed at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds.
    That’s where activities at the Terre Haute Action Track and Crossroads Dragway took center stage. News and results surrounding shows at the two venues offered some encouraging news for the future of racing at the southside facilities.

    May 27, 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

  • Trackside with Joe Buckles: Stockon enjoying battling with USAC’s top race teams

    When the U.S. Auto Club sprint-car contingent rolls into the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds next week for the scheduled running of the Tony Hulman Classic, young Chase Stockon will find himself cast in the role as a pre-race favorite.

    May 14, 2014

  • Trackside: Valley racers appear destined for banner year at various tracks

    The green flag may have just fallen on the 2014 racing campaign, but early results give all the indications that it’s going to be a banner season for the Wabash Valley contingent.
    Competitors have already made their presence felt at two of the most popular weekly cards, those at Bloomington and Lincoln Park Speedways. Chase Stockon has established himself again as legitimate contender on the U.S. Auto Club sprint-car circuit.

    May 6, 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

  • 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

  • bucklesphoto.jpg Joe Buckles: Fitzpatrick back on track, returns to winning ways

    Following a self-imposed hiatus from the Wabash Valley sprint-car scene for most of the summer, Fitzpatrick Racing out of West Terre Haute has returned to action and the results over the past two weekends have been nothing shy of spectacular.

    October 2, 2013 1 Photo

  • Trackside: Burns, Fitzpatrick provide fun moments at Putnamville

    In a season that has generated more than its share of down moments for Wabash Valley fans and racers, last Saturday’s “King of non-wing Sprints” program at Lincoln Park Speedway served notice that there are still a few positive storylines to be found in the wild and unpredictable sport of sprint-car racing.
    One such storyline unfolded this past weekend on the rough and challenging 5⁄16-mile Putnamville dirt oval. That’s where the runs of Eric Burns and Blake Fitzpatrick sent fans home feeling that if the season has to come to a close, it couldn’t end on a happier or brighter note.

    September 25, 2013

  • Trackside: Stewart proves versatility is one of his strongpoints

    At a time each summer when stock-car racing takes center stage in the heart of open-wheel racing territory, it was Tony Stewart who emerged the big winner last weekend.
    No, not Tony Stewart the race driver but Tony Stewart the owner. He’s the undisputed leader on two racing fronts — the car owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series with Ryan Newman as his driver and the owner-operator of Eldora Speedway. The popular Indiana native posted impressive showings in both ventures.

    August 1, 2013

  • Trackside: Sprint Week is fun week for USAC fans

    With three rounds down and four to go, the 2013 version of Indiana Sprint Week is ready to take center stage at the Terre Haute Action Track tonight — weather permitting, of course.
    It’s hard not to mention the elements when talking racing at the Action Track this season.
    Race organizers Reece O’Connor and Bob Sargent have felt the sting of Mother Nature worse than most Midwest promoters this spring and summer with all five of their scheduled shows washed out.

    July 17, 2013

  • Finding best talent the key to all sports, including auto racing

    The success of any sporting franchise often rests with the ability of owners to find and mold talent into a winning combination.

    June 20, 2013

  • Trackside: Midgets could be on rise in Wabash Valley

    With Indiana Midget Week taking center stage this week at Wabash Valley ovals, it’s time to talk midget racing.
    More specifically, it’s time to examine its status in the Hoosier State and what the future might hold for one of open wheel’s most competitive but yet overlooked forms of racing.
    It’s no secret the mighty, little midgets have suffered from hard times in recent years. Spiraling engine costs and resulting smaller car counts have led to a sharp reduction in the number of races for the midgets.
    Terre Haute Action Track supporters of the midgets know first hand. They lost their popular Hut Hundred a few seasons back and hope of them returning to the local half-mile clay oval remains a question mark.

    June 13, 2013

  • TRACKSIDE: Bad weather gives time to reflect

    With weather-related issues continuing to plague the Wabash Valley racing scene, the lack of on-track activity presents an opportunity to offer an overall assessment of the 2013 campaign to date.

    June 6, 2013

  • TRACKSIDE: Burton’s death shows tragic side of racing

    The tragic chain of events that had unfolded the previous night at Bloomington Speedway had cast a pall over what should have been an enjoyable night of racing at LPS.

    Word had circulated the Putnam County racing facility that earlier in the day that young Josh Burton had succumbed to injuries from an accident the night before at Bloomington.

    May 29, 2013

  • TRACKSIDE: Chase Stockon hopes momentum stays with him in Terre Haute

    Momentum, an element that can be as elusive to a race driver as that perfect setup, can spell the difference in winning or running at the rear of the pack.
    It’s a force difficult to achieve and maybe even harder to maintain. One learns quickly to make the most of the opportunity when it comes his way.
    It’s something Chase Stockon will carry with him coming into today’s Jim Hurtubise Classic at the Terre Haute Action Track.
    Only days following the biggest victory of his young and promising career, the $10,000-to-win USAC feature at Lawrenceburg, Stockon followed that up with another rich payday this past weekend at Tri-State Speedway.

    October 12, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Stanbrough continues points chase after recent skirmish with rival

    Veteran sprint car driver Jon Stanbrough has never been one to hide his distaste for chasing point championships. It simply doesn’t bode well with his style of racing.

    August 30, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Brett Andrew plays role in developing NASCAR's new body styles

    The recent announcement from NASCAR regarding the approved body styles for the 2013 Sprint Cup Series follows extensive wind-tunnel testing that was a year in the making.

    August 17, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Stockon takes giant step forward in USAC

    One of the more impressive and welcomed storylines of the recently completed Indiana Sprint Week was the emergence of area driver Chase Stockon on the national sprint car scene.

    August 1, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Indiana Sprint Week rises above heat, rain, poor economy

    The 25th annual version of Indiana Sprint Week is now officially in the record books and the latest chapter will go down as one of the most successful in recent years.

    July 25, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Late models may have no long-term future in Indiana

    Reflecting on what was billed as the biggest week of the summer for dirt-track stock-car racing … while preparing to shift gears for the busiest week of the year for non-wing sprint-car racing in the Wabash Valley.

    July 18, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Summer heat has made this ‘The Hell Tour’

    It is fittingly billed as “The Hell Tour” for many of the Midwest’s leading late model stock car drivers and their crews.

    July 12, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Retired driver LaJoie spreads the word of safety

    In his roles as past driving champion and television analyst, Randy LaJoie has rightfully earned the reputation as a major contributor to the sport of auto racing.

    July 4, 2012

  • Trackside: Stanbrough on track at midseason

    When veteran driver Jon Stanbrough ushered in a new season in Florida back in February, he found himself facing a pair of unfamiliar challenges.

    June 27, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Clauson bucks the IndyCar trend

    On the surface, the distance from the dirt oval at Lincoln Park Speedway to the massive, paved Indianapolis Motor Speedway may appear only a few miles apart.

    June 21, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: USAC Midget Classic not nearly as revered as it once was

    It might be three years removed from its birthplace but the Hut Hundred USAC Midget Classic still holds a special place in the hearts of Wabash Valley racing buffs.

    June 6, 2012

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Today in History for July 28th Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Parade
Magazine

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

activity