The Last Hoosier Hundred

But wait, there’s more: the Hoosier Hundred is a hundred mile dirt race held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on their 1 mile horse/car dirt track.  The Hoosier Hundred was originally held as a Champ Car race in the early 1950s in September. It was included on the Champ Car schedule until 1970 (when dirt racing was dropped from Champ Car remember), where it became part of USAC’s Silver Crown Series.  When USAC decided to drop dirt racing from the Champ Car, they created a new class called Silver Crown. These cars were much more like the old style of Indianapolis Champ Car that had raced in the early 1960s. Silver Crown is the spiritual successor to Champ Car: even today they use production based engines and run on both asphalt and dirt ovals, usually a mile or less.  The Hoosier Hundred has run nearly continuously since 1953, sometimes in September, but recently in May before the Indy 500. The one constant since that first race has been the location: the Indiana State Fairgrounds in downtown Indianapolis. The 1-mile clay horse/car track has always been the host of the Hoosier Hundred race, a true old school race even in the modern age.  Unfortunately, after much petitioning, the fairgrounds will be changing the track surface from the traditional clay to crushed limestone for the horse and harness racers. The new surface is unsuitable for racecars, making 2019 the last traditional Hoosier Hundred. For decades, the best oval drivers in the US raced at, and won, the Hoosier Hundred. From AJ Foyt, to Rodger Ward: Eddie Sachs to Jeff Gordon: Gary Bettenhausen to Kody Swanson.  All have won the Hoosier Hundred.

Hoosier Hundred Qualifying
It’s a bit hard to believe this is how racing used to be. Just some guardrail and a bit of light fencing at your nearest fairground track. Go down on a Saturday night with the family and see some racing.

With the backstory out of the way, let’s look at the racing.

Last Chance Qualifying Start
After single car qualifying, USAC set up a Last Chance Qualifier for the bottom 12 cars. This isn’t always the case, but for the Hoosier, the entry list was longer than the track could handle for the main event. The top 6 at the end of the 12 lap sprint would make it into the big show.
Last Chance Qualifying
NASCAR gets a lot of complaints these days for being way too boring. Passing is too hard, the cars are too close, and the only way to make it bearable is with Stage racing. None of this is an issue with Silver Crown. USAC has its own issues, but the racing is not one of them. With virtually no aero to speak of, there’s no concerns about side drafting, outwash, or dirty air.
LCQ Finale
The LCQ was over quickly and soon the Silver Crowns were back in the pits getting cleaned up and prepped for the 100 mile main.
Local Modified Grid
Between the LCQ and Main, USAC set up a Modified race to give teams a chance to make final preparations for the Hundred. Modifieds aren’t typically something USAC races, so I think this was a local group of racers who were invited out for the evening.

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