In an effort to create some excitement and draw some new fans for the Brickyard 400, RACER has learned the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be hosting a USAC dirt race inside Turn 3 to kick off the NASCAR weekend.
With crowds plummeting for NASCAR’s Xfinity and Cup races the last few years, IMS is hoping to jump start things with a USAC midget race on either Sept. 6 or 7th. The Brickyard 400 is Sept. 9.
IMS began bringing in dirt Tuesday morning to construct a quarter-mile track and will erect bleachers that will hold 5,000 spectators.
NASCAR star Kyle Larson (pictured below at the Chili Bowl) is one of the premier midget and sprint-car drivers in the country, and he just finished running a couple of USAC Midget Week shows in Indiana. He’s expected to be one of the major attractions.
“For the last several years we haven’t had a direct connection to short tracks and this certainly gives short track fans a reason to come to the Speedway,” IMS president Doug Boles told RACER on Tuesday morning.
“We’ve got to make the Brickyard more than stock cars at the moment and we think this is something people will enjoy.”
Boles has contracted Kokomo Speedway boss Reece O’Connor to design and prepare the quarter-mile track, which will have 60-foot wide straightaways and eight-degree banking in the corners.
“Reece knows his stuff and he thinks he’s found some good clay which is great,” Boles continued. “But I want to clarify that this is a one-time deal. We have no interest in making this a weekly racetrack.”
In 2016, to honor Tony Stewart’s final NASCAR reason, IMS built a dirt track in Turn 3 and ran midgets to honor the former USAC and NASCAR champion with an exhibition.
NASCAR moved the Brickyard into the Chase format this season after struggling to draw 50,000 people the past few years in July.