The quarter-mile dirt track that Indianapolis Motor Speedway will build inside Turn 3 will host the USAC P1 Insurance Midget National Championship in a two-night event, the Driven2SaveLives BC39, on Wednesday, Sept. 5 and Thursday, Sept. 6 prior to the Brickyard 400, IMS officials announced Tuesday. The event, named to honor late USAC champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Bryan Clauson, will help to increase awareness of Indiana Donor Network and Driven2SaveLives.
The Driven2SaveLives BC39 format will conclude with a 39-lap feature on Sept. 6. The event will feature more than $70,000 in purse and incentives, including a $15,000 winner’s purse, the largest in Midget racing.
IMS President Doug Boles said the conversation about an event like this snowballed during the 2016 tribute IMS paid to Tony Stewart, when it built a short track for Stewart, some friends and a few midget cars.
“It really started the conversation about can this really be done at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, can we really reconnect to grassroots racing, not just in the state of Indiana but around the country, how can we make that connection?,” Boles said.
“When Bryan Clauson ran at the Speedway you couldn’t walk around without every other shirt being a short-track shirt, a Bryan Clauson shirt, a Kokomo Speedway shirt … it made a difference. While this [dirt] track doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for somebody to get to the Indy 500, we are going to make it easier for the short track fan to fall in love with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway again.
“This has been a racing community collective effort to bring short track racing to the speedway.”
Construction of the dirt track at IMS, located inside Turn 3 of the oval, started last week with the first loads of Indiana clay arriving for grading. Concrete walls and safety fencing will be constructed during the summer, and portable lights will illuminate the track.
Boles has contracted Kokomo Speedway boss Reece O’Connor to design and prepare the track, which will have 60-foot wide straightaways and eight-degree banking in the corners.
“People have talked about a dirt track at the speedway for years and years in our circles,” USAC President and CEO Kevin Miller said. “We’re very excited, we’re very humbled to be in this opportunity to host a race here this year. USAC was born here, in Indianapolis in 1956 at the speedway, we’re coming back in 2018, we’re very excited.”
Indiana Donor Network, which oversees and coordinates organ, tissue and eye donation across the state, launched Driven2SaveLives in April 2016 with IndyCar driver Stefan Wilson to promote donation and transplantation awareness around the 100th Indy 500. At the time, the campaign honored Stefan’s late brother, Justin Wilson, who died in August 2015 from injuries he sustained in a crash at Pocono; he saved five lives as an organ donor.
Clauson, a beloved member of the USAC community who died following a racing accident in August 2016, was also a registered donor who saved five lives as an organ and tissue donor.
Ricky Stenhouse, who attended Tuesday’s announcement, said to count him in.
“A couple years ago when I saw Bryan and Tony running around the dirt track, I was a little jealous they didn’t ask me to come and be a part of that,” Stenhouse said.
“It looked like a lot of fun. And then I thought, well surely they’re keep it there and race here soon. … I’m excited to finally get to race on this.
“I don’t do it near often enough,” he added about jumping in a sprint car. “Being in the grassroots dirt track racing is very important, for all different forms of motorsport, whether it’s IndyCar bringing people to IMS, bringing fans to our NASCAR side, definitely Kyle [Larson]’s done an awesome job at running dirt tracks all across the country and bringing fans together, and I think this is an event that will be able to do that.
“I think Bryan would say it’s about time.”
Tickets, which will range in price from $35 to $50, will go on sale in mid-July. Camping will also be available.
For more information on tickets, visit www.ims.com/bc39.