It’ll be the end of an era on May 23, as the final “Hoosier Hundred” takes place at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. After that 64th running of the 100-lap USAC Silver Crown race on the dirt mile oval, the surface will be converted to an all-weather track made of crushed limestone. It will then be utilized year-round for harness training and parking for the Indiana State Fair.
“USAC, Track Enterprises, Bob Sargent and I have been in meetings with the Fairgrounds staff and in the discussion for the last two years about any way to keep auto racing at the historic one-mile oval,” said Levi Jones, USAC series coordinator. “To no avail, the economics of the horse industry and their desire to use the one-mile track year-round instead of the half-mile currently in the infield won out in the end.”
The history of this “Track of Champions” dates back more than a century. On June 20, 1903, Barney Oldfield drove a Henry Ford-designed “999” to the first sub-one-minute lap ever on a one-mile racetrack, recording 59.6 seconds for the duration. The 1905 AAA National Champion, Oldfield prevailed in a 1917 match race versus 1915 Indianapolis 500 winner Ralph DePalma.
The track’s post-WWII history is equally impressive. In 1946, under the AAA National Championship banner, the one and only “Indianapolis 100” was held, with Rex Mays taking the win. In 1953, a new, long-lasting tradition began with the inaugural running of the “Hoosier Hundred,” a race won by Bob Sweikert.
Since 1953, the Hoosier Hundred has been held annually with only a few interruptions due to rainouts. It remains one of the oldest, most tradition-rich racing events and many of its winners have achieved legendary status. Count A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti as winners of this race, together with Sweikert, Jimmy Bryan, Rodger Ward, Parnelli Jones, and Al Unser.
In this year’s finale, Kody Swanson has an opportunity to make even more history as he aims for an unprecedented fifth-straight Hoosier Hundred victory. The Kingsburg, California four-time USAC Silver Crown champ has won the previous four events to tie Unser’s streak of wins between 1970-1973.
On Thursday, May 23, Hoosier Hundred gates open at noon. Practice begins at 5 PM EDT and racing starts with Modifieds at 6 PM. Silver Crown qualifying races follow. The final, 64th Hoosier Hundred is scheduled for an 8 PM green flag.