Southsider Voice correspondent
For the first time since 1986, an out-of-state competitor won the Indianapolis Speedrome’s annual World Championship Three-Hour Endurance Race.
Danny Smith, who hails from the Louisville, Ky., area and calls the Jeffersonville Sportsdrome his home track, snared the lead on the last lap in Saturday’s dramatic three-hour chase, which featured 42 drivers.
There were nine lead changes in the last 50 laps of the 38th annual race. Smith completed 456 laps and paced five fellow Kentuckians into the top 10.
He becomes the first non-Hoosier to win the event since Rance Harmon of Louisville in 1986. Leonard Basham, who won a qualifying race Friday, was the last non-Speedrome competitor to win the three-hour classic in 1988.
Besides the final circuit, Smith led only one other lap, the 242nd one. Louisville’s Chris Harmon was second, one lap down.
Two-time world champion Mark Tunny was the top finishing home-track driver, placing third after completing 453 laps. Two-time world champion Curtis McMurtrey of Greenwood was fourth, eight laps behind Smith.
Tunny led 15 times for 229 laps, while Harmon led nine times for 147 circuits.
Special award winners included: Ricky Puckett of Louisville, who started 39th and finished 17th won the Sonny Eaton Memorial Rookie of the Race Award and the Sonny Thompson Memorial Award; Speedy Teepe, who placed 15th, was honored for the best stock finish.
Qualifying race winners on Friday were Tunny, Harmon, Basham, Southsiders Ben Tunny, the 2013 three-hour winner, and Nigel Peters and Corey Turner of Wanamaker.
The 38th running of the world’s toughest race to win was taped by the Discovery Channel for the future airing of “Megaspeed,” a series that spotlight’s fast drivers and daredevils in iconic international motor sports events.
Racing resumes at the Speedrome at 7 p.m. Saturday with the eighth annual Hornet All-Star 200. The track is located Brookville Road and Kitley Avenue. Info: www.speedrome.com.