Senior staff writer
A unique way to honor the late Bryan Clauson, who raced for the Greenwood-based Byrd family in
IMS building dirt track; Speedrome figure-8, fireworks three Indianapolis 500-mile races, has led to an expansion of Brickyard week in September at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The IMS is building a quarter-mile dirt track inside Turn 3. The track will be the site of a two-day event, Driven2SaveLives BC39, for United States Auto Club Midget Series competitors Sept. 5 and 6, before NASCAR practice, Xfinity and Monster Energy Cup stock car races Sept. 7-9.
The midget car event honors Clauson, a prolific open-wheel competitor who was killed in a midget car accident two years ago at the Belleville (Kansas) Midget Nationals. Clauson was an organ donor, and parents and family supporters formed the Driven2SaveLives organization to promote the cause.
Tentative plans for the race call for a $70,000 purse, heat races Sept. 5 and qualifying races, main events and a 39-lap feature. NASCAR and midget-sprint car driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was on hand for the announcement in late June at IMS.
The inaugural event could attract Stenhouse, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Blaney, former Silver Crown champion Ryan Newman and Kyle and Kurt Busch. The Speedway was also the site of Goodyear tire tests for the Brickyard 400 Sept. 9. Those testing included previous winners Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray and second-year Cup driver Daniel Suarez of Mexico. Menard started on the pole Sunday for the 400-mile race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Menard, who races for the famed Wood Brothers, has gone 249 races without a win since his Brickyard triumph in 2011.
“There will be a little less aero downforce by about 200 pounds,” said Menard of the Brickyard race. “There are four different corners although they look very symmetrical. You have to keep your speed up through the corners and get off the corners – it takes the whole package.”
Suarez, who races for Joe Gibbs, finished seventh last year in his first Brickyard race. He has four top-10 finishes this season.
“This place, for whatever reason, suits my driving style,” Suarez said. “Hopefully, we get a win soon for the team and for those who have supported me on this journey. There were no drivers from Mexico when I made it because it was a difficult path. I feel very proud that I have made a path.”
Figure-8 and fireworks
Fireworks and the 75-lap Mike Greig Sr. Memorial Figure-8 highlight events Saturday at the Indianapolis Speedrome at Brookville Road and Kitley Avenue. Forty-six drivers have competed this season with Jesse Tunny leading the Brown’s Oil Service Late Model Division.
Six different drivers have won on the figure-8, led by Ben Tunny’s five wins. Factory FWD, Thundercars and Faskarts race on the oval Saturday at 7 p.m. with figure-8 action at 9:05 p.m., followed by the USA Insulation fireworks show.