Senior staff writer
When Greenwood’s Mike Hadley Jr. raced in his first two World Figure-8 championships, he figured that it took more luck than speed to win. He reversed his thinking last year when lining up for his third three-hour high-speed endurance race at the Indianapolis Speedrome – and won, completing 406 laps.
“I always thought I had to be lucky than fast,” Hadley said while recalling his $20,000 payday. “I was able to get by a few of the early incidents, but I also had the fastest car so I could stay in front at the end.”
Hadley proved that his No. 4 winged Chevrolet with a 350-cubic-inch engine and 650 horsepower was fast. He held off runner-up Ben Tunny for the final 30 minutes, never making a mistake and getting through lapped traffic without getting passed.
“My mindset early in the race was to stay out of trouble, and we led early,” Hadley said. “Then for the last part of the race when I was leading, I knew I couldn’t worry about the lapped traffic. I had to keep the lead.”
Hadley and former champions Doug Greig of Southport and Mark, Ben and Austin Tunny also return for the 42nd running of the event, which attracts drivers from several states. Greig will be competing for the 29th time. Racing for Hadley is a family affair with wife Katie, mom Tracie and brother Mason with him at the Speedrome.
Away from the track he is a construction worker. He began racing quarter midgets at the age of 5 at the Mini-Indy track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. He has raced at various venues in Indiana but considers the Speedrome home, where he races in the longer distance figure-8 chases.
“I just don’t like doing the 50-lappers,” Hadley said. “I would rather race in the one-hour, 90-minute, 150-lap races and the three-hour."
He finished second in the Jake’s 150-lap figure-8 earlier this season in a Chevrolet owned by Jon Wilson of Plainfield and third in the onehour figure-8 Saturday. Third-generation driver Chad Sizemore won his first one-hour race in a final 32-second dash with third-place Jesse Tunny claiming his fourth season championship.
More than 50 entries are expected with 28 starters and all drivers who qualified going into the race as cars drop out. The race is the brainchild of former track owner and Greenwood business owner John Stiles.
Open practice at the track, corner of Kitley Avenue and Brookville Road, is Thursday at 5 p.m. Qualifying races are Friday at 7:30 p.m. with Thundercar and FWD competing in figure-8 races. The World Figure-8 starts Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Info: 317-353-8206 or www.speedrome.com.