By Al Stilley
The 47th annual World Championship Figure-8 three-hour endurance race unfolds Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Indianapolis Speedrome.
Launched on a cold day in October 1977 by former track owner John Stiles of Greenwood, the challenging race on the all-pavement Figure-8 is rightfully billed as the "greatest Figure-9 race on the planet."
All-time leading career six-time winner Jack Dossey Jr. of Wanamaker contends, "No doubt, this is the world's toughest race to win. There's so much that can happen on any lap. The competition is fast and intense."
Drivers will be chasing the first prize of $20,000.
Last year's winner Ben Tunny covered 433 laps in three hours to win his fourth high-speed high-intesity event. Tunny successfully made it around 1,732 times and through the crossover 866 times without a major incident. The Tunny family represents 11 winners in the Speedrome's signature event that has elevated Figure-8 racing nationally.
The race winner traditionally has been a hometrack Speedrome driver. The last out-of-state driver to win was Louisville's Danny Smith in 2014.
The entry list through Sept. 4 lists 46 drivers who represent Figure-8 hotbeds in Hoosierland, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Washington, and California. from Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Washington, and California. Entries will continue to be accepted this week.
Hometrack driver Mike Riddle Jr. is the newly crowned Brown's Oil Service Late Model Figure-8 track champion for the first time. Riddle has since 2013 and was a two-time runnerup (2019 and 2021). He is coming off his best World Championship finish of fifth place in last year's race. His brother Doug Riddle was second in points this season.
Tunny is among eight former race winners in this year's field - two-time winners Doug Greig and Mark Tunny and one-time winners Jesse Tunny, Eddie VanMeter, Greenwood's Mike Hadley Jr., Austin Tunny, and R.J. Norton Jr.
Greig was inducted into the Speedrome Hall of Fame this season in a surprise presentation before the running of the Mike Greig Sr. Memorial Figure-8 in honor of his dad.
The Southport High School alumnus will be driving in his 33rd World Championship race and is the all-time laps-completed leader with 11,054 laps. He won in 2007 by finishing 413 laps and 2011 with 434 laps. He has eight top-five finishes and has completed 400 or more laps in 16 races.
Top out-of-state competitors include: Washington's Steve Durham, a two-time winner of the Evergreen Cup Figure-8; California's Time Logue of Orange County Speedway; Louisville's Cory Harmon; Wisconsin's Craig VandeWettering; and Florida's Cody Williams.
The starting field consists of 28 drivers with the remaining qualifiers as alternates who are added to the field as the race goes on. Cars may make pit stops at any time, Qualifications Friday (7:20 p.m. and 8:20 p.m.) lock in the fastest 20 qualifiers. Positions 21-28 will be decided during qualifications Saturday (3:45 p.m.)as well as all alternates. World Championship teams can practice Thursday night on a program that features other Speedrome divisions.
Rain date is Sunday at 1 p.m.
Tickets and info: www.speedrome.com/3-hour-figure-8.html.
Ben Tunny (5) is the defending champion of the World Championship Figure-8 three-hour endurance race champion of the Indianapolis Speedrome’s signature race that began in 1977. He completed 433 laps to win last year. Tunny has won the race in 2009, 2012, 2015, and 2021.