The Hoosier Hundred will live to see at least one more sunset.
The annual USAC Silver Crown event was believed to have run for the 64th and final time last May but has remarkably been saved by the global coronavirus pandemic.
The Indiana State Fair Board voted last year to resurface the one-mile clay Track of Champions into a full-time harness training facility complete with a limestone surface, which would have made it incompatible for motorsports.
The virus halted that procedure, keeping the track race ready for at least one more season, now scheduled for Sunday, August 23 -- the night of the Indianapolis 500.
Capacity will be limited to 25 percent and tickets will go on sale on Tuesday on USAC official website. With the 100 lap main event scheduled for 8 p.m., spectators could watch the Indianapolis 500 (held for the first time without fans) at home and then make their way over to the Fairgrounds.
There was a time where the annual USAC Silver Crown race was the second most prestigious motorsports event in the country -- second only to the Indianapolis 500. Winners included Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Bob Sweikert, Jimmy Bryan, Rodger Ward, Parnelli Jones and Al Unser during an era when being an Indy-car champion meant mastering both dirt and pavement.
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 at 59.6 seconds. In 1917, Oldfield, the 1905 AAA National Champion, prevailed in a match race versus 1915 Indianapolis 500 winner Ralph DePalma.
In 1946, under the AAA National Championship banner, the one and only “Indianapolis 100” was held, with Rex Mays taking the victory. Seven years later, in 1953, a new, long-lasting tradition began with the inaugural running of the “Hoosier Hundred” won by Bob Sweikert.
"The Hoosier Hundred was a jewel," Andretti told Autoweek last year. "Indianapolis is the race I’m most known for, and my Formula 1 wins are the ones I’m most proud of, but the Hoosier Hundred is the race I worked the hardest for."
During pre-race for the 2019 event, USAC announcer Pat Sullivan implored the capacity crown to make some noise "that could be heard all the way to the State Fair Commission office."
The global pandemic wasn’t what anyone had in mind, but if there was one silver lining, the resurrection of the Hoosier Hundred was it.
Tyler Courtney is the defending winner, having captured his first in May 2019 against Kevin Thomas Jr. and four-time winner Kody Swanson.
"I grew up here, and it was always my dream just to race at the Fairgrounds someday," Courtney said. "My name is now listed alongside some of the greatest USAC drivers ever. We’re talking about Foyt, Andretti, Pancho Carter and even Kody Swanson, who is already one of the best Silver Crown drivers of all time. That’s incredible. I just wish it didn’t have to end."
For now, at least one more summer, it doesn't.