Nearly five years have passed since the dust cleared on July 19, 2005 at Lincoln Park Speedway and Dave Darland climbed from his sprint car and claim the spoils of an Indiana Sprint Week victory. Little did fans know that it would be the last time the series would visit the Putnamville oval.
That is until tomorrow night when Indiana Midget Week brings the pulse pounding thrills of some of the nation's top midget drivers to Lincoln Park Speedway for the second night of the USAC Series.
Bryan Clauson of Noblesville opens defense of his title this evening at Gas City I-69 Speedway before the tour heads south to Lincoln Park Speedway. Friday evening will see the hotshoes head to the historic red clay of Bloomington then heading to Lawrenceburg Speedway before concluding the series at Kokomo Speedway on Sunday.
Also on tap at Lincoln Park Speedway on Thursday night will be sprint cars and UMP Modifieds and don't be surprised if a number of USAC's touring midget drivers do double duty in their sprinters as well.
The current top-10 in the USAC Midget points is stacked with talented youngsters and veterans, with Clauson currently holding a 471 to 426 lead over Brownsburg's Bobby East. Darren Hagen is third followed by Darland, Tracy Hines, Brad Sweet, Jerry Coons Jr., Brad Kuhn, Zach Daum and Henry Clarke in the top-10 of national points.
Clauson was a two-time winner during last year's Indiana Midgets week, claiming feature wins at Lawrenceburg and Kokomo Speedway on the way to the points title. Shane Cottle has had plenty of success over the last five years of the series, winning the series in 2005 and 2006 while Coons Jr. won in 2007 and Hines was the 2008 champ.
For those who are history buffs when it comes to the United State Auto Club (USAC), one of the most renowned teams in the history of the organization will be on hand as the Wilke Racing Team will likely field a car at LPS for the midget event.
The Wilke Racing Team is one of the longest standing teams in the sport and not only own a USAC National title, but also a pair of Indianapolis 500 wins with Roger Ward in 1959 and 1962 under the Leader Cards banner.
The Wilkes have a remarkable 133 national victories with 30 wins in Illinois and 26 coming in Indiana. The team has won a feature in 41 different seasons in 16 states and Canada. Most of the Wilkes' success has come in a midget with 81 feature wins, but that also includes 35 Champ Car races, 11 Silver Crown and six Sprint car victories.
The pilots of their cars are literally a who's who of the racing community as Ward leads in wins with 20 followed by Kevin Olson with 17 and Rich Vogler with 15. Other names include: Jerry Coons Jr. (12), Tracy Hines (9), Bobby Unser (9), Stevie Reeves (5) and Tom Bigelow (5).
Oh, and by the way, a few other familiar names include Mario Andretti with two victories, AJ Foyt with a win, Johnny Rutherford with one and NASCAR veterans, Jeff Gordon and Ken Schrader each won a race in a Wilke Racing car.
Vogler was a former winner at Lincoln Park Speedway in a historic 1988 season for Wilkes in which the team won 15 features. Vogler claimed a USAC Midget win at LPS on Sept. 11, 2008. Olson was a 1985 winner in Putnamville
The return of USAC to the area is special for a number of reasons, including the track's rich history of racing with the organization.
There have been 20 national sprint races contested at the track along with nine national midget events, five dirt regional midget races along with three late model, two Ford Focus races as part of a total of 38 events dating all the way back to a 1979 USAC Midget win by Johnny Parsons on May 5.
The winningest drivers in USAC events at LPS include Sheldon Kinser (5), Dave Darland and Jay Drake with four each and Steve Butler, Cory Kruseman, Tracy Hines and A.J. Felker all have two wins.
The scene should be very festive as track promoter Joe Spiker has included fireworks to the schedule with an increased purse for the modifieds with $600-to-win and $100-to-start the feature. General admission is $20 with kids under 10 years of age admitted free of charge.