LONDON: The Racing Journal

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The insanity continues.

The recent “Night before the 500,” held at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, drew 11 cars.

This was once a huge event. Going back to the 1950s when it was held across the street from the Brickyard, 16th Street Speedway used to run this show over multiple nights. Drivers who already had berths in the Indy 500 would run there to pick up meal money.

The high cost of racing continues to kill the sport and no one has any idea, thought or effort on how to change it.

Engines, custom built for midget racing can run as high as fifty grand. Need to be refreshed? It can cost one third that. No wonder pits are becoming so lonesome.

Midget racing had this happen before, in the early fifties when the price of a Kurtis Kraft chassis with an Offy under the hood became prohibitive for many. Plus the fact the races lacked interest because with the cars all being alike, didn’t pass like the used to.

When Midgets took off in the mid thirties, they were dirt cheap – and plentiful. Homemade rail chassis housed a Ford V-8 60 or maybe an outboard or (motor) cycle engine. Coast to coast, pits were brimming with cars. Most drivers of those days got their start in them and Midgets help develop their talent.

They enjoyed a good comeback in the late fifties. Soon innovators came up with alternative powerplants like the Ford Falcon and the Chevy II. The good racing continued.

Doesn’t anyone realize that racing’s popularity has little to do with what engine is under the hood or how fast they go? Why are $50,000 engines necessary? We are in a period where there are many four cylinder engines being manufactured then ever before.

Midgets are just one of many classes of racing with this problem. The bottom line is most of their features pay $2000 to win.

If that isn’t insanity, what is?

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