CLERMONT, Ind. — Lucas Oil Raceway is bringing back a time-honored short-track tradition this August — at least for one year.
Officials from the .686-mile oval confirmed Wednesday that the iconic Night Before The 500 will return to the track’s racing calendar, set for Aug. 22 as a prelude to the 104th Indianapolis 500.
However, unlike its original incarnation — which ran from 1946 to 2014 and featured pavement midgets as the headlining attraction — this summer’s reboot of the Night Before The 500 will be a one-off event featuring non-winged sprint cars.
The sprint cars will run a 50-lap main event, paying $10,000 to the victor.
In a nod to its historic past, the event will still feature midgets on the event card, but as a support division. The midgets will race 20 laps and a $1,000 winner’s share.
After the global COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the Indianapolis 500 from Memorial Day weekend to late August, LOR general manager Kasey Coler told SPEED SPORT Wednesday that discussions quickly opened with several parties looking for a way to give more racing to the fans.
“For us, this announcement was just a matter of opportunity, in terms of how the dates aligned,” Coler explained. “Our focus has been working with Bob (Sargent) and the team on the Track Enterprises side for Carb Night, and we want to continue to build that … as we go into 2021, but this was something we felt we could do to add to the racing that’s already planned around that weekend and the Indianapolis 500 and we look forward to adding another page of history to the legacy of the Night Before The 500.
“It’s another big race that fans will be able to enjoy around The Greatest Spectacle In Racing later this summer, and we hope it brings a lot of action to the table.”
Also, part of the conversation were the proposed plans for the Pay Less Little 500.
The non-winged sprint car crown jewel traditionally runs the night before the Indianapolis 500, and Coler didn’t want to step on any toes at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway — the Little 500’s longstanding home for more than seven decades — in making plans for the revival of the Night Before The 500.
“When the (Indianapolis) 500 moved to August, our first call was over to Rick Dawson (Anderson Speedway president) and Jared Owen (communications director), and they have been really great to work with,” Coler noted. “We’d been talking to them about opportunities to be able to work together in the future, and we asked about the potential of the Little 500 being rescheduled for that (Aug. 22) date. Rick let me know quickly that that was not the plan.
“After that as we were talking, it morphed into, ‘Hey, would you be open to the opportunity to be able to do pavement sprints?’ We had been kicking around the idea that in the future there might be an opportunity to be able to bring back pavement midgets and Rick was very keen on that piece of it,” he added. “We certainly recognize that there’s a lot of pavement sprint cars out there and everybody’s trying to figure out what their schedule looks like, but pavement midgets have been dormant for quite some time in terms of being on a national scale.
“We wanted to be able to at least let folks know that this is something we’re going to do this year and, hopefully, it can continue to build somehow.”
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