As far as using the Night Before The 500 name, Coler was quick to note that was an easy decision when taking into consideration the timing of the event and its rich history.
As a midget race, the Night Before The 500 was held at Lucas Oil Raceway 44 times, including a run of 35 straight years between 1980 and 2014. Notable winners of the event include Rich Vogler, Mel Kenyon, Ken Schrader, Jeff Gordon, Doug Kalitta, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and Jason Leffler.
Tracy Hines won the final Night Before The 500 midget classic in 2014, his second score in the event.
“(Using the name) was something we considered right away,” Coler noted. “I think it’d be really tough for us to host an event the night before the (Indianapolis) 500 at our facility and not use that name, and that’s where Kevin Miller and Levi Jones were really helpful from the USAC side of it, because they’ve got a lot of history and connection to that name.
“When you talk about bringing a lot of different partners to the table to help make it a reality to be able to utilize everything from the name to the types of cars to different groups out there, we really had to do that in this case.”
A final schedule of events has not been settled on yet for the revamped Night Before The 500, in part because two rungs of the Road to Indy ladder system — USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 — are also scheduled to compete at Lucas Oil Raceway during Indianapolis 500 weekend.
The track is still using the Carb Night Classic name — which it has branded its May USAC Silver Crown Series events with over the past five years — to refer to the Friday night portion of the weekend, but it remains to be seen just what on-track activity will take place on Friday and what will run Saturday.
Also of note, the Silver Crown cars race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill., during the day on Aug. 22, making for an interesting set of circumstances if any drivers want to do double duty at Springfield and Lucas Oil Raceway.
“Doing this the way we look to do it, we want to get cars practiced and qualified on Friday so that drivers who are running the 100-miler at Springfield can go and do that and still get back here to race Saturday night,” Coler said. “That was a big piece of it. We think there’s enough time. We know it’s going to be tight, but the hope is that a driver can hop out of their car at Springfield and be able to make their way here to race the Saturday night feature if they choose to.”
It’s not the true Night Before The 500 and Coler admitted as much, but it’s a variant on the old tradition that he and the Lucas Oil Raceway team feel has the potential to be a hit given current circumstances.
“We did get a lot of people asking us, ‘why isn’t it a midget event?’ and for us it’s just about where each of these series and classes sit in their current state,” Coler said. “That’s where we decided to go.
“It’s a little bit different and what I’ll call a break from the old tradition, but I think it should be a really good show.”
For more information on the 2020 Night Before The 500 and to order tickets, click here.