Brady Bacon
Brady Bacon

BACON: The Action Track

As we approach the beginning of what I would call the “regular season” in open-wheel racing, there are many things to be excited about. New series, bigger events, bigger purses and the anticipation of how new team combinations will fair against the established competition are at the forefront of speculation on how the campaign will unfold.

Personally, I am also very excited about some of the big improvements coming to Indiana’s Terre Haute Action Track.

Terre Haute is undeniably one of the most historic dirt tracks in the country, especially in regard to non-winged sprint car racing and USAC in particular. The track has seen countless legends and Hall of Famers such as A.J. Foyt, Jeff Gordon, Parnelli Jones and Rich Vogler compete on its surface since it opened its gates for the first time in 1952.

Terre Haute’s half-mile layout is unique among its quarter-mile Indiana dirt-track cousins, making it the only “big track” in the state. The massive, covered grandstands and iconic red-white-and-blue striped walls provide a sense of history and nostalgia.

While the facility is certainly sufficient and oozes history, it has not seen any significant improvements in many years. With the speeds the current cars reach on the big half mile, there are certainly safety issues with the track that are less than ideal. I personally illustrated the possibility of the wreckage that can be seen at those high speeds with my spectacular flip out of the park last May.

The lighting, for example, could be greatly improved to increase visibility for the racers. Also, many of the fan amenities are dated, which does not deter hardcore race fans, but can play a major role in the enjoyment of a casual fan, while impacting their decision on whether to visit the track again in the future.

The good news is that many of these issues will soon be addressed. The fair board has entered an agreement with new promoters Scott Ronk and Bernie Stuebgen. The pair has already started constructing a new wall and catchfence, similar to that at Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway in the corners.

This will not only greatly improve the safety for the drivers by reducing the likelihood of flipping out of the track but will also help reflect light back onto the racing surface and improve visibility.

The traditional configuration of the track will remain unchanged, but I am interested and excited to see how much improving the wall and lighting will alter the way we race the track. USAC races are typically won on the top at the Action Track and the improved lighting and point of reference may allow us to run the cushion even harder.

Reece O’Conner from Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway will be assisting with the track prep, utilizing several new pieces of track equipment acquired for the project.

Spectator facility upgrades are also in order. The bathrooms in the infield will be remodeled and reopened. Improvements to the infield tower and the addition of small concessions, a beer garden and children’s activities in the infield are also planned.

The concessions in the main grandstands will be reopened as well. Even small improvements to enhance the fan experience can have a major impact of the success of a track and I believe all the things they are planning will greatly help revitalize the Action Track.

Some schedule adjustments have also been made to try to highlight the tracks premier events, including the Tony Hulman Classic becoming a two-day USAC sprint car event paying $10,000 to the winner.

I know the parties involved personally and can attest they will work extremely hard to make this new venture a success. We all know that there may be some bumps along the way, but I can assure you that lack of effort and good intentions will not be part of them.

Terre Haute has always been a bucket-list track for its impressive size, speed and history and I believe that the fan experience will also be a major reason to attend the track and keep coming back.End Bug

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