INDIANAPOLIS — One of the most unique racing events in the United States takes place this weekend in Indianapolis.
Not the Big Machine Vodka 400 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but the 43rd edition of the World Figure 8 Championship at the Indianapolis Speedrome.
Run annually since 1977, the World Figure 8 Championship features cars battling for supremacy on a Figure-8 track inside the Speedrome’s fifth-mile asphalt oval. The winner will earn a whopping $20,000 payday.
The race features limited rules that encourage ingenuity and take up less than half a sheet of paper to explain. The format includes a round of qualifying on Friday night with the top-10 fastest cars locking into the field. The remaining cars move on to qualifying races, with the top-five finishers in each qualifying race locking into Saturday’s 3-hour main event.
On Saturday those who locked into the feature through the qualifying race will hit the track again, this time to determine their starting positions in Saturday’ feature. After the locked-in cars run their time trial laps, those who have not yet locked into the field will make their attempts, with the starting field featuring 28 cars.
However, there is a twist.
The fastest 28 cars take the green flag, but the entire field of cars that attempted to qualify could be running at any given time based on the unique Speedrome rules, which allow the slower qualifiers to join the field at given points throughout the night. If a car from the original field of 28 pulls off the track, the next fastest car that didn’t qualify on time will be allowed to enter the race.
That means a car that didn’t start the race, but joined the field later, could in theory win the race. With starters that pull off also allowed to return to the race, it means more than 28 cars could be running at one time.
The race itself is a timed event, with competitors making as many laps as possible during a 3-hour period. Competitors will cross the figure-8 intersection two times per lap, with laps times typically falling in the 16 second range.
That means that if the race runs for 500 laps during the 3-hour time window, competitors would cross the intersection 1,000 times. That’s 1,000 opportunities for disaster.
Mark Tunny is the defending winner of the World Figure 8 Championship. The Tunny family has won the World Figure 8 Championship an astounding nine times with five different family members, including Ben Tunny (three victories), Bruce Tunny (two victories), Mark Tunny (two victories), Austin Tunny (one victory) and Bill Tunny Jr. (one victory).
Jack Dossey Jr., the father of JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour champion Jack Dossey III, is the all-time winningest driver in World Figure 8 Championship history with six victories.
The event is being broadcast by Low Budget TV, part of the SPEED SPORT Network. Click here to watch the race live on Saturday night or check out highlights from the 2018 edition of the race below.