GAS CITY, Ind. — Dave Darland, revered by fans from coast-to-coast as “The People’s Champion,” returned to a sprint car for the first time in more than a year Wednesday night.
Darland wheeled his yellow No. 36d sprint car during a test-and-tune session at Gas City I-69 Speedway.
The 55-year-old Indiana native suffered a minor stroke in late April of last year and has spent nearly a year out of the spotlight working his way back into racing condition.
Darland is a USAC Triple Crown champion, having won the 1997 USAC Silver Crown Series title, the 1999 USAC National Sprint Car Series title and two USAC National Midget Series championships in 2001 and ’02.
His major race wins include victories in the Turkey Night Grand Prix, three triumphs in the Budweiser Oval Nationals at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway, and the Bob Darland Memorial, a race held in honor of Darland’s late father.
Other honors include four Hoosier Auto Racing Fans Driver of the Year Awards, the 2011 King of Indiana Sprint Series championship, four track titles at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway and three crowns at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind.
Darland was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2017.
It remains to be seen how much Darland will compete this season. Gas City’s season opener is scheduled for May 6.