The old adage made famous in the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” was, “If you build it, they will come;” and that philosophy has been apparent in the rise of The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
A dream of the late Bryan Clauson, IMS President Doug Boles positioned a quarter-mile dirt oval inside the third turn of the legendary 2.5-mile speedway in hopes he and the track could put together a mega-event that would draw talent from across the motorsports universe.
So far, those hopes have become reality in a big way.
The first two editions of the Driven2SaveLives BC39 powered by NOS Energy Drink, already one of the crown jewels of the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series schedule, combined to draw nearly 200 entrants to the hallowed IMS grounds and generated massive fan interest from the dirt and pavement crowds alike.
Helping matters has been the fact that fan favorites Brady Bacon and Zeb Wise, respectively, won the BC39 in its first two iterations, producing a popularity boon for the legendary speedway’s newest venue.
While Boles knows there’s still work to be done to make the BC39 a longstanding tradition, he’s pleased with the foundation the IMS staff has built over the event’s first two years.
“I do think that we still have to establish it as one of the pillar events of short track during the year,” Boles told SPEED SPORT, “but I think having a second year with really strong team entries, with 90-plus car and driver combinations entered in the race this year … I think was a strong one for us. We were concerned about significant fall off from the first year, and honestly, I think if we had been in the 60 to 70 (entry) range, we would have considered that a success. So from the entry standpoint, I think that was good.
“Now it’s just a matter of really establishing it on the fans’ calendar as one of those races that you have to attend during the year.”
That calendar will shift somewhat thanks to a NASCAR schedule realignment that has moved the 27th running of the Brickyard 400 from early September into the heart of the summer, placing the stock car crown jewel on Independence Day weekend with a Sunday, July 5, date.
Not wanting to break from the established tradition of pairing the BC39 with the NASCAR weekend, Boles recently reported the third edition of the BC39 will take place July 1-2, keeping it a midweek special but serving as a lead-in to the Fourth of July holiday.
It’s a move Boles hopes will pay dividends, considering mid-summer is prime short-track season in the Hoosier State.
“We’re excited about how things are lining up for next year’s BC39. Next year, it’ll be a little bit of an unknown given that we are keeping it with the NASCAR weekend, so it’ll move to July, but it’s an exciting new aspect for the race,” Boles said. “There is some school of thought that the summer is short-track season, really, so there’s a belief that maybe that (new date) will be better for folks … having it on July 1-2 next year. It’ll be a little bit of a new twist for us.
“At the same time, we still need to really focus on establishing it as an event that drivers want to compete in, whether they’re midget drivers full season or they’re some other version of a short-track driver who comes in because it’s a big event,” Boles continued. “It’s a big priority to make sure that fans beyond central Indiana have viewed it as one of those can’t-miss events and we’re looking forward to continuing that into the new year and the third running of the BC39.”
NASCAR stars such as Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe participated in this year’s BC39, a feat made easier by the fact that the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Cup Series raced on the famed 2.5-mile track in the days following the $15,000-to-win NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series event.
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