Sports Xtra: USAC Midget Week brings hint of normalcy

Posted at 12:12 AM, Jun 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-20 00:12:48-04

GAS CITY — Friday marked night number four for short track racing's Midget Week in Indiana. Six straight nights with six straight races. Not only do drivers not want to miss it, fans have bought up every ticket during this return to racing.

The parking lot filled up quickly. Fans are back int he midway. T-shirt sales are brisk. And fans are heading to their seats. In Indiana, it begins with racing.

For the fans, nice to be out?

"Ah, yes. It's the first time we've been out all year," Mark Wyman said.

Families from Muncie, Munster and Mooresville as USAC put the gas into Gas City. The Vermillions are in from Greencastle and have sons who also race.

"Without the fans, being able to do this, I don't know what we'd do," Jenny Vermillion said.

To the tune of 50 percent capacity, physical distancing but wrapped around half the track. The drivers all noticed.

"It is packed. It's awesome to see fans," Tyler Courtney said. "It's still a limited number but we get to have fans."

It's almost hard to imagine USAC Midget Week without them. It's one of the reasons NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse has been wanting to return for some 13 years.

"Yeah, I grew up going to the racetrack, watching my dad," Stenhouse said. "And then growing up through the ranks with a lot of these same people. It's just fun to come back and do."

It thrills the senses — 900 pound race cars pushed around by 400-horsepower engines. It's a recipe for just about anything. But the drivers get back in. Now the fans are, too.

"Probably the biggest thrill you can get," Tanner Thorson said. "There's a lot of slide jobs, just about every corner if the track allows it."

"You can feel the people and understand the social distancing aspect, but still be casual and be normal," Rico Abreu said.

A little normalcy in a very abnormal world. From thrills to three-dollar beers, from dirt to dusk, and it's all about time.

"Kind of the start of getting back to normal," Courtney said. "Racing is the heart of this state. Whether some people want to think of that or not, I think racing is the backbone of our state as we know it."