DIRTcar Summer Nationals and DIRTcar Modified Nationals
Location: Circle City Raceway, Indianapolis, IN | Dates: Race Day: 7/14–7/18
THE DOWN & DIRTY OF RACING
On a call with PRI Founding members, PRI President Dr. Jamie Meyer summarized the simple idea behind the PRI Road Tour 2021: We’re bringing the racing to you. We are showing our entire membership the breadth of the racing industry in the United States, and we’re hitting series where PRI members race.
The 2021 Tour started at the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb that happened at the end of June. (See the story plus some genuinely amazing PRI-exclusive photos and video here.
In comparison to the lofty heights of the Pikes Peak event, where competitors race upwards of two miles above sea level, the Tour’s second stop is absolutely down to Earth. As in… in the dirt. We’re talking about the annual DIRTcar Summer Nationals held at the new Circle City Raceway in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The new track grew out of a partnership between the Marion County Fairgrounds and Indy businessman Kevin Garrigus, who was the owner and promoter of the Indianapolis Speedrome since 2016. Garrigus and his team transformed the fairground’s old circle track into a premier facility over the winter of 2020 and 2021. The facility first opened its gates to racers and fans for Test and Tune laps in May of this year.
The PRI Road Tour was invited to the new venue to catch the racing on Wednesday, July 14. The ¼-mile oval hosted two events that night: the DIRTcar Modified Nationals and the DIRTcar Summer Nationals, a series known across social media as #HellTour. The #HellTour’s Late Model race cars are exhilarating to watch in action. With power from Chevy, Ford, and Mopar V8s, the crowd at Circle City enjoyed the sound of almost 20,000 horsepower circling the ring.
Focusing on the Late Model Feature, three-time Summer Nationals champion Bobby Pierce (No. 32) took the green on the pole and never looked back. The 40-lap race featured only one caution, but even that didn’t give Pierce’s competition the chance to pass the Illinois native. Pierce had driven the track once earlier this year, and in post-race interviews, he explained that his familiarity with the track gave him the edge he needed. Still, he credited his crew’s last-minute tire choice (running harder vs. softer Hoosiers) for his winning performance. Pierce pocketed $5,000 for the win.
Another Wednesday Night Winner was Nick Hoffman in the Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals. Hoffman had an impressive streak of wins (12) going into the feature, but the literal luck of the (starting position) draw had Hoffman take the green from third. Tyler Nicely proved to be intense competition and cleanly led the first four laps. And while Hoffman took the lead on Lap 5, Nicely dogged him the remaining 20 laps and almost reeled him in toward the end of the 25-lap race. The Circle City win was Hoffman’s 51st and netted him $1,500.
The PRI Road Tour stop at Circle City highlights one of America’s most popular forms of amateur racing: Late Model racing. One reason for the sport’s popularity is accessibility. Late Models are relatively affordable. Plus, building, maintaining, and racing a car doesn’t require a Hendrick- or Gibbs-sized bank budget. The reliable pushrod V8s are very well developed, making their peak power around 9,000 rpm. Several competitors use GM’s popular production-based LSX and LT-based blocks as a starting point, and there are scores of companies providing additional components. Circle track powertrains constitute an industry in and of themselves, and many businesses participating in the segment are longtime exhibitors at the annual PRI Show.
Additionally, there are hundreds–over 700–dirt ovals across the US, many of which provide the opportunity for thousands of drivers to compete and are economic engines in their communities.
An essential mission of the PRI Road Tour is to spread the word about PRI Membership, which goes in hand with the Save Our Race Cars initiative highlighting the importance of the RPM Act. Racers, teams, suppliers, sponsors, and tracks involved in all facets of racing would benefit from joining the PRI Membership as an individual or a business. Details on the benefits can be found here.
The Summer Nationals represent just one segment of the dirt car racing community. Check back next week to see the insanity of pro-level racing as the PRI Road Tour rolls into Rossburg, Ohio, to visit one of the preeminent dirt tracks in the country, the famed Eldora Speedway’s ½-mile oval, as racers compete for the coveted $175,000 purse.