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ARGABRIGHT: Winchester Is Still Going Strong

Dave Argabright
ARGABRIGHT: Winchester Is Still
Winchester Speedway will add open-wheel racing back to its schedule next year. (Randy Crist photo)
Dave Argabright.

INDIANAPOLIS — The USAC Silver Crown series is coming to Winchester (Ind.) Speedway.

It was announced during the recent running of the Winchester 400 presented by JEGS that the USAC Silver Crown division would make its first appearance at Winchester in 2021, with a date yet to be determined.

The event will mark a long-anticipated pairing of two historic entities. Winchester Speedway is one of the most legendary and historic tracks in the nation, with the Indiana high-banked half-mile first seeing action in 1916, while the Silver Crown Series can trace its heritage to championship racing in the early 20th century.

Winchester is one of the top paved short-track venues in the country, but open-wheel racing has been sparse at the high-banked track in recent years. Sprint cars and midgets are scary fast at the track, but Silver Crown cars will offer an interesting alternative.

Last year, well-known media personality Bob Dillner joined track owner Charlie Shaw to help with promotional duties, and Dillner and Shaw are excited about the event. (Dillner is a colleague of mine at MAVTV.)

“We feel like the Silver Crown cars will adjust well to the high banks here at Winchester,” Dillner said. “As we set out over the past year to determine our schedule going forward, the one thing we heard over and over is this: The best thing you could do is bring the Silver Crown cars to Winchester.”

The Silver Crown cars have traditionally shined on one-mile dirt tracks such as the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, Illinois State Fairgrounds and Indiana State Fairgrounds.

But through the years, the cars eventually expanded their range to include shorter paved tracks such as Salem (Ind.) Speedway, Toledo (Ohio) Speedway, Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis and Wisconsin’s Madison Intl. Speedway.

The shorter tracks have been both viable and entertaining and Winchester will be an interesting addition to the schedule.

USAC driver Brady Bacon is also involved in organizing and promoting the event. Bacon, a native of Oklahoma, now resides in Winchester and is this year’s USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion.

Winchester has a rich history with USAC as their sprint cars and midgets were a mainstay at the track for decades. The Silver Crown event will be a welcome return and longtime fans, hopefully, will embrace the concept.

Next year will be a big year for Winchester as it will celebrate the 50th running of the Winchester 400 in October. Carson Hocevar dominated this year’s event on Oct. 11 with Kyle Crump second and Stephen Nasse third.

“Winchester is a very special place,” Dillner insisted. “Charlie (Shaw) talked with me about getting involved here and helping him with some bigger events. Charlie really wants to see Winchester thrive and we put a staff together to make sure racing will continue at Winchester Speedway.

“We’ve got four events next season for sure, including the Silver Crown race, a May 18 midweek special for super late models and other divisions, the traditional events on Labor Day and the Winchester 400 in October.”

All of this is good news for those of us who love the historic venue. There is something special about Winchester — a rich combination of excitement, history, competition and intimidation.

It’s a unique venue with unique challenges. The track is too big for a weekly show and hosting a mega-purse event here — or anywhere for that matter — today is not easy.

But the track has a loyal and passionate following, drawing spectators and competitors from nearby Muncie, Richmond, Portland and throughout the Midwest.

It will be fun to see the big Silver Crown cars and their drivers tackle the tough half-mile.

Somewhere, Rich Vogler is smiling.

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