The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum’s newest exhibit, “Hoosier Thunder: Indiana’s Short Track Heritage,” opened at 10 a.m. on Nov. 8 and is already receiving rave reviews from racing historians and aficionados.
Hoosier Thunder tells the story of the many drivers and families who have made Indiana short-track racing a way of life: surnames such as Carter, Darland, Elliott, Kenyon, and Kinser among others. It also honors the drivers, such as three- and four-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, respectively, who made a name for themselves on Indiana bullrings on their journey to superstardom.
The exhibit is the largest in the IMS Museum’s 60-year history, with 41 Sprint, Midget and Silver Crown series cars along with many trophies, drivers’ suits, helmets, and artifacts. A floor-to-ceiling wall map lists the name and location of every known oval short track, used for motorized competition, that has existed in the state of Indiana.
Nine decades of USAC (United States Auto Club) race car development is on display, from a 1937 Dreyer Special midget, to the car that carried a young Jeff Gordon to his first USAC midget victory, to Kody Swanson’s 2018 Silver Crown Series championship-winning car.
Some other notable cars that are part of Hoosier Thunder:
•Brady Bacon’s 2018 BC39-winning midget (the first dirt track race in IMS history)
•Tony Stewart’s 1995 USAC Sprint car (part of his “Triple Crown” championship)
•Ryan Newman’s 1999 USAC Silver Crown Series championship car
•Mel Kenyon’s final USAC Midget race-winning car
•The 1950 Russo-Nichels Special, “Basement Bessie,” which Paul Russo drove in the
34th Indianapolis 500 and later won several 100-mile dirt events.
•Pancho Carter’s 1974 USAC championship Sprint car.
Hoosier Thunder is made possible by exhibit sponsors Driven2SaveLives, Toyota and Hoosier Racing Tire. The exhibit will remain open until April 21, 2019, when the Museum staff begins preparations for an iconic 2019 Indianapolis 500-related exhibit.