New Circle City Raceway set for 2021 debut

The new Circle City Raceway located at the Marion County Fairgrounds in Indianapolis will open in 2021.

Kevin Garrigus, an Indianapolis businessman and owner of the Indianapolis Speedrome, announced in November he has signed a long-term deal with the board of directors at the Marion County Fairgrounds, located off of Interstate 465 and Interstate 74 on the east side of Indianapolis, and has begun the process of converting the current facility into the first new Hoosier capital dirt track since the mid-1990s.

Garrigus owns Advance Auto Sales in Indianapolis. He was a major sponsor and multiple-car team owner at the track for two years and sponsored late models for 2015 and 2016 track champion Jesse Tunny, plus Austin Tunny, Curtis McMurtrey, Fred Bear Jr. and his son, Jacob Garrigus. His friendship and business association with previous owners Pete Watson and Jeff Hammond led to him buying the Speedrome in 2017.

“We had a vision of bringing dirt track racing back to Indianapolis,” Garrigus said. “The rebirth and pride that we have created at the Speedrome is something we look to repeat at Circle City. Attendance and car count at the 80-year-old Speedrome have grown substantially during our four-year tenure while maintaining and growing an affordable fan experience.”

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Circle City Raceway will actually be two tracks in one. The main track will be a 75-foot-wide, mildly banked quarter-mile oval with a smaller racing surface installed inside.

The first major event at the facility will be the Tony Stewart-owned All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars scheduled for May 20 and 21.

After buying the Speedrome, Garrigus hired Jonathan Byrd II, who had overseen marketing for the track, as its president handling day-to-day operations.

“Immediately when Kevin took over, there was a big difference,” said Byrd, son of the late Jonathan Byrd, founder of Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria (now Byrd Enterprises Inc.) and a former IndyCar Series team owner. “He has put his money where his mouth is.”

Garrigus will be bringing Byrd to the new dirt project.

“A lot of money and time are being poured into the Circle City Raceway project to bring years of motorsports success going forward for competitors and fans to enjoy,” said Byrd, who spearheaded the initial process. “We will be showcasing a wide array of classes. There will be many special events to go along with our local offerings.”

Talks are ongoing with several national and regional racing series to compete at Circle City Raceway.

In addition to Stewart’s All-Star Sprints, Byrd mentioned the prospects of the series and cars that will race, including USAC National Midget and Sprint Cars, Dirt Late Models, UMP-style Modifieds, Legends Cars, 600cc Sprints, Outlaw Karts, Front Wheel Drive Cars and TQ Midgets, among others.

Additional event dates are scheduled to be announced in the near future, including during the 2021 Marion County Fair, scheduled for June 25 to July 4.

In addition to the actual competition surface being sculpted, the grounds are getting new concession and restroom buildings and additional grandstands and other infrastructure improvements. A vast pit area also will be created.

Lucas Oil Late Models releases 2021 schedule

The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series has announced its 2021 schedule with a lineup that hosts 62 feature events at 32 different venues across 21 states.

All 62 events will be live streamed in conjunction on the MAVTV Motorsports Network.

There will be 37 original events televised on MAVTV, three events televised on CBS Sports Network, one event televised on CBS and 14 events televised on NBC Sports Network.

Next year’s schedule is highlighted by increased purses throughout the season.

The richest Crown Jewel events of the tour’s schedule include Lucas Oil Speedway’s Show-Me 100 ($30,000 to win); Smoky Mountain Speedway’s Mountain Moonshine Classic ($20,000); I-80 Speedway’s Silver Dollar Nationals ($53,000); Florence Speedway’s North/South 100 ($50,000); Batesville Motor Speedway’s Topless 100 ($40,000); Port Royal Speedway’s The Rumble by the River #3 ($30,000); Tyler County Speedway’s Hillbilly Hundred ($30,000); Knoxville Raceway’s Late Model Nationals ($40,000); Brownstown Speedway’s Jackson 100 ($20,000); Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway’s Pittsburgher 100 ($20,000); and Portsmouth Raceway Park’s Dirt Track World Championship ($100,000).

Locally, Brownstown Speedway will host three Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series events in 2021, including the Indiana Icebreaker on March 20, the night before the Jackson 100 on Sept. 24 and the 42nd annual Jackson 100 on Sept. 25.

Nolen Racing hires another Swanson

USAC team owner Greg Nolen of Whiteland announced this week Tanner Swanson will drive a Nolen Racing asphalt sprint car in selected events in 2021, including the 73rd annual Pay Less Little 500 at Anderson Speedway on May 29.

Swanson of Kingsburg, California, is stepping into the seat recently vacated by his older brother, Kody. The latter posted two of his three Little 500 triumphs in a Nolen Racing sprint car in 2018 and 2019.

Tanner Swanson, 29, has raced a limited schedule in recent years, but he always seems to end up as one of his brother’s primary rivals when they compete in the same event.

Tanner competed in the Little 500 in 2016 with Armstrong Racing and in 2018 with Bowman Racing but retired from both of those events relatively early due to mechanical difficulties.

He looks forward to changing that in 2021 when he makes his third start as Shane Hollingsworth’s teammate on the Nolen Racing team. Hollingsworth of Lafayette recorded his best finish ever in the Little 500 this year when he placed second. In 2019, Hollingsworth and Kody Swanson led an unprecedented 499 of the race’s 500 laps.

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