Brownstown Speedway season opener set for tonight


For the first time this year, the weather will finally cooperate with Brownstown Speedway, and the Jackson County Fairgrounds track will kick off its 2023 racing season tonight with the inaugural Ira Bastin Memorial Race.

A stout field of dirt late model drivers will be on hand to honor one of the legends in Brownstown Speedway history, Ira Bastin, who passed away on Jan. 18 at the age of 82.

The race will mark the return of the Northern Allstars Late Model Dirt Series after an 11-year hiatus. Brownstown hosted its first Northern Allstars race 25 years ago in 1998, which was won by Tony Izzo Jr.

Also competing tonight will be super stocks, pure stocks and hornets. Gates will open at 3 p.m. with hot laps scheduled for 6 p.m.

The late models will be running for a purse of $5,000 to win and a healthy $1,000 to start the main. There will be several bonus opportunities available with a fast time award, heat race winner bonuses and a special dash for cash.

USAC Sprints at Lawrenceburg

It will have been exactly 50 days since the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship has been in action.

It’s a week later than we would’ve liked. After last weekend’s washout, tonight presents the long-awaited return of the series as the competition gears up for the 3/8-mile high banks of Lawrenceburg Speedway, culminating with a 30-lap, $5,000-to-win feature event.

While it’s the fifth time the USAC National Sprint Cars have been on track this season, technically, tonight’s race will mark Round No. 3 of the 2023 calendar with the opening two events in February at Volusia Speedway Park not paying points toward the championship, while the two most recent displays at Bubba Raceway Park have thrusted four-time series champion Brady Bacon into the early point lead.

At Bubba Raceway Park, Bacon was greeted in Victory Lane by Jack Hewitt after Bacon passed “Dew-It” for fourth place on the all-time USAC National Sprint Car feature win list with his 47th career victory.

While USAC Sprint Cars have had to endure a month-and-a-half wait to get back on track, several drivers and teams were able to get their season underway in local Indiana action at both Paragon Speedway and Lincoln Park Speedway, while the western states have opened their doors to 2023, as well.

Logan Seavey and the 2B Racing team scored a big win in mid-March during the No Way Out 40 at Paragon, while C.J. Leary locked down the victory Sunday at Lincoln Park. On the AMSOIL USAC CRA Sprint Car scene, Justin Grant made the venture to California’s Perris Auto Speedway on March 18 to grab a Sokola Shootout triumph.

What’s one thing they all have in common outside of winning this season? They’ve all experienced multiple USAC feature winning performances at Lawrenceburg with Seavey taking both a midget and sprint win in 2021 and Leary with sprint victories in 2017 and 2019 in addition to a track championship in 2013. Grant has won four USAC Sprint features at The Burg, including the first of his career in 2012, and is the winningest driver on the 3/8-mile configuration at the venue, which was renovated prior to the 2008 season.

Justin Grant has experienced springtime success at Lawrenceburg, winning the USAC round in April 2014. However, in 10 springtime USAC Sprint Car rounds at Lawrenceburg, there’s never been a repeat winner dating back to the track’s initial early season outing in 2006.

Among those who’ve won with the USAC Sprints at Lawrenceburg in the spring are Jon Stanbrough (2006), Levi Jones (2007), Josh Wise (2009), Jerry Coons Jr. (2010), Kevin Thomas Jr. (2013), Justin Grant (2014), Logan Jarrett (2015), Dave Darland (2016), Chris Windom (2017) and Brady Bacon (2021).

Thomas, Grant and Bacon, who possess a total of 12 Lawrenceburg USAC Sprint Car victories between them, will all be in the field with expectations to obliterate this particular statistic to smithereens.

Exiting Florida and February and entering the swing of the season starting today at Lawrenceburg, USAC National Sprint Car racing has already seen four different winners emerge with Jake Swanson, Daison Pursley, Brady Bacon and Kyle Cummins all tasting victory thus far.

Bacon has been the most consistent to this point with a seventh, fourth, first and second in his four appearances this year. Cummins, meanwhile, experienced multiple engine woes in Florida early on with a 22nd, followed by an absence the following night at Volusia due to the troubles. Cummins and the Rock Steady Racing team lived up to their moniker by rebounding with gusto by finishing fifth and first to close out Florida and head into Lawrenceburg where both he and Bacon have won over the past two seasons.

A number of USAC National Sprint Car feature winners are off to less-than-ideal starts to their 2023 campaigns based on circumstances and misfortune down in Florida, but the odds of the magic 8-ball say, “Chances are Good” that a complete turnaround is in store starting today at Lawrenceburg.

Kevin Thomas Jr. (11th), Jake Swanson (12th), Jason McDougal (14th), Daison Pursley (15th), Robert Ballou (17th) and Jadon Rogers (18th) all currently reside outside the top-10 of the USAC standings coming into the weekend, and all are primed to put a quality mark onto the performance chart this weekend.

Thomas owns five USAC Sprint main event wins at Lawrenceburg, second only to Dave Darland’s all-time record of seven. Ballou has been a USAC winner at Lawrenceburg, doing so back in 2011. Swanson and Rogers have both been USAC Sprint Car fast qualifiers there in 2020 and 2021, respectively. McDougal and Pursley have each hit seventh in the running order at Lawrenceburg in their USAC careers, McDougal with the sprints in 2019 and Pursley with the midgets in 2021.

Lawrenceburg Speedway, which opened in 1950 and conducted its first USAC event in 1961 with A.J. Foyt winning a midget feature, will become the eighth track to have hosted 100 or more combined USAC Silver Crown, National Sprint Car and National Midget races. Ohio’s Eldora Speedway (301) has hosted the most in this category followed by Indianapolis Raceway Park (267), Indiana’s Terre Haute Action Track (250), Indiana’s Winchester Speedway (196), Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway (162), California’s Ascot Park (140) and Indiana’s Salem Speedway (135).

Fifty-one different drivers have reached Victory Lane in a USAC National event at Lawrenceburg Speedway, with USAC Triple Crown champion Dave Darland leading all drivers with seven, all of which have come in a sprint car.

This week in racing history

From 50 years ago, Johnny Robbins won the 1973 season opener at Twin Cities over Larry Wilcox, Rick Kramer, Clyde James and Bill Arnold.

From 30 years ago in 1993, Brownstown Speedway held its season opener with two late model feature races. Don O’Neal won the first feature over Kevin Weaver, Gary Barrow, Paul Crockett and Mark Bechelli. Dion Deason took the second feature over Mike Gibbs, Mike Jewell, Earl Plessinger and Steve Trabue. Tim Clark took the street stock feature over Jeff Wilson, Willie Sallee, Joe Lucas and Darren Davis. Doug Bildner won the modified feature over Tony Godsey, Mark Barber, J.D. Largent and Larry Schornick. Bruce Turner was victorious in the bomber feature over Murl Robinson, Brian Slinkard, Paul Crockett and Mike Jones.

Upcoming local race schedule:

Tonight: Brownstown Speedway – Inaugural Ira Bastin Memorial for the Northern Allstars Late Model Dirt Series plus super stocks, pure stocks and hornets. For more information, visit

Tonight: Lawrenceburg Speedway – USAC National Sprints, modifieds, pure stocks and hornets for more information, visit

Tonight: Florence Speedway – crate late models, modifieds, sport mods, hornets and crown vics. For more information, visit

Tonight: Paragon Speedway – 410 sprints, super stocks, bombers and hornets. For more information, visit

Wednesday: I65 Scott County Fairgrounds Speedway – modifieds, crown vics, hornets and smack talkers.

Friday: Bloomington Speedway – USAC National Sprints, super stocks and MMSA mini-sprints. For more information, visit

April 15: Columbus Speedway Go-Kart Racing – season opener – first points race – events are held at Tony Stewart Speedway at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds.

April 15: Brownstown Speedway – Indiana Pro late models, super stocks, pure stocks, hornets and crown vics.

April 15: Lawrenceburg Speedway – sprints, modifieds, pure stocks and hornets.

April 16: Salem Speedway – Season Opener – for more information, visit

April 15: Florence Speedway – 47 th Annual Spring 50 for late models, crate late models, modifieds and hornets.

April 15: Paragon Speedway – super late models, bombers, hornets and super stocks.

James Essex writes a motorsports notebook for The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].

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