KALWASINSKI: Chicago Chips
CHICAGO — Midget auto racing returns to Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Ind., this Friday as the United States Auto Club and the local Short Track Auto Racing Series organization co-sanction the Battle at the Border, Night One, which will feature USAC’s Honda National Championship Midget Series on the Illiana half-mile pavement.
Round two of the Battle at the Border will take place on Saturday evening at the Grundy County Speedway in Morris, with the Illiana and Grundy programs both carrying points for USAC’s National Pavement Championship.
Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind., currently leads the midget pavement standings with a six-point lead over Darren Hagen, last year’s midget pavement titlist.
Indiana’s Mario Marietta was the big winner that last time the midgets raced at Illiana with Marietta grabbing two feature race victories in 2010 during United States Speed Ass’n competition. The last time a USAC “national” midget event was held was on July 11, 2001 with Bobby East winning the 30-lap main event and A.J. Davis posting an all-time Illiana midget qualifying record of 18.629 seconds.
The STARS association has been the midget-sanctioning group at Grundy since 2011 with the third-of-mile paved fairgrounds oval hosting the midgets on a pretty much weekly basis.
Brad Greenup of Channahon won the recent STARS-sanctioned Illinois State Championship event there. Kyle Hamilton won last year’s USAC race at Grundy. For many years, the old United Midget Auto Racing Ass’n was the sanctioning body at Grundy.
Back in the day, and I mean back in the day, midget auto racing was the most popular form of racing in the United States with tracks throughout the country, including in and around the Chicago area, running seven nights a week with a Sunday afternoon thrown in for good measure.