Series News Release - USAC Media
Hutchinson, Kansas (January 15, 2024) - The USAC Silver Crown National Championship has added a new date at a venue with a rich racing history to the 2024 series schedule.
For the first time ever, Salt City Speedway in Hutchinson, Kan. will host the USAC champ cars on its famed dirt half-mile for two consecutive nights on Friday-Saturday, July 19-20. An open USAC Silver Crown practice will take place on Friday, July 19, with a full program consisting of practice, qualifying and a 100-lap feature set for Saturday, July 20.
Located at the Kansas State Fairgrounds, Salt City Speedway (named so for its salt mining industry) first contested auto racing events in 1910, making it one of the most historic tracks in the country. Phil Nightingale has experienced his share of memories at the place, dating back to being a fan, then a driver and now as the track’s new general manager, and he can already feel the buzz.
“I’m more than excited about this; I’m over the moon,” Nightingale exclaimed. “This is a dream come true to put together a big race like this, especially with it being my first year as the promoter of the track. Being able to bring the champ cars to Hutchinson is huge. Every person I’ve talked to about USAC coming has been so excited to see these cars race.”
The reveal of this particular event on the schedule this year is significant in a myriad of manners. According to a report from The Hutchinson News, “The Kansas State Fair Board voted Tuesday (January 9, 2024) to rescind its November 2022 vote to demolish Hutchinson Raceway Park at the fairgrounds and accepted a one-year proposal for future use.”
When Nightingale got wind of the move to dismantle more than a century worth of racing history in Hutchinson, he stepped into action. It was personal to him. He was raised 25 miles from the track, and it’s a venue where both he and his son, Jake Nightingale, raced. In fact, Jake won in his first start at the track in a modified in 2015. The process of continuing racing at the joint came rather quickly.
Nightingale met with the fair board in September of 2023, then met with the board again in October and November. Just last week, his proposal received approval via a 13-0 vote to resume racing activities at the venerable central Kansas track.
“The track has a lot of history and it’s close to my old stomping grounds,” Nightingale explained. “When I heard that the fair board had voted to demolish the track, that’s when my adrenaline got running. It was time for me to step in and do something to try to help and promote the racetrack to keep it alive.”
Furthermore, USAC Silver Crown Competition Director Tommie Estes won an NCRA Sprint Car feature at the track in 1989 and will be instrumental in the track preparation for the mid-July event.
Six previous USAC Silver Crown events have been held in the state of Kansas dating back to 2006. Two occurred on the pavement of Kansas Speedway in Kansas City while each of the last four having taken place on the dirt at the Belleville High Banks. In fact, USAC Silver Crown racing will make multiple appearances in Kansas in 2024 with another weekend scheduled for Belleville on May 17-18.
Never has there been a repeat USAC Silver Crown winner in Kansas with six different drivers making it to victory lane, including Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) and seven-time series champion Kody Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.) who’ll try to become the first multi-time Kansas Silver Crown winner at Salt City. Reigning series champ Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) will attempt to win his first in Kansas at Salt City in 2024.
Times and additional details for the July 19-20, 2024, Salt City Speedway event will be announced at a later date. But for now, the fact that USAC Silver Crown racing is debuting in Hutchinson, to Nightingale, it’s a perfect match for racing history.
“I’ve always been a gearhead, I’ve always loved motors and I’ve always loved hearing loud noises and all that kind of stuff,” Nightingale stated. “We’re just so excited to bring those racers here. Number one for me is to just hear those cars screaming around that racetrack. That’s going to be the most fun.”