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National Dirt
Friday, 6 March 2020




By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Du Quoin, Illinois (March 6, 2020)………Fifty lap races are a major part of USAC’s history.  In the earliest days of its National Midget division, a substantial chunk of the schedule included longer distance feature races on the norm with a total of 678 50-lap USAC National Midget events held since the series’ inaugural year of 1956.

In recent years, however, the 50-lap designation has been reserved for one event, the Shamrock Classic, which returns to the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin for its fifth annual edition this Saturday, March 7, at the 1/6-mile indoor dirt oval.

In the early years of USAC, 50 and 100-lappers were commonplace.  The first year of USAC Midget racing saw 15 such 50-lap events before ballooning to a highwater mark of 45 events by 1964.  The number of 50-lap midget races per season remained steady until the mid-1970s, then began to see a gradual drift for the series toward smaller venues and less laps, with some notable exceptions such as the Hut 100, Turkey Night Grand Prix and the Night Before the 500.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that the most accomplished driver in terms of all-time USAC Midget victories with 111 also owns the record for most 50-lap wins.  Mel Kenyon scored 37 of those throughout his illustrious career.

Much of the top echelon of the 50-lapper USAC Midget win list had their heyday in the 1950s and 60s when races of such length were prevalent, such as Bob Wente (36), Bob Tattersall (28), Jimmy Davies (23) and Chuck Rodee (17). 

Yet, when the moment arrives these days for a 50-lap or longer race, it’s definitely an outlier of the norm from the usual 30-lap events which make up the bulk of the schedule. 

Of the expected drivers for this Saturday’s Shamrock Classic, just a handful of drivers have experienced the joy of winning a 50-lap race, both of which have come at this event in recent years: Justin Grant in 2017 and Cannon McIntosh in 2019.

Meanwhile, a handful of drivers have raced to the front in 50-lappers in other forms of USAC National racing, namely the Silver Crown Champ Car Series, with Chris Windom capturing three, and Brady Bacon and Tyler Courtney each claiming  one win apiece.

Winged micro-sprints will complete their program on Saturday after competing in preliminary events on Friday night, March 6th.  Micros will complete the majority of their program on Friday night, starting at 6:30pm Central and culminating with dashes to set up Saturday’s events.  Only last chance races and the feature will be mixed into a full program for the National Midget Series, which will feature a passing-points format with both heat races and qualifying races.

The Shamrock Classic features appearance points only for competitors chasing the NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship, so all eyes will be on the top prize, elevated to $5,000 for the fifth annual event thanks to event sponsors DM Machine, WWT Raceway, and Fast Lane Racing Apparel.

Fans and competitors alike are invited to join the fun on Friday night at the St. Nicholas Brewing Company in Du Quoin for food and drink specials after a night of micro-sprint racing. Midget teams are also welcome to unload and park on Friday night. Gates open on Friday at 4pm Central with cars on track at 6:30pm.  Grandstand tickets for Friday are just five dollars, with pit passes at $25.

Shamrock Classic general admission tickets will available at the event, $20 for ages 13 and up.  Children’s general admission tickets (Age 6-12) are $10. Kids 5 and under are free.  Pit passes for Saturday are $35, and those attending both days can purchase pit passes for $55.  Tickets and pit passes will be available at the door both days.

Doors open on Saturday at 1pm Central to prepare for hot laps starting at 4pm.  More information can be found at



(37) Mel Kenyon

(36) Bob Wente

(28) Bob Tattersall

(23) Jimmy Davies

(17) Chuck Rodee

(16) Rex Easton

(15) Tommy Copp & Mike McGreevy

(14) Parnelli Jones & Billy Vukovich

(12) Gene Hartley & Dave Strickland

(11) Henry Pens

(10) Tom Bigelow, A.J. Foyt & Johnny Moorhouse

(9) Chuck Arnold, Pancho Carter, Jimmy Caruthers, Billy Engelhart & Don Meacham

(8) Billy Cantrell, Danny Caruthers, Sleepy Tripp, Rich Vogler & Leroy Warriner

(7) George Amick, Don Branson, Steve Cannon, Allen Heath & Bob McLean

(6) Darren Hagen & Shorty Templeman

(5) Gene Force, Stan Fox, Bobby Grim, Don Horvath, Lee Kunzman, Jerry McClung, Bobby Olivero, Kevin Olson, Len Sutton & Chuck Weyant

(4) Jay Drake, Danny Frye, Arnie Knepper, Jimmy Knight, Jack Turner & Roger West

(3) George Benson, Gary Bettenhausen, Hank Butcher, Russ Congdon, Kevin Doty, Ronnie Duman, Danny McKnight, Ryan Newman, Jeff Nuckles, Gary Ponzini, Johnny Roberts, Lowell Sachs, Bobby Santos, Les Scott, George Snider, Cliff Spalding, Tony Stewart & Bobby Unser

(2) Sonny Ates, Tony Bettenhausen, Jerry Coons, Jr., Allen Crowe, Dave Darland, Bobby East, Ray Elliott, Aaron Fike, Jeff Gordon, Chuck Gurney, Kyle Hamilton, Bob Hauck, Tracy Hines, P.J. Jones, Kasey Kahne, Michael Lewis, Jim McClean, Roger McCluskey, Kenneth Nichols, Johnny Parsons, Larry Patton, Larry Rice, Billy Shuman, Dave Steele, Dale Swaim & Don Vogler

(1) Al Alpern, Mario Andretti, Mike Appio, Caleb Armstrong, Paul Bates, Christopher Bell, Merle Bettenhausen, Gays Biro, Mike Bliss, Bud Bogard, Tony Bonadies, Dan Boorse, Don Boorse, Frank Burany, Larry Cannon, Dana Carter, Lonnie Caruthers, Roy Cook Jr., Larry Dickson, Bradley Galedrige, Billy Garrett, Potsy Goacher, Shane Golobic, Rick Goudy, Justin Grant, Ron Gregory, Chuck Gurney Jr., Norm Hall, Bob Hare, , Al Herman, Jim Hettinger, Jeff Heywood, Ted Hines, Bob Hogle, Dean Holden, Bill Homeier, Chuck Hulse, Buddy Irwin, Eddie Jackson, Eddie Johnson, Van Johnson, Levi Jones, Steve Knepper, Kyle Larson, Jason Leffler, Andy Linden, Steve Lotshaw, Mack McClellan, Larry McCloskey, Jim McElreath, Mel McGaughy, Cannon McIntosh, Billy Mehner, Andy Michner, Davey Moses, Russ Moynagh, Richard Myhre, Dick Northam, Hank Nykaza, Danny O'Neill, Danny Oakes, Brian Olson, Jan Opperman, Jim Packard, Gene Pastor, Buddy Rackley, Stevie Reeves, Bob Richards, Johnny Riva, Gene Roehl, Lloyd Ruby, Eddie Sachs, Sam Sauer, Dutch Schaefer, Logan Seavey, Frank Secrist, Tony Simon, J.P. Standley, Mike Streicher, Tanner Swanson, Kevin Swindell, Steve Troxell, Joe Walter, Tommy White, Mauri Wilson & Josh Wise