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Monday, December 22, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 7/9/2003

USAC sprint cars back at Speedway

BY C.J. LANDRY
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

IRL Indy-car owner and local businessman Ron Hemelgarn will again sponsor the return of the United States Auto Club sprint cars to Toledo Speedway Friday night. The high-banked, half-mile paved oval is a favorite stop for the ``Thunder and Lightning'' division of USAC. The winner of the contest is slated for a test run in one of Hemelgarn's IRL cars at a later date, courtesy of the owner of the 1996 Indy 500 winner.

Hemelgarn is entering his third season of sponsoring the USAC sprint car race at Toledo Speedway which is just a few miles from his main office. His unique involvement with the USAC sprint car event is unprecedented and winning the Toledo race is a goal of many aspiring open-wheel drivers who otherwise may never get the opportunity to give an IRL Indy car a run.

One of the Hemelgarn Racing IRL Indy Cars will be on display in the spectator concourse. Officials from Michigan International Speedway will be at the track offering race fans a $10 discount ticket to the Michigan-Indy 400 at MIS July 27, courtesy of Hemelgarn Racing and Toledo Speedway.

Adding more flavor to the race is the heavy local involvement of the sprint car division, headed by Toledoan Rollie Beale, a former USAC sprint car champ. A host of past racing greats is expected to be on hand for the race program

Practice will begin at 4:30, time trials are set for 6 and racing begins at 7:30 p.m. The Friday night show also will see the A-1 Auto Parts Factory Stocks and the Michigan Legends Cars in action.

wHeading the entry list of Top Fuel dragsters at this weekend's International Hot Rod Association sanctioned Motor City Nationals at Milan Dragway is the 2001 and 2002 IHRA Top Fuel champion.

Clay Millican is looking for his fourth IHRA victory in 2003, and his 24th career win. He is the current IHRA Top Fuel points leader with 499. His nearest competitor, Bruce Litton, is 154 points behind with 345. Millican is in second place on the career IHRA Top Fuel wins list, and needs just two more victories to tie legendary racer Don Garlits for first place.

In his last race, the Rocky Mountain Nationals in Edmonton, Millican was defeated by longtime foe Bruce Litton. The two met in nine final rounds in 2002, with Millican winning all of them. This race marked the first time in 22 consecutive IHRA final-round appearances that Millican was defeated. Despite the loss, he set a track record at the Budweiser Motorsports Park with an elapsed time of 4.666 at a speed of 317.01 mph.

Prior to the race in Edmonton, Millican won the AC Delco Nationals in Richmond, Va., defeating NHRA regular John Smith in the finals. His other wins in 2003 came at the Mopar Canadian Nationals in Grand Bend, Ont., and the Amalie Texas Nationals in San Antonio, Texas, where he set a new IHRA Top Fuel record with an elapsed time of 4.591 seconds.

wRace schedule for the Motor City Nationals at Milan Dragway finds the sportsman classes making qualifying runs beginning at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. The pro classes qualify at 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Saturday qualifying continues with the sportsman classes getting under way at 8 a.m., followed by the pro classes at 1 p.m. The first round of sportsman eliminations begins after the pro qualifying. The ``Night Of Fire'' featuring the final round of pro qualifying, jet trucks and wheelstanders gets the green light at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday morning the elimination rounds begin at 8:30. Sportsman class finals are set for 1 p.m. followed by the semi finals and finals of the pro classes at 3.

wThe UMP Summer Nationals for late models will be held Saturday evening at Eldora Speedway.



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