Carb Night Classic

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Carb Night Classic
USAC Silver Crown Series
Venue West 16th Street Speedway (1946-1958)
Kokomo Speedway (1959-1961, 1965-1968)
Indianapolis Speedrome (1962-1964, 1979)
Indiana State Fairgrounds (1972-1973)
Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis (1969- 1971, 1974-1978, 1980-2017)
Location Clermont, Indiana
39°48′46″N 86°20′27″W / 39.81278°N 86.34083°W / 39.81278; -86.34083Coordinates: 39°48′46″N 86°20′27″W / 39.81278°N 86.34083°W / 39.81278; -86.34083
First race 1946 AAA Midgets
First Silver Crown race 2015
Last race 2017
Distance 68.6 miles
Laps 100
Previous names Famous Night Before the 500 (1958-1960)
Coca-Cola Night Before the 500 (1979)
Budweiser Night Before the 500 (1989-2000)
Toyota Night Before the 500 (2007)
NOS Energy Drink Night Before the 500 (2010)
Visit Hendricks County Night Before the 500 (2013-2014)
Day Before the 500 (2015)
Carb Night Classic...The Race Before the 500 (2016)
Most wins (driver) Eddie Haddad (4)
Circuit information
Surface Asphalt
Length 0.686 mi (1.104 km)
Turns 4
Lap record 0:19.581 (Mark Smith, Ralt RT5, 1989, Formula Super Vee)

The Carb Night Classic is a USAC Silver Crown Series race held at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis in Clermont, Indiana. Since 2016, the race has been scheduled for the Friday night of Memorial Day weekend, two nights before the Indianapolis 500 which is held at the nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

For nearly 70 years, the event was better known as the Night Before the 500 and was traditionally scheduled the night immediately before the Indianapolis 500 and held under-the-lights. From its inception in 1946 through 2014 the event was held as a Midget car race, and was held in high prestige. Over its history, the event has been held at several different short tracks in Indiana, but since 1980, it has permanently been hosted at Lucas Oil Raceway (formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park).

The event has long been considered one of the Indianapolis 500 traditions, along with the Hoosier Hundred and Little 500, which are also held over the same weekend at different venues in Indiana. Over the course of its history, numerous Indy 500 drivers have competed in the Night Before the 500, some winning. In 2015, the race was switched to the Silver Crown series and held in the afternoon. In 2016, it was moved to Friday night to avoid conflicting with the Little 500 at Anderson Speedway.

Various support races have accompanied the Midget main event including stock cars, Formula Super Vee, Formula Ford, and the Mini Indy series. From 2010 to 2016, the Mazda Road to Indy U.S. F2000 and Pro Mazda racing series supported the event.

History[edit]

16th Street Speedway[edit]

The first Night Before the 500 event was held in 1946 at 16th Street Speedway (formerly Indianapolis Midget Speedway, and sometimes known as West 16th Street Speedway), a short track that was once located across the street from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The headline event was a double feature of Midget car racing sanctioned by the AAA Contest Board, held the night before the 1946 Indianapolis 500. The features were won by Benny Emerick and Leroy Warriner. The event quickly grew in popularity and prestige, and drew large fields of cars and large crowds.

After doubleheader features in 1946-1947, the event expanded to a tripleheader of features beginning in 1948. The three races were considered entirely separate events, each with their own practice and time trials, and occasionally a consolation race. The first race typically began around 2 p.m. in the afternoon, the second race began around 7 p.m. in the evening, and the third race (sometimes nicknames the "owl" race), began as late as 10 p.m. or even midnight. The racing typically continued well into the overnight hours, ending sometimes after 2 a.m. After the first feature, the grandstands were emptied, and the fans were required to exit the gates. After a brief wait, fans could buy tickets for the second feature, and re-enter. The process repeated after the second feature. Many spectators in attendance watched the races then walked across the street to get in line to wait for the gates to open at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indianapolis 500 the following morning.

In the first few years, the event had no official name. In 1954, the first appearance of the traditional moniker appeared, as the race was officially advertised as the "Now Famous - Night Before the 500".[1]

The 1951 races were cancelled, then in 1952-1953 the program was changed to a single 100-lap feature. The tripleheader format returned in 1954. After 1955, AAA withdrew from automobile racing.

1956-1978[edit]

1989 Formula Super Vee race winner Mark Smith
Tony Stewart finished 5th in the 1995 Night Before the 500 feature.

USAC took over sanctioning of the event beginning in 1956. The popular tripleheader format at 16th Street Speedway was maintained, and used through 1958. However, after the 1958 season, 16th Street Speedway was closed and later demolished. Over the next two decades, the event bounced around between several short tracks in Indiana. Kokomo Speedway, about an hour north of Indianapolis, held the event from 1959-1961, then it moved to the Indianapolis Speedrome for 1962-1964. It returned to Kokomo for 1965 to 1968, then moved to Indianapolis Raceway Park beginning in 1969.

In 1956, Shorty Templeman became the first and only driver to sweep all three features of the tripleheader in a single night. Templeman had failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 that year, and pocketed about $1,500 in prize money for the three-race sweep.

By 1959, the doubleheader and tripleheader formats had been mostly abandoned in favor of one longer feature. In addition, support races were filling the docket to improve the show for fans. The event moved to the Indiana State Fairgrounds oval in 1972-1973 and was held as two 50-lap features. But the 1973 Night Before the 500 was plagued by rain, much like the 1973 Indianapolis 500. The Night Before the 500 twin 50-lap Midget races were rained out on Sunday May 27 and initially rescheduled for June 17.[2] However, a scheduling conflict saw the event rescheduled a second time until July 4 and the race was renamed the "Firecracker Fifties."[3] On July 4, the event was cancelled due to heavy rain, and never rescheduled.[4][5] After that much-maligned event, the Night Before the 500 returned to IRP the following season.

Beginning in 1974, the Indianapolis 500 was permanently moved to Sunday, which meant the Night Before the 500 races were likewise permanently moved to Saturday night each year.

During the period when the "Night Before the 500" was held at Kokomo, the Speedrome, or the Fairgrounds, IRP sometimes also held their own docket of races the same night (and vice-versa). But these races were not considered part of the continuous lineage of the traditional "Night Before the 500" classic. When the races were at Kokomo, organizers regularly set up bus service from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to Kokomo (which was about an hour to the north) in an effort to boost attendance.

1979[edit]

For 1979, a one-time doubleheader of two separate Midget racing events were scheduled for the same day (Saturday May 26).[6][7] The first event was held at Indianapolis Raceway Park, a doubleheader of the USAC Midgets and the Mini Indy Series. The management at IRP decided to move their event to the daytime due to the rising cost of lighting the track. The event was billed as the Volkswagen's Day Before the 500. Later in the evening, a second USAC Midget event was scheduled across town at the Indianapolis Speedrome, and was held under the traditional name Coca-Cola Night Before the 500.[8] Many USAC Midget drivers were entered for both events. Arrangements were made for the drivers to be transported from one venue to the other by police escort. The first midget event was held as scheduled at IRP, but the Mini Indy event was rained out and rescheduled for Sunday evening (May 27) after the conclusion of the Indy 500.[9] Likewise, the "Night Before the 500" midget race at the Speedrome were also rained out, and postponed until Sunday night May 27.

1980-2014[edit]

In 1980, IRP completed an improvement project which included new lights, and the Night Before the 500 classic was moved back to the facility permanently.[10] In addition to the traditional Midget feature, various support races began being scheduled as part of the evening. Formula Super Vee ran at the oval for five races. Mark Smith won the race in 1989. His fastest lap of 0:19.581 is still the current track record. In 1983, Jeff Andretti won a Formula Ford race.[11] From 2010 to 2016, the Road to Indy U.S. F2000 National Championship and Pro Mazda Championship supported the event.

During the 1980s and 1990s, several future stars of NASCAR and IndyCar headlined the event. Drivers such as Ken Schrader, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Jason Leffler were among those with wins in the midget feature.

2015[edit]

Following USAC ceasing sanctioning of paved midget cars, for 2015 the event switched to the USAC Silver Crown Series. In addition, the event was moved up to Saturday afternoon in an effort to boost attendance and give fans a better opportunity to take in the event, without conflicting with the many other events of the busy racing weekend. The name of the event was changed to the Day Before the 500 and was part of four days of USAC events in the area including also the Hulman Classic, the Hoosier Hundred, and the Little 500.[12]

2016-present[edit]

The move to daytime was short-lived, and for 2016, the event was revamped once again. For many years the Night Before the 500 classic was held on the same night and at the same time as the Little 500, splitting fans (and some competitors) between both events.[13] It was decided to move the event permanently to Friday night of Memorial Day weekend. Once again, it would be held under-the-lights, and it was renamed the Carb Night Classic...The Race Before the 500.[14] The name derived from Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the traditional final day of practice for the Indianapolis 500, which was earlier in the afternoon. The move made for four USAC events over four consecutive nights, leading up to the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. The Hulman Classic would be scheduled for Wednesday night, the Hoosier Hundred Thursday night, the Carb Night Classic Friday night, and the Little 500 on Saturday night.

Race winners[edit]

AAA Midgets[edit]

From its inception in 1946 through 1955, the Night Before the 500 was part of the AAA Midgets championship.

Year Day Date Winner Location Report
1946 Wednesday May 29 Benny Emerick Indianapolis Midget Speedway [15]
Leroy Warriner
1947 Thursday May 29 Sam Hanks Indianapolis Midget Speedway [16][17]
Ted Duncan
1948 Sunday May 30 Eddie Haddad Indianapolis Midget Speedway [18]
Eddie Haddad
Johnnie Parsons
1949 Sunday May 29 Mike O'Halloran West 16th Street Midget Speedway [19]
Eddie Haddad
Eddie Haddad
1950 Monday May 29 Mike Nazaruk West 16th Street Midget Speedway [20]
Leroy Warriner
Manuel Ayulo
1951 Race cancelled
1952 Thursday May 29 Potsy Goacher West 16th Street Midget Speedway [21]
1953 Friday May 29 Johnnie Tolan West 16th Street Midget Speedway [22]
1954 Sunday May 30 Potsy Goacher West 16th Street Midget Speedway [23][1]
Johnny Kay
Tony Bonadies
1955 Sunday May 29 Eddie Sachs West 16th Street Midget Speedway
Forrest Parker

USAC Midgets[edit]

After AAA withdrew from racing, the Night Before the 500 feature event became part of the USAC Midgets national championship series.

Year Day Date Winner Location Report
1956 Tuesday May 29 Shorty Templeman West 16th Street Midget Speedway [24][25]
Shorty Templeman
Shorty Templeman
1957 Chuck Rodee West 16th Street Midget Speedway
Len Sutton
1958 Thursday May 29 Mauri Wilson 16th Street Speedway [26][27]
Gene Force
Tony Bonadies
1959 Friday May 29 Gene Force Kokomo Speedway [28][29]
1960 Sunday May 29 Jimmy Davies Kokomo Speedway [30]
1961 Monday May 29 Jimmy Davies Kokomo Speedway [1]
1962 Tuesday May 29 Jimmy Davies Indianapolis Speedrome [2]
1963 Wednesday May 29 Mel Kenyon Indianapolis Speedrome [3][4]
1964 Friday May 29 Chuck Rodee Indianapolis Speedrome [31]
1965 Sunday May 30 Mel Kenyon Kokomo Speedway
1966 Sunday May 29 Chuck Arnold Kokomo Speedway
1967 Monday May 29 Mike McGreevy Kokomo Speedway [32]
1968 Wednesday May 29 Rained out Kokomo Speedway
1969 Bob Wente Indianapolis Raceway Park [5]
Henry Pens
1970 Friday May 29 Lee Kunzman Indianapolis Raceway Park [33]
1971 Friday May 28 Jimmy Caruthers Indianapolis Raceway Park [34]
1972 Friday May 27 Tom Bigelow Indiana State Fairgrounds [35]
Pancho Carter
1973 Sunday May 27* Rained out Indiana State Fairgrounds
1974 Saturday May 25 Tommy Astone Indianapolis Raceway Park [36]
1975 Saturday May 24 Bill Engelhart Indianapolis Raceway Park [37]
1976 Saturday May 29 Bob Wente Indianapolis Raceway Park [38][39]
1977 Saturday May 28 Mel Kenyon Indianapolis Raceway Park [40][41]
1978 Saturday May 27 Rich Vogler Indianapolis Raceway Park [42]
1979 Saturday May 26 Mel Kenyon Indianapolis Raceway Park [43]
Sunday May 27 Sleepy Tripp Indianapolis Speedrome [6]
Sunday May 27 Jeff Nuckles Indianapolis Speedrome
1980 Saturday May 24 Mel Kenyon Indianapolis Raceway Park [44]
1981 Saturday May 23 Mack McClellan Indianapolis Raceway Park [45]
1982 Saturday July 3* Greg Leffler Indianapolis Raceway Park [46]
1983 Saturday May 28 Ken Schrader Indianapolis Raceway Park [47]
1984 Saturday May 26 Steve Lotshaw Indianapolis Raceway Park [48]
1985 Saturday May 25 Nick Fornoro, Jr. Indianapolis Raceway Park [7][8]
1986 Saturday May 24 Sam Isenhower Indianapolis Raceway Park [49]
1987 Saturday May 23 Nick Fornoro, Jr. Indianapolis Raceway Park [50]
1988 Saturday May 28 Jack Calabrase Indianapolis Raceway Park [51]
1989 Saturday May 27 Jeff Gordon Indianapolis Raceway Park [52][53]
1990 Saturday May 26 Jeff Gordon Indianapolis Raceway Park [54][55]
1991 Saturday May 25 Mike Fedorcak Indianapolis Raceway Park [56][57]
1992 Saturday May 23 Doug Kalitta Indianapolis Raceway Park [58]
1993 Saturday May 29 Mike Bliss Indianapolis Raceway Park [59][60]
1994 Saturday May 28 Ted Hines Indianapolis Raceway Park [61][62]
1995 Sunday May 28* Andy Michner Indianapolis Raceway Park [63]
1996 Saturday May 25 Kenneth Nichols Indianapolis Raceway Park [64]
1997 Saturday May 24 Ryan Newman Indianapolis Raceway Park [65][66]
1998 Sunday May 24* Dave Steele Indianapolis Raceway Park [67]
1999 Saturday May 29 Ryan Newman Indianapolis Raceway Park [68][69]
2000 Saturday May 27 Kasey Kahne Indianapolis Raceway Park [70][71]
2001 Sunday May 27* Kasey Kahne Indianapolis Raceway Park [72][73]
2002 Saturday May 25 Jason Leffler Indianapolis Raceway Park [74]
2003 Saturday May 24 Aaron Fike Indianapolis Raceway Park [75][76]
2004 Saturday May 29 Ron Gregory Indianapolis Raceway Park [77][78]
2005 Saturday May 28 Michael Lewis Indianapolis Raceway Park [79][80]
2006 Saturday May 27 Bobby Santos III Indianapolis Raceway Park [81]
2007 Saturday May 26 Kevin Swindell O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis [82]
2008 Saturday May 24 Bobby East O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis
2009 Saturday May 23 Chuck Gurney, Jr. O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis
2010 Saturday May 29 Tanner Swanson O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis [83][84]
2011 Saturday May 29 Darren Hagen Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis [85][86]
2012 Saturday May 26 Tracy Hines Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis [87]
2013 Saturday May 26 Darren Hagen Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis [88]
2014 Saturday May 24 Tracy Hines Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis [89]

USAC Silver Crown Series (Carb Night Classic)[edit]

Beginning in 2015, the headlining event switched to the USAC Silver Crown. The race moved to Friday nights starting in 2016.

Year Day Date Winner Sanction Location Report
2015 Saturday May 23 Tanner Swanson USAC Silver Crown Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis
2016 Friday May 27 Tanner Swanson USAC Silver Crown Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis [90]
2017 Friday May 26 Kody Swanson USAC Silver Crown Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis [91]

Notes[edit]

  • 1973: The twin 50-lap Midget races were rained out on Sunday May 27 and initially rescheduled for June 17.[2] However, a scheduling conflict saw the event rescheduled a second time until July 4 and the race was renamed the "Firecracker Fifties."[3] On July 4, the event was cancelled due to heavy rain, and never rescheduled.[4][5]
  • 1979: For 1979, a doubleheader of two separate Midget racing events were scheduled for the same day (Saturday May 26).[6][7] The first event was held at Indianapolis Raceway Park, a doubleheader of the USAC Midgets and the Mini Indy Series. The event was billed as the "Day Before the 500". Later in the evening, a second USAC Midget event was scheduled across town at the Indianapolis Speedrome, and was held under the traditional name "Night Before the 500."[8] Most USAC Midget drivers were entered for both events. The first midget event was held as scheduled at IRP, but the Mini Indy event was rained out and rescheduled for Sunday evening May 27 after the Indianapolis 500.[9]
  • 1982: Race rained out on Saturday May 29 and rescheduled for July 3.[92][93]
  • 1995: Race rained out on Saturday May 27 and rescheduled for Sunday May 28.[94]
  • 1998: Race rained out on Saturday May 23 and rescheduled for Sunday May 24.[95]
  • 2001: Race rained out on Saturday May 26 and rescheduled for Sunday May 27.[96]

Support races[edit]

References[edit]

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