United States Auto Club

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United States Auto Club
United States Auto Club logo 2009.png
Sport Auto racing
Jurisdiction United States
Abbreviation USAC
Founded 1955[1]
Headquarters Speedway, Indiana
President Kevin Miller
Chairman Jeff Stoops
Official website
www.usacracing.com
United States

The United States Auto Club (USAC) is one of the sanctioning bodies of auto racing in the United States. From 1956 to 1979, USAC sanctioned the United States National Championship, and from 1956 to 1997 the organization sanctioned the Indianapolis 500. Today, USAC serves as the sanctioning body for a number of racing series, including the Silver Crown Series, National Sprint Car Series, National Midget Series, HPD Midget Series, .25 Midget Series, and Traxxas TORC Series.

History[edit]

USAC headquarters in Speedway, Indiana. The building is located on 16th Street, less than a block from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (track is visible behind).
USAC trailer at a TORC event

When the American Automobile Association (AAA) withdrew from auto racing after the 1955 season, citing the Le Mans disaster and the death of Bill Vukovich at Indianapolis as contributing factors,[2] both the SCCA and NASCAR were mentioned as its potential successor.[2][3] Ultimately, USAC was formed by Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman.[4] It became the arbiter of rules, car design, and other matters for what it termed championship auto racing, the highest level of USAC racing. For a while there was a separate series of specifications for championship cars designed to be run on dirt, rather than paved, tracks.

USAC's long history as an open-wheel racing sanctioning body continues today with the Silver Crown Series, National Sprint Car Series, National Midget Series, Ignite Ethanol Fuel Series, Quarter Midgets, and TORC Series. NASCAR drivers including Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, and Kasey Kahne honed their skills and captured championships while competing in various USAC series.

Triple crown[edit]

The "triple crown is earned in USAC racing when a driver claims all three national championships (silver crown, sprint car, and midget car). Only two drivers, Tony Stewart (1995) and J.J. Yeley (2003), have achieved the triple crown in a single season. Three other drivers, Pancho Carter (1972–78), Dave Darland (1997–2001), and Jerry Coons, Jr. (2006–08), have claimed each of the three championships at least once in their careers. In 2012 Mike Curb and Cary Agajanian became the only car owners to win the triple crown by winning all three championships in the same year.

National championship[edit]

USAC had awarded a national championship until A. J. Foyt won his seventh title in 1979.[5] It has announced that it will begin awarding a national championship starting in 2010.[5] A driver's finishes in their 25 best races are counted toward the championship and the 2010 winner received $40,000.[5] Points are accumulated in the three national series: sprints, midgets, and silver crown.[5] Bryan Clauson of Noblesville, Indiana claimed the inaugural championship, topping runner-up, Levi Jones, by 14 points.

USAC national drivers champions

1978 plane crash[edit]

On April 23, 1978, eight key members of USAC, plus the pilot, were killed when their 10-seat Piper Navajo Chieftain crashed during a thunderstorm 25 miles southeast of Indianapolis.[6]

Killed were:

  • Ray Marquette, USAC's vice-president of public affairs and a former sportswriter for The Indianapolis Star
  • Frank Delroy, chairman of USAC technical committee
  • Shim Malone, starter for USAC races and head of its midget racer division
  • Judy Phillips, graphic artist and publication director of USAC's newsletter
  • Stan Worley, chief registrar
  • Ross Teeguarden, assistant technical chairman
  • Don Peabody, head of the sprint division
  • Dr. Bruce White, assistant staff doctor
  • Don Mullendore, owner and pilot of the plane.

The effect on USAC, and for open-wheel racing in the United States, was devastating, especially since it closely followed the death of Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman.

End of championship car sanctioning[edit]

The plane crash came at a time when Indy car owners and drivers were demanding changes from USAC. Aside from the Indianapolis 500, USAC events were not well attended, and the owners felt that USAC poorly negotiated television rights. The owners also wanted increases in payouts, especially at Indy.[7] Though some think the plane crash was used as an opportunistic way to force change in the sport, it was merely an unfortunate coincidence. The seed of dissent had been growing for several years before the accident,[8] and claims the crash was an immediate cause for the 1979 CART/USAC "split" are considered for the most part unfounded.

Also unpopular were the attempts of USAC to keep the aging Offenhauser engine competitive with the newer, and much more expensive, Cosworth DFV engine using boost-limiting "pop off valves" and limiting the amount of fuel that could be used.[9]

Finally, most car owners banded together to form Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) in 1978, with the first race to be run in 1979. USAC tried unsuccessfully to ban all CART owners from the 1979 Indianapolis 500, finally losing in court before the race began. Both the USAC and CART ran race schedules in 1979.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president John Cooper was instrumental in forming a joint body of CART and USAC with the creation of the Championship Racing League in March 1980. However, in mid 1980, Cooper forced USAC to renounce their agreement with the CRL if they wanted to keep officiating the Indy 500.[10] After USAC's attempt at a 500-mile races at Pocono Raceway – which was boycotted by the CART teams, forcing USAC to fill the field with silver crown cars – USAC and CART eventually settled into a relatively peaceful co-existence, with USAC continuing to sanction the Indianapolis 500, and CART including the race in its schedule.

Active series[edit]

USAC Silver Crown Series[edit]

2015 USAC Traxxas Silver Crown Series

USAC Silver Crown Championship
USACSilverCrownSeriesLogo.jpg
Category Sprint car racing
Country  United States
Inaugural season 1971
Drivers' champion United States Kody Swanson
Teams' champion DePalma Motorsports #63
Official website USAC Silver Crown Series
1988 Steve Butler Silver Crown car
Tony Stewart's 1995 Silver Crown Championship car, part of his "Triple Crown" accomplishment.

Between 1971 and 1980 the series was named National Dirt Car Championship, then renamed Silver Crown Series in 1981.

USAC Silver Crown Series Champions

USAC Sprint Car Series[edit]

AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series
USACSprintCarNationalChampionshipLogo.jpg
Category Sprint car racing
Country  United States
Inaugural season 1956
Drivers' champion United States Bryan Clauson
Teams' champion Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing
Official website AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series
2008 Tracy Hines, pavement sprint car (without wing).
Tony Stewart's 1995 Sprint Car Championship car, part of his "Triple Crown" accomplishment.

From 1956–1960 USAC National Sprint Car Championship was divided into two divisions, Midwest and East.

USAC Sprint Car Series Champions

USAC National Midget Series[edit]

For the current season, see 2015 USAC Honda National Midgets.
USAC Honda National Midget Series
Category Midget car racing
Country  United States
Inaugural season 1956
Drivers' champion United States Rico Abreu
Teams' champion Curb Racing #97
Official website Honda USAC National Midget Series
2014 USAC Midget champion Rico Abreu
Tony Stewart's 1995 Midget Car Championship car, part of his "Triple Crown" accomplishment.

USAC National Midget Series Champions

USAC HPD Midget Series[edit]

The HPD Midget Series is a regional division of USAC. Utilizing cars identical to the midgets seen in the National Midget Championship, with the exception of the engine, drivers as young as 12 years old can compete. As of 2014, the sealed crate engine used by the series is a 2.4L 4-cylinder Honda K24 engine from Honda Performance Development, although the previous-generation Ford 2.0L 4-cylinder based on the engine found in the Ford Focus ZX3 and built by Roush Yates Engines is grandfathered in some classes.

National Championship
The HPD Midget Series National Champion has been determined in a variety of ways. The inaugural championship, 2005, was decided by a two-race series (one dirt, one pavement). Subsequent national champions were determined by a single "national championship race" held at various locations. This format was used until 2010. In 2011, a points system was instituted to determine the national champion. Counting only a drivers twelve best finishes, the system allowed drivers from multiple regions to compete under a common points structure for a season-long championship. The 2012 season did not award a national champion, however the respective regional champions were honored at USAC Night of Champions.

USAC HPD Midget Series Midget National Champions

  • 2005: Robbie Ray; Davenport, IA;
  • 2006: Michael Faccinto; Hanford, CA ; Scelzi #4x
  • 2007: James Robertson; Indianapolis, IN; Steele #1
  • 2008: Alex Bowman; Tucson, AZ; Bowman #55
  • 2009: Kyle Hamilton; Danville, IN; Steele #1
  • 2010: Nick Drake; Mooresville, NC; Cline #55
  • 2011: Nick Drake; Mooresville, NC; Cline #55

TORC: The Off-Road Championship presented by AMSOIL[edit]

Scott Taylor's Crandon winning Pro 2 truck

TORC: The Off Road Championship was founded in 2009 by motocross racer Rick Johnson and it was managed the race operations and officiated the events.[13] USAC took over complete management of the series in 2010.[13] The complete management ended in August 2013 season when it was sold to The Armory. USAC returned to offication / race control and the series was renamed "TORC: The Off Road Championship" for 2014.

Former series[edit]

USAC Championship Car Series[edit]

1977 A. J. Foyt Champ Car
USAC Championship Car Season Champions
1956 United States Jimmy Bryan season
1957 United States Jimmy Bryan season
1958 United States Tony Bettenhausen season
1959 United States Rodger Ward season
1960 United States A.J. Foyt season
1961 United States A.J. Foyt season
1962 United States Rodger Ward season
1963 United States A.J. Foyt season
1964 United States A.J. Foyt season
1965 United States Mario Andretti season
1966 United States Mario Andretti season
1967 United States A.J. Foyt season
1968 United States Bobby Unser season
1969 United States Mario Andretti season
1970 United States Al Unser season
1971 United States Joe Leonard season
1972 United States Joe Leonard season
1973 United States Roger McCluskey season
1974 United States Bobby Unser season
1975 United States A.J. Foyt season
1976 United States Gordon Johncock season
1977 United States Tom Sneva season
1978 United States Tom Sneva season
1979 United States A.J. Foyt season
1980 United States Johnny Rutherford season

USAC Gold Crown Series[edit]

From 1985 onwards, the Indianapolis 500 was the only race on the Gold Crown calendar. The winner of the Indianapolis 500 would be the de facto Gold Crown champion.

USAC Gold Crown Series Champions
1981–82 United States George Snider season[14]
1982–83 United States Tom Sneva season[15]
1983–84 United States Rick Mears season[16]
1985 United States Danny Sullivan report[17]
1986 United States Bobby Rahal report[18]
1987 United States Al Unser report[19]
1988 United States Rick Mears report[20]
1989 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi report[21]
1990 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk report[22]
1991 United States Rick Mears report[23]
1992 United States Al Unser, Jr. report[24]
1993 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi report[25]
1994 United States Al Unser, Jr. report[26]
1995 Canada Jacques Villeneuve report[27]

USAC Stock Cars[edit]

Main article: USAC Stock Car
Norm Nelson's USAC Stock Car

USAC featured a stock car division from 1956 to 1984.

Past Champions
Year Champion 2nd Place 3rd Place Rookie Of The Year
1956* Johnny Mantz Marshall Teague Les Snow None
1957 Jerry Unser Ralph Moody Sam Hanks None
1958 Fred Lorenzen Mike Klapak Norm Nelson None
1959 Fred Lorenzen Mike Klapak Nelson Stacy None
1960 Norm Nelson Paul Goldsmith Tony Bettenhausen None
1961 Paul Goldsmith Norm Nelson Elmer Musgrave None
1962 Paul Goldsmith Don White Norm Nelson None
1963 Don White A.J. Foyt Norm Nelson Sal Tovella
1964 Parnelli Jones Norm Nelson Don White Joe Leonard
1965 Norm Nelson Paul Goldsmith Don White Billy Foster
1966 Norm Nelson Don White Billy Foster Butch Hartman
1967 Don White Parnelli Jones Jack Bowsher Al Unser
1968 A.J. Foyt Roger McCluskey Don White Dick Trickle
1969 Roger McCluskey A.J. Foyt Don White Verlin Eaker
1970 Roger McCluskey Norm Nelson A.J. Foyt Billy Reis
1971 Butch Hartman Jack Bowsher Roger McCluskey J. Booher/B. Schroyer
1972 Butch Hartman Roger McCluskey Paul Feldner Chuck McWilliams
1973 Butch Hartman Ramo Stott Bay Darnell Irv Janey
1974 Butch Hartman Norm Nelson Ramo Stott Ken Rowley
1975 Ramo Stott Butch Hartman Sal Tovella Len Gittemeier
1976 Butch Hartman Ramo Stott Sal Tovella Wayne Watercutter
1977 Paul Feldner Ramo Stott Sal Tovella Dave Watson
1978 A.J. Foyt Terry Ryan Bay Darnell Joe Ruttman
1979 A.J. Foyt Bay Darnell Rusty Wallace Rusty Wallace
1980 Joe Ruttman Rusty Wallace Bay Darnell Ken Schrader
1981 Dean Roper Sal Tovella Ken Schrader Rick Hanley
1982 Dean Roper Bay Darnell Rick O'Brien J. Schwister/J. Lindhorst
1983 Dean Roper Butch Garner Rick O'Brien Roger Drake
1984 David Goldsberry Ken Rowley Jim Hall David Goldsberry

* The inaugural season featured two subtitles: Pacific Coast (won by Sam Hanks) and Short Track (Troy Ruttman).

USAC Road Racing Championship[edit]

From 1958 until 1962, USAC sanctioned a road racing championship.[28] It was held for sports cars from 1958–1961, and adopted Formula Libre rules in 1962.

Year Champion Car Report
1958 United States Dan Gurney Ferrari 375 Plus
Ferrari 290 MM
season
1959 United States Augie Pabst Ferrari 625 TR
Scarab Mk. II-Chevrolet
season
1960 United States Carroll Shelby Maserati Tipo 61
Scarab Mk. II-Chevrolet
season
1961 United Kingdom Ken Miles Porsche 718 RS 61 season
1962 United States Roger Penske Cooper T53-Climax season

References[edit]

  1. ^ USAC Information insmkt.com. Retrieved on August 19, 2007.
  2. ^ a b "AAA cuts ties with U.S. auto racing". The Michigan Daily. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Associated Press. August 4, 1955. 
  3. ^ "Substitute seen for auto racing sponsor vacancy". St. Petersburg Times. International News Service. August 5, 1955. 
  4. ^ "USAC takes over AAA's place". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Associated Press. March 8, 1956. 
  5. ^ a b c d Waltz, Keith (February 23, 2010). "A True USAC National Championship". National Speed Sport News. Archived from the original on April 17, 2010. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  6. ^ Indiana plane crashes indystar.com, published May 1, 2002.
  7. ^ The battles wage on and off the tracks automedia.com.
  8. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, May 10, 2007
  9. ^ The CART-USAC War: part 1 oreopolis.com. Originally published in NUVO Newsweekly – January 25, 1996.
  10. ^ The CART-USAC War: part 2 oreopolis.com. Originally published in NUVO Newsweekly – January 25, 1996.
  11. ^ ""SALT CITY 78" CAPS SWANSON'S SILVER CROWN TITLE!". USAC. Retrieved November 22, 2014. 
  12. ^ "BACON, GARDNER EARN NATIONAL, CRA TITLES". USAC. Retrieved November 22, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "TRAXXAS Off Road Championship Under New Direction". Traxxas TORC Series. March 12, 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2010. 
  14. ^ "1981–82 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  15. ^ "1982–83 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  16. ^ "1983–84 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  17. ^ "1984–85 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  18. ^ "1985–86 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  19. ^ "1986–87 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  20. ^ "1987–88 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  21. ^ "1988–89 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  22. ^ "1989–90 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  23. ^ "1990–91 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  24. ^ "1991–92 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  25. ^ "1992–93 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  26. ^ "1993–94 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  27. ^ "1994–95 Gold Crown Championship". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  28. ^ Krejci, Martin. "USAC Road Racing Championship". World Sports Racing Prototypes. Retrieved 10 May 2010. 

Jim Dittemore 1971 Lola/Chevrolet T192

External links[edit]