May 28th 2020
EPARTRADE Exclusive! USAC Offers Race Operations Expertise to Wide Range of Big Motorsports Events
USAC is best known for using their expertise as the sanctioning body for open wheel cars on oval tracks, both dirt and pavement. But, the skilled sanctioning body with a storied history has continued to expand its focus, running big race events such as former NASCAR driver Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks series.
According to Jason Smith, USAC Sr. VP of Race Operations and President of Sanctioned Services, while the organization is still mostly known for sanctioning circle track racing that includes Silver Crown, Sprint Cars, and Midgets National Series, and many regional series for Sprint Cars and Midgets, the racing events they support is growing all the time.
He explains “Since Kevin Miller came in as President and CEO in December 2007, USAC has added under our banner .25 (Quarter) Midgets, Short Course Off Road, Robby Gordon Stadium Super Trucks, Blancpain World Challenge, GT4 America, TC America, Saleen Cup Series, International Snowmobile Racing, Ultra 4 Rock crawling, Americas RallyCross, Nitro RallyCross, American Rally Association, and America Adventure Road Rally.”
In short, USAC now works with expansive list of some of the top events in all types of racing in several different ways.
The United States Auto Club (USAC) has been sanctioning auto racing in the United States since 1956, when the organization sanctioned both the United States National Championship and the Indianapolis 500, relationships that ran through the late 1990s.
The organization began when the American Automobile Association withdrew itself from auto racing following the 1955 racing season. USAC was formed by Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s then-owner Tony Hulman, becoming the skilled arbiter of racing rules, car design, and all areas of championship auto racing.
USAC lends officiating expertise to the Americas RallyCross, Short Course Off Road, USAC .25, American Rally Association (ARA), Nitro RallyCross, America Adventure, and the Stadium Super Trucks series. “For the other series I mentioned, we provide sanctioning services such as licensing and membership management and insurance,” Smith says.
USAC, which is a member of ACCUS/FiA, also supports the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Marshal program for all road course events and the Race of Champions, Smith relates, adding “In addition to the racing series, we also promote the Bloomington Speedway and the Dirt Track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We also own and manage Wyrk Space, a co-working environment with a focus on motorsports businesses, located in Speedway, Indiana.”
The Robby Gordon Stadium Super Truck series is one of the organization’s newer events. USAC has been the sanctioning body of Stadium Super Trucks since the inception of the series in 2013, Smith says, both sanctioning and officiating the series.
“In addition to directing and officiating the racing activities, USAC provides a membership and insurance program,” he notes.
The relationship between the Stadium Super Truck series and USAC is going strong. So is the series. “SST is one of the most exciting forms of motorsports in the world at this time. It’s become a fan favorite in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and China,” Smith enthuses. “It’s a form of motorsports that is doing well at focusing on entertainment and fan interaction.”
Stadium super trucks utilize identically prepared high-horsepower trucks, and can race on virtually any surface. This year, they’ve been featured at a variety of IndyCar venues and NASCAR races.
USAC appears to have real strength in managing a wide variety of races, and Smith believes what the company does well includes its ability to diversify. “USAC has become diverse in many areas of motorsport, from sanctioning and promotion to event building, race direction, scoring, race control, and data base management,” he states, noting that the company also provides series accounting with purse management, brand control, and insurance connections with the event and carrier.
Running a race requires big, split-second decisions and USAC makes these kinds of calls while the race is in process, which can often be an intense experience. “Split-second decisions are made by the race director of each of our series,” Smith says, noting that capability and experience are both essential in these kinds pressured moments, and that the backgrounds of USAC’s race directors need to reflect this.
“The background of our race directors is diverse, and a good mix of experience and personality are required for each series,” Smith says. “And it’s not the same for all of them. The race director of a Sprint car race doesn’t operate the same as a race director of a RallyCross race. We have race directors with an international background, and we have some that have only been at short tracks their entire career.”
Smith describes running so many different types of races as a big benefit for the organization. “They are all in the USAC fold. USAC owns and operates some series and supports others. It gives us a much larger database of knowledge to benefit all series under the USAC banner,” he attests. “It also benefits the brand of USAC racers, so that others get to see and hear what USAC racers are doing on a weekly basis.”
He adds that the variety of new series that the organization works with has increased, expanded, and grown their membership base. “The membership base of USAC in 2007 was 95% Silver Crown, Sprint Car, and Midget series racers. Since 2007, we have seen modest growth in those core series; however, today they represent 5% of USAC’s total membership, with the other 95% consisting of the new series added since then.”
Sharing their expertise with diverse series has been instrumental in supporting and expanding events, and USAC itself.
By Genie Davis