Courtesy Lucas Oil Raceway
INDIANAPOLIS – The future of open wheel racing will take center stage at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis May 25th as the USAC Midget Series, Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires all take to the track in the running of the Visit Hendricks County Night Before the 500.
USAC has raced at the famed facility 301 times with the names of winners reading like a who’s who of racing. Johnny Parsons leads all Midget series wins with seven with Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Gary Bettenhausen and Tony Stewart all winning on the tricky oval.
Looking to add his name to the record books will be Austin Prock who is making his first career USAC Midget start at Lucas Oil Raceway. Prock, currently a 17-year old senior at Avon High School, has been racing for six years and is excited to make the jump to the USAC Midget series.
“We ran the Regional USAC Midget series last year which is the same car and same motor but it’s not the same level of competition,” Prock said. “Jumping into the Midget race is going to be difficult with all the big dogs but I think we can hang with them.”
The name Prock should be a familiar one to race fans across the country as Austin’s father is legendary NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series crew chief, Jimmy Prock and his grandfather is former Funny Car racer Tom Prock. Jimmy has won events as both a Funny Car and Top Fuel crew chief, is currently the crew chief for Robert Hight at John Force Racing and provides insight to Austin as he begins his career.
“My dad gives me the confidence I need to go race,” Prock continued. “He gives me the backing I need. He can teach me here and there but they can’t teach me in the car since they never drove these cars but they give me the confidence to go out there and get me rolling.”
The racing world converges in Indianapolis during the month of May and not only will numerous fans pack the stands for the event as well as members of racing teams looking for new talent. Prock is aware of the importance of the event and is ready to shine.
“You definitely have to bring your ‘A’ game because you don’t want to screw up in front of all those people,” He said. “Just one race, one wreck can ruin your entire career. You can get a bad name and may not ever get a ride in any ones car or anything so you have to have your stuff together, look presentable, and put on a good show for anyone.”
Another third generation racer will look to forge his way into history as reigning USF2000 Series Champion Matthew Brabham returns to Lucas Oil Raceway in the Pro Mazda Series. He is the son of Geoff Brabham and grandson to three time Formula One champion Sir John Arthur “Jack” Brabham.
Brabham qualified on the pole at the event last season and finished second to Spencer Pigot. Brabham had a successful test at Lucas Oil Raceway and is looking for a win at the facility that eluded him last season.
“I am really looking forward to racing at Lucas Oil Raceway Saturday night,” Brabham said. “It’s fantastic to be racing as part of the Indy 500 weekend. Having the Visit Hendricks County Night before the 500 winners being acknowledged before the Indy 500 is very special, and is why it is such a prestigious race to win. We were very strong at the test day at Lucas Oil Raceway last weekend; the MAZDASPEED
Andretti Autosport team has been working great all year so I think we are definitely in a position to go for the race win. The track is quite tough, so the race will be challenging as there is no room for error, but that makes the track a lot of fun to drive on.”
Scott Hargrove leads the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda points on the strength of three wins and one runner-up finish early in the 2013 season. This is his first full season in the series and it will be his first career oval start. Hargrove was atop the time sheets during the recent series test and is looking to continue his strong start to the year.
"The month of May is of huge importance to not only those competing in the Indy 500 but also the whole Mazda Road to Indy. We have the opportunity to be presented to some of the largest crowds and most influential people you will ever see in the racing world. For me personally expectations are high, not only for being the points leader but also having had such a successful test in preparation for my first oval race. There is no reason to not be up there racing for the win. Lucas Oil Raceway is a very unique oval, and I can't wait to get to work with my Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing entry.”
Tickets for all three events are only $25 for reserved and $20 for general admission seating. Gates open at 2 p.m. with the USF2000 race slated to start at 7:40 p.m.; Pro Mazda event at 8:25 p.m.; and the USAC Midget feature at 9:30 p.m.