The United States Auto Club sanctions a variety of open-wheel classes, including a national tour for non-wing Sprint cars and Midgets. For an exceptionally talented few, success in USAC could punch their ticket to Indianapolis. Every year, USAC honors its best by inducting them into its hall of fame. The class of 2019 brings the number of the enshrined to 80, and its members include a really decent guy who I had the pleasure of working with for years. Dick Jordan was USAC’s director of public relations for more than 50 years. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of open-wheel racing in the heartland, and always was around to provide an even hand of help to young journalists learning their craft, including me. Dick died earlier this year and I’m thrilled to see him so honored.
The other inductees for 2019 are led by Johnny Capels, who won national championships as a crew chief with Joe Leonard, Al Unser Sr., Mario Andretti and Pancho Carter before becoming USAC competition director and chairman of its board. He also owned a USAC Sprint victory as a driver. Bryan Clauson won 112 USAC features in various divisions, parlaying that experience into several starts in the Indianapolis 500. Clauson was on track to run 200 races in a single season when he was killed at the Belleville Midget Nationals in 2016. David Steele was a pavement specialist in Sprint, Midget and Silver Crown cars, where he notched 60 USAC wins, all on blacktop, plus two Silver Crown national titles. He died in 2017 in a Sprint car crash at Desoto Speedway in Florida.