This is a discussion about a great racing series that’s recently had a sensational new work of history written about it. Through 1970, dirt tracks, nearly all of them a mile in length, were part of the United States Auto Club’s national championship series, which was crowned by the Indianapolis 500. For a variety of reasons, USAC broke the dirt tracks into their own standalone series beginning in 1971 and dubbed it the Silver Crown series. They’re big, beautiful open-wheel racing cars, pure in their lines, that now run a variety of tracks, dirt and pavement. They form a direct linkage of purpose with the Big Cars from the earliest days of American championship racing. The races have strong historical significance. Ask any race driver whether winning the Hoosier Hundred is a big deal. This is the story of Silver Crown racing during its standalone years. The story took four authors to adequately convey, and three of them are enshrined in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa, as media members.
The trifecta of Hall of Famers are Bob Mays, Dr. Patrick Sullivan and John Mahoney, the latter one of the greatest open-wheel photographers to ever sling an SLR, ably assisted by USAC media whiz and statistician Richie Murray. With that lineup, how can Rolling Thunder miss? Its 370 hardcover pages dotted with dazzling images by Mahoney and Mays, and with an achingly detailed narrative that misses absolutely nothing, this is a gotta-have book for any serious racing history aficionado. The stats alone run to more than 130 pages. It’s 50 well-spent bucks and one place to find it is at Coastal 181 in Newburyport, Massachusetts.