58th Annual James/O'Connor Memorial Saturday at Salem

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Vintage Race Car Show and 75-lap Race Headline Saturday Action

 SALEM, Ind. – The 58th running of one of the most historic open wheel races in the nation is set to take place at Salem Speedway Fueled by the Hoosier Lottery on Saturday night, as the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series visits the super-fast high banks for the Discover Scott County Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial presented by the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers.

The honor roll of past James/O’Connor victors reads like a “who’s-who” in open wheel racing history with such names as A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Bob Sweikert, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser, Pancho Carter, Rich Vogler and Tony Stewart gracing the list of former winners.

The 2017 edition of the James/O’Connor Memorial will bring together USAC’s finest open wheel drivers as they attempt to add their name to the list of racing giants who have won the prestigious event.

Topping the list of early entrants is Kody Swanson, the defending James/O’Connor winner and current point leader in the Silver Crown Series standings.

Swanson capitalized on a late race spin by leader Aaron Pierce one year ago and went on to win his first James/O’Connor Memorial.  The Kingsburg, Calif., driver took over the lead on lap 61 and never looked back, as he comfortably held off Chris Windom and Jerry Coons Jr. over the final 14 laps around the .555-mile oval.  

“This means a lot,” said Swanson after the race.  “This is a place where it’s usually the braver you are, the faster you go.  That’s not my style.  We got a little lucky.”

Windom of Canton, Ill., the defending Silver Crown Series champion, and Coons Jr. of Tucson, Ariz., currently second and third respectively in the 2017 standings, have both filed entries for Saturday’s race.

Other top drivers expected include Pierce of Daleville, Ind., a three-time winner at Salem in sprint car competition, and Bobby Santos of Franklin, Mass.

Santos has ruled the Silver Crown pavement races in 2017, winning three out of four.  His wins coming at Phoenix International Raceway, Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis and Toledo Speedway. 

Other notable drivers expected include eleven-time Indianapolis 500 starter Davey Hamilton and his son Davey Hamilton Jr., plus David Byrne of Shullsburg, Wisc., Justin Grant of Noblesville, Ind., and Joe Liguori of Tampa, Fla., among others.

The James/O’Connor Memorial is the final pavement race of the season for the Silver Crown Series that heads back to the dirt for the final three events of the year with visits to Springfield, DuQuoin and Eldora.

One hundred and thirty-nine USAC feature races have been contested at Salem since Pat O’Connor won the inaugural USAC Salem sprint race on June 17, 1956.

Sharing the high banks with the USAC Silver Crown Series on Saturday will be the Lucas Oil Great American Stocks.

The annual visit by the Midwest Oldtimers Vintage Race Car Club is also a part of the festivities on Saturday.  An early on-track warm-up for the vintage cars is set to take place at 3 p.m.  A select group of vintage cars will return to the track prior to the start of the James/O’Connor Memorial 75.

Jeff O’Connor, son of the late Pat O’Connor, will once again pace the field during parade laps in a replica of the Sumar Special that his dad drove in the 1950s.

Salem Speedway Fueled by the Hoosier Lottery will be giving away Hoosier Lottery gift packs to several lucky fans, age 18 and older, during the August 12th event.

Spectator gates open at 3 p.m. on Saturday with practice set to start at 3:30 p.m.  Qualifications are slated for 5:45 and the first race at 7 p.m. (EDT).

Advance general admission tickets are priced at $23 for adults and $5 for children (age 7-12).  Kids, age 6 and under, are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.  Advance reserved seat tickets are priced at $28 each.  All prices are $2 more on day of race.

Tickets can be ordered on-line at www.salemspeedway.com or by calling 812-883-6504 or 1-888-246-7223.


Past James/O’Connor Winners:

2016 Kody Swanson

2015 Brian Gerster

2014 Brian Gerster

2013 Brian Olson

2012 Brian Olson

2011 JoJo Helberg

2010 Shane Hmiel

2009 Tracy Hines

2008 Jacob Wilson

2007 Rain – No Winner

2006 Bryan Clauson

2005 Brian Tyler

2004 Dave Steele

2003 Michael Lewis

2002 Ed Carpenter

2001 Tracy Hines

2000 Eric Gordon

1999 Dave Darland

1998 Jay Drake

1997 Dave Steele

1996 Chet Fillip

1995 Tony Stewart

1994 Kenny Irwin Jr.

1993 Jim Keeker

1992 Jim Mahoney

1991 Steve Butler

1990 Rich Vogler

1989 Wayne Hammond

1988 Bob Frey

1980 Greg Leffler

1979 Greg Leffler

1978 Rich Vogler

1977 Pancho Carter

1976 Pancho Carter

1975 Pancho Carter

1974 Pancho Carter

1973 Tom Bigelow

1972 Lee Kunzman

1971 Rollie Beale

1970 Gary Bettenhausen

1969 Sam Sessions

1968 Rollie Beale

1967 Sonny Ates

1966 Mario Andretti

1965 Bobby Unser

1964 Mario Andretti

1963 Roger McCluskey

1962 A.J. Foyt

1961 Parnelli Jones

1960 Parnelli Jones

1959 A.J. Foyt

1958 Eddie Sachs

1957 Pat O’Connor

1956 Eddie Sachs

1955 Bob Sweikert

1954 Pat O’Connor