Photo by Heather Middleton
From Staff Reports
Veteran IndyCar driver Jimmy Kite, who grew up in Stockbridge, will return to the United States Auto Club (USAC) Traxxas Silver Crown Championship this weekend driving a car owned by Eddie Sachs, Jr. at the "Milwaukee Mile".
Sachs - son of legendary IndyCar driver/owner Eddie Sachs - has entered the five-time Indianapolis 500 starter as driver of the No. 25 ULine Beast-Chevrolet for the June 18, 100-lap race on the one-mile, paved oval at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds.
The No. 25 is significant to both Kite and Sachs.
To Sachs, 25 was used by his father at Indianapolis and, to Kite, as a reminder of his racing hero Tim Richmond. Saturday's 7:30pm (CDT) race, held in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series, is Kite's first Silver Crown race since 2005.
Kite's name rose to prominence in the IndyCar Series in 1997 and then, in later years, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
However, it was the USAC Silver Crown Series that truly launched his career. Driving a last-minute ride for a team he had never driven with, Kite fought his way through the field of the '97 Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway.
Running second entering the last lap, Kite setup and passed open-wheel legend Chuck Gurney on the final turn of the 100-mile feature event to take the unexpected victory; all while sitting atop the M-Z Section of the Phoenix-area phonebook.
Shortly after he had signed to race an IndyCar in the fledgling IndyCar Series where, like in USAC, the longtime Georgia resident became a fan favorite for his approachable personality and easy-going, upbeat attitude.
A "throwback" to earlier days when drivers raced as often as they could, the 1997 USAC Silver Crown "Rookie of the Year" remained a regular on the short-track scene even while racing Indy cars and in NASCAR.
Despite racing a season in cars similar to the current Silver Crown car in the short-lived "Big Car Series" in 2006, this weekend marks Kite's first foray back into USAC in six years.
In a season which saw him make history in three major championships - IndyCar, NASCAR and USAC - Kite made three starts for Westcon Racing in the pavement portion of the '05 Silver Crown Championship. He finished a season-high seventh in the Copper World Classic, eighth at Lucas Oil Raceway Park (Indianapolis) and a 13th here at Milwaukee.
The skills and experience garnered in Silver Crown served Kite well throughout a career that started at the age of eight in Quarter-Midgets.
He has earned six championships and the 1998 Indy 500 "Fastest
Rookie in the Field" captured the "Most Positions Earned" award for the 2003 Indy 500. In 2005, Kite made history as the first driver to run a
NASCAR-sanctioned event (Camper World Truck Series) and an IndyCar Series race on the same weekend at the same track (Texas); he then repeated the feat at Kansas. Kite doubled-up on the Milwaukee Mile the same year driving the Silver Crown car and the Hemelgarn Racing- Ethanol Indy car on one weekend.
The Silver Crown race at Milwaukee follows Kite's debut in a Dodge Viper ACR-X as a guest driver in the Dodge Viper Cup June 11-12 at New Jersey Motorsports Park. The one-make series marked only the second road course start in Kite's career and his first driving the V10-powerd Viper. He took the Pennzoil Ultra-Lux Performance Group Dodge to a sixth-place finish in Sunday's event and earned $3,000 for Breast Cancer Awareness.