Over the course of the last year, Bobby Pierce has shown a desire to drive anything and everything. While his bread and butter continues to be Dirt Late Model racing, he’s also competed in an asphalt Super Late Model and made four starts on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. This Saturday, he’ll add another form of racing to his resume when he makes his Dirt Midget debut during the inaugural Indy Invitational at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Pierce, like the rest of the 42 drivers on the entry list, received his invitation to compete in the race via Twitter. At first he was shocked by the invite because he’s never competed in any type of open-wheeled race car, but the opportunity wasn’t one he was about to miss out on.
“It was on Twitter where I got the notification that the Indy Invitational was inviting all drivers over Twitter,” Pierce explained to Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “They invited me and it was kind of strange because I’ve never even driven a Midget or anything like that before.
“I started asking around and Parker Price Miller messaged me on Twitter and asked if I wanted to drive his other car. I was like, ‘Heck yeah, sure.’ That’s kind of how it went. I went to his shop a couple days ago to get fitted in the car and everything.”
Pierce, the 2015 UMP DIRTcar Late Model National Champion, grew up racing on dirt in the Quarter Midget ranks when he was eight-years-old. He made his way from Quarter Midgets to Crate Late Models to the Super Late Models he now races. However, at no time during his climb up through the ranks has he raced anything like the Dirt Midget he’ll race this Saturday.
“I’ve never done any sort of open wheel racing at all,” Pierce admitted. “I’ve just been racing Late Models and I’ve really done a good job I think. Heck, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a USAC race in person either.
“We’ll just have to see how it goes and I’m sure I’ll like it. I’ve talked to a couple people. Christopher Bell said that I’ll fall in love with it.”
Despite believing he’ll be at a slight disadvantage compared to those like Bryan Clauson, Brady Bacon and Bell, who race USAC Midgets regularly, Pierce is excited about the opportunity.
“Hopefully they give me a couple more laps than what I’m expecting in hot laps so I can really get the feel for the Midget,” Pierce stated. “Hopefully I can talk to some of those guys and they can give me some pointers and tips and whatnot.
“It’s just going to be pretty cool racing against them because I’ve always heard a lot about them, although I’ve never really been to many open-wheel races with Sprints or Midgets. I’ve always enjoyed watching the videos online and I always watch the Chili Bowl too it seems like. I’m pretty excited for it and I’m sure it will be fun.”
Compared to the way he drives his Dirt Super Late Models, Pierce is expecting to have to drive the Dirt Midget a lot harder on the right rear. He believes that change in driving style will be the biggest difference that he will need to get used to in order to be competitive.
“With the Late Models, you can drive them on the right rear also but the front tires come into play a little bit more I think,” Pierce said. “I think that’s one thing I’m going to have to focus on, driving it with more rear tires. That’s a small track, which being from Illinois I’m kind of used to small tracks. This track is going to be a lot smaller and the cars are a lot smaller so you can fit it in tighter places.”
For Pierce and the rest of the racers, Saturday’s race serves as an opportunity to prove themselves against the best of the best from different forms of racing. There will be NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series drivers, asphalt Super Late Model drivers, and of course USAC Dirt Midget drivers in the field.
“I know T-Mac, Tim McCreadie, he always does a really good job racing Midgets and stuff,” said Pierce. “I don’t know, for my first time I just hope I can make the show and then go from there. Heck, you saw the list; there’s a lot of really good drivers.”
If Pierce does make his way into the $10,000-to-win A-Main, he said that his strategy will be pretty simple.
“If I get in then it is balls to the wall for sure.”
Fans unable to make it to the Indy Invitational can watch Pierce go “balls to the wall” live on Speed51 TV’s pay-per-view broadcast. Video tickets can be purchased today for $29.99 by clicking here.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: DIRTcar