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Racers are ready to roll into Marion

THEY’RE BACK!: The fourth-annual Indy Airstrip Attack presented by Shift-S3ctor and Revvolution rolls into the Marion Municipal Airport this weekend and promises to once again showcase some of the fastestcars in the world. Gates open at 7 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday with racing commencing about9 a.m.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

One of the biggest weekends of the year in Marion has arrived, and the excitement and anticipation Thursday morning at the Marion Municipal Airport was tangible for the fourth-annual Indy Airstrip Attack presented by Shift-S3ctor and Revvolution.

The Board of Aviation Commissioners convened with local organizer Jay Berry for a last-minute discussion of details for the event which starts Saturday morning. Really, though, all the details have been worked out.

Most of the discussion centered around the professionalism of the California-based Shift-S3ctor and who still needed tickets. Any concerns by the airport about hosting the event quickly went away three summers ago.

“Honestly, the first year I was apprehensive,” said Jim McKinney, President of the Board of Aviation Commissioners. “All it took was the first day and watching these guys set up and seeing the event, I couldn't believe what I saw. I think its the best thing that's ever come to Marion.

“I'm excited for the airport. We're bringing people into the airport that probably would have never been here before,” he added. “No complaints. Everybody's looking forward to it. The biggest thing is they're looking for a ticket. They want to be here.”

Gates at the airport will open at 7 a.m. both days this weekend followed by a mandatory driver's meeting at 8 a.m. Racing will start around 9 a.m. and continue until around 6 p.m. both days.

Pre-registration for the event has the biggest field yet committed to come to Marion, with more than 100 cars and motorcycles ready to rip their ways down the smooth-and-fast runway at the airport.

The format remains the same for the trap speed event: Vehicles will start from a standstill and trap speed will be clocked at the half-mile point on the runway. Drivers will receive speeds at the end of each run.

Jason Huang, one of Shift-S3ctor's co-founders, said after the first year he brought the Airstrip Attack to Marion, the quality of the facility and racing surface, along with the hospitality they received from the community, spread throughout the racing community. More cars would show up with each passing year.

“Any high-horsepower, rear-wheel-drive car, you're looking for traction. That's pretty much the biggest factor for most of these guys,” Huang said in a mid-July interview. “It took them a couple of years to realize, after seeing some of the fast cars come out and some of the numbers they were putting down, they were like, 'Hey, we need to get out to the Indy Airstrip Attack.' We're seeing a lot of the faster rear-wheel drive cars sign up and some of the (fastest) shops.”

At least two race shops will be newcomers to the Indy Airstrip Attack in 2019 and both will be driven by American Muscle.

Calvo Motorsports from Austin, Texas is bringing some of the fastest Dodge Vipers in the world to compete with Vengeance Racing, owners of some of the fastest Corvettes, Cadillacs and Camaros on the planet.

“Those are two of the faster shops in the country, and this will be their first time in Marion,” Huang said. “It's a great sign for us to see the faster cars and faster shops committing to putting this event on their schedule and taking the time to make the trip to Marion, Indiana. I think in particular to see what this runway is about.”

A number of exotic cars, such as Lamborghinis and Maseratis, have traditionally been part of the speed fest, as have local and Midwestern hot-rodders who just want to see how fast they can go. It all adds up to a fast and furious weekend of racing at Marion Municipal Airport.

Berry said he wanted to bring this event to Marion four years ago to give people something to look forward to and something they don't see on a regular basis. He insists that community support is the key to keep the Indy Airstrip Attack returning for years to come.

“There are several towns and there are offers yearly on the table to try to yank this our from underneath of us,” Berry said. “I want this here because its very important for me to have this in our hometown and be able to bring this in and keep this thing going.”

And to date, Marion is the only destination east of the Rocky Mountains where the Airstip Attack series ventures.

Cars and drivers are mostly accessible to fans during the event, and many will share a couple nights out afterwards. Berry said a get together is planned for Friday night at The Mill and Saturday at the Plymouth Club. There will be live music each night, and Berry encourages people to come out and bring their cars and share in good fellowship with guests to Marion.

“The biggest thing for me is, it's about promoting the community,” Berry said. “Giving people an option to come out here and do something different. On top of that, who else brings a party to Marion? Nobody.

“This thing is about the racing event, but afterwards when everybody is hanging out and were just relaxing, it's about the relationships that are being built,” he added.