The Cars: Only normal Sprint Car bodies are permitted. Super Modified or Roadster type bodies are not permitted. Nor are rear-engine sprinters or wings. Offset chassis are also not allowed. Driveshaft and engine crankshaft must be within (8) eight inches of the rear wheel's centerline, measured from center of each rear tire(s). Cars must have rollcages and a full bellypan. Additionally, all cars must utilize a blanket underneath the bellypan while, obviously, fuel cells with bladders are mandatory. All cars must weigh a minimum of 1,300 pounds without the driver before, during and after qualifying and the race. Tires limited to 20-inch cross-section maximum (measured with hoop). All cars must start the Little 500 on the same tires that were used to qualify their car.

From the Man Who Runs the Show

Anderson Speedway boosts a wealth of 65 solid years of competition in its illustrious history. The 2012 season represented the 17th consecutive year under head man and promoter Rick Dawson.

Dawson is long associated with the Little 500, even before the decision-making days, and has withstood the tough times that come with putting on such an event. "The Little 500 week has become much like a huge family reunion," says Dawson. "I meet many folks from all over the world, many who have become annual visitors, and talk about the race and their lives. Talking to the people, especially after the race, and hearing the excitement and gratification in their voices is the highlight. I get a lot of input from fans and drivers and encourage it. It is their suggestions that we use to continually improve everyone's experience with the event. The process of putting together such an event actually begins well before the green flag. It takes a lot of positive energy and focus to organize such a huge event. The fact that it is a unique format: 500 laps, and live pit stops for Sprint Cars. For the fans, there is racing all over the track throughout the race. In addition, although many high profile names have competed in the race, it has maintained its grass roots flavor, giving a ‘hometown hero' the chance for national recognition. The simple rules have made it easier for competitors. Organization of the staff, facilities, and competitors along with sponsor procurement are the biggest challenges."

Dawson was enthusiastic while discussing the city of Anderson, and also the Title Sponsor of the Little 500. "We have a great relationship with the city of Anderson. The Little 500 Festival covers the entire month of May, brings in thousands of people, and has [raised] well over $1,000,000 for various charities. The festival participants include all type[s] of people, many who aren't necessarily ardent race fans," he said. "Pay Less [grocery store] is the primary sponsor of the event and makes the [race] financially feasible. They make it possible for the winner to receive at least $25,000 and last place earns $2,000, which is huge for Sprint Cars."

As stated in the Little 500 rules, the race allows Sprint Cars only--no Roadsters or Super Modifieds. But that hasn't always been the case. "Several years ago, to maintain the simple rules and parody for competitors, we limited the cars to Sprint Car--type chassis," explains Dawson. "This eliminated much ingenuity and mainly money in competitors' creativity. It also eliminates much tech during the race, putting the race outcome into the hands of the drivers and crews and taking most of it away from officiating."

After starting three-wide on a quarter-mile track, the 2012 race went the first 39 laps without a caution. That alone was amazing but a testament to Dawson's safety team constantly reminding the competitors that the Little 500 is a long race and there is no reason to do something stupid early in the going.

Like any track operator or promoter, Dawson has plenty of memories from the big event—some good, some bad. "Most memorable moments--that is a tough one," Dawson said. "It would probably be when the checkered flag fell on our first race in 1997. Being a new track owner, and being overwhelmed by the enormity of the task to put on the event, and then having it be successful was exhilarating. One of the toughest times actually in my life was losing our track worker, Roy Hiatt, during a race (in 2008 when Hiatt was struck by a race car during the Little 500). The experience was and still is beyond words and is something I hope no one ever has to experience," concludes Dawson.

2012

Less than 24 hours before the start of this year's Indy 500, the Little 500's green flag waved over the cars of Tony Hunt, Jo Jo Helberg, and Aaron Pierce. The trio led 33 fire-breathing Sprint Cars sailing off into Turn 1 with Helberg assuming command before the first caution flew for a minor spin on lap 39.

On the restart Helberg kept the point until lap 122, when he bounced off the wall coming off of Turn 2--ending a great run. With Helberg out of the way, nine-time-winner Eric Gordon, who started ninth, found himself at the top of the field looking for a 10th win. And that actually looked like it might happen until lap 329 when Gordon's crew had problems getting the right rear tire off the car, during their second mandatory stop. They lost five laps on pit road. Even Mr. Little 500 could not come back from that deficit.

Veteran Open-Wheel racer Brian Tyler ran a smart race, staying within sight of the lead until it was crunch time. He sailed to the front of the 33-car field on lap 342 and never looked back to capture the 64th annual Pay Less Little 500, beating runner-up Billy Wease by an entire lap. Of note, it was Wease's first Little 500 start, Third Place finisher Brian Gerster, started in 29th, while Chet Fillip and Aaron Pierce rounded out the Top 5 in Fourth and Fifth Place, respectively. The night saw six lead changes among five drivers, and 14 cautions slowed the pace for 151 laps.

"You just had to be patient," said Tyler. "We did not qualify very [well], I just worked my way up there. When a door opened I would go for it, when not I would just ride. I just run my race as hard as I could without using up my equipment. We kind of fly by night on pit stops, we have an area we wanted to hit, but then we just played it by ear. The last four years here, this car has been one of the most dominant cars here and we have had engine troubles. This year they kept a horse under me and I rode it to the finish," the happy winner said.