6 - Tony Bettenhausen Jr - Indianapolis Indiana

Midget - Mississippi Coliseum- 1978

Provided by Mack Gillis

Mack Gillis was the promoter of the Jackson International Speedway, which was located just east of Clinton, Mississippi. Mack was always looking for ways to promote racing in Mississippi. He wanted to have a late-year race in the Jackson area that would rival the Snowball Derby held at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.  Weather was a big concern because in some other late-year races he promoted, it was too cold and wet to draw large crowds.  He thought, “why not have a midget race inside the Mississippi Coliseum”!   His public address announcer at JIS was a famous midget racer, Lucky Mays.   Lucky thought it would be a great idea also.   After negotiating with the Mississippi Coliseum, the date was set for Saturday night, November 25, 1978. Mack and Lucky promoted “Mississippi’s First Indoor Race” all over the country.  Many of the nation’s top midget drivers showed for the event and the race was won by the late Tony Bettenhausen Jr.  Unfortunately, not many Mississippians saw this historic race.  Turns out this racing night was also the same night as the annual football game between instate rivals, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.  This game was played just down the road in Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.  By the way, Ole Miss beat MS State that night 27-7 in the 51st Egg Bowl.