National Dirt
Thursday, 30 November 2017


2017 USAC National Midget champion Spencer Bayston. 2017 USAC National Midget champion Spencer Bayston. David Sink Photo


By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Lebanon, Indiana isn’t your typical small town.  With a population of roughly 15,000, it’s not tiny by any means, but not a metropolis of any sort.  However, it seems to be the home of USAC National Midget champions as no other city has produced more total wins and titles than Lebanon, located about 30 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

Though, it shouldn’t go without mentioning that all those championships and 111 of those wins prior to 2017 belonged to one man, Mel Kenyon – a titlist seven times over between 1967 and 1985.

Yet, when Lebanon is mentioned in regards to the history of USAC Midget racing, Kenyon will now have company as Spencer Bayston captured his first series title in 2017 to bring home the city’s eighth championship.

The Bayston and Kenyon connection runs deep.  In his formative days of racing, Bayston drove Kenyon-owned racecars in competition and, in 2013, captured the USSA Kenyon Midget Series title.  That championship is an honor the 19-year-old Bayston relishes, especially now that he will forever be introduced as a USAC Midget champion like Kenyon.

“He is the king of the midgets,” Bayston said.  “I get to see him every now and then, so now I can go over to his shop and talk to him as a champion.”

It’s been a methodical rise up the racing ladder for Bayston.  After the 2013 title in the Kenyon series, Bayston moved to full-size midgets the following year and earned Rookie of the Year honors with POWRi and in the National Midget Driver of the Year standings for 2014.  In 2015, he was Chili Bowl’s top-rookie and competed on the full USAC National Midget trail for the first-time, nabbing series Rookie of the Year for car owner Bryan Clauson.

In 2016, Bayston moved over to the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports team and became a player for the USAC National Midget title.  Despite finishing 17 of 19 races in the top-ten and 13 of 19 in the top-five (including one win), Bayston came up just short of the series championship, finishing 18 points behind teammate Tanner Thorson in the final tally.

With his stock continually rising, leading into the season, 2017 appeared to be the year for Bayston to rise to the top.  But with one of the deepest lineups of full-time talent in the series years with the likes of teammate Thorson, Brady Bacon, Shane Golobic, Justin Grant, Tyler Courtney, Chad Boat and others, things didn’t exactly start out as smoothly as Bayston and team had planned.

Sure, they were second in points through eight events, but, surprisingly, hadn’t reached victory lane nor had any of his KKM teammates.  It was at Kokomo Speedway during Indiana Midget Week in which Bayston looks to as a turning point.

“We picked up our first win of the year and that kind of got the ball rolling a little bit,” Bayston recalled.  “That lifted my confidence.  Up to that point, we’d been fast, but we just hadn’t fallen into any wins yet.  After a pretty strong Indiana Midget Week, we carried on to Belleville and Eldora and we’re able to pick up a couple more big wins.”

Following Kokomo in June, Bayston finished outside of the top-six only once and, following the penultimate race at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway in November, had practically wrapped up the series title.  All that was left standing between him and the championship entering the season-finale “Turkey Night Grand Prix” at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway was, literally, to sign in at pill draw.  It was a complete 180 from the nerve-wracking position he was in a year ago, fighting for the title in a close points race.

“It was nice getting through Bakersfield and coming into Turkey Night completely relaxed with a nice points cushion,” Bayston admitted.  “But it was a big sigh of relief when that checkered flew and the season was over.”

In the thick of the battle and amidst the realization of reaching the ultimate goal, it’s difficult to grasp the full meaning of an accomplishment in the immediate aftermath.  Bayston already acknowledges that the championship is something that is going to mean a lot more to him down the road than it does right now.  But time will let that fact sink in and the history books will tell the tale of the tape until the end of time, simply stating: “Spencer Bayston – USAC National Midget Champion.”

“It’s been an incredible year, a year that I will never forget,” Bayston exclaimed.  “To win some big races and pick up my first USAC championship with this team and this program and all the people who support it, it means a ton.  Twenty years from now, I’ll still be smiling thinking back to this day.”

Please join Spencer and the rest of USAC’s 2017 champions at the Indiana Roof Ballroom as the United States Auto Club celebrates its best at the 62nd Annual USAC Night of Champions at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indy on Friday night, December 8, 2017.

Each of USAC’s champions and special award winners will be honored in the ceremony that will take place on PRI weekend at the beautiful facility located atop the Indiana Repertory Theater at 140 W. Washington St. in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Cocktails are set to begin at 6pm with dinner and the awards ceremony scheduled to begin at 6:30pm.

Tickets are $65 each and must be reserved by Friday, December 1st.  To reserve your seat, please contact Nikki Klepper at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at (317) 247-5151 Ext. 103.