August 15, 2018-Springfield, IL
By Jay Hardin Track Enterprises Staff
When Jeremy Nichols made his first start in the annual Sportsman Nationals at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in 2012, he may have hoped for success but never imagined that he would join or pass the legendary names in the auto racing record books of the historic venue. Not only has the Lovington, Illinois driver joined the legends in the record books he has his own distinctive Springfield Mile record and stands on the verge of passing two other Springfield area legends.
Nichols finished 30th after starting 5th that first race, dropping out after 2 laps. The next year he won from the pole and led 19 of the 20 miles. Since then he has started on the front row every year, and led every lap of the last four Sportsman National events at the Illinois State Fair. The five wins tie him with Springfield’s own Wes O’Dell and Dennis Vandermeersch.
Nichols stands on the verge of becoming the first six-time winner in Springfield Sportsman history. Yet, he has accomplished something that no driver in Illinois State Fair history has ever done, dating all the way back to 1909. Not Chuck Gurney, not Frank Kimmel, not Dean Roper, no driver in the 100 plus years of auto racing at the Illinois State Fair has posted five consecutive wins in the same main event, other than Lovington’s Jeremy Nichols.
Frank Kimmel won four consecutive Allen Crowe 100 events at the start of the new millennium. Jimmy Wilburn won four consecutive sprint car mains surrounding World War II. Looking at other events, Sammy Swindell swept four races in the World of Outlaws show in 1997 but only one was a main event. Back in the Roaring Twenties Fred Horey won four events during an afternoon program in 1923. Before World War I Hughie Hughes, Louis Disbrow and Bob Burman all won four events during afternoon programs.
Nichols stands alone as the driver with the most consecutive main event wins and can add to that record Sunday, August 19 with a record sixth in the Sportsman Nationals. Heat races for the sportsman cars take place Saturday August 18, with the 25th Sportsman Nationals Sunday August 19.
It’s all part of the Illinois State Fair race weekend with action at Lincoln Speedway Friday night, USAC Silver Crown and Sportsman Saturday afternoon at the State Fair, POWRi Midgets Saturday night at Macon Speedway, and ARCA and Sportsman on Sunday afternoon at the State Fair.
Full info on the events can be found at www.trackenterprises.com.