By Jay Hardin…
(METROPOLIS, Ill. – August 17, 2015) – It’s only fitting that veteran public address announcer Jim Childers hails from Superman’s hometown of Metropolis, Illinois. He’s been the “Superman” behind the microphone at the Illinois State Fair and the DuQuoin State Fair for more than 30 years.
And as it will be much to the chagrin of thousands of State Fair fans across the country, Childers, after 36 consecutive seasons of roaming across the Midwestern countryside with a microphone, one of the premier motorsports announcers in the country, has decided to step back from the business.
That’s a big step considering that Childers has announced every ARCA-sanctioned race at both the Illinois State Fairgrounds and DuQuoin State Fairgrounds ever since ARCA started sanctioning the events in 1983. This year’s SuperChevyStores.com-Allen Crowe 100 at Springfield and the Southern Illinois at DuQuoin mark his 33rd consecutive season of announcing both the ARCA and USAC championship races at both State Fair events.
The southern Illinois native made the difficult decision over the winter to step back from a career that began across the Ohio River in 1980.
“I owe a lot to many people, including the late Bill Oldani, Bob Sargent and Kenny Brown among them,” Childers said. “I really want to thank the fans, the racers and the people I’ve worked alongside during the last 36 years. They made it fun and kept me coming back year after year.”
A long time race fan, Childers secured the job as the announcer at Paducah International Raceway in 1980, a job that ultimately led him to the announcing position for the Midget Auto Racing Association (MARA) series in 1983. A chance meeting with the Director of Motorsports at the Illinois State Fair, the late Bill Oldani, opened the door for Childers to become the long time public address voice at both Springfield and the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
“It’s been a great ride, and it’s very hard to walk away. These last two events at Springfield and DuQuoin are going to so rough. I’m walking away from something I truly love.”
While Childers called midget action for MARA and the USAC and ARCA action at both fairgrounds, his resume continued to grow calling late model, modified and sprint car races at a variety of locations across the Midwest.
His career leaves virtually no stone unturned in announcing circles. He has announced races for NASCAR, USAC, the World of Outlaws, ARCA, UMP, ASCoC, ASCS, NDRA, Hav-A-Tampa, AIS, IRA and the Northern All Stars and many other sanctioning bodies.
The list of venues that Jim has worked at is equally impressive, including the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, the Knoxville Nationals, DuQuoin, Springfield, the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Terre Haute, Angel Park, Memphis Motorsports Park, Nashville Superspeedway and Gateway Motorsports Park.
“I remember when I first started announcing at the little dirt tracks around, I would watch ARCA on TV and I really took a liking to the series. And then to get the chance to announce ARCA races, especially at the fairgrounds, was a dream come true. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for ARCA and the connection I have with the State Fairs. There’s a lot of magic in these shows.”
And no doubt, Childers is responsible for much of the magic.
“ARCA fans have long associated Jim Childers’ voice with the Fairgrounds,” said ARCA’s Don Radebaugh. “Since ARCA started sanctioning the events at Springfield and DuQuoin, Jim is the only voice race fans have ever known. He’s part of the show. His enthusiasm and professional delivery is something that really resonates with the people. Race fans not only want to listen to him, they expect to hear his voice when they come to the fairgrounds. He’ll be truly missed.”
As much as Childers would like the ride to continue, he’s adamant about standing by his decision to walk away.
“As much as I’d love to keep announcing the State Fair races, it’s just time for me to go…it’s just something that’s got to be done,” Childers added. “More than anything, I want to spend more time with my family. I missed a lot of things with my own daughters growing up, and I don’t want that to happen with my grandkids. I want to be there for all of it.”
In addition to Childers’ announcing duties over the decades, he retired from Honeywell in Metropolis after 40-and-a-half years of service. He and his wife Paula raised two daughters – Tricia and Tracy, and still live in Metropolis. A well-known Superman statue stands in downtown Metropolis.
“Metropolis is the only city in the United States that’s named Metropolis. It’s the only one. It’s only fitting that Superman would be the city’s adopted son.”
And each season, Metropolis celebrates with a Superman Festival, a one-of-a-kind event honoring Metropolis’ favorite son, Superman, and is held the second weekend of June each year centered around a 15 ft. bronze Superman Statue on Superman Square. Complete with entertainment, TV & movie celebrity appearances, comic artists & writers, and carnival the celebration is the city’s biggest attraction.
“It’s very cool. People come from all around to celebrate Superman. There’s only one Metropolis, and it’s right here in southern Illinois.”
And so is one of the region’s most revered announcers who still won’t rule out completely working a race or two in the future; however, the majority of his traveling will conclude at the end of 2015 including his current role as the voice of the Lucas Oil Powri Midget Series.
And even if Childers won’t be behind the microphone, he won’t be away from the track completely as he plans to bring his young grandson to the races to help carry on the tradition.
Fans can catch the “Superman” of the microphone one more time at both the Illinois State Fair and DuQuoin State Fair, as well as the remainder of the 2015 Powri schedule.
SuperChevyStores.com 100 Schedule at Springfield
Practice for the SuperChevyStores.com 100 is scheduled from 9:00-10:00 a.m. with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell following at 11:15. The 53rd annual SuperChevyStores.com 100 starts at 1:30 p.m. All times are local.