ARCA stock cars & stars bring national tour to Illinois capital city

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (July 19, 2016) – The Central Illinois 100 national championship stock car race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, featuring the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, is turning 54.

Springfield ARCAThe 54th running of the 100, one of the capital city’s largest sporting events, takes center stage on the world’s fastest mile dirt track Sunday afternoon August 21 alongside the 164th annual Illinois State Fair, ongoing since 1853.

With ARCA’s roots reaching back to 1953, much of the tour’s rich history developed over the decades on dirt tracks across America. In fact, the 2016 100 marks the 354th ARCA race on a dirt track since the series’ inception.

“The Illinois State Fair mile dirt venues are vitally important to the character and identity of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards,” said ARCA President Ron Drager. “It’s a conscious effort on our part to continue to recognize the role non-pavement tracks played in the development of our series, and motorsports as a whole, and the role dirt racing continues to play today.”

The on-going legacy of one of America’s oldest state fairs has included a sizeable chunk of auto racing, going back more than 80 years to 1934 when Billy Winn won the first-ever championship race event on the mile horse track. And it’s on that same horse track where the annual championship stock car race grew roots since the inaugural 100-lap event in 1950 – Jay Frank the first championship stock car winner.

This year’s Central Illinois 100 will have a new look with a field sprinkled with Chase Briscoethe newer composite-bodied ARCA cars, a body that resembles a NASCAR Sprint Cup car. The field will also look a little different with its new cast of characters, including leading rookie and championship leader Chase Briscoe (left). On tracks he’s never seen before, the driver of the No. 77 Big Tine-Cunningham Motorsports Ford has already won twice (Winchester and Iowa) and maybe more by race time. Briscoe may, however, feel more at home on the Springfield Mile Dirt having honed his skills in sprint cars on dirt tracks across Indiana before he caught the eyes of the Cunningham organization.

10-time ARCA Racing Series national champion Frank Kimmel is the all-time Springfield winner with eight wins, his most recent in 2012. Defending race winner AJ Fike, a local favorite from Galesburg, Illinois, is expected to return to defend his title. Fike will also be competing in the USAC Silver Crown Series Tony Bettenhausen 100 race the day before. Fike is also a two-time Tony Bettenhausen 100 winner. Cherry Hill, New Jersey’s Tom Hessert, Mansfield, Pennsylvania’s Matt Kurzejewski and local late model star Ryan Unzicker from El Paso, Illinois are also expected entries.

Over the years, championship stock car winners at Springfield include Curtis Turner (’63), Don White (’66, ’67, ’72), Al Unser (’72), Jack Bowsher (’73), Roger McCluskey (’74), Ramo Stott (’76, ’77, ’80), AJ Foyt (’79), Joe Ruttman (’80), Dean Roper (’81, ’82, ’83, ’83, ’85, ’86), Bob Keselowski (’87, ’88, ’89, ’93), Bobby Bowsher (’91, ’92), Tim Steele (’96, ’97), Ken Schrader (’98), Bill Baird (’99, ’04), Justin Allgaier (’06), Parker Kligerman (’09), Kimmel (’00, ’01, ’02. ’03, ’05, ’07, ’08, ’12), and Kevin Swindell (’14). 100 Schedule
Practice for the 100 is scheduled from 9:00-10:00 a.m. with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell following at 11:15. The 54th annual Central Illinois 100 starts at 1:30 p.m. All times are local.