By Jay Hardin (Track Enterprises Staff)
Du Quoin, IL (August 26, 2019)-All good things eventually come to an end, one of the better things in USAC history has been the entry of Decatur, Illinois’ Dave Hardy. Hardy is one of the few entrants in the sport who can say he has been behind the efforts of a USAC Stock Car and a USAC Silver Crown championship dirt car. The 71st Ted Horn 100 at Du Quoin will be somewhat bittersweet for the central Illinois car owner as he has decided to retire at season’s end after 64 years of race car ownership. The two-time winning car owner of the Ted Horn 100 will be sorely missed by competitors, officials and fans.
Forsyth’s Butch Garner was part of a standout USAC Stock Car rookie class in 1974 joining fellow central Illinois drivers Ken Rowley and Steve Drake on the USAC tour. With Hardy as part of the behind the scenes effort the team and driver quickly became one of the favorites on the dirt miles including the “Magic Mile” at Du Quoin. Garner made 17 starts at Du Quoin and came close to winning in 1982 and again in 1983, with the last start coming in 1998.
Hardy entered USAC competition again in 2011 combining with his two sons to form Hardy Boys Racing. The team bought a Stealth chassis from Tim and “Papa Jim” Siner and placed second generation driver Shane Cockrum of Benton, Illinois at the wheel. Cockrum, the son of Midwest legend Cliff Cockrum, finished 18th in his first mile track start, the 2011 Hoosier Hundred. Placings of 17th at Springfield and Du Quoin followed as the team and driver continued to gain experience on the USAC tour.
The Hardy team purchased a Beast chassis for the 2012 and a second for the 2013 season. The upgrade in equipment saw Cockrum finish 21st at Indianapolis, 5th at Springfield and 4th at Du Quoin during 2013. It was during the Du Quoin race that Cockrum may have briefly led (though not for a full lap) before fuel issues slowed him at the finish. However, it was apparent that the Hardy Boys and their driver were on the verge of something special.
Partnering with Marion’s Shane Wade and using the number 66 made famous by southern Illinois native Chuck Amati, the team started 3rd at Indianapolis and 6th at Springfield without a top ten result in either race. The 2014 Ted Horn 100 offered redemption and the Hardy team got it with Cockrum leading 41 of the 100 miles and capturing a very popular victory, the first ever in the Ted Horn 100 for a driver from southern Illinois. The team also revived the tradition of jumping into the infield lake after victory.
Hardy made another investment over the winter, acquiring a newer Maxim chassis named Mary Ann, with the Du Quoin winning car named Ginger. He team ran both cars at Indianapolis with rookie Casey Shuman running near the front with Ginger until dropping out and Cockrum taking Mary Ann to 6th. The newer Hardy machine led 40 of the first 50 miles at Springfield before dropping back to 8th. Mid-summer the team won its second USAC Silver Crown race taking the Sumar Classic at Terre Haute. Coming into the 2015 Ted Horn 100 the team was a favorite to enter victory lane and did just that, leading the final 38 miles and once again heading for the lake.
The team added a pavement car at one time, however in the last couple of seasons Hardy has reduced the schedule concentrating on the dirt miles and Terre Haute on the USAC schedule. The Hardy legacy at Du Quoin is one of success, in seven starts the team has 2 wins, 6 top 5 finishes, 5 top 10 starts and led 74 laps. Greg Hardy has been instrumental in promoting the series on social media creating a USAC Silver Crown Facebook page that has over 13,000 members.
The team planned to run the two dirt miles on the schedule and those plans will be in a different order with the Bettenhausen 100 at Springfield postponed until September 22. The entire Hardy crew, which includes Billie Jo Cockrum, Chris “Fuzz” Jackson, Scott “Scooter” Hancock, Aaron “George” Gass, A.J. Atherton, Brad Bagby, Josh Dawson are looking forward to a third plunge into the infield lake. Fans can come out and cheer on the team Sunday night, September 1 in their final appearance on the Du Quoin Magic Mile. Practice for the 71st Ted Horn 100 USAC Silver Crown Series Race starts at 5 p.m. with the Ted Horn 100 at around 8.
It’s all part of a tripleheader weekend of motorsports at the Du Quoin State Fair with the ARCA Menards Series on Saturday night, August 31, USAC on Sunday night, September 1, and Monster Truck Monday on September 2.
Tickets will be available on raceday or by calling the Du Quoin State Fair box office at 618-542-1535. For more information, visit www.trackenterprises.com.