(Springfield, IL) —Track Enterprises is proud to partner with the United States Auto Club, the Automobile Racing Club of America and UMP DIRTcar Racing to continue a tradition at the Illinois State Fair that dates back to 1905. One hundred plus years of motorsports continues during the last weekend of the 2019 Illinois State Fair with the USAC Silver Crown Bettenhausen 100 presented by Brandt, the ARCA Menards Series Allen Crowe 100 presented by Lucas Oil and the Sportsman Nationals. These traditional one mile dirt track events are among the most prestigious on the USAC and ARCA schedules and a focal point of the schedules of many race fans.
Auto exhibitions first came to the Illinois State fair as early as 1905 and actual competition followed a few years later. Open wheel, upright machines have been a part of auto racing since the early days and stepped into the national spotlight when the Illinois State Fair hosted its first national championship race in August of 1934. The United States Auto Club began sanction of the fair championship race in 1956 and continued when the Silver Crown division was formed in 1971.
USAC brings an outstanding mix of young talent and wily veterans to the Illinois State Fair on Saturday, August 17 for the annual Bettenhausen 100 presented by Brandt. The Saturday championship race acquired the Bettenhausen name in 1961, honoring two-time national champ and Tinley Park native Tony Bettenhausen and eventually his entire family. The 2018 version became an instant classic as rookie Kevin Thomas Jr. battled with Tyler Courtney for over 80 miles at the front of the pack. 2016 USAC national champion Chris Windom bided his time saving his tires and blew past the leaders at the end to win his first Bettenhausen and become the third central Illinois driver to win the Springfield championship event. An entry list of 40 plus drivers is anticipated for the 2019 Bettenhausen including a large contingent from Illinois which numbered eleven strong in 2018. Three time national champ Kody Swanson currently leads the USAC Silver Crown points while Courtney won the May Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Stock cars first ran on the fairground mile in September of 1950 and joined the fair’s entertainment lineup in August of 1965. The stock car race was named for the late Allen Crowe, a Springfield native who was a rising star in USAC and at Indianapolis. The Automobile Racing Club of America which has sanctioned the Allen Crowe 100 presented by Lucas Oil since 1985, is known for attracting rising talent as well as a few local drivers attempting to enter Springfield’s victory lane. Youth has been served very well two of the last three seasons as 17 year old Justin Hayley became the youngest driver ever to win a major race at Springfield in 2016 and 18 year old Christian Eckes took the Crowe 100 last year. Eckes returns for a second shot at the Springfield dirt currently third in the ARCA title chase behind Michael Self and Bret Holmes.
The state fair stock car event draws local interest as well, Springfield’s Justin Allgaier became the first hometown driver to win the Crowe 100 in 2006. Galesburg’s A.J. Fike became the second central Illinois driver to win the Crowe in 2015 after a near miss in 2013. While Kelly Kovski recovered from injury in 2017 his friend Grant Enfinger took the seat and the car owned by the Springfield team won the event!
Since 1905 numerous local and area drivers have honed their skills on the Springfield Mile in a variety of events, from sprint cars to midgets to stock cars. Entering year 26, the Sportsman Nationals event has become a signature event of the UMP DIRTcar series. Short track regulars from Macon, Fairbury, and similar venues all point to the 20 mile event on the last weekend of the fair. Springfield drivers Wes O’Dell and Dennis Vandermeersch are multi-time winners of the Sportsman event and came back to post top runs last year. Jeremy Nichols won five in a row until Ethan Schnapp broke the victory string with a popular win last year.
The action begins Saturday August 17 with practice for the USAC Silver Crown Bettenhausen 100 presented by Brandt at 10 a.m. and the 100-mile event slated for 2 p.m. On Sunday August 18 practice for the ARCA Menards Series Allen Crowe 100 presented by Lucas Oil begins at 9 a.m. with the Crowe 100 taking the green flag at approximately 1:40 p.m. Heat races for the Sportsman Nationals are slated for Saturday prior to the Bettenhausen 100 with the 20 mile main event Sunday prior to the Allen Crowe 100. Midget racing at Lincoln on Friday night and Macon Saturday night make this a can’t miss racing weekend in Central Illinois.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 on race day, $10 for children 11 and under and can be purchased at the Illinois State Fair Box Office, Ticketmaster locations or by calling Track Enterprises at 217-764-3200. Discounted tickets for the ARCA race can also be purchased at Springfield, IL area Menards locations for $20.