Macon, Il July 16, 2003-When Frank Kimmel began racing in the Automobile Club of America Re/Max Stock car Series over ten years ago, the words "Kimmel" and "dominant" would not have been used in the same sentence when talking about the four-time...
Macon, Il July 16, 2003-When Frank Kimmel began racing in the Automobile Club of America Re/Max Stock car Series over ten years ago, the words "Kimmel" and "dominant" would not have been used in the same sentence when talking about the four-time and defending Automobile Racing Club of America champ's exploits on dirt. However, that's just what Kimmel has become on the two one-mile dirt tracks in the ARCA schedule, dominant.
Kimmel will be seeking his fifth and sixth consecutive ARCA dirt track wins when the RE/MAX series rolls into the fairground facilities in Springfield and DuQuoin, Illinois in 2003, and if the Jeffersonville, Indiana pilot is able to pull off his third consecutive sweep of the 100-mile events, it will be seven wins in the last eight 100-mile dirt track events for the driver of Larry Clement's Advance Auto/Pork Fords.
The unique 100-mile dirt track contests featuring full bodied NASCAR style stock cars decked out in dirt track livery begin on Sunday, August 17th with the 41st running of the Allen Crowe Memorial 100 on the "World's Fastest One Mile Dirt Track" in Springfield, Illinois. Two weeks later on Labor Day, the ARCA Re/Max Series moves to the beautiful DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, for the 51st Federated-Southern Illinois 100 on the "Magic Mile".
Frank Kimmel began his racing career in ARCA with an experienced mentor in former ARCA competitor (and pace car driver) Jack Wallace, but his ARCA career really took off when he aligned himself with the powerful stable of Iowa truck magnate Larry Clement, an owner of stock cars for several years. In 2000, Kimmel gained his first ever victory on one of the mile dirt facilities, when he captured the Allen Crowe Memorial 100 at Springfield in a stirring battle with 1999 winner, Bill Baird.
Veteran Billy Thomas' 4th win at DuQuoin kept Kimmel from sweeping the Illinois clay in 2000, but in 2001 Kimmel became the ninth man in auto racing history to win both the Allen Crowe Memorial 100 at Springfield, and the Southern Illinois 100 at DuQuoin in the same year. That list of drivers includes stock car greats such as Norm Nelson, Paul Goldsmith, Bob Keslowski and the late Dean Roper, who has a "triple double", winning both events in 1981, 1983 and again in 1985.
Kimmel's "four-for-four" performance on the dirt in the last two years is even more impressive when considering the talent that has appeared at DuQuoin the last two years in an attempt to derail the Kimmel steamroller. NASCAR Winston Cup regular Ken Schrader made appearances at DuQuoin in 2001 and 2002, and brought with him 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Tony Stewart, as well as Winston Cup owner Andy Petree. Not only did Stewart win the pole for the 2001 and 2002 events, he broke the track record both years in the process.
Two veterans also came out of partial retirement in 2002 to run the ARCA dirt races, former ARCA champ and 1999 Allen Crowe winner Bill Baird appeared at DuQuoin, and 71 year old Red Farmer, an original member of the "Alabama Gang" ran both races at Springfield and DuQuoin.
Kimmel faces even tougher competition in 2003, starting with 17 year old Shelby Howard of Indiana, a winner on the ARCA tour. Other strong competition is expected from Jason Jarrett, son of 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup champ Dale Jarrett, Ohio's Todd Bowsher (son of Springfield and DuQuoin winner Jack Bowsher), Pennsylvania's Andy Belmont, Oklahoma's Christi Passmore and second generation shoe Billy Venturini.
Local drivers pack the seats at both Springfield and DuQuoin, and 2003 will be no exception. Illinois drivers Brent Sherman (Barrington, top 5 in points), Eric Smith (Bloomington), Justin Allgaier (Riverton), Todd Coon (East Peoria), Charlie Schaefer (Carlyle) and Joe Cooksey (Centralia) are expected to return, as will Mokena's Bob Strait driving for the popular Hendren racing team out of Normal, a team which fielded cars for several years for El Paso driver Ken Rowley. Missouri sends Doug Keller to the two dirt miles, and Kentucky late model standout Terry English is rumored to haves ecured a ride with Keith Murt.
The competition may get very fierce at DuQuoin as Ken Schrader has already filed an entry for his sponsor's event, the Federated-Southern Illinois 100. If details and logistics can be worked out, it is entirely possible that track record holder Tony Stewart could return in search of his first ever triumph on a one-mile dirt track, while other NASCAR stars are rumored to be contemplating a trip from the Southern 500 at Darlington, to DuQuoin.
Tickets for both events are selling at a rapid pace and can be obtained by calling Track Enterprises at 217-764-3200, the DuQuoin State Fair Box Office or the Illinois State Fair Box Office. Further information can be found on the world wide web at www.trackenterprises.com, or at www.arcaracing.com.