New DuQuoin racetrack hosts Southern Illinois 100

"NEW" FACILITY GREETS ARCA DRIVERS AND FANS FOR 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF STOCK CAR RACING AT DUQUOIN! GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY OF STOCK CAR RACING AT DUQUOIN! Southern Illinois 100 48th Annual Running Automobile...

"NEW" FACILITY GREETS ARCA DRIVERS AND FANS FOR 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF STOCK CAR RACING AT DUQUOIN!

GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY OF STOCK CAR RACING AT DUQUOIN!

Southern Illinois 100

48th Annual Running

Automobile Club of America Stock Car Race

SEPTEMBER 3, 2000 DUQUOIN STATE FAIRGROUNDS DUQUOIN, ILLINOIS

Multi-million Dollar Improvements to be Tested During 48th Annual Southern Illinois 100

A "new" racing facility will be in place once the teams of the Automobile Racing Club of America Bondo Mar-Hyde Stock Car Series roll into the "Magic Mile" inside the beautiful DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, Sunday September 3, 2000 for the 48th running of the "southern Illinois 100" stock car race.

Funds granted to the DuQuoin State Fair have allowed a complete overhaul of the fifty-three year-old race track, including a badly needed outer concrete retaining wall. The new wall replaces the old boiler plate guardrail which had been in place since the track was constructed in 1947 by the founding family of the Fair, the Hayes family of DuQuoin.

The "Magic Mile" in 1998......

Looks like this shortly before the fair in the year 2000!

The new wall is the second phase of an improvement project begun in 1999 when the old north and south wooden bleachers were replaced by aluminum stands, and a new inner guardrail was put in place. Construction on the new wall began in March of 2000 when the first pieces of old wall were torn out. The backstretch has been widened considerably, and part of the new MUSCO lighting system is in place. In addition, landscaping and flowers will adorn the mainstretch wall of the racing jewel of Southern Illinois. It's doubtful that W.R. Hayes could have comtemplated the changes to come when he decided to build the mile track and the adjacent grandstand.

Nearly forty ARCA cars and drivers are expected to vie for a record purse and contingency money posted by promoter Bob Sargent that is likely to exceed $113,000 by race time! The 48th running of the Southern Illinois 100 opens two days of automobile racing and a large crowd is anticipated to fill the revamped facility for the fiftieth anniversary of the first stock car race held on the "Magic Mile".

A record six former winners of the Southern Illinois 100 could be ready to compete for a starting slot on September 3, headed by defending winner Jeff Finley. Finley will be in a different ride this year as the Ed Rensi operation that carried him to his first career ARCA win in 1999 has moved to the NASCAR Busch series. However, Finley has a race ready Chevrolet at his disposal and the car carries a number familar to stock car fans world wide. The car Finley will pilot carries the number 70 in honor of late NASCAR driver J.D. McDuffie.

Attempting to become only the second four-time winner of the Southern Illinois 100 will be three-time (93-97-98) champion and DuQuoin favorite Billy Thomas of Phenix City, Alabama. Thomas is second on the all-time laps led at DuQuoin for ARCA events, and third on the overall list for laps led at DuQuoin. The late model driver and promoter of the Talladega Short Track will again be behind the wheel of his Joe Miller Pontiac Grand Prix. Also anticipated on the entry list is 1991 winner Bob Strait of Mokena, Illinois driving for a team that used to field cars for retired DuQuoin favorite and El Paso, Illinois native Ken Rowley who retired after the 1998 season. Rowley's team merged with the Mark Thompson operation and the teams have merged very well, leading the point standings until the July Pocono event. Lomabrd, Illinois native and 1992 winner Bob Schact may also be in the pit area on the third, and it is possible that two-time (95-96) winner Bob Hill could secure a ride.

But the former winner that might be the most familiar face to long-time. DuQuoin fans is 61 year-old Dean Roper of FairGrove, Missouri Roper is . a six-time (1981-83-83-86-87-94) winner at DuQuoin, and a five-time . (1981-83-86-87-94) winner of the Southern Illinois 100. Dean leads several race categories at DuQuoin, including overall laps led (428), ARCA laps led (367), races led (12) and consecutive races led (9). Roper is also the oldest man ever to win the Southern Illinois 100, his last win in 1994 came at the age of 55! It's no surprise then that he's back, attempting to become the oldest race winner in ARCA history, a record held by the late Iggy Katone who won the Daytona ARCA 200 in 1974 at age 56. Roper's long time team, the Mueller Brothers from Wisconsin, were unsure at press time if they would make the DuQuoin race. As reported by Don Radebaugh of ARCA, the Mueller's are in their fortieth and last year of competition and were contemplating retirement after the Allen Crowe 100 at Springfield, or after this event. Complicating Roper's return will be the accident he was involved in during the Par-A-Dice Allen Crowe Memorial 100 at Springfield on August 20. Dean was unhurt, but the car was badly damaged and it is unknown if it will be repaired in time for the Southern Illinois 100.

Trying to become first-time DuQuoin winners will be a field of potent ARCA drivers, capped by current point leader (prior to the event at Kentucky Speedway) Frank Kimmel of Jeffersonville, Indiana driving for Larry Clement and his Advance Auto Parts team. Kimmel, the 1998 ARCA driving champ, posted his first win on a dirt mile in the Crowe Memorial at Springfield and is one of the heavy favorites coming into DuQuoin. Chasing Kimmel in the points is Bob Strait, followed closely by three-time ARCA national champ Tim Steele, rookie Brian Ross of Plymouth, Indiana, and Andy Belmont. At least sixteen of the top twenty drivers in the chase for the 2000 ARCA Bondo Mar-Hyde series title are expected to show at DuQuoin.

For years it has been the entries of homestate and local drivers that have sparked the interest of stock car fans in the quad-state region, and this year is no exception. At least seven drivers from Illinois are expected to vie for one of the starting slots for the 48th Southern Illinois 100, led by Centralia native (and sixth place points man) Joe Cooksey in the Maurtco Pontiac. Cooksey got very close to the front at Springfield, posting a third place finish behind Kimmel and could become the first Southern Illinois native to post a win at DuQuoin. Another Illinois native who opened eyes at Springfield was East Peoria's Todd Coon. Coon muscled into the lead at the Springfield event and was a threat to return to the lead until a late race accident sent him to the sidelines. Other Illinois drivers expected at DuQuoin are Carlyle's Charlie Schafer in a Chevrolet, Normal's Curt Piercy in a Chevrolet, Marine's Mark Voight in a Chevrolet and Springfield's Rich Hayes in a Pontiac. Bloomington's Eric Smith can't be counted out either, his father Cleve is a former USAC and ARCA stock car driver, and the Central Illinois pilot always runs well on the "Magic Mile".

Nearby Sturgis, Kentucky sends favorite son and defending ARCA national champ Bill Baird to DuQuoin looking for his first Southern Illinois 100 trophy. Baird, the 1999 winner at Springfield, is running a limited ARCA schedule this year and tried to qualify for the NASCAR Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. Bill finished second to Kimmel at Springfield, a scant .157 second behind and wants very badly to win at DuQuoin. Benton, Kentucky driver Dennis English brings a Pontiac to the dirt track events, while popular Washington, Missouri ace Ed Dixon pilots Chevrolets for Ken Schrader.

One entry that will intrigue fans is the Ford of Des Moines, Iowa shoe Shawna Robinson, a candidate for ARCA Rookie of the Year. Robinson, a mother of two, will attempt to become the first woman ever to qualify for a major auto race at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. She and Karla Lampe of Iowa broke the barrier August 20 at DuQuoin when both qualified for the Allen Crowe 100, with Robinson gaining a hard earned twelfth place finish Thirty-seven drivers including Dean Roper competed in the 1999 version, contested on a hot sunny day before over 10,000 fans in the grandstand. James Tuggle of Decatur provided pre-race excitement by going over the wall during qualifications. However, it was fifth qualifier and defending winner Thomas who set the crowd on fire taking the pole with a lap of 35.431 (101.605 mph), the fastest pole speed in six years. Unfortunately for Illinois fans, Thomas' lap knocked Bloomington's Eric Smith off the top spot.

At the drop of the green, it was Thomas jumping into the lead and lloking like a man who would become the first three-time consecutive winner in 24 years. Thomas pitted briefly on lap 10 during the first of 45 caution laps that included one red flag period when three cars punched through the turn three guardrail. Smith and Gibson both took turns leading, before Thomas regained the top position on lap 32. Thomas led though lap 73 when Finley pulled alongside and into the lead.

Bill Baird ran second, with Thomas third. Unfortunately for Thomas, he was hit by another car during a late race caution, and in the ensuing confusion violated ARCA rules concerning gaining positions during yellow flags and was black flagged. He later dropped to 23rd in the standings. Finley held off Baird for his first win in 55 ARCA starts, with Leslie taking third and Ed Dixon a popular fourth.

This will be the golden anniversary of full bodied stock car racing at the home of the World Trotting Derby. Jay Frank won the first event in the fall of 1950 in an Oldsmobile "Rocket 88" on his way to the AAA Stock Car title. It would be four years before the stock cars would return, racing for the first time during the fair in 1954.

Many racing legends have competed in the hardtops at Duquoin from championship drivers such as Jimmy Bryan (1957 winner), Jerry Unser (winner of the second 1957 event), 1969 winner A.J. Foyt, 1964 winner Joe Leonard, 1960 Indy 500 winner Jim Rathman, two time Indy winner Rodger Ward and four time Indy winner Al Unser to a list of USAC Stock Car legends that include three time winner Don White, three time winner Butch Hartman, four time winner Norm Nelson, 1972 winner Jack Bowsher, 1976 winner Bay Darnell, 1980 winner Sal Tovella and 1977 winner Paul Feldner.

With the change over to ARCA sanction in the early eighties, ARCA stars such as two time winner Bob Keselowski, 1985 winner Lee Raymond, 1990 winner Bob Brevak, Ramo Stott, Bobby Bowsher, Tim Steele, Les Snow, Ben Hess and Bobby Jacks left their mark on the"Magic Mile". Sixteen drivers between USAC and ARCA have used a win at DuQuoin to propel them to a national championship.

DuQuoin's influence on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series can't be forgotten either, as more than 25 past and present Winston Cup stars tested themselves on the DuQuoin Mile. That list includes 1955 winner Frank Mundy in the famous Kiekhaffer Chrysler, 1956 winner Marshall Teague, three time winner Paul Goldsmith, Nelson Stacy, Alan Kulwicki, Mike Wallace, Joe Ruttman, Ken Schrader, Jeremy Mayfield, Bobby Isaac, the"Golden Boy" and two time winner, Fred Lorenzen, and Rusty Wallace who as a curly haired rookie in 1979 outran a whole host of legends including A.J. Foyt to the checkered flag.

Manufacturers have used DuQuoin races as a testing ground for many years, General Motors has won the last twenty three years in a row and has twenty five victories, while Chrysler has 15 and Ford 7. The Pontiac Grand Prix has nine of GM's 25 wins, while the grand Dodge Charger has six of Chrysler's victories.

Great Racing Action is part of the Tradition at DuQuoin!

Practice for the 48th Southern Illinois 100 begins at around 9:00 a.m. on Sunday September 3rd, with qualifications slated for around 11 a.m. Drivers will be attempting to break the one-lap track record currently held by Ben Hess at 34.752 seconds (103.591 mph), a mark he set in 1992. When the green flag drops at around 1:30 on the field, the stars of ARCA will attempt to erase no only Dean Roper's 100-mile ARCA race record of 1:06:35 (90.101 mph) set in 1983, but the all-time Southern Illinois 100 race record set in 1972 by Jack Bowsher of 1:02:52.34 (95.432 mph).

Added to the Sunday lineup will be the UMP Modifieds, with preliminary heat race action. Tickets can be obtained by calling Track Enterprises at 217-764-3200, Ticketmaster or the DuQuoin State Fair box office. More information can be found at www.trackenterprises.com, or at the ARCA website, www.arcaracing.com.

State Fair Motorsports

Preserving the History of America's Fairground Racetracks

Contact us by E-MAIL at statefairmotorsports@hotmail.com

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Jeremy Mayfield , Rusty Wallace , Ken Schrader , Shawna Robinson , Frank Kimmel , Andy Belmont , Joe Ruttman , Joe Leonard , Tim Steele , Brian Ross , Rodger Ward , Bill Baird , A.J. Foyt , Mark Thompson , Al Unser , Alan Kulwicki , Fred Lorenzen , J.D. McDuffie