Formula 1 Veteran Comes to Springfield Dirt! It's hard to imagine that a racing driver who once ran the high tech-high powered Formula I machines and driven in exotic locations such as Monaco, Monza and Bahrain might be looking forward to a...
Formula 1 Veteran Comes to Springfield Dirt!
It's hard to imagine that a racing driver who once ran the high tech-high powered Formula I machines and driven in exotic locations such as Monaco, Monza and Bahrain might be looking forward to a Sunday afternoon of dirt track stock car racing at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, but that is exactly the case as Red Bull driver Scott Speed of Manteca, California is set to become the first Formula I veteran to drive in the Allen Crowe 100 ARCA RE/MAX Series stock car race on Sunday, August 17.
There have been other drivers who ran the 'World's Fastest One Mile Dirt Track' and Formula 1 events, Mario Andretti ran the Springfield Mile long before becoming a full-time Formula 1 driver and winning the 1979 World Championship. Bobby Unser had some Formula 1 opportunities after first appearing at Springfield in the mid sixties, while Troy Ruttman also ran some Formula 1 races after his 1952 Indianapolis 500 win. World Driving champ Jim Clark did come to Springfield as a spectator (along with Lotus Boss Colin Chapman) but no former full-time Formula 1 driver has ever made an appearance as a driver on the Illinois State Fair dirt track.
Twenty five year old Scott Andrew Speed began his racing career in go-karts at the age often and quickly moved up through the Formula Russell, Star Mazda and Barber Dodge Series. He was selected to participate in the Red Bull Energy Drink Driver Development program and became the final choice, driving in Formula 3 events in Europe. After a bout of illness he returned to Europe winning Formula Renault titles which helped vault him to a test drive with Red Bull at the 2005 Canadian Grand Prix, making Speed the first American driver in Formula 1 since Michael Andretti in 1993.
Speed ran the 2006 season for the new Scuderia Toro Rosso team and finished a season best 9th at the Australian Grand Prix. His Formula 1 career came to a somewhat stormy end in the middle of the 2007 season when he was released after a dispute with the team. Fortunately, the Eddie Sharp ARCA RE/MAX team had experience training open wheel drivers for stock car competition having successfully tutored former CART Champ Car shoe Michael McDowell in 2007. Speed made his first oval track start for Sharp in the ARCA series at Talladega and finished 7th.
Speed has three wins in 2008 in ARCA RE/MAX competition and a win in the NASCAR Truck Series as well. He currently has the lead in the ARCA point chase taking it at Pocono from fellow rookie Ricky Stenhouse with Springfield's Justin Allgaier in third and six time Crowe 100 winner Frank Kimmel looming in fifth. It is certain that Speed has never raced on nor perhaps seen a track like the "World's Fastest One Mile Dirt Track" as Springfield remains one of four one mile fairground dirt tracks still in operation. The August 17 Allen Crowe 100 may be Speed's greatest challenge in his quest for the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX driving title.