DuQuoin USAC Tidbits Sixteen years ago on the morning of the Ted Horn 100 at DuQuoin, Gary Bettenhausen told Billy Vukovich the 3rd that by running a dirt car on one of the miles, he was about to become a man. Sunday night Tyler Walker passed...
DuQuoin USAC Tidbits
Sixteen years ago on the morning of the Ted Horn 100 at DuQuoin, Gary Bettenhausen told Billy Vukovich the 3rd that by running a dirt car on one of the miles, he was about to become a man. Sunday night Tyler Walker passed the manly test with flying colors when he shaved .8 off the track record, lowering the standard to a world record 29.138, or 123.550 miles an hour! Walker then did an incredible A.J. Foyt impersonation, backing the car in and riding the cushion to lead all 100-miles of the 54th Ted Horn 100 and take his first mile dirt track win. Of course, Tyler ran on the dirt miles before 2004, but when the historians open up the championship racing records books 100 years from now, proudly displayed with DuQuoin winners such as Jimmy Bryan, Rodger Ward, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and Al Unser will be the name Tyler Walker. No matter what happens the rest of Tyler Walker's career, he will always have a victory on one of the historic fairground dirt tracks.
Bob Sargent, DuQuoin State Fair manager John Rednour, assistant manager Norm Hill and even Illinois Governor Rod Blagoevich get a lot of credit for the success of Sunday's exciting event and large crowd. Rednour, Hill and Blagoevich have been responsible for continuing the infrastructure improvements to the 58 year old facility to the point it is as state of the art as any dirt track and many paved venues in the country. This year a new paved pit lane was added, and the teams asked to remove the large haulers from the infield. The latter met with significant approval from the crowd, as many commented during and after the race they could actually see turns three and four for the first time in several years.
Sargent, moving the race to Sunday night with cooperation from the fair, got one of the largest crowds in recent memory for the Ted Horn 100. Conservative estimates placed the crowd at anywhere between 8 and 10 thousand. In fact, for the first time in a long time, the Silver Crown crowd was pretty close to, if not bigger than Monday's ARCA crowd which was large in it's own right.
Placing the race on Sunday night led to the track and world one lap record for the USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown dirt cars being broken three times. Tracy Hines became just the third man in over 80 years of championship dirt track racing history to run over 120 miles an hour in a championship machine on one of the mile dirt tracks, posting a 29.952 as the second qualifier, just .005 off Teddy Beach's 2003 record circuit. Jerry Coons, going out 19th for Roger Johnson, posted a 29.655 on his second lap and that seemed secure until Walker, out 28th ripped off a 1st lap of 29.448, then posted his record on the second circuit. Records fell on the "Magic Mile" all week, with the horses posting several track and world records themselves.
The cool of the night, the humid air and the moisture from the nearby infield lake made for one of the best DuQuoin tracks ever. Drivers enjoyed a nice cushion, that by the end of the night was less than 6 inches off the wall in many places, and at the wall in others. Speed was the feature of the night, Dave Steele was clicking off 116 mile an hour laps in the last chance race, while with a full load of fuel, Walker was running over 113 miles an hour in the first few laps of the Ted Horn 100. In fact, Sunday was the fastest top twenty in DuQuoin history, as it took a 30.920 just to avoid the "hooligan".
Statistically speaking, Tyler Walker became the 33rd different winner of the Ted Horn 100, and the 36th different winner of the 59 championship dirt races held at DuQuoin. He is the 13th driver to win from the pole position, and the eighth to lead all 100 laps of a dirt track championship event at the "Magic Mile" Ironically, the last driver to start from the pole and lead all 100 circuits was Walker's car owner, current NASCAR rookie Kasey Kahne!.
Sixty year old Johnny Parsons, the 1992 and 1995 winner was back in the seat of the Ricky Nix Beast Sunday night. When "JP" made the show, it marked his 23rd dirt car start on the "Magic Mile" dating back to 1970. That ties him with Tom Bigelow for second behind George Snider's record 27 starts at DuQuoin. Parsons night ended quickly, the engine blew on the opening lap, ending his night. Bigelow, a three-time DuQuoin winner, was in attendance helping young Aaron Pierce.
Speaking of Pierce, he wowed the crowd and chief announcer Jim Childers when he "FLAT FOOTED" the Sam Pierce 26 into turn one on his first qualifying lap, and did the same over in turn three. Many people thought the throttle had stuck open and it was an incredible display of bravery and car control.
Jerry Coons, Jr. may soon become "Front Row Jerry" at the two Illinois dirt miles. He made arrangements with Roger Johnson and Ron Hemelgarn to run as a teammate to Boston Reid, put a car back together he had driven before, and sat it on the pole at Springfield, and the outside front row at DuQuoin. He pressured Walker for a good portion of the race then ran out of fuel around lap 90. In fact, it appeared that several of the cars might have been light on fuel at the end.
Brian Tyler put on another one of his patented charges for second, and was gaining on the leader at the end. Tyler, who says he doesn't qualify well, started 10th and moved up methodically to the second slot toward the end. He stated after the event that his car was light on fuel and sputtering the last four laps.
Hines started third and ended the night there, while the "Pup" Kevin Huntley started 6th and finished fourth after a spirited duel with Dave Darland, who finished sixth and may himself been out of fuel at the end. Former Horn 100 winner Paul White was fifth, the last car on the lead lap, while former winner Russ Gamester finished 12th and former winner Tony Elliot ended the night in 9th.
Bud Kaeding gained twenty points on Dave Steele with a solid 8th (from 18th). Steele, who won the consi, moved up from 21st but ended the night in 17th, a lap down. Tyler also moved to less than 100 points back of the leader, just 93 behind Dave Steele with Tulsa and Eldora remaining on the schedule.
Several Illinois drivers made up the healthy 41 car entry list Sunday night, with three from Springfield alone. Springfield's Donnie Beechler had problems once again, transferring through the last chance race and having a magneto go bad on lap 28. Jim Moughan started 28th and had the engine let go on lap 67, while eighteen year old Justin Allgaier missed his quest to become the first driver to run a champ dirt car and stock car on the same weekend at DuQuoin since Bigelow in 1989. Allgaier's J&J chassis was running in the 4th slot in the last chance race and gaining on the third place machine when it appeared the engine let go. Justin had finished second at the Toledo ARCA race Friday, then placed 4h in the Monday ARCA race at DuQuoin.
Murphysboro veteran Randy Bateman, coming off a promising 16th at Springfield installed a new Mark Cummins powerplant for Sunday night and was running well in a transfer slot in the semi when the car quit, ending his night. Marion's Alex Shanks, who had his car on display on the main route in his hometown on Friday, made his first 100-miler and started 29th, completing 28 laps before the engine quit. Chris Urish, from Elkhart, Illinois is a sprint car regular at the Jacksonville Speedway. He had a Galas chassis entered, finished the semi in 7th and ran until lap 74 when the throttle broke.
One Illinois driver not only became the first driver since Bigelow to run the dirt car and stock car race, he became the first since Larry "Boom Boom" Cannon in 1971 to run three different cars in three different events on the Labor Day weekend at DuQuoin. Galesburg's A.J. Fike took over the family Beast from brother Aaron for the weekend. He was very fast in USAC practice, qualified the car in 16th and finished 11th, a lap down. He also finished fifth in his modified heat race to qualify for the Oldani Memorial the next day. Monday, he qualified Andy Hillenburg's ARCA car on the front row but got caught up in a spin, damage put him a lap down in 17th. He ran the 20 mile UMP Modified race and finished 9th. His versatility did not go unnoticed by the fans, nor by many members of the media.
Whatever defending Horn 100 winner Rich Tobias, Jr. did to his creation Sunday, it did not like the set up. The car never hooked up, relegating him to the last chance race and while he finished 16th, he was never in contention . John "Hot Rod" Heydenreich, a top five at Springfield two weeks earlier could manage no better than 15th. Matt Westfall, also a top five at Springfield qualified fourth in the beautiful Daugherty 14, but the car quit on the second lap and he was a scratch for the night. One of the early favorites, Jay Drake, had the Snider-Stewart Mopar Eagle go out from under him during practice and the team left early. Also leaving early was Gene Nolen, with new shoe Levi Jones and still trying to work out their new Twister chassis. The car apparently lurched an engine in hot laps.
One driver who may have been all smiles was sixty something Nelson Stewart. Nelson made his first dirt mile start Sunday night in John Lawson's machine, a car that certainly is pleasing to the eye for it's old style lines. Nelson has a famous racing son, Tony is a former NASCAR champ who just happens to be the 2003 winner of the ARCA stock car race at DuQuoin.
Tom Capie looked like the Tom Capie of old Sunday night, putting his white and red flamed Beast in 5th during qualifying and running in the top ten before sliding to 13th.
O'Fallon's Bob Galas brought out his familiar orange and white number 12 Magnum for MARA Midget driver Tim Siner, who looked pretty comfortable at times in the car but spun three times in turn three, the last time during the semi and damaging the front end. Galas has a number of DuQuoin wins as a chief wrench, five with Gary B. and one with Jeff Swindell.
No shows at the "Magic Mile" included Granite City's Tad Roach, the Gambler of Ralph DePalma and driver Mike Brecht, Kyle Wissmiller in Red Petersen's 54, the Mataka 3n1, the Galas chassis of Danny Long and veteran Jerry Nemire and his familiar 76. Another no show on the dirt continues to be a mystery. Bobby East, in the top 10 in the Weld Silver Crown title chase, entered the Hoosier 100 but failed to enter the Springfield or DuQuoin events.
Next up for the series is the Tulsa 100 at the Tulsa Fairgrounds, Saturday night September 18. A USAC Sprint show is slated for Tulsa on the 17th.