By Jay Hardin Track Enterprises
DuQuoin, IL October 2, 2012-Turning sixty is probably a birthday most of us would want to forget but the number marks a milestone for both the Automobile Racing Club of America and the DuQuoin State Fairgorunds.
Sixty years ago John Marcum founded a fledgling Midwest stock car series known at the time as MARC, the Midwest Association for Race Cars, with his wife Mildred as the northern counterpart to Bill France’s NASCAR stock car series. The first race was held at Dayton Speedway in Ohio in May of 1953 and won by Buckie Sager. Marcum changed the name to ARCA, Automobile Racing Club of America, when the series branched out to superspeedway competition at the request of Bill France by running at Daytona.
During the sixty years of ARCA’s existence the series, based in Toledo, Ohio, has raced from coast to coast and nearly border to border. It’s champions include famous names such as Nelson Stacy, Jack Bowsher, Ramo Stott, Benny Parsons, Bob Keselowski, Bob Brevak and Frank Kimmel. In the early years ARCA sanctioned numerous races on dirt tracks, but eventually the dirt tracks waned from the ARCA schedule until returning with full force in 1983 as ARCA began sanctioning events at both state fairground dirt tracks in Illinois. The ARCA races at Springfield and DuQuoin have been a ‘throwback’ to the earliest days of automobile racing and have generated great interest from fans and racers alike.
ARCA and DuQuoin celebrate 60 together as the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menard’s visits the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds on Sunday, October 14 for the postponed running of the sixtieth Federated Car Care-Southern Illinois 100. In 1950 DuQuoin State Fair owner Bill Hayes was anxious to provide the huge throngs on the grounds even more entertainment on his one mile dirt track, itself just four years old. The “Magic Mile” had hosted three national championship races, several midget and sprint car races by the time 1950 rolled around. Hayes saw the large crowds the stock cars drew at other venues and decided that the ‘hardtops’ were a perfect show for his dirt track. Jay Frank of Los Angeles rolled a Hudson into victory lane on Labor Day weekend in 1950.
Because Hayes liked to switch entertainment the stock cars did not return until 1954 and have been a part of the DuQuoin State Fair ever since. Drivers like Jack Bowsher, Ramo Stott, Bob Keslowski, A.J. Foyt, Rusty Wallace, Bob Brevak and Tony Stewart all won stock car events on the “Magic Mile”. Sunday’s event marks the 60th running of the DuQuoin State Fair 100-mile stock car race, this time postponed until October due to rain on Labor Day.
Action begins with practice at 10 a.m. for the ARCA series with the 100-mile race beginning at 2.