Forty-five year old Joe Cooksey of Centralia, Illinois has been preparing for his return to the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menard’s for several months. A self professed lover of the one mile Illinois fairground dirt tracks Cooksey one remarked ‘as long as I have a nickel in my pocket I will be there”. Unfortunately time constraints with business have limited Cooksey’s appearances in the ARCA series and he missed the 2007, 2008 and 2010 races. However, Cooksey became the first Southern Illinois driver to set on the pole when he set fast time for the 2000 race. He has 11 top 10 finishes in 12 starts at DuQuoin, completed 1207 miles at DuQuoin and been running at the end of each of those 12 starts.
Joining Cooksey and perhaps hoping to learn from the veteran is sixteen year old Austin Rettig of Sikeston, Missouri. Rettig has been racing area short tracks such as Maiden, Missouri, Riverside Speedway in Arkansas, Clarksville, in Tennessee and West Plains in Missouri. His racing resume includes late model stock cars with the MARS series and he won his first ever Comp Cams series event at Riverside this April.
Austin began racing at the age of 13 and is following in the footsteps of his older brother Nathan who was lost in a tragic 4 wheeler accident at the age of 13 while pursuing a promising racing career himself. His victory at Riverside ironically came 7 years to the date after Nathan’s passing.
The 59th Federated Auto Parts-Southern Illinois 100 is slated for 1 p,m, on Labor Day at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.