Springfield's Beechler Back Home Again At Illinois State Fair


Staff member
Springfield's Donnie Beechler just can't seem to get the racing bug out of his veins and he couldn't be happier about it, and neither could the thousands of race fans preparing to attend the 48th running of the Tony Bettenhausen 100 USAC Silver Crown national championship dirt track race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Saturday, August 16.

Beechler, who turned 47 in May, cut his racing teeth in sprint cars at the "Little" Springfield Speedway on Clear Lake Avenue and one day dreamed of running in the Indianapolis 500. When the Indy Racing League was formed in
1996 it opened the door for dirt track pilots like Donnie Beechler to follow in the footsteps of their heroes like the legendary A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Mario Andretti. Beechler drove in the Indy Racing League for four years making 36 starts and finishing third twice. He made four starts in the Indianapolis 500, posting the fifth fastest overall qualifying time in 2001 driving for A.J. Foyt.

On August 16 Donnie will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Foyt and many other legends as continues a quest that began back in 1988, a victory on one of the most historic racing venues in the United States, the Springfield Mile as his name appears on the projected entry list for the 48th Tony Bettenhausen 100. Long-time car owner and chief mechanic Dennis McQuinn brings a Stanton dirt track machine out of mothballs with a Mopar-Chrysler engine under the hood, a car that ran second with Beechler at the wheel at DuQuoin's Ted Horn 100 in 2003. Beechler also reunites with legend A.J. Foyt as the four-time Indy and Bettenhausen 100 winner provides sponsorship on the car that is tentatively slated to carry Foyt's traditional #14.

A developer of real estate and rental property, Beechler began racing the bigger cars in 1988 with George Egan's Qwik-Way Machine in his first Silver Crown start at DuQuoin. It took 5 more years before Donnie was able to make the field for the Tony Bettenhausen 100 with Springfield owner Dennis McQuinn, taking over a seat vacated by Springfield race car designer and builder Jerry Russell. Beechler qualified 23rd and finishd 24th in the 1993 Tony Bettenhausen 100 losing an engine just past the halfway mark. Since that time Beechler has seen mixed results on the Springfield Mile, in eleven starts his best start came in 1998 when he began the race third, and his best finish was a third in 1997. Last year Donnie 'turned back the clock'
when the veteran started 24th and came to 9th in the rain shortened affair.

Donnie Beechler and a number of Illinois pilots will be seeking starting positions and a victory in front of the home fans on the "World's Fastest One Mile Dirt Track" when the USAC Silver Crown Series comes to the capitol city. The 48th Bettenhausen 100 is scheduled for a green flag start at 1:30 p.m. at the Illinois State Fair on Saturday, August 16.