Silver Crown
Friday, 2 September 2016


#20 Jerry Coons, Jr. #20 Jerry Coons, Jr. Rich Forman Photo


In preparation for the 64th edition of the "Ted Horn 100" this Saturday night, September 3rd at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds in southern Illinois, let's take a look back at the last four decades of USAC Silver Crown racing on the "Magic Mile!"

The history of championship dirt car racing at the Du Quoin State Fair goes back to the first event on September 4, 1948.  The first Ted Horn 100 was run the following year and Du Quoin was part of the national championship (Indy Car) schedule until the dirt cars were placed in a separate series (Silver Crown) in 1971.  Since the Silver Crown division was formed, there have been some memorable Ted Horn 100 events under the Silver Crown banner.  Here is a look at a few of those moments.

August 29, 1976: The annual Ted Horn 100 was moved from Labor Day to the first Sunday of the fair in 1975 so as not to conflict with the Ontario 500 in California.  The nation’s bicentennial also marked the first year in nearly 20 that a driver named Foyt, Unser or Andretti would not appear in a Ted Horn 100 contest.  All was not lost, though, as a large crowd once again filled the stands and CBS brought their cameras for a national telecast.

Tom Bigelow became the first to crack the 110 mile an hour barrier on Bill Hayes’ race track with a track record 32.594 in qualifications making Du Quoin the fastest mile (at the time) on the circuit.  The defending Du Quoin winner led the first 22 before giving way to Pancho Carter on lap 23.  Carter went out as did Roy Hicks in a lap 47 crash while Pancho was leading. 

After a lengthy red for guardrail repairs, Joe Saldana led for 12 before a favorite son of Danville, Illinois took over the top slot.  Du Quoin Rookie Bubby Jones moved the Wayne Weiler bright red 51 to the front on lap 59 and was chased by Larry Dickson for part of the final 42 circuits.  Bubby got his first and only big car win and joined Champaign’s Don Branson as the only ‘downstate’ Illinois winners of the Ted Horn 100 to date.

September 1, 1986: The second Ted Horn 100 to be run since the state of Illinois purchased the fair saw rain in the area give way to heavy skies and a very heavy race track.  Of the 38 drivers who were slated to take times, no less than eight drivers broke Rick Hood’s existing track record with Chuck Gurney setting a new mark of 31.282 seconds.  Local favorite Ken Schrader timed 14th in the Glen Neibel 20, but the car broke on the second circuit and he was done for the day.  

Two last chance races were held and won by Warren Mockler and Brent Kaeding.  Rookie Kenny Jacobs beat Gurney to the first turn on the start and led the first six.  Before 10 laps were down, Gurney and Gary Bettenhausen were in a rim-riding duel that had the fans on the edge of their seats.  Gary B. led until lap 29 when Gurney snatched the top slot.  Just past halfway, Jack Hewitt, who had won nearly everything in the 1986 season so far, motored past the leaders and took off. 

Gurney’s mount lost the drive shaft seven laps after Hewitt took the lead and Bettenhausen ran out of fuel 18 laps from the distance while Steve Butler and George Snider crossed the finish line behind Hewitt, who averaged nearly 98 miles an hour in completing the distance.

September 2, 1996: A record 63 entries were filed and 58 made the trip to Du Quoin on a mild, cloudy day.  Jimmy McCune started the day’s excitement when he flipped during hot laps.  Cary Faas, Rod Holshouser, Chip Thomas and Bill Baue all had their mounts break during the practice session.  Jack Hewitt, not normally a great qualifier, was scheduled to go out 15th, and set fast time with a 31.827 while Ryan Newman would start alongside. 

Hewitt led at the start and a five-car accident in turn two involving Kenny Irwin, George Snider and Eric Gordon, among others, brought out a red for fence repair.  Hewitt led the first 49 laps before Chuck Gurney, winner in 1989 and 1994, would slide by. 

Gurney, taking over the ride after Stan Fox’s injury at Indianapolis the previous year, would not be challenged the rest of the day.  Ryan Newman finished second, with Johnny Parsons third, Tony Elliott fourth and Tony Stewart, driving for George Snider, 5th from 25th.

September 3, 2006: The fourth night race in Ted Horn 100 history was greatly anticipated as the division featured a healthy entry list and a great crowd in the grandstand.  A new pack-qualifying procedure had been used on other events and 37 cars drew for their place in one of five qualification sessions. 

2000 USAC Silver Crown champ Tracy Hines entered Du Quoin as the defending winner and won the Springfield event just two weeks prior.  He set fast time in the fourth session with a 30.612 which was .3 quicker than Jay Drake who went out in session three. 

Brian Tyler won the semi over Bud Kaeding.  Television was on hand for a tape-delayed broadcast and the cameras caught then rookie Shane Cottle jumping from the 3rd slot to lead for the first 41 laps.  Hines motored by on lap 42 and was followed to the stripe by Cottle and Josh Wise. 

Hines became the 14th driver to win from the pole.  Bud Kaeding had the drive of the night after having to tag the tail due to a push start after missing practice due to mechanical problems.  He ended the night 4th on his way to his first USAC national crown.  The seven cautions on the evening tied a DuQuoin dirt car record.

One driver this Saturday night will add his name to the national championship and USAC Silver Crown history book at Du Quoin.  Practice begins at 5 p.m. with the 64th Ted Horn 100 presented by Casey’s General Stores at 8 p.m.