(TOLEDO, Ohio - August 15, 2012) - Every year, ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards competitors travel to Springfield, Ill. and the Illinois State Fairgrounds for the first of two dirt races which honor the series' long history.
With each visit, the series brings to the central Illinois mile many drivers with no prior experience on the famous clay, drivers who have never before heard of the race's namesake, Allen Crowe.
The Allen Crowe 100 is one of the longest-standing race titles on ARCA's 20-race schedule this season, standing right next to its sister race on Labor Day in DuQuoin, Ill. Remarkably, the 100-lap, 100-mile affair is named for a driver who never competed in a single ARCA race. Who was Allen Crowe?
First, it's worth mentioning that championship stock car racing came to Springfield for the first time on September 17, 1950, for a 100-mile American Automobile Association event. Los Angeles driver Jay Frank led every lap, winning the first race three years before ARCA would run its inaugural event in Ohio.
Stock cars ran again at 1953 under AAA sanction, and then became a permanent stronghold on the Springfield lineup in 1961, with sanction from the United States Auto Club.
Meanwhile, a popular local stock car driver was moving through the ranks at other Illinois tracks, including Macon, Lincoln, Champaign, and the "Little" Springfield Speedway. Allen Crowe moved from stock cars to open-wheel racing in 1961, finding races under the USAC sanction and that body's sprint and midget divisions.
Crowe (pictured), born in 1928, found his way into USAC championship cars at Milwaukee and the Illinois State Fairgrounds on the same weekend in 1962. Crowe qualified for the Indianapolis 500 in 1962 and 1963, finding himself on the cusp of becoming a full-timer in USAC's championship ranks. With six top-10s in 15 starts, including a fifth-place run at Syracuse in 1962, Crowe had proven himself a quick study.
Crowe died young, however, on June 21, 1963, the result of accidents sustained in a sprint car race at New Bremen Speedway in Ohio. Two months later, on August 26, the first Allen Crowe Memorial 100 was contested. In 1965, the race became a part of the Illinois State Fair race lineup for the first time. The first Allen Crowe 100 at the fair ran on August 20, 1965, the Friday before the Tony Bettenhausen 100.
ARCA and the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards entered the picture at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in 1983, sponsoring the American 100 with USAC. ARCA co-sanctioned the event again in 1984 before taking over the Allen Crowe 100 stock car race in 1985, a position the sanctioning body has held since.
On Sunday, the 30th Allen Crowe 100 under ARCA sanction - and the 50th overall - will mark the 16th race of the current season.
Championship leaders Chris Buescher and Brennan Poole are among the headline names in a field that also includes Kimmel, a seven-time winner at the Springfield mile between 2000 and 2008. Kevin Swindell, a three-time champion of the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, will embrace his dirt roots in a stock car for the first time. In all, 10 drivers from Illinois are entered.
Practice for the Allen Crowe 100 will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday and last for one hour, with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell starting at 11. The 100-lap, 100-mile race will take place at 1 p.m. All times are Central. ARCARacing.com will feature live timing and scoring coverage throughout the day, and ARCA Racing Network hosts Charlie Krall and Tim Clagg will deliver a live audio call for the race on the site.