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Since 1934, the Illinois State Fairgrounds has been host to 100-mile national championship racing. The American Automobile Association and United States Auto Club were the sanctioning bodies for the championship trail, AAA through 1955 and USAC through 1970. USAC continued as sanctioning body for the 100-mile races at the fairgrounds from 1971 through today as part of the Silver Crown Series (Dirt Track Division).
For the first time in history, a championship race at the Springfield Mile is the season finale and will be the scene for crowning a national champion. A 22-point lead for Justin Grant over five-time champ Kody Swanson adds an extra bit of intrigue to the 57th running of the Bettenhausen 100 presented by Fatheadz Eyewear.
When Springfield was placed on the 1934 AAA national championship, it was the second of four races to be held. Springfield was third on the schedule in 1935, and second again in 1940. In 1947, the 100-mile race was held in September and 10th of the eleven scheduled events. The latest ever scheduled 100-mile championship race was held in October of 1950, and that event was the ninth of 13 races.
Through the fifties and sixties, championship races at Springfield ranged from around fifth to 19th on the AAA or USAC schedules, but never last. When the Silver Crown Series was formed in 1971, the Bettenhausen 100 was the second event in the new series following the race at Nazareth. In 1973, Springfield would become the season opener for the Silver Crown (Dirt Track) series and would be the season opener on and off until the schedule was expanded in 1980.
Even with Silver Crown Series expansion and the Bettenhausen rescheduled twice to September (1996 & 2014), the 100-miler at Springfield never served as the final event on the schedule. COVID-19 caused a number of twists and turns in the 2020 Silver Crown schedule with Springfield becoming the final event for the big cars. In addition, the October 18 race is the latest date any championship event has been held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Mid-October weather can be most pleasant in central Illinois. The current weather forecast for Sunday afternoon is dry with a high temperature in the upper 50’s. The hottest race day for any championship race came in August of 1983 when the temperature at race time was 103 degrees. The coolest race day actually came during August of 1967 when the weather service at Capitol Airport reported the temperature at 61 degrees.
Tickets are still available for fans wanting the opportunity to watch history in the making at an iconic venue. Pit gates will open at 8am Central, grandstands and ticket office at 11am, practice at Noon, qualifying at 1:15pm, the last chance race at 2:15pm and the 57th running of the Bettenhausen 100 presented by Fatheadz Eyewear will take the green at 3pm. All times listed are central.
To ensure a ticket, fans are encouraged to order online at www.trackenterprises.com or by calling the office at 217-764-3200. Advance sale grandstand tickets are $25. Grandstand tickets bought on raceday are $30. Grandstand tickets for kids age 11 and under are $10. Pit passes are $35 for USAC members and $40 for non-members. Pit passes can be purchased on raceday or in advance at www.TracPass.com.
The Bettenhausen 100 can also be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3frPoW6.