RACE DAY AT THE ILLINOIS STATE FAIR
Illini Windom Seeks History and Title in Bettenhausen
Windom gained notoriety driving sprint cars in the Midwest, especially in Indiana where the featured variety doesn’t sprout wings and a good sprint car track can be found just about every night of the weekend. Rising through the traditional sprint car ranks Chris found top car owners such as Jeff Walker and the Baldwin Brothers willing to place the young Illini behind the wheel of one of their 800 horsepower machines. However, it took a few seasons before Chris was able to secure a ride in one of the long wheelbase, upright championship machines and appear on one of the historic mile fairground dirt tracks.
Windom made his mile track debut at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in 2011 for Baldwin. He also ran the car at DuQuoin and at Springfield where he finished 10th completing all 100 miles. He managed to become one of the few drivers to run a championship car and stock car at Springfield when he finished third the next day in the Allen Crowe 100 ARCA event. Windom missed the 2012 Springfield event and came back in 2013 to finish second to A.J. Fike and lead 85 laps. Chris finished 5th in 2014 and led 17 laps in 2015 while finishing 10th. He has completed all 400 miles of the four Bettenhausen 100 events in which he has entered.
Mother Nature prevented him from seeking victory at Springfield last year but the Canton native was on a roll in the USAC Silver Crown series. Two weeks later Chris beat veteran Jeff Swindell to the finish line to capture the Ted Horn 100 at DuQuoin, just the third time a central Illinois driver (Don Branson and Chris Urish the others) won the 100-mile southern Illinois grind. That victory combined with the season finale at Eldora was enough to dethrone two-time Silver Crown champ Kody Swanson, Windom’s chief rival in the series.
Car owner Fred Gormly decided to scale back his operation leaving Windom as a free agent. Chris lined up with former owner Gene Kazmark of northern Illinois. Kazmark had been out of the series for several years but returned with a full season commitment and the pairing paid off immediately, with Windom winning the season opener at Terre Haute. Since then mechanical gremlins have plagued the team while Swanson has come on strong. At press time the two again are battling for the national championship along with 2008 champ Jerry Coons Jr. Windom is just 57 points out of the lead.
On Saturday August 19 Windom can join Don Branson of Champaign (1966) and A.J. Fike of Galesburg (2012-13) as the central Illinois natives with a Bettenhausen 100 victory. Practice for the Bettenhausen 100 begins at 10 a.m. with qualifying at approximately 11:25 and the 100-mile national championship race at 2.
It’s all part of three great days of racing in Central Illinois. It all starts Friday night at Lincoln Speedway with the “Night Before The State Fair Race” at Lincoln Speedway with POWRi/WAR Sprint Cars, UMP Pro Late Models, UMP Modifieds, and POWRi DII Midgets by Nutech Seed. Then, following the Bettenhausen 100 on Saturday afternoon, everyone makes the 40 minute trek east to Macon Speedway for the POWRi National Midgets, Micros, UMP Pro Late Models, UMP Street Stocks, and UMP Hornets. Rounding out the weekend will be the Herr’s Potato Chips Chase The Taste 100 on Sunday afternoon at 1:30.