‘Chicagoland Showdown/Championship – A Little History’ by By Stan KalwasinskiCRA_admin
Midwest Tour and CRA Super Series at Illiana Monday
A separate points system and point fund, funded by B&B Lawn Care, will be kept within the ARCA Midwest Tour events at three Chicagoland area tracks; Illiana Motor Speedway on May 25th, Rockford Speedway on June 27, and Grundy County Speedway in Morris on July 17.
When the ARCA Midwest Tour Stars and Cars visit each of these tracks, they will have an additional incentive. At the end of the 2015 season during the ARCA Midwest Tour banquet, the top three drivers in CDC points will receive $1000, $500, and $250 respectively, along with a trophy going to the CDC Champion.
B&B Lawn Care will also provide a Chicagoland Driver Bonus. All Illiana, Rockford, and Grundy drivers will be eligible for bonus points at all three tracks. The top finishing driver from CDC tracks will receive $100 cash and over $500 in contingency awards following each event.
The original Chicagoland Championship idea was based on a 1958 Chicago Stock Car Series held at three Chicagoland tracks at the time – Soldier Field, O’Hare Stadium and Raceway Park. Years before becoming a NASCAR star, Fred Lorenzen won the two special races at Soldier Field and O’Hare Stadium. Bill Van Allen was the winner of the 100 lapper at Raceway Park with the overall “City Series”championship going to Bill Lutz, who called Louisville, Ky., home at the time and who finished second in all three feature races.
Solider Field, O’Hare Stadium and Raceway Park participated in a special Chicago “City Series” stock car championship in 1958. Future NASCAR star Fred Lorenzen won the features at Soldier Field and O’Hare with Bill Van Allen copping the Raceway 100-lap battle with Bill Lutz taking overall honors. After the finale at Raceway Park, starter Tom Plouzek (far left) holds the checkered flag for the victory photo and is joined by (from left to right) O’Hare Stadium promoter Bill Cherney, overall “City Series” champion Bill Lutz, Bill Van Allen, Raceway Park promoters Pete Jenin and Jimmy Derrico, along with announcer Wayne Adams. (Bud Norman Photo/Stan Kalwasinski Collection)
More than a decade later, the Chicagoland Driving Championship was established prior to the 1974 Chicago area racing season with Illiana, Grundy County Speedway and the Waukegan Speedway participating.
The championship was determined by overall Late Model stock car feature race finishes at the three local raceways. Points were awarded to the top six finishers in the feature races, using a 25-point Grand Prix point method of 9, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 per race.
The first CDC champion was Bob Roper. Roper won a total of 13 feature races during the 1974 season and defeated Dave Evans, Tom Jones, Bobby Wawak and Tom Musgrave in the final point standings. Roper’s 13 victories were the most by any driver on the CDC circuit.
1975 saw Ray Young claim the CDC championship. Young finished ahead of Jones, Larry Schuler, Carl Major and Musgrave. Young, who finished sixth in the standings the year prior, won 10 main events during the’75 season. Jones was the leading feature winner during the season with 20 victories.
The three speedways were represented by Wayne Carter and Frank Welch (Grundy), Harry Molenaar (Illiana) and Gordon Sill (Waukegan).The championship was organized and administered by John McKarns and Stan Kalwasinski.
McKarns introduced the Chicagoland Showdown title when his ARTGO Racing Late Model series visited Illiana for the first time on May 24, 1980. This would go down in the record books as the “fog race” with Ed Hoffman and Dick Trickle winning twin 50-lap feature races with Hoffman being crowned the overall event winner. Officials used the headlights of tow trucks and other vehicles in an attempt to brighten and light up the track that saw a heavy fog drape over it for the first 50 lapper.
Over the years, other race winners during ARTGO’s Chicagoland Showdown at Illiana would include Larry Detjens, Jim Sauter, Frank Gawlinski, Larry Middleton, Rich Bickle, Butch Miller, Larry Schuler and Steve Carlson, who won the last ARTGO Chicagoland Showdown, a 100-lap event, in 1994.
Last year, the ARCA Midwest Tour and ARCA CRA Super Series hosted a 150-lap event on Memorial Day Monday with Wisconsin driver Ty Majeski, who would go on to win the overall Midwest Tour championship in 2014, claiming the win.
Thanks to Kari Shear-Carlson of the ARCA Midwest Tour for providing information for this story.