AMA Grand National Dirt Track Series Comes to Famous Springfield Mile
3 September 1998WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- In 1938, the Springfield Mile crowned its first American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Grand National Champion, Lester Hillbish of Reading, Pa., on an Indian. Sixty years later, the 58th running of the Springfield Mile, set for Sept. 6 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, will play a crucial role in narrowing down the field of riders within reach of the 1998 championship.
The Springfield Mile alone determined the AMA's Grand National Champion from 1938 to 1953. Starting in 1954, the Grand National Series began, with Springfield being just one of many races on the calendar. The mystique of Springfield remains after all these years, however. Ask any Grand National rider which race he would like to win, and Springfield is always at the top of that list. Part of the reason is that since 1982, 16 of the 30 Springfield winners went on to claim the Grand National Championship.
When the series gets to Springfield, just four races will remain in the 1998 Grand National Dirt Track Series and only 11 points will separate the top four riders.
The current points leader is Will Davis of Goldsboro, N.C., who jumped to the top on the strength of his victory in last weekend's half-mile at the State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, Mo. Davis has 225 points and a 3-point lead over defending champion Scott Parker, who finished seventh at Sedalia. Rich King stands a close third, 5 points out of first place, and 1992 AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr remains in the fourth spot, just 11 points out of first place.
Many questions will be answered this Sunday at Springfield. Will Parker, an eight-time Grand National Champion and factory Harley-Davidson star, pick up an unprecedented 13th win at the famous mile oval? Can Davis, riding the TCR Harley-Davidson, maintain his series lead by winning his first Springfield Mile? Or will Corbin Racing Honda's Rich King and Harley-Davidson of Sacramento's Chris Carr play the role of spoilers?
Jess Roeder of Monroeville, Ohio, continues to lead the Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Series after taking his fourth win at Sedalia. The Miller Electrical Construction sponsored rider can wrap up the championship with a win at Springfield. Shaun Russell holds down second spot, 52 points back, and 1994 champion Scott Stump is in third place.
Saturday afternoon, Sept. 5, the $50,000 Dirt Track Hall of Fame race will run in as part of the AMA HotShoe Championship program. This invitational race will pit the best riders of the season against each other in a special "dash-for-cash" shootout.