Rocky Ragusa's Speed Week

With a degree in sports marketing, El Paso’s Cody Gillespie looks to use his education and put it to work in the dirt track racing industry.
    Attending the races at Fairbury during the latter part of the 2000s, Gillespie’s love of the sport drew his interest in wanting to be more involved. While in the seventh grade, Gillespie spent two years as a member of Brian Dunn’s team before helping out Glen Thompson.
    “I was able to learn about anything you can think of in how a race car works with Brian and Glen,” said Gillespie. “After two years with Glen, I turned my attention to finishing my school work and I knew what I wanted to do.”
    Graduating in May of this year at Heartland Community College, Gillespie had an opportunity to join the staff at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Gillespie can be seen at the lineup chute, driver signups, or working the corners during the night’s racing program. After working at his regular job at Heller Ford in El Paso, Gillespie makes the ride to Fairbury whenever he is needed.
    “I want to learn as much as I can,” said Gillespie.” I have no problem doing any job that they give me.”
    An eagerness to learn any task that needs attended to, Gillespie has lofty goals for a future in racing.
    “I would love to become a part of the World of Outlaws or Lucas Oil Series. It would be a dream of mine to be the track promoter at Fairbury one day, too,” Gillespie said.
    “I grew up at Fairbury. Everyone is like a big family,” Gillespie added. “All of the officials have gone out of their way to teach me everything they know. The older guys seem to appreciate someone from my generation that wants to learn the ins and out on making a track successful.
    “My family has put up with me through college and now the track. It can be some long hours. Brian Dunn and Glen Thompson have been huge inspirations to me. Glen would encourage me to follow my dreams.
    With his willingness to take on any job at the fairground track, and the education he has received in the class room, as well as the racetrack, the future of racing can only be in good hands with young people like Cody Gillespie.
Friday Racing
Farmer City Raceway
    A full race program, plus the return of the hornet class, are on tap this week. Veterans and kids 12 and under are free.
    Kevin Weaver, AJ May and Jeffrey Ledford were feature winners last week. Jeremy Nichols won the $1,000 Midwest Championship street stock race.
Grundy County Speedway
    Two nights of racing will take place. On Friday, there will be an on-track autograph session prior to the racing. Racing is at 8 p.m.
    The POWRi midgets circle the paved track Saturday, with pure stocks and other classes to be determined. The green flag waves at 7.
Kankakee County Speedway
    After being idle for two weeks, the racing excitement returns. I-mods will have a $500-to-win special, plus all classes will be featured. Pack the car as it will be $20 for a carload of fans. Racing is at 7:30 p.m.
Lincoln Speedway
    Ray Bollinger (modified), Dakota Ewing (pro late model) and Korey Weyant (midgets) were among last week’s winners. The next evening of racing will be on Aug. 17.
Saturday Racing
Fairbury American Legion Speedway
    Kevin Weaver, the winner of the 2015 FALS Frenzy late model race and all-time leader in career late model feature wins with 68, will be looking to add another win to his hall of fame legacy as the speedway will host the fourth annual FALS Frenzy this week.
    The 50-lap, $10,000-to-win race will be co-sanctioned by the MARS and ALMS Late Model series. Among the drivers expected to be on hand to challenge for the big check are Shannon Babb, Brian Shirley, Ryan Unzicker, MARS point leader Tanner English, WOO regular Brandon Sheppard, ALMS point leader Casey Noonan, Frank Heckenast Jr., and area favorites Mike Spatola, Scott Schmitt, Derek Chandler, Jeff Curl, and Dan Flessner.
    The modified class will race have a $2,000-to-win contest. With the large payout, the race should attract many of the top drivers in the region.
    Last week’s Eden-Piercy winner, Steve Mattingly, will look to look to pad his wallet as the CR Towing and Recovery Sportsman class will have a $400-to-win showdown. Brandon Pralle, Amber Crouch and Mikey Ledford will look to end Mattingly’s win streak. Action will begin with hot laps at 6 p.m., followed by qualifying, and racing.
LaSalle Speedway
    Racing returns on Aug. 18 with a $4,000-to-win late model race under the direction of the American Ethanol Late Model Tour.
Macon Speedway
    Along with six classes of racing, the track will have an Eve of Destruction Night. There will be a rollover contest, flagpole races and a demo derby event. Hot laps start at 6 p.m., with racing at 7.
Peoria Speedway
    A regular night of racing in six divisions. Hot laps at 5:30 p.m. and racing at 6.
    Last week, Rich Bell took his first win of the year in the late models, while Robert Cottom, the current national point leader in the UMP Street Stock class, scored his third win of the year.
Sunday Racing
Bohmer’s Rt. 66 Raceway
    Kart racing will take place this Sunday afternoon. Gates open at 10:30 a.m., with practice at noon and racing to follow. Spectators are admitted for free and the track features various concessions items.
    Last week’s winners were Liam Gray (Pekin) in the rookie and baby champ class, Reese Bohm (Pontiac) Jr. Two, Raya Bohm (Pontiac) got her first career feature win in Jr. Three, Trevor Ringle (Pontiac) Clone 360 and Jason Power (Dunlap) Clone 400.