By Lee Ackerman
Macon, Ill. - The Macon Speedway in Macon, Illinois was built by a gentleman named Wayne Webb on the site of a brick factory on the west side of Macon. While many upgrades have occurred at the facility over the years, the size of the track has never changed.
The track’s length has been stated at different times as 1/4-mile and 1/5-mile. I think must who have attended races at the bullring would tend to favor the 1/5-mile version. Actually, for many years it has been touted as “the World’s Fastest 1/5-mile dirt track.
Over the years Macon’s signature event has been the Herald & Review 100 which has been held at the Macon Speedway since 1981. For most of that time the event has been part of the annual UMP Summernationals or Hell Tour. We decided to take a look at the event starting in 1990 when national stars started showing up for the event.
Bob Pierce and Scott Bloomquist speak with Ken Schrader at the 1990 Herald & Review 100.
On July 12, 1990, the Hell Tour visited the Macon Speedway for the Herald & Review, and it was defending race winner Jim Leka of Illiopolis, Ill., setting fast time with a lap of 11.384 seconds. Leka then won the trophy dash over Greg Babb, Bob Pierce, and Rick Standridge.
1988 World 100 winner Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., won heat one over Denny Schwartz and Kevin Gundaker. Joe Ross, Jr. bested Jim Harter and Jim Rarick in heat two with Kevin Weaver taking heat three over Butch Garner and NASCAR’s Ken Schrader. Butch Smith won heat four with John Gill and Scott Ford challenging. Ken Schrader won the first semi with Roger Long and Kevin Gundaker following, and Mike Bechelli won the second semi over Jim Rarick and Buffy Clark.
Jim Leka started on the outside pole and took the lead. By lap 26, Leka was in a battle with Bob Pierce when Scott Bloomquist spun in turn one bringing out the yellow flag. Bloomquist headed pitside and had a new tire put on that gave him a better setup.
When racing resumed, Bloomquist was still on the lead lap with Leka, Pierce and Kevin Weaver putting on a three-way battle for the lead and going three abreast on a number of occasions. Leka broke a right rear brake caliper but managed to keep the lead until lap 44 when Pierce dove to the inside and went to the front.
Pierce quickly opened up a straightaway lead on the field only to come to a stop on lap 51 with a broken frame. Leka reassumed the lead but a lap later Weaver went high and took the spot. Leka dropped off the pace, but Weaver opened a straightaway lead as his car started smoking. Later, sparks started flying from under Weaver’s B12 mount, but he held on.
As the leaders got into lapped traffic Bloomquist was closing gap and actually took the lead on lap 80 only to have Weaver take it right back. Then the caution waved for debris on the track. When racing resumed Weaver led until lap 84 when his lost his drive shaft and retired from competition.
From that point on it was all Bloomquist as he opened up a half lead over the rest of the field. Rick Standridge finished second, Greg Babb third, Ken Schrader fourth and Mike Bechelli fifth.
Kevin Weaver (left) has won the Herald & Review 100 four times (1991, 1992, 2002, & 2008) while Shannon Babb (right) is a five-time winner 2006, 2009, 2011, 2013, & 2014) of the event.
The 1991 version of the Herald & Review 100 actually took two weeks to complete. Gibson City, Illinois’ Kevin Weaver was the class of the field on the original date. Weaver had lapped several cars and was getting ready to lap seventh place Ken Schrader and sixth place and defending race winner Scott Bloomquist when the rains came.
Officials were faced with a dilemma of whether to call it an official race or set a rain date. They chose the latter and on July 25. Weaver now had 14 days to think about it and the competition had 14 days to adjust their set ups.
It did not matter; Weaver had the Macon Speedway figured out and led the remaining laps of the event to become only the second driver in history to lead the Herald & Review from start to finish. As some drivers were not able to return to complete the event the top five were Weaver, Doug McCammon, Mark Gansmann, Dick Taylor, and Gary Nettleton. Weaver received $4,000 for the win.
Weaver set fast time at 10.947 seconds then won the trophy dash. Heat race wins went to Doug McCammon, Dick Taylor, Brian Ater and Ed Bauman. Joe Ross, Jr., and Roger Long took semi event wins.
The 12th annual Herald & Review 100 had a little of everything. First, the first two attempts to run the event were rained out. Then, finally on September 17 the event was completed with Bob Pierce taking the checkered flag. But wait a minute, Pierce came up light at the scales and was disqualified giving the win to runner-up and defending Herald & Review race winner Kevin Weaver.
Under UMP late model rules, cars must weigh 2,350 pounds at the completion of an event. Pierce weighed in at 2,323 pounds while Weaver weighed in at 2,352. Track owner Bob Sargent said the scales – newly installed earlier in the year had just been certified.
“There is no way I was light,” said Pierce, who would have the first three-time winner of the race, having won in 1983 and again in 1985. “I had 18 gallons of fuel left in the car. If I had have had just 15 gallons maybe, but I couldn’t have been light with 18 gallons.”
The controversial ending wiped out a terrific performance by Pierce, who had made it into the feature by finishing second in the semi event. After starting 14th, Pierce immediately started moving through the field and by lap 14 he was running seventh. By lap 36, the Oakwood, Illinois driver was running second to only Springfield’s Dick Taylor.
Taylor and Pierce battled it out until lap 64 when Taylor paid a hard visit to the turn four wall. Taylor returned to the event but tagged the back of the field leaving Pierce and Weaver to battle it out for the win. But when the checkers fell Pierce was out front by the length of a straightaway.
“Bob (Pierce) really ran well, but he had tough luck all night long,” Said Weaver. Weaver had made a smart pre-race adjustment, adding 25 pounds to his car before the feature which certainly saved him at the scales.
With Pierce light at the scales, that made Kevin Weaver the first back-to-winner in the 12-year history of the Herald & Review 100. “It was a heckuva lot sweet last year because we won it.” Said Weaver after the race. “We actually ran second tonight but because of the rules they are going to pay us for first.”
The official top five was Weaver, Mark Gansmann (who also added weight pre-race), Ed Bauman, semi-feature winner Butch Smith and Billy Drake. Heats went to Marvin Burton, Drake, and Dick Taylor with Decatur’s Smith winner the semi over Pierce.
The "Tall Cool One," Bob Pierce, would win four Herald & Review 100's (1983, 1985, 1994, & 2001) in three different decades.
The Herald & Review 100 continues to be a signature event at the Macon Speedway. Bob Pierce got his third win in 1994 and added a fourth in 2001. Kevin Weaver added a third in 2002 and a fourth in 2008. Shannon Babb dominated from 2006 through 2014 winning five times and life went full circle in 2016 and 2017 when Bobby Pierce won the Herald & Review 100.