Eddie Hoffman enters Bettenhausen 100 with history in mind
By Ryan Haskell Post-Tribune correspondent September 13, 2012 11:20PM
Updated: October 15, 2012 10:01AM
“Fast” Eddie Hoffman, Jr. is a little more geared up than usually as the 51st annual Tony Bettenhausen 100 approaches Saturday night.
Hoffman, who won his first Illiana Late Model Division championship with 1978 points last Saturday, knows a couple spectators coming to the race that he’d really like to impress over the weekend.
“My dad is coming in from California,” Hoffman said. “And Moose Myers is also expected to be there. Moose was the man back in the day. Usually this stuff doesn’t mean much to me but this one will.
“I’m excited. I know the car owner and team get really pumped up for the Bettenhausen. (Illiana Motor Speedway) had a really good season there so they’re expecting big things so I try to stay low-key a little bit. You can’t overdo it because it’s a long race but I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
Hoffman, Jr. has always aspired to be like Conan “Moose” Myers ever since the days he was a young man working on his dad’s race car. Myers left quite an impression on the Bettenhausen, too. He has done quite well, winning four Bettenhausen titles.
Myers made his debut at Illiana in 1965 and he took the race by storm, driving his 1957 Chevy convertible to victory lane and defeating Joe Shear, Roy Martinelli, Bill Lutz and Herb Hill in the 50-lap feature race.
Myers came back in ’66 and captured the checked flag as the race expanded to 100 laps.
Myers won the 10th annual Bettenhausen event in ’71 when he drove his ’69 Chevelle to victory over Whitey Gerken, Joe Shear and Eddie Hoffman, Sr.
So there is a lot of nostalgia surrounding this race.
“He was a heck of a racer and a really nice guy,” Hoffman said. “I think there are high expectations of us. I had some car trouble last weekend but hopefully that’s behind us. It’s a long race and things are going to happen and play out differently than during the year.”
Former Illiana champion Jeff Cannon would like to make history this weekend. He’s never won the Bettenhausen 100.
“We used last weekend as a test and the car was running pretty darn good,” said Cannon, who was battling Blake Brown for first place before his and Brown’s car spun out with five laps to go. “So we’re hoping the car will run a little longer this weekend.
“But we’re feeling good going into it. I’m motivated by the fact that I’ve never won it. But there are guys like Eddie (Hoffman), (2010 champ) Boris (Jurkovic) and Brian Campbell that are competing too so it’s going to be solid competition.”
D.J. Weltmeyer, who won last Saturday’s race and finished second overall in the Late Model Series division with 1,938 points, is also competing in Saturday’s race that starts at 7:05 p.m.
Gates open at 4 p.m. with time trials at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $5 for children ages 8-13, and free for children 7 and under.
The Bettenhausen Memorial Race honors legendary driver Tony Bettenhausen, who made 14 starts in the Indianapolis 500 with five top 10 finishes. His life ended abruptly during a practice race at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May 1961.