Kaylee Bryson made the USAC Silver Crown world stand up and take notice last October in the rain delayed Bettenhausen 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. She became the first female driver to lead a championship dirt car race at the storied Springfield Mile in nearly 90 years of such contests and came within 4 spots and one cylinder of pulling off a historic win. With 100 miles of experience under her belt and finding the fast way around the old dirt mile, she returns Saturday with one goal in mind, a victory in the Bettenhausen 100 presented by Hunt Brothers Pizza.
The 60th running of the Bettenhausen continues a tradition of national championship dirt track racing that stretches back to 1934. In 2022, Bryson became the first woman driver to lead championship car laps on the Springfield Mile and recorded the best Bettenhausen finish by a woman driver, 5th. All the while she wowed those in attendance with a drive reminiscent of famed earth mover Jud Larson running inches from the outer wall and throwing rooster tails of Illinois clay over the fence. What was even more amazing is she did so running on just seven of eight cylinders, her mount losing one shortly after the start.
Despite being down on horsepower she held off repeated challenges from C.J. Leary to lead 72 of the 100 miles, losing the lead to eventual winner Shane Cockrum on a lap 75 restart after a yellow of Korey Weyant’s stalled machine. Bryson would eventually be passed by Shane Cottle, Logan Seavey, and Kody Swanson before settling into fifth.
Bryson is running the full schedule for owner Aaron Pierce and is challenging for USAC Silver Crown rookie of the year honors. She is currently third in the point standings 119 behind leader Kody Swanson. Her best finish in 2023 is a sixth at Toledo, she has three other top ten finishes so far in 2023. Come Saturday Bryson will be seeking the first major race win for a female in the history of racing at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, a history that began in the early 1900’s.
The 60th Bettenhausen 100 presented by Hunt Brothers Pizza is slated for Saturday, August 19. Practice is set for 10 a.m., qualifications at 11:30 and the 90th 100-mile national championship race on the Springfield Mile set for a 2 p.m. start.
The event is all part of a huge weekend of racing that begins Friday night, August 18 at Lincoln Speedway featuring MOWA Sprint Cars, Saturday afternoon, August 19 with USAC Silver Crown and Sportsman at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Saturday night at Macon Speedway with USAC National Midgets, and Sunday afternoon, August 20 with the ARCA Dutch Boy 100 and the Sportsman Nationals at the Illinois State Fair.
Advance tickets for the Illinois State Fair races are available by calling the Track Enterprises office at 217-764-3200, by calling the Illinois State Fair box office at 217-782-1979, or by stopping by the Illinois State Fair box office. Advance sale discounted tickets for the ARCA Menards Series event on Sunday, August 20 can be purchased in Central Illinois area Menards stores for a price of just $20.
By Jay Hardin Track Enterprises Staff