DuQuoin Mile Facts and Stats
Progressive American Flat Track’s ties to the DuQuoin Mile presented by Black Diamond Harley-Davidson date back to the earliest days of the Grand National Championship series, being added to the slate in 1955, just its second full season of existence.
That first DuQuoin Mile victory went to Everett Brashear, the first in a long line of legends to win the race despite a number of extended gaps in its history with Progressive AFT.
Since that inaugural race, the venue played witness to a second in 1958, enjoyed an unbroken run from ‘77-’89 and another from ‘94-’98, hosted five more between ‘01-’05 (including two in ‘01 and none in ‘03), plus the solitary and most glorious return in 2015... with a few stops across the street at the Southern Illinois Center’s 1/5-mile indoor short track thrown in for good measure.
Even with the inclusion of some decade-long gaps, multi-time Grand National Champions Carroll Resweber, Jay Springsteen, Scott Parker, Ricky Graham, Bubba Shobert, and Chris Carr have all graced the top step of the podium at the “Magic Mile.”
Ten years after Carr’s win in 2005, the event was resurrected and repaid the motorsports world at large for that decision with one of the most epic races in GNC history. On that night, Grand National Champions Kenny Coolbeth, Jared Mees, and Bryan Smith pitted against one another in a truly unforgettable shootout.
Following a mid-race red flag, Coolbeth looked set to make his escape. Smith did what he could to cling on -- unsuccessfully -- while Mees missed a shift off the line and could nothing but watch as the entire field stormed past him.
Over the next several laps, Mees showed each and everyone of them his back wheel in a furious charge that didn’t end until he blasted past Coolbeth to put himself out in front.
What Mees didn’t realize was that he brought the “Mile Master” Smith along with him, only dawning on him after Smith went from third to first at the stripe by 0.00 seconds plus perhaps a quarter of an inch.
Mees said, “I led the last three or four laps and thought it was mine… I was kinda surprised Bryan was there at the end. When I went by him it seemed like he was struggling a little bit. I went by him with ease and thought, ‘Cool, I dropped him because I don't want to deal with Smith on a Mile!’”
Smith said, “It was everything I had on that last lap, and I just held on tight and tucked in tight. I led the last quarter inch and that's all that mattered. It's not very often you can ride these big 750s wide open flat out on a track and this was one of them.”
Those opportunities may not come very often, but another one will come this weekend with Mees and Smith both returning for the rematch and looking to add another victory to their long list of respective Mile triumphs.
But don’t forget about Coolbeth. After all his hard work, he was relegated to third, despite finishing only 0.013 seconds away from victory.
Afterward he said, “It was a cool race. I'm sure for the fans it was really cool. Hopefully we get to come back here, and hopefully we can put our bike (on top) next time.”
It took a few years, but Progressive AFT is indeed back at the DuQuoin Mile. Coolbeth has since retired, but he’s still in with a chance to get his revenge and put his bike up top. Even though he won’t be on track, he’s going to have a local “Wizard” in Jeffrey Carver, Jr. out there representing him.
Could anything possibly be more fitting at the Magic Mile?