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July 31, 2000

Donnie Beechler Named State Fair Parade Marshall

SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan today named race car driver and Springfield native Donnie Beechler the Grand Marshall of the 2000 Illinois State Fair Twilight Parade.

"Working hard to excel at what you do is the essence of the Illinois State Fair, and that is precisely what Donnie Beechler has done," Ryan said. "Donnie started out racing on tracks around Central Illinois, including the State Fair, and now has made it to the pinnacle of his sport, the Indianapolis 500."

Beechler's attraction to racing began in 1982 when his brother bought a sprint car but refused to let him drive it. Beechler borrowed $5,000 to purchase his own car and went on to be named rookie of the year at Springfield Speedway. He raced his sprint car to first place in Springfield races in 1988 and 1993, but he has yet to win on the dirt mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

"I am humbled and honored to be asked to be the Parade Marshall," Beechler said. "Maybe it'll bring me some luck and I'll get my first win here. More than anything, though, I appreciate the attention this will bring to all of the talented drivers who race at the State Fair every year."

After posting victories in sprints, midgets and silver crown cars, Beechler was approached by team owner Larry Cahill to drive in the Indy Racing League. He and Cahill raced to put a team together, and Beechler made his league debut in the 1998 Indianapolis 500, the equivalent of a major league pitcher making his rookie start in the World Series. Beechler is now racing up the IRL point standings for 2000, currently positioned 9th, and he posted his best finish, 3rd place, at Phoenix International Raceway earlier this year.

After leading the Illinois State Fair Twilight Parade on August 10, Beechler will return to the fairgrounds Saturday, August 19 to drive in the USAC Silver Crown Series. The Illinois State Fair Twilight Parade will kick off from 9th and Capitol at 6 p.m. on August 10 and will proceed to the State Fairgrounds. Admission to the fairgrounds is free that evening.

The 2000 Illinois State Fair runs August 11-20.


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