BELLEVILLE, Ill. — When it comes to micro sprint racing, there is no bigger race than the National Speed Sport News 66 Mike Phillips Memorial.
Held this year at Belle-Clair Speedway and paying a hefty $35,000 purse with $10,000 to the winner, the event annually attracts a who’s-who of the best drivers that micro sprint racing has to offer.
The POWRi-sanctioned event is the brainchild of Brad McDaniel, a part-time racer turned event promoter who has watched the race turn into the biggest and most prestigious race in all of micro sprint racing in only three years.
“This year I expect it to be, hopefully, a bigger and better version of what it has been the last two years,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel created the event in 2011 in honor of his late friend, mentor and car owner Mike Phillips. Phillips died in 2010 from complications related to a brain tumor.
“He started out in drag racing stuff and got into the micro sprint racing before we did,” McDaniel recalled. “When I started running (micros) when my dad stepped out in 2002, he (Phillips) started to help us even more. He really liked what he saw with me and dad.”
In 2007, Phillips became McDaniel’s car owner and in 2008 they began competing in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series. Over time McDaniel became good friends with Phillips, going so far as to spend most of his free time with him at the race shop.
“We just kind of became really, really good friends. We were there for each other,” McDaniel recalled. “He just kind of became a mentor, father figure, uncle, whatever you want to call it.”
After Phillips died in 2010, McDaniel felt he needed to do something different and decided to become a promoter. He could think of nothing better than remembering his late mentor by naming the event in his honor.
“It kind of became the best reason for me to put on a race. I just decided that if I’m going to do it, I’m going to make it the biggest race in the country,” McDaniel said. “So I did it. I went and put out the biggest purse and just went big and it has been successful ever since.”