Auto Racing: Tom Crawford’s Turbo Cluck a big hit at Illiana Speedway
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org May 29, 2014 9:24PM
Pure stocks competitor Tom Crawford Sr. and his pet hen Turbo Cluck are one of the postrace stops for many fans in the pit area at Illiana Speedway. | Tony Baranek/Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 1, 2014 6:24AM
One of the most popular figures during a trackside autograph session Monday at Illiana Speedway wasn’t signing.
Turbo Cluck was more interested in getting some chicken scratch than providing it.
Pure stocks competitor Tom Crawford’s pet hen has been quite the cause celebre in the pit area at Illiana this season. Her name prominently is displayed on the side of Crawford’s No. 73, and she’s got a nice spot on the trailer where she does whatever it is that hens do while Crawford is turning circles around the quarter-mile.
Crawford has been in victory lane in 2014, recording his first career feature win May 10. The 40-year-old Schererville native is in his third season of racing after taking a long break to raise a family.
“I used to come to (Illiana) when I was a kid, and I raced in a couple of races here and there years ago at Raceway Park,” he said. “A few years ago I was talking with Ryan Lagestee and he told me they had started 4-cylinders at Illiana. With the kids grown I had some spare time again, so I decided to get back into it.”
Crawford owns five pure stocks, one of which he drives, another which is to be driven by a soon-to-be son-in-law. Crawford also brings a third car to the track in which he allows beginners to test their skills.
Turbo Cluck joined his racing team shortly before the start of this season.
“My neighbor chased her out of her yard into ours,” Crawford said. “She came over to tell us because she was worried our dogs might attack it.
“We figured that she belonged to one of the neighbors and was together with a rooster in a pen. We just figured the rooster would crow and she’d go back. But she never left.”
The name Turbo Cluck, Crawford said, was created by Winston Dennis, whose son, Wesley, competes in the turbo stox division.
“We were posting pictures on Facebook and he just came up with the name and it stuck,” Crawford said. “She plays with the race cars. Every time I start them up she runs right to them. For some reason she likes the noise.
“At the track we have an enclosed trailer so we just leave her in trailer and she’s happy as can be. When it gets dark she cuddles down and goes to sleep. She’s happy here (at Illiana).”
Boris getting better
Late-model competitor Boris Jurkovic, who suffered burns to his right arm and his back in a scary incident Saturday night at Illiana Speedway, is on the mend.
The former track champion will be out for four to six weeks while waiting for the burned areas to heal.
“I’m all right. I’m good,” Jurkovic said Thursday. “It’s just a little discomforting, but it is what it is. (The doctors) said it will be fine.”
Jurkovic was making warmup laps before Saturday’s feature when flames began shooting from underneath his No. 53. The fire quickly spread as he pulled to a stop just beyond Turn 2.
“I broke something in the rear end and it locked it up,” Jurkovic said. “Then it broke the drive shaft and the drive shaft hit the fuel line. The fuel line broke by the driver’s seat and then it just started on fire there and went through the interior.”
Jurkovic was able to unbuckle his seat belts and was assisted out of the car by track workers. He was taken to an area hospital, where he was treated and released.