For a short stretch in the early 19th century, the central Illinois city of Springfield was known as "Calhoun," a nod to controversial South Carolina politician John C. Calhoun. When the former VP turned senator fell out of favor among the region's farmers and fur traders, Calhoun was renamed Springfield after the New England town where the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company was later founded in 1901.

"I'm really looking forward to Springfield," Hayden Gillim said. "It's going to be a ton of fun getting up there on the mile going 140 mph and beating and banging with these boys."Courtesy of American Flat Track

Fine and dandy, as my Midwestern relatives often said, because the "Calhoun Mile" doesn't have the same ring as the Springfield Mile. Just ask Scott Parker, the war-whooping nine-time AMA Grand National champion and 14-time Springfield winner who is serving as the grand marshal for Sunday's biannual running of the "world's fastest mile" in the shadow of the neoclassical architecture of the Illinois state fairgrounds.

Hayden Gillim, Cycle World's Man in a Van with a Plan, aims to add his name to the lengthy catalog of riders from as far back as 1937 who have taken top honors at Springfield. That list includes seven current American Flat Track Twins-class racers: Kenny Coolbeth Jr., Jake Johnson, Jared Mees, Bryan Smith, and Illinois native Jeffrey Carver Jr., who won the Springfield Mile I on May 28.

Like so many others in AFT's premier class, Gillim is racing an FTR750 bearing the scripted Indian logo on its fuel tank. This is the fourth and final scheduled MVP 3.0 outing for the 23-year-old Kentucky native on the competition-only, 748cc, 53-degree V-twin. In the previous three events—Buffalo TT, Black Hills Half-Mile, and the iconic Peoria TT—Gillim qualified for every main and finished fourth, 12th, and fifth, respectively.

Seen here with his father, Frankie, at the Buffalo Chip TT, Gillim last raced the Springfield Mile in May of 2016. He finished 10th in the AMA Pro Racing GNC2 main event.Nik Wogen

This isn't Gillim's only gig. Winner of the 2010 AMA Road Race Horizon Award (renamed last year after Gillim's cousin, the late Nicky Hayden), he competes full-time in the MotoAmerica Supersport series with Team RiCKdiculous Racing on a Yamaha YZF-R6. This past weekend at Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum, Pennsylvania, Gillim finished second in both races to fellow flat-tracker (and sometime mechanic) JD Beach.

"It's actually pretty nice swapping back and forth," Gillim said when the MVP program kicked off three years ago. "You don't get too focused on one discipline, and it keeps you on your toes. One is good training for the other, and it kind of sharpens your mind a little bit—shakes things up." After the Peoria TT, his most recent outing on the FTR750, Gillim said, "Being able to run up front with those guys for even a fraction of a second is amazing."

Last time out on the Team Cycle World Indian FTR750, Gillim qualified second for the Peoria TT. "Hitting the jump on a big twin is no joke," he said with a nervous chuckle.Andrea Wilson

Reigning AFT Twins champ Mees can clinch the 2018 title with three races remaining if he leaves Springfield with a 75-point advantage—the current gap is 92 points—over Henry Wiles, who is second in the standings. Carver Jr. would like to come away with another victory. One thing is certain: Gillim intends to end his AFT season with a bang. "The last one for the Man in a Van with a Plan? Let's see what we can do," he said. "I'm feeling confident."