As the only team to appear in the championship series for three straight seasons, the River City Rascals continue their dominance of the independent Frontier League. At their home stadium, T.R. Hughes Ballpark—the same field where players such as the St. Louis Cardinals' Josh Kinney and the New York Yankees' Justin Christian cut their major-league teeth by gnawing on aluminum bats—the River City Rascals face challenges from division rivals amid crowd-pleasing antics such as dizzy-bat races. On the field, outfielder Stephen Holdren returns after leading last year's playoffs with three homers and eight RBIs, and first-baseman Chris Andreas dons a Rascals uniform for the first time after hitting 0.336 with the Arizona Mariners. Throughout the season, several games feature special promotions such as a Salute to the Troops on August 29 and regular giveaways of posters and lifelike busts of managers' giant bobbing heads.
A popular local gut-bustery for the past 17 years, Comedy, Etc. II keeps its calendar stuffed with a slew of elite court jesters—many of whom have been featured on the Tonight Show, HBO, Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, the Bob & Tom Show, and more. Watch local comics test out their soul tickles on Wednesday open mic night ($5 ticket value). Otherwise, chuckle at a better-known act such as John Rathbone ($10–$12.50 ticket value)—who's been seen on Comedy Central, heard on the Bob & Tom Show, and touched by thousands of random passing strangers—or the fast-paced one-lining of Dan Chopan ($10–$12.50 ticket value), who's appeared on MTV, PBS, and more.
Skyview Drive-In Theater, opened in 1949, has weathered the ravages of multiple tornados, enduring as a two-screen throwback to old-school cinema. When the sun sets, the twin screens display double features of recent Hollywood releases in clear digital format, while FM radio simulcasts the soundtracks. The viewing area?organized so taller cars never cut off smaller cars' sightlines?borders a playground for youngsters and a concession stand with classic movie snacks. Celebrating its roots, the theater occasionally hosts classic car (defined as 1987 or older) night where the driver is admitted free. For first-timers, Skyview Drive-In offers thorough responses to FAQs.
A creature with roots in Native American lore, the Piasa bird has survived antiquity in large part due to etchings found on limestone bluffs throughout Illinois. Under the banner of the mythical predator— most depictions lend it reptilian claws, fish-like scales, and mammalian fangs—the Illinois Piasa charge onto the field against Professional Arena Soccer League foes, stopping just short of actually eating their opponents. Founded in 1998, the PASL consists of 19 indoor-soccer squads throughout the United States; upon their league debut in the 2010–11 season, the Piasa won the Pro Frontier Division with a 9–3 record.
For the fourth race on its 2012 tour, the American Drag Racing League returns to Gateway Motorsports Park's 1/8-mile drag strip for the first time since 2010. Piloting dragsters separated into seven all-professional racing classes, from Top Sportsman to Pro Extreme, drivers rocket down the track so quickly that they finish each race younger than when they began. The SuperCar Showdown—a new feature on the 2012 circuit—pits the latest consumer automobiles against one another in no-holds-barred drag race free from the usual handicaps, performance restrictions, and rules against fiddling with rival drivers' preset radio stations. After reopening under the helm of former Indy driver Curtis Francois, Gateway Motorsports Park has stepped up its devotion to motorsports of all kinds, looking beyond the drag strip to fill its amphitheater-style seats with fans of everything from hot rods to world-class stock cars.