Monday, September 26, 2016

1973 - Racing in IMCA's Sprint Car circuit for love, not money

Buzz Rose is joined by car owner Daryl Arend

Spencer, Iowa (September 26, 1973) - Three of the cars in the sprint car racing event at the Clay County Fair here last week were Algona, Iowa-owned.
Running strong races on the rough and dangerous half-mile dirt track was car #30 owned by Jim and Helen Utt of Utt Electric Service and car #1 and #16 owned by Bill Specht, Daryl Arend and Bob Arend of B & D Automotive Machine.

As a result of the Clay County Fair races, #1 moved up into fourth place in the International Motor Contest Association point standings for 1973. Driver Buzz Rose of Cedar Rapids, Iowa came in second in one heat race and placed third in the more important feature event.

Like #1, #30 is also having its best year on the IMCA circuit and now holds down the sixth spot in the IMCA point standings. Larry Kirkpatrick of Wood River, Ill., located near St. Louis, Mo., drives for the Utt’s.

B & D put a second car into competition at mid-season this year. Driving their #16 is Marv DeWall of Jackson, Minn., perhaps best known in the area for his success in stock car driving.

Another car at Spencer was driven by Jim Edgington of Fairmont, Minn., also noted for stock car success. His car was running with a new engine installed by former Algona residents Ron Barton and Roger Hendrickson who now live in Fairmont.

IMCA’s point system determines who gets accessory money from automotive-related companies at the end of the season. But even the biggest winners might have trouble meeting expenses for a full season!

So why do they do it?

The answer was unanimous the reward was in the thrill of putting a car together and racing it, not to mention the fraternal-like competition that develops through racing.

Owner Jim Utt, a racing circuit veteran, offered the following anecdote to explain the “fraternal” side of racing; “One of the leading point winners cracked up his car,” Utt said, “but several other crews pitched in and helped put the car back together on the spot. He wound up winning the feature.”

What about the cost of hiring a driver?

Most drivers agree to race for 40 percent of the gross earnings in prize money, Utt said. At Spencer, that didn't amount to much with a purse less than $3,000. The feature winner got only $350 of that total.
Larry Kirkpatrick piloting the Utt Electric #30

But the Spencer race is just one stop on a circuit that includes more profitable events. Other races: a series of five season-openers in Florida (the Utt car was in four of them before being disabled). Knoxville, Iowa, Knoxville, Ill., and state fairs in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Utt said this year his car has been damaged more than his driver has, although Kirkpatrick was knocked unconscious in one of “several smash-ups”. As Utt tells it, another car, which blew its engine spilled oil which caused Kirkpatrick to spin out and crash backward into a wall, knocking him out.

Amazingly, the incident was minor compared to another crash in the 24-year-old Kirkpatrick's racing career. He nearly lost his hand once in a crash at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. But a “good sew job” and a long, careful recovery period enabled him to return to racing.

And all for just 40 percent of earnings which, even at best, are far below what is paid in two other racing associations - USAC and NASCAR. The International Motor Contest Association is by far the oldest of the three.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

1969 – Ramo gets another decal after Dayton 500 victory

Ramo Stott
Dayton, Ohio (September 21, 1969) – If Ramo Stott wins many more races this season he’s going to have to buy a bus.
Every time the Keokuk, Iowa, speedster wins a race, he plasters a decal on his 1969 Roadrunner…and he’s fast running out of room.

Sticker number 14 was pasted on his car Sunday afternoon at Dayton Speedway when Stott roared to victory in the Dayton 500, a 250-mile chase for the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) late model stock cars around Dayton’s high banked half-mile track.

Ramo is not only fast running out of sticker space he almost was running too fast and ran out of room midway through Sunday’s matinee.

Stott was leading on lap 361 when Don Violet popped a tire in turns three and four and did a tail-stand on the guardrail in front of Ramo.

“All I could see was me goin’ over the gosh durn wall,” said Ramo. I was going right at him, but I hit him with a glancing blow. I thought for sure I cut a tire when I hit him, but we checked it out in the pits and everything was okay.”

Things were okay on the track, though. Ramo lost his lead to defending champion Benny Parsons while Stott’s crew was making a rubber check.

Parsons proceed to build a two-lap lead over Ramo and Bobby Watson’s newly-acquired 1970 Dodge Super Bee, but the tires would be the end for Parsons too.

The right front on his 1969 Ford Torino popped on lap 422 coming down the backstretch and Benny slammed into the turn three guardrail, ripping out his oil pan. He would spend the final 78 laps of the race making as many pit stops as a car full of kids on vacation.

Watson and his Super Bee were buzzing and cutting into Stott’s lead, but time (and laps) was running short. He cut the margin from 25 seconds to 14 when the checkers waved.

“We lost the race when we missed qualifying,” Watson said afterwards. “While everyone was qualifying on Saturday, we were still putting the engine in.” Andy Hampton started in the Super Bee and Watson relieved him after 260 laps.

“Since we didn’t qualify, we had to start 30th (out of 34-car field) and it took us too dang long to work our way up,” Hampton added.

Parsons, despite numerous stops, still managed to finish third and clinch his second straight ARCA national championship.

Les Snow of Bloomington, Ill., put his 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner on the pole and Stott started on the outside of the front row. Parsons tore his driveshaft into bits and pieces during practice and worked four hours to get it back together. With one minute left in qualifying, Parsons took to the track and landed the fifth position.

Snow led 138 of the first 140 laps until a wheel bearing cost him agonizing minutes in the pits and knocked him out of contention.

Parsons led from lap 150 to 283 until Stott took command after Benny pitted. Ramo was the boss through lap 361 - then came the Violet tire-popping and Benny appeared long gone until his tire issues and Ramo was checkered flag bound.

“She really ran good,” Ramo said from victory lane. “I didn’t worry a bit. The tires were a concern near the end, though, and the track was getting slick toward the end.”

Stott, a first year man in ARCA, after fruitlessly chasing Ernie Derr in the IMCA ranks for years and years, is pulling in the money like a crooked card dealer. His paycheck at Dayton on Sunday was for $2,200…just enough to buy a new bus.

Results –

  1. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
  2. Bobby Watson, Louisville, Ky.
  3. Benny Parsons, Detroit, Mich.
  4. Larry Ashley, Detroit, Mich.
  5. Clyde Parker, Farmington, Mich.
  6. Lonny Snow, Bloomington, Ill.
  7. Namon Martin, Cleveland, Ohio
  8. Dave Dayton, Indianapolis, Ind.
  9. Les Snow, Bloomington, Ill.
  10. Chuck McWilliams, Union, Ky.