Thursday, November 14, 2019

Basement Archives


From the Hawkeye Racing News, June 29, 1967


A near-capacity crowd was on its feet to witness a photo finish Wednesday night, June 21, at the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds’ half-mile oval. Bill Hudson of New Sharon, Iowa, grabbed the lead at the start of the 15-lapper and was never headed. Marvin Korns of Brooklyn, Iowa, however, made it interesting and pressured Hudson, racing side-by-side the last few laps of the contest with Hudson winning by the length of a bumper at the finish.

Super modified racing finally got off and running after two weeks of rain outs at the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds on Friday, June 23. Joe Saldana of Lincoln, Neb., took Jack Thompson’s green flag at the beginning of the 15-lap feature and never looked back, lapping everyone but the second and third-place finishers. Lonnie Jensen, also of Lincoln, finished a distant second while Earl Wagner of Pleasantville, Iowa, took third.

Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, chauffeured his Ford to his first feature win of the season at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport on Friday night. Weedon ran unchallenged for most of the 25-lap contest, winning handily over Don Bohlander, Johnny Beauchamp and Bill McDonough. Heat winners were Lyle McNull and Lyle Behne while Bruce Sunbeck won the semi-main and Fred Strube was first in the consolation.

The largest crowd of the season at Air-View Speedway in Monticello, Iowa, watched a tremendous see-saw battle Friday night as Dick Nesteby of Dubuque and Bill Zwanziger of Waterloo fought it out for the top. Nesteby finally wrestled the lead from Zwanziger on lap 15 and despite late pressure from Waterloo’s Red Droste, was able to pull away for the win. Droste would settle for second followed by Zwanziger, Tom Hughes of Monticello and Ed Sanger of Waterloo.

John Moss of Iowa City led the last half of the 50-lap feature to win the Mississippi Valley Speed Club mid-season championship at West Liberty Raceway on Saturday, June 24. Moss took over the top spot midway through the contest when race leader Mark Mosier of Washington lost his left front wheel on the backstretch. Moss crossed the finish line less than a car length ahead of Mel Morris of West Liberty. Tom Stewart of Washington, the race’s leader for the first 12 circuits, grabbed third place.

Larry Cannon, the likable lead foot from Oakwood, Ill., dominated the super modified races at American Legion Speedway in Fairbury, Ill., on Saturday night. Cannon quieted the rest of his competitors, setting fast time (15.66), winning the 6-lap dash, his 10-lap heat, and the 25-lap feature to sweep the card. Steve Cannon, Larry’s younger brother, would finish second in the main event, followed by Bubby Jones of Danville, Ill.

Defending 34 Race Ways modified champion Duane Stoneking ended his streak of hard luck as he won the “A” main and the trophy dash on Saturday night. “Stoney” started on the pole by virtue of setting fast time and moved from that spot to lead all 20 laps en route to the checkers. He won by a comfortable margin over Ron Jackson and Mike Niffenegger. Bob Lane, Jackson and Kenny Ellis were heat winners and Fibber McGee was the “B” feature winner.

Ramo Stott of Keokuk, Iowa, won the 75-lap stock car feature at Soldier Field in Chicago Saturday night after battling head to head with Sal Tovella of Addison, Ill. Tovella, who recorded fast time in qualifying, received special permission from the United States Auto Club to compete in the event. A crowd of 4,975 hardy fans braved cold, damp weather to see the IMCA-sanctioned feature, in which Stott took the lead on lap 44 after trailing Tovella from the start. Making his first career start at Soldier field, 1966 IMCA national champion Ernie Derr of Keokuk, Iowa, finished third.

Don Bohlander, the Glasford, Ill., charger easily pushed his 1963 Plymouth to victory before a very slim and cold crowd at Peoria Speedway on Saturday evening. Bohlander, starting in the last row, worked his way through the field and passed leader Alan May on lap 16. He was never seriously challenged after that and cruised to his second straight feature win. Jim Strube of Peoria would take runner-up honors with John Beauchamp of Atlantic, Iowa, grabbing the final podium spot.

Delayed by rain for a day, the weekly super stock races at Marshalltown Speedway were held Sunday evening, June 25, with Jerry LeCroy of Des Moines walking off with the feature victory. A Central Iowa Fair-sized crowd was on hand to watch LeCroy edge out Bob Bonzer of Liscomb for the top prize. Following LeCroy and Bonzer to the finish line were Curt Hogue of Ames, Iowa, Dave Brannon of Marshalltown and Bob Eurom of Marshalltown.

Darrel Dake of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, driving his 1967 Ford, was the big winner in the late model class at Speedbowl Park in Sterling, Ill., on Sunday. Dake finished almost half a lap ahead of the field at the checkers, well ahead of Verlin Eaker, John Connolly, Alan May and Ed Bohlen. Dake also won his heat race and semi-main, making it a clean sweep on the evening.

Red Droste of Waterloo added to his string of victories as he won the feature Sunday night at Tunis Speedway. It was the fourth consecutive night that the purse exceeded $2,000, with a total purse of $2,600 being paid this night. Roger Kruse of Independence, the first heat winner, lead in the early going before Droste took over and pulled away from the field. Bill Zwanziger of Waterloo, the third heat winner, took second in the main event while Cal Swanson of Reinbeck was third, Mert Williams of Rochester, Minn., grabbed fourth and Ed Sanger of Waterloo rounded out the top five.

Lyle McNall of Aledo, Ill., outdueled fellow townsman Del Williams and won the 25-lap IMCA late model main at Quad City Raceway in East Moline, Ill., on Sunday night. Not only did McNall and Williams finish one-two in the feature but in the first heat as well. The feature victory at Quad City was McNall’s first in over two years. He won his first feature there in his rookie year of 1965. McNall started on the outside of the front row and built a quarter-lap lead at the beginning. Midway through the race, Williams, who started in the third row, had worked his way through traffic and was in hot pursuit of McNall. Williams made up considerable ground but ran out of laps and was unable to catch the leader, who was piloting a 1961 Studebaker powered by a 327 cubic-inch Chevrolet motor.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The El Kahir Shrine Race: Racing So Kids Can Walk


Joe Merryfield of Des Moines, Iowa, poses proudly with his trophy after winning the 1978 El Kahir Shrine Race. 




by Lee Ackerman 
Cedar Rapids, Iowa - In 1978, the El Kahir Shriners teamed with Promoter Al Frieden and Hawkeye Downs to create the El Kahir Shrine Race with proceeds from the event going to the Shriners’ Children’s Hospital. The first race took place on Tuesday, August 1, 1978.

Fifth-eight late models signed in for the event which paid the winner of the 50-lap feature $1,250. Veteran Ed Sanger of Waterloo got things off to a fast start in time trials as he set a new track record of 23.671 seconds. Bill Beckman of Lisbon was not far behind at 23.779 seconds. Former time trial record holder Curt Hansen of Dike’s evening ended early when he broke a steering arm in qualifying and crashed into the retaining wall ending his night.

Ken Walton of Marion took home the 6-lap trophy dash with J.J. Smith of Appleton, Wisconsin finishing second and Bill Rice of Des Moines third. Heat race wins went to Tom Frady of Cedar Rapids, Tom Bartholomew of Waterloo, Johnny Johnson of Iowa City and Tom Hearst of Wilton with Bill Martin of Council Bluffs winning the 20-lap consolation event.

Ed Sanger and Bill Beckman lead the field to the green but it wasn’t long and it became apparent the man on the move was Joe Merryfield. By lap 10, the Des Moines chauffeur was up to fifth. By lap 15, he was fourth. On lap 19, he got together with Denny Osborn of Cedar Falls and ended up in the infield. Starter Engel DeKoch ruled a “no-fault” restart. On the restart, Merryfield took second and moved past leader Bill Rice on the 30th lap.

Merryfield was the class of the field with J.J. Smith getting by Rice on lap 45, but unable to run down Merryfield. Following Merryfield and Smith to the line were Rice, Walton and Ed Sanger.

Verlin Eaker won the 1979 El Kahir Shrine race. 


Going into the second annual El Kahir Shrine race held on July 31, 1979, one driver had dominated the big events at Hawkeye Downs ever since winning the inaugural Yankee Dirt Classic the previous September. That driver was Mechanicsville’s Verlin Eaker.
Since winning the Yankee at Hawkeye Downs he had added the Miller 100 and the Winston 50 to his trophy case. There would be no reason to believe that he would not be the man to beat in the El Kahir race.

Time trials saw the always tough Leon Plank of Mondovi, Wisconsin set fast time at 23.47 seconds. Bill Zwanziger, Red Dralle, Steve Keppler, Mike Niffenegger and Eaker would round out the top six. Fortunately for the field the top six was not be inverted and it was a heads up start.

Kalona’s Mike Niffenegger won the trophy dash with Eaker coming in second. Heat wins went to Tim McDonough of Cedar Rapids, Jack Mitchell of Cedar Rapids, Tom Bartholomew of Waterloo, Tom Hearst of Wilton and Dick Schiltz of Waterloo. Hearst then bested Delhi’s Bob Schulte in the semi-feature.

Zwanziger grabbed the lead from his outside pole position and stayed there for most of the race. By lap 30, Eaker had moved up to challenge and the two put on a side by side battle that brought the fans to their feet. Finally, on lap 43 Eaker edged to the lead and remained there for the rest of the 50-lap event. On the last lap, Curt Hansen slipped by Zwanziger for second. Steve Keppler of Marion would finish fourth and Plank fifth. The capacity crowd had been treated to another great race at Hawkeye Downs.

In 1980 the format for the race was changed. There were no heat races, just time trials, a trophy dash, a B feature followed by a 100-lap feature. One thing that did not change however was the fact that an Iowa driver who had previously won the World 100, once again won the El Kahir race.

A new track record was set during time trials as Dick Schiltz posted a lap of 23.172 seconds. Marion’s Fred Horn posted a 23.344 just missing the old track record. Fifth fast qualifier Ken Walton won the 6-lap trophy dash with Leon Plank finishing second. A 20-lap B feature was then run to fill the remaining spots in the feature not decided by time trials. Bill McArdle of Hazel Green, Wisconsin won the event with Bob Schulte also advancing to the 100-lap A feature.

The A feature turned out to be not only a great race but may have been decided by carbon monoxide. Ken Walton got the jump from his outside pole position and led the first 12 laps before being passed by Curt Hansen. The Hansen pass for the lead was assisted by the fact that Walton rammed a slowing Mel Morris allowing Hansen to get by on the inside. Hansen and Walton then started pulling away from the field but on lap 23 Hansen’s night was over as he went pit side with mechanical gremlins.

Ken Walton score the win in the 1980 El Kahir Shrine race. 


Walton continued to lead the race. The race was interrupted by rain near the half-way point causing it to go under caution for several laps and created vision problems for some of the drivers because of wet visors. The race resumed on lap 55 with Schiltz passing Walton for the lead one lap later. On lap 90, Schiltz suddenly got into the wall hard allowing Walton to pass and go on to take the win. Schlitz held on to second with Wisconsin’s Peter Parker, Tom Hearst and Duane Steffe of Colona, Illinois rounding out the top five.

Things got a bit bizarre after the race. Schiltz went across the scales, then loaded his car but he could not get out of his race car. Schiltz was administered oxygen and taken to Mercy Hospital and later released. It turns out that Schiltz had driven the last 20 laps in a dazed condition because of being overcome by carbon monoxide gas and could hardly remember the last 20 laps.

“Both Curt and Dick were faster than I there at the end,” Walton said after the race. “I ran steady the whole 100 laps and that’s what counted tonight. The rain definitely changed the track. Before the rain, I was running a high groove, but after it ended, I was down on the bottom. It didn’t look like much to the people maybe, but it (the rain) was enough to change the track.”

Ed Sanger won the fourth and final El Kahir Shrine race in 1981. 


In 1981, both the format for the race and the track hosting the race changed. One thing did not change, for the fourth year in a row a former World 100 winner went to victory lane. The race was moved to the Independence Motor Speedway and they ran no time trials. Ed Sanger, Rick Wendling of Hazleton and Greg Kastli of Waterloo won the heats with Dick Schiltz winning the consolation race.

The 50-lap feature was all Ed Sanger. Sanger took the lead at the drop of the green and was simply gone. Sanger was in lapped traffic within a few laps and pulled away from the field to score an easy victory. Greg Kastli came home with a solid second place finish. The real battle was for third with four drivers battling to the end for that spot. Rick Wendling came away with the spot followed by Gary Tigges of Durango, Red Dralle of Evansdale and Schiltz. Those were the only cars on the track not lapped by Sanger.

Schiltz, who missed his heat race because his crew was making changes to the car, then won the consolation event and started 16th in the feature and made it up to sixth.

The 1981 race drew considerably less cars than the previous three years and may have been a factor in it being the last year of the race. Whatever the reason for its demise, the El Kahir Shrine race provided some great racing and more importantly raised money for a great cause.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

1980 – Bettenhausen Claims ‘Dirt’ Championship


Gary Bettenhausen receives his trophy after winning the 100-lapper at 'The Action Track'.




Terre Haute, Ind. (November 2, 1980) — Gary Bettenhausen was named the 1980 United States Auto Club’s National Dirt Car Champion Sunday after winning the 100-lap dirt car race at the Vigo County Fairgrounds' half-mile dirt oval. 

Bettenhausen, 38, Monrovia, Ind., took home $4,500 in prize money from the win.

Bettenhausen led the first 62 laps of the race, then lost the lead to Tom Bigelow, Whitewater, Wis., until he spun out and hit the wall in lap 87. Bigelow was not hurt.

Bettenhausen took the lead again and held it for the victory.

Johnny Parsons, Speedway, Ind., took second place, followed by Ken Schrader, Fenton, Mo., who started on the pole position, in third. Larry Dickson, Marietta, Ohio, finished fourth. 


Results –

1. Gary Bettenhausen
2. Johnny Parsons
3. Ken Schrader
4. Larry Dickson
5. Pancho Carter
6. Rich Vogler
7. Larry Rice
8. Sheldon Kinser
9. Jim McElreath
10.Tom Bigelow

Friday, November 1, 2019

1981 – Teamwork Key to Race Win for Lindley


Butch Lindley



Nashville, Tenn. (November 1, 1981) – Butch Lindley says he’s had good luck racing at Nashville in the past, but he credits teamwork for his victory in the All-American 400 stock car race.

Lindley, of Greenville, S.C., took home $14,625 Sunday afternoon for crossing the finish line 5.5 seconds ahead of polesitter Mark Martin of North Liberty, Ind., at the Nashville International Speedway.

“We’ve had awful good luck here at Nashville and this isn’t the first time we’ve won here,” Lindley said. “But I believe this is the biggest race we’ve won as far as the most money and the most different types of drivers.”

The 33-year-old Lindley said he enjoyed Sunday afternoon’s 3 hour, 50 minute and 9 second drive on the .596-mile asphalt track. His average speed was 75.33 miles per hour.

“The crew did a heckuva job and that’s what it takes to win. If you don’t put it all together at the same time, most of the time you lose,” Lindley remarked.

“They knew what to do today and I tried to do the best job I possibly could,” added the victor, who is a two-time NASCAR sportsman national champion.

Lindley, driving a GT Racing Flash Dillon Camaro, led 204 of the 400 laps.

Behind Lindley and Martin were Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., Joe Shear of Twin Lakes, Wis., and Don Sprouse of Greer, S.C.

Lindley led all but 15 of the last 154 laps, falling behind only when he pitted for a fresh set of tires. Martin did not change tires for the final 270 laps and slowed towards the end of the contest.

Results

1. Butch Lindley
2. Mark Martin
3. Dick Trickle
4. Joe Shear
5. Don Sprouse
6. Alan Kulwicki
7. Dave Watson
8. Bruce VanderLaan
9. Sterling Marlin
10. Buddy Schrock
11. Bobby Tinkham 
12. Harold Fair
13. Butch Miller
14. Rick Wilson
15. Rat Lane
16. Dennis Vogel
17. Rusty Wallace
18. Junior Niedecken
19. Bob Senneker
20. Doug Klein
21. Jackie McGuire
22.Alton Jones
23. Tony Cunningham
24. Freddy Fryar
25. Bob Strait
26. John Knaus
27. Don Gregory
28. Randy Couch
29. Larry Moyer
30. Mike Eddy
31. Steve Grissom
32. David Pearson
33. Kasper Miles
34. Darryl Sage
35. Bob Sensiba
36. Don Biederman
37. Jimmy Finger
38. John Briggs
39. Rodney Combs
40. Robin McCall

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

1977 - Detjens Wins Craig NASCAR


Larry Detjens accepts his trophy and congratulations after winning. 



Las Vegas, Nev. (October 30, 1977) - After coming all the way from frigid northern Wisconsin. Larry Detjens froze out defending champion Larry Phillips over the final few laps to capture the ninth annual NASCAR Championships at Craig Road Speedway Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 5,400.

Detjens, Wausau, Wis., who started from the second row, took over the lead on the 55th lap from pole-sitter Jimmy Insolo and drove a perfect race for the remainder of the 150-lapper over the quarter-mile paved oval.

The 33-year-old body shop owner never had trouble with his 1976 Camaro until the brakes began to fade over the final 20 laps. But he had built up a large enough lead that he could afford to ease up a little and still hold off the hard-charging Phillips who was only about five lengths behind at the finish.

Phillips, Springfield, Mo., had won last year’s finale at Craig Road and started ninth in this race. But he moved quickly through the field and took over second place from the quickly-fading Insolo on the 71st lap. By that time, Detjens had built up a sizable lead.

Detjens, who earned $5,000 plus lap money and contingencies, and Phillips were the only drivers on the same lap when the checkered flag fell.

Ivan Baldwin, Modesto, Calif., who started fifth, drove his usual steady race to finish third, while Jim Robinson, Sylmar, Calif., turned in the most spectacular work of the day, starting in the 24th and final spot on the grid with his 1974 Camaro and finishing fourth.

Robinson, who did not qualify during the time trials Saturday but won a semi-main event to earn a spot in the finale dueled former Craig Road champion Jim Sanderson over the latter half of the race, but Sanderson's badly smoking Camaro slowed considerably over the final 15 laps.

Phil Hayes, this year's Craig Road points champion, was the only other Southern Nevada driver in the field. He started fourth and lost valuable groun early in the race but still finished strong.

“It was a well-run race. I’m certainly happy to win it,” said Detjens. “Everything was going our way. But 20 laps from the finish, the brakes began to fade. I had to get off the pace a little just to save them.”

Detjens said he had only a little bit of brakes remaining when the race finished but he couldn't afford to make any mistakes with Phillips behind him.

"I raced back in the Midwest with him,” the winner said of Phillips. "He’s an excellent driver, one of the top racers up there.”

It was Detjens first trip to the West and he called Sunday’s event the best pay day for any quarter-mile race of 150 laps anywhere in the country. Detjens was particularly happy with the safe driving of his rivals who forced only a few routine yellow flags and one red caused by a four-car mishap 44 laps into the event.

“I’m impressed with the drivers out here. They're excellent.”



Results –


1. Larry Detjens
2. Larry Phillips
3. Ivan Baldwin
4. Jim Robinson
5. Jimmy Insolo
6. Phil Hayes
7. Mike Bonicelli
8. Mark Martin
9. Dick Trickle
10.James Sanderson

Friday, October 25, 2019

1969 - Foyt Finishes First But McCluskey Wins



A.J. Foyt (left) and Roger McCluskey



Memphis, Tenn. (October 25, 1969) – A.J. Foyt crossed the finish line first in the Race of Champions, finishing in a borrowed car, but crew-cut Roger McCluskey piloted his Plymouth Roadrunner to the United States Auto Club’s late model stock car national championship over the 1.7-mile Shelby County International Raceway on Saturday.

Foyt's Ford Torino went out on the 80th lap after an accident, one of several that marred the race; and he borrowed a similar car from teammate Jack Bowsher of Springfield, Ohio, to finish the course.

Only 12 of the 32 cars which started the run, the last USAC stock car race of the year, finished over the nine-curve tricky layout.

Going into the race, Foyt, of Houston, Tex., was the USAC point leader, standing 90 points ahead of McCluskey. But Bowsher got the 400 points for the victory and Foyt didn’t place officially. McCluskey received 320 points for finishing second.

Bowsher and Foyt shared the $2,000 first-place money and 19 percent of the gate, which was a disappointing crowd of only 6,421.

USAC rules require that the driver finish in the car that he started in. Foyt, visibly angry at the decision which denied him the championship, drove away immediately after the race without comment.

It was clear, however, that Foyt believed he should have had the title on the basis of his point lead going into the race and should not have had to run here. The Race of Champions wasn’t even on the USAC calendar and was granted grand national status only several weeks ago.



Results –


1. A.J. Foyt
2. Roger McCluskey
3. Bay Darnell
4. Whitey Gerken
5. Dave Whitcomb
6. Bill Shirey
7. Paul Feldner
8. Woody Walcher
9. Les Heikka
10. Bob Minor
11. Glen Bradley
12. Don White