Tuesday, October 26, 2021

1958 – Derr Wins State Fair Finale

Ernie Derr

Shreveport, La. (October 26, 1958) – A crowd of more than 4,000 thrilled stock car patrons witnessed one of the most exciting races promoted on the Louisiana State Fairgrounds’ half-mile Sunday night as Ernie Derr of Keokuk, Iowa, withstood torrid competition by 14 other drivers to win the 198-lap feature that concluded the 1958 International Motor Contest Association season.

Derr’s victory was anything but easy and it wasn’t without its abundance of excitement, and a spectacular finish created when a blowout on a rear tire on Johnny Beauchamp’s car caused the 1956-57 IMCA national champion to spin directly in front of the grandstand and also in the path of current IMCA point’s leader Don White.

White crashed broadside into Beauchamp’s machine, sending it rolling and touching off a fire underneath the car.

Beauchamp, of Harlan, Iowa, managed to escape from the car and jump over the fence into the grandstand free of injury although his car was totally demolished. Despite a smashed front end, White was able to continue and finished second.

IMCA officials stopped the contest at lap 198 because of the oil slick on the track from Beauchamp’s wrecked car.

Derr, who hadn’t finished worse than third since July, took the lead on lap 141 when White’s car suffered a flat tire.

Herb Shannon was the early leader and set the pace until he was passed by White on lap 28. White would extend his lead and for the next 113 circuits, everything was going smooth for the Keokuk, Iowa, driver until his blowout.

The sensational finish crowned Don White the 1958 national champion, largely on points amassed during the season prior to the Louisiana State Fair.

Derr finished the season number two in points behind White with Beauchamp finishing third. Bob Burdick of Omaha, Neb., who was third in points coming into the races in Shreveport, left the State Fair on Saturday to begin his trek homeward, where he will enter the service next week.

Results -

1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Io
2. Don White, Keokuk, Iowa
3. Doug Rollins, Corpus Christi, Tex.
4. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
5. Herb Shannon, Peoria, Ill.
6. Newt Bartholomew, Carlisle, Iowa
7. Lenny Funk, Otis, Kan.
8. Bob Hardy, Beaumont, Tex.
9. Pappy Cross, Quincy, Ill.
10.Johnny Beauchamp, Harlan, Iowa

Monday, October 25, 2021

1970 - Johnny Grum sets records at Grove

Johnny Grum left no doubt who won the National Open at Williams Grove. - Harry Bricker Photo

Mechanicsburg, Penn. (October 25, 1970) – Johnny Grum, of Altoona, Penn., had himself a record shattering weekend at the Williams Grove Speedway.

The popular veteran won the 8th annual National Open and did it in record setting time. The record in the 150-lap event was completed in 65 minutes and 7 seconds.

It was the third record Grum had set at the Grove in two days. On Saturday Grum set a new one lap standard posting a time of 23:035 seconds. He was clocked in 32:53 in the second 75-lap leg of Sunday's feature which is also a record.

It was not an easy victory for Grum. During the first 75-lap segment of the 150-lap event, Grum had to sit back and watch Bobbie Adamson, of Wrightsville, Penn., lead all the way.

Adamson, who started second, took the lead moving into the first turn of the first lap and was never headed. However, Grum stayed close and never dropped back further than second.

During the mandatory pit stop, car owner and chief mechanic Harry Fletcher made several changes which proved the difference in the event. Fletcher decided to go to a higher gear and put a larger tire on the left rear.

It took Grum three laps to catch Adamson as the second 75 lap even started. But on the 79th lap, moving off the second turn, Grum charged into the lead.

On the following lap, Bobby Allen, McSherrytown, Penn., worked his way past Adamson, and started chasing Grum. From this point until the 120th lap Grum, the veteran, and Allen, the young charger, put on a real donnybrook.

However, when the two drivers moved into the heavy lapped traffic, Grum began opening up distance between himself and Allen. At one point he had a good five-second advantage over Allen.

When Grum took the checkered flag, he had a 3.5 second lead over Allen. Kenny

Weld, of York, who lost a header pipe on the 72nd lap, hung in and finished third. Steve Unger, Garrettsville, Ohio, turned In an impressive ride and finished fourth and Adamson hung on to collect fifth place.

Rounding out the top 10 were Irvin King, Buddy Cochran, Billy Cassella, Gene Kohr, and Tom Spriggle, who started last.

Grum earned $2,000 for winning the event, plus $720 In lap money, $200 for fast time, plus $100 bonus for setting a new track record in time trials. This brought his winnings to $3,020.

Adamson collected $720 in lap money.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

1971 – Here Comes Another Keokuk Hutcherson

Ron Hutcherson, won the 100-lap IMCA stock car feature at the Louisiana State Fair. Joining Hutcherson is his father, Leon Hutcherson, trophy girl Teresa Seals, and flagman Russ Brown. – Bill Causey Jr. Photo

Shreveport, La. (October 24, 1971) – Winning auto races is a habit that runs in the Hutcherson family of Keokuk, Iowa. Dick Hutcherson made headlines as a former IMCA national champion before moving to the high banks of the NASCAR circuit.

The latest member of the family to do the chauffeuring on the track is 28-year-old Ron Hutcherson. In 1964, Ron made his auto racing debut on the Louisiana State Fair track driving one of Dick’s cars.

Sunday afternoon’s 100-lap IMCA stock car race found Ron taking the checkered flag in a 1971 Ford Torino.

He was one of three drivers to hold the lead in the marathon. Sam Simpson of New Orleans took the early pace in a 1966 Chevelle but David Goldsberry of Springfield, Mo., put his 1970 Chevrolet to the front on lap 11. Hutcherson overtook the Missouri driver on lap 88 after a side-by-side duel for 10 laps.

Ernie Derr rushed into third place, pressing second place Larry Schild of Houston, Tex., on the final lap.

Hutcherson is in his second full season of IMCA competition and his ranked second in the point standings, the same position he held last year.

“I like dirt tracks best, but the asphalt is here was fine. My crew headed by my father had the car operating fine,” said Hutcherson. “My strategy was just to finish and to drive as fast as possible.”

Hutcherson, who spends the off-season as an operator of a paint business, said he pushed to the front when some of the other drivers seemed to lessen their speed. It was his fourth feature win of the year. His biggest win of the year was when he took a 500-lap race at the Minnesota State Fair with a record time.

“My car runs about a 1,000 pounds heavier than some of the cars entered today,” Hutcherson remarked.

A capacity crowd was attracted by the race. “This is the finest field I have ever presented,” stated promoter Bud Carson of Mar/Car Promotions out of Oklahoma City. Forty-eight cars entered the program.

Results –

1. Ron Hutcherson
2. Larry Schild
3. Ernie Derr
4. David Goldsberry
5. Larry Phillips
6. Dean Roper
7. Gerry Harrison
8. Joe Plowman
9. Ronnie Chumley
10.Donnie Simpson
11.Royce Whitlock
12.Irv Janey
13.Paul Feldner
14.Phil Cronin
15.Freddie Cook

Saturday, October 23, 2021

1966 – Atkins Tops at Sacramento 100-Miler

Dick Atkins

Sacramento, Calif. (October 23, 1966) - A tired and nervous Dick Atkins of Hayward, Calif., won his first United States Auto Club national championship race Sunday, the 16th annual Golden State 100, at the Sacramento Fairgrounds.

Atkins, 28, a rookie in the. USAC ranks, drove A. J. Agajanian's Offenhauser -powered sprint car to the $8,000 victory before 13,800 fans at the one-mile California State Fairgrounds dirt oval.

Atkins started racing in 1960 at the Oakland Exposition Building indoor midget shows, won the BCRA championships in 1964 and 1965, and the indoor midget title last year.

With qualifying time trials nearly over, Atkins held the fastest time at 37.49 seconds when veteran Don Branson of Champaign, Ill., the fastest qualifier and winner of the 1965 Golden State 100, hung the Leader-Card Offy right on the dirt bank to take over the pole position with a 37.48 second lap.

With the 1965 USAC national champion Mario Andretti sitting in the second row, Atkins dove into the lead on the first lap, but Branson moved ahead on the second lap with A. J. Foyt, a three-time winner at Sacramento, moving up from the rear into fifth spot.

By the 23rd lap, Andretti moved into second place behind Branson followed by Atkins, Fresno's George Snider, and Foyt - but then Foyt's fuel pump worked loose and the former Indy winner was out of the race.

Andretti, turning 36.91 second laps, moved into the lead as Branson, Atkins, and Snider struggled for second place.

With 74 laps gone, Snider, with the same driving style as Andretti, appeared unable to pass the leader as the rough circuit began to take its toll on tires.

Atkins passed Dickson with Branson dropping farther back and Downey's Chuck Hulse taking over fourth place.

Arnie Knepper of Belleville, Ill., spun on the 85th lap letting the 12 remaining cars from the 18 starters bunch up again under USAC yellow flag rules. Branson went out to change tires and the order stood at Andretti, Atkins, Snider, Hulse, and Dickson.

Then on the 95th of the 100 lap race, leader Andretti suddenly slowed. Atkins went to the portside to pass, and Snider hit Andretti's rear wheel and spun off at turn four.

Andretti’s quick change rear end had lost its oil and froze Snider's spin brought out the yellow flag.

As Andretti, the leader for 63 circuits, pushed his car back to the pits, Atkins took the checkered flag for the 88.5 mile per hour average win with the yellow flag still waving.

Atkins, obviously tired after the race, said his tire was completely worn out from loss of the shock absorber and probably wouldn't have finished the last five laps if they had been at full racing speed.

The victory was Atkins' first since joining Parnelli Jones on Agajanian's team this year. His best finish until Sunday was a second at Du Quoin. Last year Atkins, in his first year at Sacramento, finished 12th spinning on the 99th lap.

Results –

1. Dick Atkins, Hayward, Calif.
2. Chuck Hulse, Downey, Calif.
3. Larry Dickson, Marietta, Ohio
4. Don Branson, Champaign, Ill.
5. Bobby Unser, Albuquerque, N.M.
6. Greg Weld, Kansas City, Mo.
7. Jim McElreath, Arlington, Tex.
8. Bud Tinglestad, Indianapolis
9. Art Pollard, Medford, Ore.
10.Mario Andretti, Nazareth, Penn.

Friday, October 22, 2021

1978 – Martin Captures Buckeye 400

Mark Martin proudly shows off his trophy after winning the Buckeye 400. 

West Chester, Ohio (October 22, 1978) – A change of right tires allowed Mark Martin of Batesville, Ark., to overtake John Anderson of Massillon, Ohio, in the late stages and win the second annual Buckeye 400 at Queen City Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

Martin was running second behind Anderson when he decided to pit during a caution for right-side tires with a softer compound with only 29 laps left. His crew changed the tires in 21 seconds, allowing Martin to get back on the track just five seconds behind Anderson.

Martin steadily closed the gap between himself and the leader, then put his Camaro out in front on lap 290 to stay. He finished 1.5 seconds ahead of Anderson at the finish line.

“We had the tires mounted. We thought they would be good 50-lap tires,” Martin said of his crucial decision to pit so late in the race. “The time was right to come in.”

The win was worth $4,125 to Martin.

With the victory, 19-year-old hot shoe clinched the 1978 American Speed Association championship. He is the youngest driver in the sport’s modern history to clinch a major season title.

The event capped a 20-race season for the ASA, which is contested tracks in eight midwestern and southern states.

Anderson settled for second, ahead of pole-sitter Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. Bob Senneker of Dorr, Mich., was fourth and Don Gregory of Columbus, Ohio, took fifth.

Anderson, who started 29th in the 30-car field, charged into the lead for the first time on lap 80 and stayed in contention the rest of the way. But a caution period prompted by Tom Harrington’s spinout on lap 266 allowed Martin to make the key pit stop.

The average speed of the race was 84.18 miles per hour, a new record for the half-mile paved oval.

Results –

1. Mark Martin
2. John Anderson
3. Dick Trickle
4. Bob Senneker
5. Don Gregory
6. Dave Watson
7. Bob Sensiba
8. Jerry Makara
9. Don Wilbur
10.Larry Schuler
11.Ed Cooper
12.Ray Young
13.Don Rand
14.Tom Harrington
15.Bob Weltmeyer
16.Dave Roahrig
17.Jim Cushman
18.Mike Eddy
19.Neil Sceva
20.Jeep Pflum
21.Junior Hanley
22.Terry Senneker
23.Kenny Adams
24.Joe Shear
25.Fred Campbell
26.Carl Smith
27.Mark Malcuit
28.Frank Gawlinski
29.Danny Byrd
30.Everett DeWitt

1972 – Reutimann captures Eastern States 200

Buzzie Reutimann

Middletown, N.Y. (October 22, 1972) - Buzzie Reutimann finally did it. Reutimann, who had been trying for years, won the Eastern States 200 modified stock car race Sunday evening at Middletown's Orange County Fair Speedway.

Reutimann, a competitor in the classic several seasons, and runner-up several times, including last year-jumped into the lead on the fifth lap, and held it all the way to the end of the grueling race.

Afterward, while signing autographs for a mob of well-wishers who wouldn't let him leave the track, he said, “It’s wonderful to finally do it. But I had to really work for it.”

Buzzie, whose brother Wayne captured fourth place in car #3, then explained that he just jumped out there and kept going without even taking time to check his instruments.

“Will Cagle was right on top of me all the time, and he's really good. I didn't dare look down to check anything for fear he'd roll right past me.”

“Also, I had to keep my eyes on the track ahead to keep from crashing at the pace I was going,” Buzzie said. “That way, I figured out what each car ahead of me would do, who would challenge, and who’d swing out wide, so I knew when to lap the car and when to hang back a little.”

“But always there was the strain of having Cagle right there like a shadow,” Buzzie added. “It was a long, tough ride.”

Cagle, another Floridian, but now using Albany as his home base, was runner-up Sunday night after keeping his #24 so close to Buzzie’s #00 most of the way that the two cars seemed to be hooked together. Top driver at the Middletown oval a few years ago, Cagle was a four-time winner of the Eastern States 200 and was defending champion.

Before the final race, Cagle paced around his car like a mother hen, checking everything his pit crew did to #24. Then, after assuring mechanics the car was carrying enough gas so it would have eight gallons left after the race and would allow him to stay on the track from start to finish of the race, Cagle showed he was doing everything he could to make absolutely sure his car was ready for a tough title defense. He grabbed a wrench, got down under the car, and personally adjusted the brakes.

Cagle got into the final by winning his heat. His finish earned him the fourth spot in the lineup for the 200-lap feature. Buzzie made the final by driving #00 to a second-place finish in his qualifying heat. His car started the feature race in the sixth position, just behind Cagle’s car on the outside of the track.

The pole position for the feature race’s start went to Gerald Chamberlain, with Middletown’s Frankie Schneider beside him. Schneider finished sixth in the feature.

Bob Malzahn of Matamoras, Penn., started the feature in the ninth position and finished in third place.

Seventh place starter Bob Bottcher of Lehighton, Penn., took fifth place in the feature with his #666, while Bob Rossell in car #56 finished seventh. Dave Lapp in #22 was eighth, Ben Stevens in #3X was ninth; and Jim Winks in #15 rounded out the top 10 finishers. Warwick’s Rich Eurich took 14th place in the feature with car #10.

Winner Buzzie Reutimann told spectators after his triumph that he hadn't been sure he was going to finish the race. “Along about the 150th lap,” he said, "the car’s power steering started to go out. The car got harder to handle each lap, and I thought a tire was going. It took all the energy I had to keep the car going right."

Thursday, October 21, 2021

1973 - Collier Drives Chevelle to Easy Win

Ferris Collier

Shreveport, La. (October 21, 1973) – IMCA rookie Ferris Collier guided his 1969 Chevelle to an easy victory in the second of the association’s fourth season-ending stock car races Sunday at State Fair Speedway.

The victory, worth $400 to the man from Lampe, Mo., was expensive for both Gordon Blankenship and Mike Derr, both of Keokuk, Iowa, who help form a triumvirate at the top of the International Motor Contest Association point list for the season – especially special because the season ends here next weekend, if not for the money involved.

Blankenship, who continued to have troubles with his ’72 Plymouth and switched to a ’70 Dodge owned by Charles Milligan for Sunday’s 100-lap feature, heads the trio in points, but his lead dwindled as Collier shoved Derr back to third place in the standings. Blankenship didn’t finish the race while Derr took third, leaving IMCA officials to call this the closest point race in its long history.

Collier, who posted the day’s fastest lap in time trials (22.07), repeated Vance Cook’s feat of a day earlier, by leading all 100 circuits.

The only real battles of the day were to see who would follow Collier to the finish line as Tony Barcelona of Houston, Tex., fought off Derr and Gerry Harrison of Topeka, Kan., from the 35th lap on.

Harlan Beene Jr. of Bossier City, La., made a brief bid against Collier, moving up from his fifth starting position on lap 45 but spun out on the 50th lap, lost a lap to the field and finally settled for 10th place.

Results –

1. Ferris Collier, Lampe, Mo.
2. Tony Barcelona, Houston, Tex.
3. Mike Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
4. Gerry Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
5. Aubrey O’Conner, Houston, Tex.
6. Jim Hager, Liberty, Mo.
7. Eddie Taylor, Monroe, La.
8. Larry Richardson, Gunther, Tex.
9. Vern Mondry, Lake Elmo, Minn.
10.Harlan Beene Jr., Bossier City, La.