Wednesday, July 23, 2014

1965 – Larson Drives to First Place

Jud Larson

Kansas City, Mo. (July 23, 1965) – Jud Larson, a former Kansas Citian now living in Indianapolis, Indiana, took the lead on the third lap and won going away in the 30-lap feature of the United States Auto Club sprint car races last night at Lakeside Stadium in Kansas City.

Larson moved in front after Greg Weld of Kansas City and Johnny Rutherford of Fort Worth, Texas, locked wheels and both spun out. Carl Williams of Kansas City made an early challenge, but Larson refused to give up the lead spot.

A. J. Foyt of Houston, Texas, and Mario Andretti of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, did not appear for the races.

A crowd of about 7,500 saw 17 cars compete for purse of $6,350 and in the process rewrite the record list.

Weld, the point leader in USAC competition, set a lap record of 22.88 seconds in time trials and a heat race record of 3 minutes and 5 seconds in the first heat. He bettered times of 23.44 by Don Branson in 1963 and 3 minutes and 8 seconds by Jim Hurtubise the same year.

Larson eclipsed another Don Branson mark with his feature time of 12 minutes and 40 seconds. The old standard was 12 minutes and 49 seconds. Johnny White's semi-main mark of 4 minutes and 11 seconds in 1963 fell to Ronnie Duman of Dearborn, Michigan, who timed in at 4 minutes and 4 seconds.

Ray Lee Goodwin, Kansas City’s super modified race champion, got a chance to drive because of the shortage of drivers. Goodwin placed second in his heat race after leading for four laps. He finished a very creditable ninth in the feature.

Results –

First Heat: Greg Weld
Second Heat: Johnny Rutherford
Third Heat: Jerry Daniels
Semi-Main: Ronnie Duman

  1. Jud Larson
  2. Jerry Daniels
  3. Carl Williams
  4. Roger McCluskey
  5. Don Branson
  6. Bobby Unser
  7. Red Riegel
  8. Ronnie Duman
  9. Ray Lee Goodwin
  10. Bobby Black


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

1969 – Renshaw Robbed by Tattersall

Davenport, Iowa (July 22, 1969) – Bob Tattersall won the opening night of a six-night swing for the USAC midgets as he took the lead from Bill Renshaw on lap 22 and soared home to victory. Renshaw, driving the best race of his career, was the early leader and enjoyed a three-car length lead for awhile.

The night was full of action as the super midgets appeared 36 strong. Feature action started on the second lap as Chuck Amati went of the bank and Sonny Ates and Les Scott were locked bumper to bumper in a scramble of cars.

Bill Renshaw was leading the event and really moving with Merle Bettenhausen following and Tattersall along with Bill Englehart beginning a great battle. Chuck Weyant was on the move along with Mel Kenyon from the back of the pack.

The real battle for the first 20 laps was between Renshaw, Tattersall, Bettenhausen and Englehart. Tattersall was in second on lap 15 after a great battle with Merle. Englehart was always pressing throughout.

Lee Kunzman sailed off the embankment early in the race as Clark Templeman headed to the pits. At the halfway mark it was Renshaw with Tattersall pressing. Bettenhausen and Englehart fought for third and Weyant was up to fourth with Dave Strickland right behind. Don Vogler and Mel Kenyon had a good battle going behind Strickland as Larry Rice, Bruce Moore and Mel Cornett trailed.

Steve Troxell retired as did Templeman and they were followed to the pits by Rice, Cornett, and Vogler.

Tattersall took the lead and sailed to victory, never getting far from Renshaw. Bill Englehart caught and overtook Merle Bettenhausen for third and Weyant finished fifth. Mel Kenyon got by Strickland with only a few laps to go to take sixth and Dick Jones and Bruce Moore rounded out the running field.

Chuck Weyant won the first heat in grand style as he set a new 8-lap record of 2 minutes and 5.77 seconds. Les Scott, driving the Turner Offy, led every lap in winning the second heat. Sonny Ates took the lead from Bill Englehart on lap three to win the third heat. Bill Renshaw sailed by Dave Strickland for the lead to take the fourth heat.

Results –

Fast Time: Dave Strickland (15.21)
Trophy Dash: Bob Tattersall
Heat One: Chuck Weyant
Heat Two: Les Scott
Heat Three Sonny Ates
Heat Four: Bill Renshaw
Semi: Les Scott


  1. Bob Tattersall
  2. Bill Renshaw
  3. Bill Englehart
  4. Merle Bettenhausen
  5. Chuck Weyant
  6. Mel Kenyon
  7. Dave Strickland
  8. Dick Jones
  9. Bruce Moore
  10. Don Vogler
  11. Mel Cornett
  12. Larry Rice
  13. Steve Troxell
  14. Clark Templeman
  15. Lee Kunzman
  16. Sonny Ates
  17. Les Scott
  18. Chuck Amati

Sunday, July 20, 2014

1975 – Reffner continues record pace with White win at Kaukauna

Kaukauna, Wis. (July 20, 1975) - Tom Reffner expertly guided his 1974 AMC Javelin to victory in the second race of the “Red, White and Blue” state championship series at the Wisconsin International' Raceway Sunday before a crowd of 6,846 sundrenched fans.

Reffner smoothly worked his way through the 25-car starting field and powered past Dave Watson of Beloit on the 20th lap. From that point on Reffner continued to increase his lead and won the 75-Iap feature on the ½-mile paved oval with a quarter of a lap to spare over Watson.

The Rudolph racer, known as one of the nation's leading race car drivers, compiled his 47th win of the year, far ahead of the record setting pace of 67 wins in a year established by Dick Trickle in 1972. Reffner gave a warning of things to come during qualifications when he flew around the track in 20.82 seconds, breaking a year old record held by Joe Shear of 21.12.

Bloomington, Minn., driver Bill Oars broke into an early lead from his pole position and held on for four laps before Rich Somers of Stevens Point passed him in the third turn.

Dick Trickle moved past Somers on the 11th  round only to be passed by Watson two laps later. Meanwhile, Reffner slipped past Trickle on the 18th lap and two laps later motored past Watson with John Ziegler, the winner of the first race of the series glued to his rear bumper. Ziegler remained in the picture until the 69th lap when he dropped out with mechanical problems while running second, about six car lengths behind Reffner.

Watson finished second with Larry Detjens of Wausau making a late charge to earn himself third place money. Detjens wheeled his hemi-powered Dodge Challenger past Somers, Shear and Trickle during the final five laps of the race.

The 20-lap semi-feature was an exciting duel as Kaukauna's Pete Parker set the early pace with his 1973 Cameron. However, Whitey Harris of Lake Villa, Ill., got past Parker in the eighth lap and was later passed by teammate Al Schill of Franklin. Harris placed second with Parker third and Alan Kulwicki fourth.

Parker scored the most popular heat race win of the afternoon when he stubbornly held off John Speer and Kulwicki in the second preliminary race. Parker led from start to finish.

Other heat race wins went to Darrell Swartwout, Don Leach and Ziegler. Darrell Paasch won the 10-Iap, consolation besting Tom Steuding, one of the state's leading dirt trackers.

Feature results –

1. Tom Reffner. Rudolph
2. Dave Watson, Beloit
3. Larry Detjens, Wausau
4 Rich Somers, Stevens Point
5. Joe Shear, South Beloit, Ill.
6. Dick Trickle. Wisconsin Rapids
7. John Reimer. Caledonia
8. Tom Musgrave. Mundelein, Ill.
9. Fred Bender, Sun Prairie
10. Bob Gunn, Madison
11. Tony Strupp, Slinger
12. Jim Back, Vesper
13. Jerry Eckhardt, Lake Mills
14. Gary Hemmerllng, Beloit
15.  Doug Strasburg, Johnson

Saturday, July 19, 2014

1969 - Williams wins at Knoxville

Knoxville, Iowa (July 19, 1969) - Bob Williams came back to Knoxville Saturday night for another super modified feature win to add to his existing list. The Independence, Mo., chauffeur grabbed the lead coming out of the chute to lead the first five laps of the 25-lap race.

Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., took the lead from Williams on the sixth lap and managed to hold off Williams until the last lap. It was a real battle with both drivers giving their all and lead footing the supers all the way.

Bob slipped passed Blundy on the white flag lap to come past the checkers first for the $500 first place money. Blundy finished in a very close second.

Earl Wagner of Pleasantville tried unsuccessfully to catch the leaders and had to settle for third spot.

The 4,168 attending race fans saw an accident-free program with 38 super modifieds competing. Eddie Leavitt of Kansas City started the evening off by setting fast time of 21.80 seconds around the half-mile track.

The evening of racing was designated as "Earl Wagner Night" and Earl lived up to the title in the trophy dash as he won the event ahead of Joe Saldana, Dale McCarty of Kansas City, and Bob Williams. Earl took the lead at the start and was never headed.

Wagner also won the second 10-lap heat race. Earl took the lead from Jon Backland at the beginning of the seventh lap to come home number one. Following Backland in third was Bob Williams, fourth; Burt Sonner of Des Moines and fifth, Jay Woodside.

John Johnson of Independence, Mo., copped the first 10-lap heat race. Johnson led all the way followed by four Lincoln, Neb., drivers; Joe Saldana, Roger Rager, Kenny Gritz and Jan Opperman.

The very tight battle for the third heat ended in a tie for first place for Ron Larson and Dick Sutcliffe. Larson led every lap but Sutcliffe got the edge on him and they came across the finish line side by side in a dead heat. Following were Jerry Blundy, Curt Houge and Lloyd Beckman.

Dale McCarty was the victor of the 10-lap consolation. McCarty led all the way with Eddie Leavitt, Jay Woodside, Jan Opperman and Lloyd Beckman following.

During intermission the "Pleasantville Plumber", Earl Wagner was honored for his racing career at Knoxville. Ray Lee Goodwin of Kansas City, the 1968 National Super Modified Champion presented Earl's wife, Harriet, with a bouquet of red roses and a corsage to his mother. Earl was presented with a plaque from Marion and Nadine Robinson and all the help and fans by Pleasantville's mayor, who incidentally happens to be Earl's step-father. Wagner and his wife were also given a Rogers Sterling Silver Service set and a clock radio.

Results –
Fast Time: Eddie Leavitt, Kearney, Mo. (21.80)
Trophy Dash, Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa
Heat One: John Johnson, Independence, Mo.
Heat Two: Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa
Heat Three: (Tie) Ron Larson, White Bear Lake, Minn./Dick Sutcliffe, Kansas City
Consolation: Dale McCarty, Kansas City
1.      Bob Williams, Independence, Mo.
2.      Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
3.      Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa
4.      Kenny Gritz, Lincoln, Neb.
5.      Joe Saldana, Lincoln, Neb.
6.      Jon Backlund, Kansas City
7.      Dick Sutcliffe, Kansas City
8.      Jay Woodside, Kansas City
9.      Jan Opperman, Lincoln, Neb.
10.  John Johnson, Independence, Mo.
11.  Ron Larson, White Bear Lake, Minn.
12.  Curt Houge, Boone, Iowa


Friday, July 18, 2014

2001 - An awful lot of wrenching; Hughes hits milestone

Monticello, Iowa (July 18, 2001) - Gus Hughes is a typical race car driver in a lot of ways. He’s friendly, easy to talk to, eager to get people involved in the sport he loves, and tends to discuss his race endeavors in terms of “we” instead of “I.”

There is nothing typical about Hughes’ race record, which includes a remarkable 101 feature victories (through July 14), in the Modified car division alone. Hughes recorded Modified feature win No. 100 on Thursday, July 5 in Davenport. Two nights later, in West Liberty, he picked up No. 101.

“It was great,” Hughes said. “Not a lot of guys get 100 feature wins.”

Hughes is quick to deflect the credit. “Mike Stoneking deserves to be mentioned. Without him we would not have known how many feature wins I had.”

Stoneking, who like Hughes is a Monticello native, best summarized the 100-win achievement. “He said, ‘That’s an awful lot of wrenching.’ A lot of work went into those feature wins,” Hughes said.
Hughes is the son of two race car drivers. Tom Hughes raced for more than 25 years. His mother, Aletha, still gets behind the wheel on occasion, and last year won the Powderpuff race at the Great Jones County Fair. He has six brothers and six sisters, many of whom are involved in racing. Gary and Russ Hughes are regular members of Gus’ crew, along with pit crew members Jeff and Jerry Hinrichs. Odis Hughes, Gus' sister, works for Simmons Promotions, Inc., which promotes racing at West Liberty and Farley, two of Gus’ regular haunts.

Hughes’ racing career dates back to the late 1960s. In 1967 he won his first trophy, in bike racing. His first race car was a ’68 Pontiac, which also brought him his first win.

“We demo’ed the same car the next day in Vinton,” Hughes recalled.

Hughes drove a Rambler, then a Mustang, then a Camaro, racing in the Pro Stock division until 1985. That year, he switched to Modified.

His first Modified feature win was May 17, 1985 at Hawkeye Downs. He went on to win 11 more Modified features that year, and the march toward 100 was under way.

Hughes has won 44 Modified features in West Liberty alone, 19 in Farley and 15 at Hawkeye Downs. He has won at tracks as near as the Great Jones County Fairgrounds, and as far away as New Smyrna, Fla. and Muskogee, Okla. He has also won them in Davenport, Dubuque, Tipton and at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

Hughes has 67 additional wins in the Pro Stock division, giving him 168 in all.

Many race car drivers say they do it because of the speed. Hughes looks at it a different way.

“The thrill for me is starting toward the back, going through and passing all the cars. Sometimes you'll be going three or four laps against the same guy before you can pass him. That’s when it’s great.”

“A lot of it is the people you meet at the racetrack. I’ve got friends at all the racetracks, and I can stay at their places.”

Hughes also takes pride in building. His current WallyBilt machine was constructed mostly from scratch, starting with only a frame and a roll cage. He had some help, but did most of it himself. “It took us all season last year to build this car.”

Hughes said, standing next to the red and white No. 30 vehicle. “We started on Valentine's Day and didn't get done until August. It’s the satisfaction of building stuff and then going out and winning with it.”

This will probably be the last year of Hughes driving the car, as he has bigger plans for next year. Dan Burbridge, originally from Delhi and now living in High Point, N.C., is planning to work with Hughes on moving up to the Late Model division.

“Next year will be a good test for us,” Hughes said. “That will probably tell us how far we can go.”

Hughes is currently sponsored by H&H Homecrafters, along with Bard Concrete, Hughes Auto Restoration, D&S Sheet Metal of Cedar Rapids, Mi-T-M Corporation of Peosta, and Storm Steel of Cedar Rapids.

Next year, he said, “We’re going to have to get more sponsorship.”

He has another goal. Hughes is currently fourth in points in the Modified division at West Liberty. If he can take over the lead there, and accumulate enough victories, he can become the champion of the NASCAR Short Track Division Midwest Region, which would earn him $7,000 and some national recognition.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

1981 - History repeats itself for Walton at Oskaloosa

Oskaloosa, Iowa (July 15, 1981) – History repeated itself in the Pepsi-Mountain Dew Special stock car event on July 15, when Ken Walton of Viola, Iowa won the late model feature, nipping Kenny Fenn of Washington, Iowa by six inches at the finish line.

It was Walton’s first win of the season, although the worse he has done this season was finish fifth, “This happened to me to me three years ago, too,” said the happy Walton. “I won my first feature of the season in this event and then won the World 100 later that fall. I hope history repeats itself again.”

Walton, who earned $1,000 for taking the 35-lap feature at the half-mile Southern Iowa Raceway, also regained the point lead in the National Speedway Contest Associations' late model standings.

Fenn, the point leader at Des Moines, started the race on the pole position and quickly took a commanding lead in his 1981 Corvette. By the seventh circuit, he had a straightaway lead over second place Jerry Pilcher of Ottumwa, Iowa.

On the 11th lap, Curt Houge of Ames, Iowa, spun out on the muddy track and he was hit by Johnny Johnson of Morning Sun, Iowa. During the caution, Fenn replaced a right rear tire.

He lost his stagger and some speed. However, Walton was unable to do much except keep pace with Fenn and Pilcher after the restart. Walton did manage to slip by Pilcher on lap 18 and proceeded to zero in on Fenn.

On lap 30, Fenn and Walton encountered lap traffic and Walton made numerous attempts to get by. On the white flag lap, Walton tried to get inside of Fenn for the top spot going through turns three and four but wasn’t able to complete the pass. But as they both exited the final turn, Fenn’s Corvette got a little too high and Walton ducked low, with Walton winning by the narrowest of margins.

Pilcher would finish third followed by Ron Jackson of Burlington in fourth, Houge in fifth and Curt Hansen of Dike, Iowa in sixth.


Results –

First Heat: Kenny Fenn, Washington, Iowa
Second Heat: Jerry Pilcher, Ottumwa, Iowa
Third Heat: Tom Hearst, Wilton, Iowa
Challenge Race: Tom Hearst

  1. Ken Walton, Viola, Iowa
  2. Kenny Fenn
  3. Jerry Pilcher
  4. Ron Jackson, Burlington
  5. Curt Houge, Ames, Iowa
  6. Curt Hansen, Dike, Iowa
  7. Jerry Roberts, Prairie City, Iowa
  8. Craig Jacobs, Des Moines
  9. Tony Stewart, Washington, Iowa
  10. Bill Moyer Jr., Des Moines