Friday, September 4, 2015

1967 – Woolley finds His Groove at Fairground Races

Lincoln, Neb. (September 4, 1967) – Jerry Blundy set the record but Gordon Woolley was the one who found the groove as sprint car racing came to a close Monday at the fairgrounds track.

Blundy, the cagey veteran from Galesburg, Ill., held the lead all 30 laps in cutting almost three minutes off the track record while winning and Nebraska Sweepstakes feature.

Blundy’s victory was so convincing that fans might have been lulled to sleep if it wasn't for Woolley.

The wily Waco, Tex., speedster exploded from 14th place at the start of the race to finish in fourth place just ahead of Lincolnite Joe Saldana.

“I was riding along not doing much,” said Woolley, “when I found myself in this groove on the track. I just stayed in and kept moving. I felt like I was passing everybody.”

The balding veteran couldn't catch up to Blundy, however.

“I really didn't think I could overtake the leaders,” he explained, “but I was passing so many cars I really didn't know where I stood.”

Woolley’s dash was accomplished in a car here been driving for only three weeks – the Charlie Goodrich special.

Track records were fair game on Monday with the Fairgrounds half-mile oval blazing fast. The rain that washed out Sunday schedule races soaked the track just about perfectly.

“Most of our track records are set just after a good rain,” noted race promoter Al Sweeney. “And this track today was as fast as I've ever seen it.”

The 8-lap record was snapped in the first heat race by Jerry Richert but Norm Fall of Auburn, Calif., cracked it again moments later in the second heat.

The expected duel between Richert and current IMCA point leader Karl Busson failed to develop – and a lack of time in the sack probably had a lot to do with it.

Richert, whose motor conked out after 21 laps in the feature, probably was lucky he didn't conk out himself. The Forest Lake, Minn., driver raced Friday and St. Paul came to Lincoln for Saturday's race, returned to St. Paul for a 200 lapper on Sunday and return to Lincoln again for Monday's race.

“I haven't slept in a bed since Thursday night,” Richert said. “And I have to be at work at quarter to seven on Tuesday morning.”

Busson who finished eighth in the feature was in the same boat as Richert. The two rode together during this weekend’s grueling shuttle between Lincoln and St. Paul.

Results -

First Heat: Jerry Richert, Forest Lake, Minn.
Second Heat: Norm Fall, Auburn Calif.
Third Heat: Bob Tomlinson, Palos Park, Ill.
STP Handicap: Jerry Blundy
Nebraska Sweepstakes:
  1. Jerry Blundy
  2. Don Mack, Grand Forks, N.D.
  3. Chuck Lynch, Springfield, Ill.
  4. Gordon Woolley, Waco, Tex.
  5. Joe Saldana, Lincoln, Neb.
  6. Jim Moughan, Springfield, Ill.
  7. Roger Lane, Blue Springs, Mo.
  8. Karl Busson, Toledo, Ohio

Thursday, September 3, 2015

1967 - Norm Nelson wins Du Quoin 100-mile stock car race

Norm Nelson
Du Quoin, Ill. (September 3, 1967) - Don White was crowned as the 1967 United States Auto Club stock car driving champion at Du Quoin Sunday even though last year's champion, Norm Nelson, won the race in a 1967 Plymouth.

White was the fastest qualifier at 39.54 seconds in his 1967 Dodge Charger but after leading for a dozen laps, he smashed into the north fence and his car was disabled.

“You take the money and I'll take the points,” White told Al Unser in the pits a few minutes later. So White took Unser's 1967 Dodge Charger and finished sixth.

The 80 points he gained gave him a total of 2,698 for the season and put him out of reach of second place Jack Bowsher, who has 2,064 points with only one more big race left this season.

So that means next year White will drive car #1 all season and also collect the considerable amount of dollars the accessory people pay the top driver in any classification.

Although the standing-room only crowd of 23,400 fans saw no major racing mishaps Sunday, there were enough spills to cause the race to be run under the caution flag no less than six times.

The delays pushed the race time to a slow one hour, 14, minutes and 11.34 seconds at an average speed of 80.875 miles per hour. This compares with the 1:09:50.42 track record White set last year in a 1966 Dodge.

Nelson never appeared on his way to victory until the last few minutes of the race when leader Parnelli Jones, driving a 1967 Ford, and A. J. Foyt, another Ford man, hit the pits on the 92nd and 96th laps with right rear flat tires.

Nelson made his mandatory one pit stop early in the race and was running well behind the leaders until they also took advantage of caution periods for pit stops. Nelson led from lap 42 to 58 until Jones passed him to take the lead.

At 75 laps Butch Hartman of Zanesville, Ohio, slipped his 1965 Dodge past both Nelson and Foyt and five laps later Foyt also passed Nelson. Hartman later bumped into the north fence and spun completely around in the south turn to lose his position.

Results -

1. Norm Nelson, 1967 Plymouth, $4,135
2. Butch Hartman, 1965 Dodge, $2,142
3. A.J Foyt, 1967 Ford, $2,017
4. Whitey Gerken, 1967 Ford, $1,397
5. Parnelli Jones, 1967 Ford, $1,190
6. Don White, 1967 Charger, $1,008
7. Jack Bowsher, 1967 Ford, $894.50
8. Bay Darnell, 1965 Plymouth, $801.25
9. Gene Marmor, 1965 Plymouth, $668.75
10. Paul Feldner, 1967 Ford, $614

Monday, August 31, 2015

1963 – Horstmeyer breaks record in Minnesota State Fair win

Bill Horstmeyer
St. Paul, Minn. (August 31, 1963) – Bill Horstmeyer, a 32-year-old electrician from Stoughton, Wis., won the 25-lap IMCA championship speedway race at the Minnesota State Fair before 21,083 fans.

Riding the high rim, Hortsmeyer cracked the track record of 10 minutes and 23 seconds established by Leroy Neumayer on August 31, 1960.

Hortsmeyer grabbed the lead almost from the opening green flag and roared around the dirt oval. Spinouts on the first turn by Buzz Barton and on the second turn by Red Amick slowed the drivers for four laps, but when the green flag went back up, Horstmeyer poured on the gas, eventually lapping most of the field.

A broken connecting rod during the first turn of the first lap scratched Jerry Daniels. Prior to Saturday’s misfortune, Daniels had won six straight events, including three features. But he bowed out after seven circuits when his engine blew and he was unable to get a chance at a fourth straight feature victory.

With Daniels out of the picture, Forest Lake’s Jerry Richert was able to capture his fifth Minnesota State Championship, the $200 first prize money and the Governor’s Cup, which was presented by Minnesota governor Karl Rolvaag.

Results –

1.   Bill Horstmeyer
2.   Dean Mast
3.   Harold Leep
4.   Jerry Richert
5.   Carl Williams
6.   Sonny Helms
7.   Bill Burdick
8.   Calvin Gilstrap
9.   Dale Reed
10.Buzz Barton

Sunday, August 30, 2015

1974 - Haugan captures State Fair 50

Huron, S.D. (August 30, 1974) - After some hearty handshakes from his pit crew and a kiss from his girl, Mike Haugan of Sioux Falls received the silver cup and a bottle of champagne from the South Dakota Motorsports Association for his victory in the State Fair 50 here Friday night at the South Dakota State Fair.

The 22-year-old Sioux Falls ace, who qualified 15th in the time trials, took over the lead with only seven laps to go in the 50-lap feature race and no one could come near him after that as he headed his #4 Plymouth to the checkered flag.

For Haugan, it was his second big victory of the year at the Huron oval as he also claimed the Challenge Cup III race. “I was lucky,” he said after he popped the cork to the bottle of champagne and passed it among his jubilant crew members. “It was a tough race and seemed like anybody could win,” he added.

But, it was Haugan who collected the $500 first place prize money and for everybody else, it was not their race.

Joining Haugan in the group of winners was Chet Danburg of Miller, who topped the 50-car field in the lime trials, turning a 28.82 second lap. Watertown's Roger Swenson, who won the State Fair 50 one year ago, was the winner in the Race of Champions while Gary Nagel of Gettysburg topped the semi-main event.

Swenson appeared to be headed for his second State Fair 50 victory as he gained the lead on the third lap and was the leader until the 39th lap. A broken axle forced him to cut his torrid pace as he finished the face for fifth place prize money. Miller's Bob Tong would inherit the top spot, but five laps later Haugan had worked himself into the lead.

Don Pruess of Pierre joined Haugan in being the only two cars in the 23-car starting field to complete all 50 laps. Pruess finished in second place and was followed by Gary Sieber of Columbia, Roger Saathoff of Estelline and Swenson.

Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Leland Cain of Miller followed by Ray Hunsley of Pierre, Jim Zimmerman of. Slayton, Minn., Carroll Priebe of Pukwaria and Tong.

The race of champions, the first ever handpicked field of the fastest cars in the state, turned into an instant success as 15 of the area’s finest displayed quite a show; with only two laps to go, Swenson passed Pruess and Aberdeen's Ron Droog around the outside to gain the lead and the win.

Pruess finished in the runner-up spot in the 15-lap race with third going to Saathoff and fourth to Lynn Arment of Aberdeen. Chet Danburg was fifth.

Only 10 of the starting 32 cars in the semi-main event were able to finish the grueling affair with Nagel pulling out the win. He took the lead with five laps to go and was followed across the finish line by Steve Oanburg of Miller, Don Wagner of Miller, Ronnie Muth of Huron and Erv Beckman of Chamberlain.

Only two drivers were able to break the 28-second barrier in the time trials with Chet Danburg earning a 28.82 mark and Arment very close behind with a 28.83. Nine cars finished in the 29-second bracket.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

1976 - Waterloo's Sanger wins feature at Fairgrounds

Ed Sanger
Des Moines, Iowa (August 29, 1976) - Ed Sanger of Waterloo said he had a hunch he might beat Bill Rice of Des Moines.

Sanger, who won the 25-lap late model feature race at the Iowa State Fairgrounds Sunday, didn't take the lead until the nineteenth lap. But he said he thought he would pass Rice at any moment.

Sanger, "a foreigner" to the Fairgrounds this summer, and Rice driving a 1976 Camaro, waged a two-man battle for the first 18 laps, but then Rice developed car trouble and finished twelfth.

Sanger, also driving a 1976 Camaro, held the lead the rest of the race. The triumph was Sanger's first of the year here. His only other appearance at the Fairgrounds was last Sunday when he finished third in the Iowa State Super Stock championships.

"I usually race at Eldon. I don't come here much because the passing lanes aren't wide," added Sanger. Stan Stover of Reinbeck, who won that race last Sunday, was second. Joe Merryfield of Des Moines, the season's leader in the point standings in the late model competition, was third, and Dave Bjorge of Austin, Minn., was fourth.

Don Hoffman of Des Moines, second in season point standings, suffered a pinched nerve in his neck earlier this week. Bill Moyer drove Hoffman's 1976 Camaro and finished seventh in the second heat.

Joe Merryfield's brother, Rick, driving a 1970 Camaro, received a late scare from Jerry Campbell of Des Moines, but hung on to win the 15-lap Sportsman feature.

Rick Merryfield held a car-length margin over Campbell for most of the race. Campbell, in a 1970 Camaro, almost overtook Merryfield before the third turn of the last lap when a red flag stopped the race.

Fairgrounds rules state: "If, after the lead car takes the white flag for the final lap, an accident occurs requiring the race to be stopped, the race will be considered completed and the final placing will be In the order the cars passed the finish line preceding the white flag."

A spinout on the last lap involving Don Hood's car caused the red flag. Merryfield was the first to admit he was lucky to win.

"That flag saved the day. Campbell was closing in and he had me worried."

Results –

Late Model:

1.    Ed Sanger
2.    Stan Stover
3.    Joe Merryfield
4.    Dave Bjorge
5.    Jack Mitchell
6.    Karl Sanger
7.    Jerry Holtkamp
8.    Fred Knapp
9.    Jim Wilson
10.  Craig Spetman
11.  Bill Moyer Jr.
12.  Bill Rice
13.  George Barton
14.  Darrell Sells
15.  Tim McDonough


1.      Rick Merryfield
2.      Jerry Campbell
3.      Howard Smidt
4.      Denny Rosenberg
5.      Dave Farren
6.      Larry Embrey
7.      Glen Woodard
8.      Billy Geil
9.      Phil Reece
10.    Cal Swanson

Friday, August 28, 2015

1977 - Bigelow sets speed record; wins DuQuoin big car race

Tom Bigelow

Du Quoin, Ill. (August 28, 1977) - Tom Bigelow of Whitewater, Wis., Sunday became the first man in 30 years of auto racing at Du Quoin State Fair to break the 100-mile-per-hour speed barrier as he won the 100-mile big car race and $7,200.
The 11,146 fans saw Du Quoin racing history made as Bigelow, driving the Leader Card Thermo-King with the only Ford engine in the race, was clocked in 59 minutes 30.08 seconds for an average speed of 100.818 miles per hour. Nobody in the midgets, stocks or big cars at Du Quoin had ever gone faster than 98.155 miles per hour (1:01:07.66) clocked by Al Unser in three laps.
A caution came again on laps 85-90 after Jackie Howerton crashed into the fence on the north turn. Fan interest, mounted as the cars bunched “bumper to bumper” in pursuit of Bigelow, who had lapped his field as early as the 21st lap.
Bigelow pulled away and won handily although there was a bit of suspense on the final lap as Gary Bettenhausen passed Billy Cassella in the north turn only a quarter of-a mile from home to take second money of $4,200. The move was like a $1,500 putt because Cassella got only $2,700 for third place.
The race started on a bizarre note as Pancho Carter, the fastest qualifier, threw a gear coming into the straightaway. Everybody passed Carter on the first lap and he retired to the pits.
The official charts showed Bill Vukovich led after one lap but Bigelow led the last 99 circuits.
Bigelow, Cassella, Bettenhausen, Vukovich, Sheldon Kinser defending champion Bubby Jones of Danville, Ill., Springfield race winner Larry Rice, Al Unser and Jim Hurtubise were in front of the 23-car-field throughout the race.
There were 23 starters instead of 24 because qualifier Bill Puterbaugh dropped out after the time trials and his alternate, Rollie Beale could not get his car started.
  1. Tom Bigelow
  2. Gary Bettenhausen
  3. Billy Cassella
  4. Bill Vukovich
  5. Larry Rice
  6. George Snider
  7. Bubby Jones
  8. Eddie Leavitt
  9. Jim Hurtubise
  10. Larry Moore
  11. Dean Shirley
  12. Roy Hicks
  13. Jerry Miller
  14. Thad Dosher
  15. Al Unser
  16. Jackie Howerton
  17. Sheldon Kinser
  18. Arnie Knepper
  19. Johnny Parsons
  20. Steve Chassey
  21. James McElreath
  22. Rich Vogler
  23. Pancho Carter
  24. Rollie Beale