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Thursday, April 15, 2021

1978 - Niffenegger Wins Liberty's 'Spring Championship'

West Liberty, Iowa (April 15, 1978) – Over 6,000 race fans were at the West Liberty Fairgrounds Saturday evening for the annual ‘Spring Championship’, which opened with the weekly stock car season. A total of 54 late models from seven states were on hand, with drivers competing for a $10,000 purse.

Mike Niffenegger of Kalona, Iowa, took home the $1,000 top prize by winning the 30-lap late model feature race. Gary Crawford of Independence, Iowa, earned $800 for finishing second. Niffenegger also finished second in his heat and was second fastest qualifier on the day.

The feature was made up of the 20 fastest qualifiers, with the top six inverted. Fastest qualifiers were Bob Kosiski of Omaha, Niffenegger, Tom Hearst of Wilton, Iowa, Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, and John Simenec of Rock Island, Ill. Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, had the pole with Simenec on the outside front row.

Simenec grabbed the lead at the drop of the green and held off his challengers for 17 circuits. On lap 18, Simenec’s “Tri-City Buggy” developed engine problems, forcing him to the pit area.

Niffenegger, who had been running second, took over the top spot and never relinquished for the final 13 laps, although he was given some very tough competition from Gary Crawford and Bill Martin of Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Late model heat wins went to Duane Steffe of Colona, Ill., Jim Burbridge of Delhi, Iowa, Bill Martin, Curt Houge of Ames, Iowa, and Bill Breuer of Wapello, Iowa.

Results –

1. Mike Niffenegger, Kalona, Iowa
2. Gary Crawford, Independence, Iowa
3. Bill Martin, Council Bluffs, Iowa
4. Tom Hearst, Wilton, Iowa
5. Roger Dolan, Lisbon, Iowa
6. Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley, Iowa
7. Duane Steffe, Colona, Ill.
8. Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
9. Bob Kosiski, Omaha
10. Ted Zieman, Mason City, Iowa
11. Steve Keppler, Marion, Iowa
12. Johnny Johnson, Morning Sun, Iowa
13. Darrell Dake, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
14. John Simenec, Rock Island, Ill.
15. Del Schmidt, Topeka, Kan.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

1974 - Bettenhausen Grabs Hulman Classic Title

Gary Bettenhausen tames Terre Haute.

Terre Haute, Ind. (April 14, 1974) - Gary Bettenhausen won the 4th annual Tony Hulman Classic for United States Auto Club sprint cars yesterday to cap a day’s furious racing activity at the Terre Haute Action Track. In doing so, he captured the record for number of consecutive feature wins in a sprinter, breaking out of a tie with Jim Hurtubise, who won an unprecedented 5 straight.

The Tinley Park, III., native who now drives out of Indianapolis, started 13th in the field, but worked his way through the field and finally got past George Snider, the winner of the inaugural Hulman Classic three years ago, on the 34th lap.

He held it the rest of the way, fending off challenges offered by Snider, Jan Opperman, and A.J. Foyt to take the 40-lap event.

Foyt put on one of the better showings in the Hulman as he found the high road to his liking and began passing easily from his 12th starting position.

But he could do no better than seventh through the latter stages of the rare until the 38th circuit, when a yellow was flagged for an accident.

Trying to get position to make a run for the crown and its big purse, he bolted to the outside barrier and was accused by USAC officials of passing under the yellow His apparent fourth place finish was declared foul and he was put 15th in the unofficial standings.

USAC officials were to make their decision on the outcome of Foyt’s appeal.

Jackie Howerton sped to the lead at the start and held that spot for the first 18 laps before making contact with the turn one wall, allowing Snider to slip by and take charge for the next 15 circuits.

Snider would build a slight lead until Bettenhausen made a daring move on lap 34 to get past him for the top spot. Opperman would also manage to get by Snider for second-place, setting up an exciting finish with Bettenhausen for the remaining six circuits.

Bettehausen, in addition to winning the feature, took the final heat race. He started dead last in that one and took the lead on the eighth and final lap. Other heat winners were Don Nordhorn, Mel Cornett and Lee Osborne. Bruce Walkup nipped Tom Bigelow in the 10-lap semi-main.

Bettenhausen earned approximately $7,000 from a $36,790 purse.

Results –

1. Gary Bettenhausen
2. Jan Opperman
3. George Snider
4. Duane Carter Jr.
5. Sheldon Kinser
6. Billy Cassella
7. Mel Cornett
8. Greg Leffler
9. Rollie Beale
10.Don Nordhorn
11.Tom Bigelow
12.Joe Saldana
13.Butch Wilkerson
14.Bruce Walkup
15.A.J. Foyt
16.Johnny Parsons
17.Jackie Howerton
18.Lee Osborne
19.Bill Puterbaugh
20.Chuck Booth

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

1969 – Snow Runs Away with Salem 100

Les Snow

Salem, Ind. (April 13, 1969) – Les Snow of Bloomington, Ind., capped a record-breaking Sunday afternoon at Salem Speedway with a half-lap victory over Bobby Watson in the 100-lap ARCA late model stock car feature.

Snow, driving a 1969 Plymouth, outjumped Benny Parson’s Ford Torino on the start and was never headed, coming home a runaway winner in 34 minutes and 32 seconds for the 50 miles on the high-banked half-mile paved oval.

Both Snow and Watson, who drove a ’69 Super Bee Dodge, finished a lap ahead of the 25-car field.

Snow’s clocking erased Parson’s year old mark of 34 minutes and 55 seconds. Earlier, Parsons broke his own one-lap qualifying record of 20.02 seconds with a new mark of 19.48 seconds, Parsons’ 1969 Ford Torino Cobra is fitted with a 427-wedge engine, the “Boss 429” power plant being an illegal engine on the ARCA Circuit.

Parsons ran second for the first 35 laps trailed by Andy Hampton in his 1969 Charger and Watson. On the 36th go-round, Watson got hot and zoomed by his two rivals to take second, but at the halfway mark popped a tire and the resulting pit stop dropped him deep in the field, moving Iggy Katona and his 1967 Charger into fourth place.

The only yellow flag of the day came on lap 85 when Forrest Haliburton blew a tire and hit the wall.

Katona finished fourth with Ramo Stott’s ’69 Plymouth in fifth place.

An interested spectator at Salem was Charlie Glotzbach, recently resigned from NASCAR racing.

Results –

1. Les Snow
2. Bobby Watson
3. Benny Parson
4. Iggy Katona
5. Ramo Stott
6. Dave Dayton
7. Elmer Davis
8. Bill Kimmel
9. Andy Hampton
10. Paul Sizemore

Monday, April 12, 2021

1964 – Foyt Cops Feature Race

Always one to draw a crowd,  A.J. Foyt has a audience as he changes a tire prior to race action. 

Mechanicsburg, Penn. (April 12, 1964) – A.J. Foyt of Houston, Tex., started slow but came on strong Sunday to win the 30-lap race for United States Auto Club sprint cars at Williams Grove Speedway.

Foyt, starting in the sixth spot as 4,700 fans looked on, took the lead on the 19th lap and came home a 15-length winner over Johnny White of Warren, Mich. Jimmy Maguire of Dunellen, N.J. was third.

Foyt’s winning time was 13 minutes and 24.51 seconds.

Foyt took the leaders one-by-one to slip ahead and pull away.

He moved into third place on the 10th lap while White was holding about a length-and-a-half margin on Maguire.

The Texas driver went by Maguire on the 14th lap and went to the outside on the 19th lap to pass White and race home a victor.

Results –

1. A.J. Foyt
2. Johnny White
3. Jim Maguire
4. Jud Larson
5. Gordon Johncock
6. Chuck Hulse
7. Bob Mathouser
8. Chuck Engel
9. Chuck Arnold
10. Mario Andretti

Sunday, April 11, 2021

1976 – Bivins to Victory Lane at I-70

Terry Bivins

Odessa, Mo. (April 11, 1976) – A flat tire put Terry Bivins out of contention in the feature event for the late model stock cars last week at I-70 Speedway, but the Shawnee, Kan., driver had everything in his favor Sunday afternoon as he put his 1976 Camaro into victory lane.

Terry Brumley, who started the feature on the pole, led the first few laps before Bivins took over. David Goldsberry, looking for his second straight feature victory, also made it past Brumley and with “Tiger” Bob Williams and Brumley, kept the heat on Bivins until Brumley went out with mechanical issues on lap 9.

Bivins stretched out his lead to about 100 yards at the finish. Goldsberry, Williams, Dave Klingsporn and Jerry Nussbaum rounded out the top five finishers.

Bivins competed last week in the 1974 Chevelle that he competed in last year but chose to run his new Camaro after running third at Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, Okla., Friday night.

“We bought the Camaro in Indiana,” Bivins said. “And rebuilt it over the winter. We tore it down to the bare frame and roll cage and “Bivinized” it.”

Bob Williams set fast time with a one-lap orbit of 18.85 seconds. Bivins won the trophy dash. Brumley was the winner in the fast heat while Klingsporn took the middle heat and Dick Turner nabbed the slow heat.

Results –

Time trials – Bob Williams, Independence, Mo.
Trophy dash – Terry Bivins, Shawnee, Kan.
Fast heat – Terry Brumley, Springfield, Mo.
Middle heat – David Klingsporn Monett, Mo
Slow heat – Dick Turner, Kansas City
Feature –
1. Terry Bivins
2. David Goldsberry, Bolivar, Mo.
3. Bob Williams
4. David Klingsporn
5. Jerry Nussbaum, Oak Grove, Mo.
6. Roger Arnhart, Kansas City
7. Denny Roberts, Independence, Mo.
8. Steve Privett, St. Charles, Mo.
9. Rod Hayes, Bates City, Mo.
10.Charlie Kinard, Vida, Mo.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

1982 - Phillips Class of 'World Championships'

Larry Phillips

Phoenix, Ariz. (April 10, 1982) – Missouri’s Larry Phillips was in a class by himself in the finals of the RC Cola/7-Up Western World Championships for late model stock cars at Manzanita Speedway.

Although the line-up for the 40-lap feature was studded with driving stars, no one could match Phillips and his lightning fast Camaro. Phillips started alongside Bill Cheesbourg but easily beat the Tucson veteran into the first turn. Even though he had to endure several cautions and a red flag for refueling purposes, Phillips still managed to lap all but nine cars en route to a $3,500 payday.

There was only one car that may have been able to run with Phillips. Don Hoffman of Des Moines, Iowa, made it into the feature by virtue of winning the 20-lap semi-main and was on his way to the front when disaster struck prior to the halfway point. Hoffman had moved his Camaro into fifth place and was challenging Cheesbourg for fourth when he jumped the cushion and slammed into the retaining wall, ending a beautiful drive.

While there was really no contest for the front spot, the action was hot and heavy behind Phillips. Throughout most of the race, there were six or seven cars in contention for the runner-up spot. Mike Gibson and Carl Trimmer swapped the second position two or three times and George Brazil Jr. was in the thick of the battle and finally took over that spot with only three laps remaining. However, tough luck that has plagued him the past two weeks struck again s he blew an engine on the white flag lap and pushed his car across the finish line in tenth.

Trimmer edged Charlie Swartz for second, Cheesbourg took fourth and Steve McGuire grabbed fifth.

Hoffman, who had problems during the qualifying races, was not seriously challenged in the semi. He started fifth and was in front before the first lap was completed.

The excitement in the semi was created by Roger Saathoff. The South Dakota driver started 15th and drove his way to second place even though he was losing his clutch in his Camaro. Gaylord Lippert finished third with his Thunderbird and qualified for the feature when Red Dralle scratched. However, Lippert had to scratch a well when his mount lost oil pressure. Saathoff would last only a few laps in the feature before his transmission went out.

Results –

1. Larry Phillips
2. Carl Trimmer
3. Charlie Swartz
4. Bill Cheesbourg
5. Steve McGuire
6. Mike Gibson
7. Ivan Russell
8. Bill Black
9. Buddy Murphy
10.George Brazil Jr.
11.Bill Brandon
12.Ken Hobson
13.Jim Maguire
14.H.D. Jackson
15.Herb Laing
16.Gary Thomas
17.Art Adams
18.Fred Lundock
19.Jerry McCurdy
20.Terry Green
21.Don Hoffman
22.Roger Saathoff

Friday, April 9, 2021

1972 - 'Big D' Struggles to Elko Victory

Dan Prizborowski

Elko, Minn. (April 9, 1972) – Although the weather that greeted race fans at Elko Speedway on Sunday afternoon was of the mid-winter variety, the type of racing presented was more like the heated competition of mid-summer.

Dan Prizborowski of Savage, Minn., took late model feature honors but not before Minneapolitan Dick Giles and Mert Williams of Rochester, Minn., issued a 22-lap challenge that forced the popular driver to go all out in his bid for the opening checkered flag ride of the season.

Giles, driving a sparkling new Ford, had won both his heat and the trophy dash while Williams was second in his heat and third in the dash. Prizborowski was fourth in his heat, but because the top heat winners were inverted for the main event, the defending track champion found himself on the pole position.

But, with only five laps gone, both Giles and Williams had already moved through traffic to touch Prziborowski’s bumper and from there on, the trio battled lap after lap, never more than a car length apart.

Despite constant pressure from Giles and Williams, though, Prizborowski was able to hold on, winning by a couple of car lengths at the checkers. Williams settled for second while Giles finish third. Dick Stang of Prior Lake was fourth and Larry Smith of Shakopee rounded out the top five.

Giles and Larry Behrens of Northfield were heat winners. Giles was also the trophy dash winner and Norm Setran of Bloomington was the consolation victor.

Meanwhile, 45 hobby stocks checked in and produced the same close-knit action. Joe Ritchie of Minneapolis was the feature winner followed by Dewey Gustafson of St. Paul and Al Pearson of Richfield.

Sunday’s doubleheader was accident free except in warmups when John Boegeman of Shakopee flipped his Superamerica Chevy but escaped injury.

The biggest surprise to track owner/operator Phil Stewart was the splendid turnout of fans, nearly 2,200 total.

“With the temperature around 35 degrees I anticipated maybe a quarter of this for fans but with 1,700 passing through the turnstiles plus the youngsters, I was pleasantly pleased,” Stewart said. “With warmer temps, we’ll be on our way.”

Results –

Late Model –

1. Dan Prizborowski
2. Mert Williams
3. Dick Stiles
4. Dick Stang
5. Larry Smith
6. Norm Setran
7. Mike Miller
8. Larry Behrens
9. Harry Bahr
10.Ray Forsythe
11.Mike Murgic
12.Dave Noble

Hobby Stocks –

1. Joe Ritchie
2. Dewey Gustafson
3. Al Pearson
4. Lynn Peterson
5. Mike Blass