Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Basement Archives #2


June 22-25, 1967
 

 
A near-capacity crowd was on its feet to witness a photo finish Wednesday night, June 22, 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.
The largest crowd of the season at Air-View Speedway in Monticello, Iowa, watched a tremendous see-saw battle Friday night, June 23, as Dick Nestby of Dubuque and Bill Zwanziger of Waterloo fought it out for the top. Nestby 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.
Super modified racing finally got off and running after two weeks of rainouts at the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds on Friday evening. 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.
 
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 likeable 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.
 

 



 
 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Basement Archives #1


April 24-26, 1987
 



 
Jeff Aikey, Dave Farren, Greg DeFrance and Todd Johnson were feature winners as Marshalltown Speedway kicked off its season with a large crowd and great car count on Friday, April 24. The late models, under IMCA sanctioning for the first time, put on an exciting show. Jeff Aikey, from Cedar Falls, Iowa, worked his way through the pack and overtook Steve Borts of Ames, Iowa, on lap 10 en route to the victory. Farren, from Des Moines, easily outdistanced the IMCA modified field for 20 laps while DeFrance made it a clean sweep in the IMCA stock car division. Todd Johnson of Des Moines won his heat and feature in the thunder car class.
The crowning of four champions highlighted Friday’s Winston 50 Spring Spectacular at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City. Gene Claxton of Kansas City got the early jump on polesitter Joe Kosiski of Omaha and maintained a comfortable lead over Steve Kosiski to win the 40-lap NASCAR late model feature. Stillman Young of Independence, Mo., drove to his first career sportsman feature on the half-mile while Duane Walker of Overland Park, Kan., led wire to wire in the 20-lap modified main. Raytown, Mo.’s Mike Hoenshell won the 12-lap charger feature.
Ron Standridge of Springfield, Ill., one of four racing brothers, used a yellow flag to his advantage to win the 25-lap sprint car feature race Friday night at Jacksonville Motor Speedway. After a lap 19 caution bunched the field, Standridge moved around Tony Weyant, also of Springfield, on lap 21 and two laps later got around his brother, Randy Standridge, for the win.
 
 
Steve Kinser, driving Karl Kinser’s Coors Light Gambler, drove to a convincing win before a huge crowd at the World of Outlaws’ spring opener at Knoxville Raceway on Saturday, April 25. The win paid the Bloomington, Ind., veteran $8,000 and it was Kinser’s 176th career World of Outlaws victory.

Ray Guss Jr. won one of the most hotly contested Winston Racing Series late model features ever at West Liberty Raceway Saturday night. Guss, of Milan, Ill., was the last of four drivers involved in five lead changes in the 25-lap main event. Bruce Hanford paced the field for the first 12 laps while Rollie Frink was credited with leading laps 13 through 16. Hanford regained the top spot for laps 17 and 18 until Frink regained control for laps 19 and 20. As Hanford and Frink dominated the show, Guss worked his way from his 11th starting position and capped the exciting event by passing the front-runners and controlling the final five laps.
 
 
Tom Pauley of Justice, Ill., scored the victory in the 30-lap late model tilt at Santa Fe Speedway in Hinsdale, Ill., on Saturday night. Pauley dueled with Lil’ John Provenzano early in the contest, until Jim O’Conner, sitting in third, took advantage of the battling duet, and moved into the lead on lap 7. O’Conner’s lead would be short-lived as Pauley, with Provenzano following behind, succeeded in regaining the top spot. Although contested strongly by O’Conner to the finish, Pauley would hold on for his first win of the season.
 
History was made when the powerful USAC sprint cars raced at Eldora Speedway on Saturday night. It was the first “winged” sprint car race ever run by USAC. Rick Ungar of Memphis, Tenn., took charge on lap 27 after Dave Blaney lost his rear end while leading the event. Following Ungar to the checkered was Warren Mockler, Ron Milton, Kelly Kinser and Tray House.
Jeff Aikey of Cedar Falls, Iowa, cleaned house at the Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway season opener on Sunday evening, April 25. Aikey led start to finish in the 25-lap NASCAR late model feature, finishing ahead of Dick Schiltz of Waterloo, Dan Dickey of Packwood, Denny Ansel of Dubuque and Dale Fischlein of Independence.
Ray Guss Jr. may have taken the checkered flag, but Rollie Frink pocketed the cash. Frink finished second in the Freeport Super Raceway’s 50-lap late model season opener on Sunday night, but was awarded the $1,000 payoff after Guss was disqualified later in the pits for an illegal clutch.
Danny Wallace of Des Moines captured the IMCA modified feature race Sunday night as Stuart Speedway opened for the 1987 racing season. Wallace held off 1986 IMCA National Series champion Dude Thompson of Huxley, Iowa, and 1986 IMCA national modified champion Dave Farren of Des Moines.
 

 

 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

1949: The First Year of the IMCA Stock Car Series


Eddie Anderson of Grinnell, Iowa
1949 IMCA Stock Car Champion
 


By Lee Ackerman
Omaha, Neb. - In the last few years, considerable effort has been given to documenting the early years of NASCAR. What many fans are unaware of is that before IMCA became a grass roots racing series famous for its sanctioning of over 100 weekly racing tracks across the country, it had a stock car series that for many years rivaled its southern counterpart, NASCAR.

The International Motor Contest Association (IMCA), organized in 1915, is the oldest active automobile racing sanctioning body in the United States.  J. Alex Sloan, a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., was instrumental in establishing the IMCA, and for years ran more races than all other promoters in the United States combined, all under IMCA sanction.

 After Sloan’s death in 1937, his son John continued the IMCA tradition.  Under his leadership, IMCA continued to grow and reports suggest that IMCA held its first late model stock car race on November 9, 1947 in Lubbock, Tex. Certainly, the first recorded season of IMCA stock cars was 1949.

Today, late models are all specially constructed frames, mass produced on a jig at a chassis companies such as Rocket, MastersBilt, GRT or whomever. In 1949, when IMCA conducted its first year of stock car racing, many of the cars were ordinary passenger cars were driven to the track with license plates remaining on the car during the race.

 As you will see in this story, many car companies were represented, some of which have been all but forgotten. What’s a Kaiser-Frasier you ask, how about a Willy’s? A Nash won several stock car races, you have to be kidding!

Information about that first IMCA stock car season is certainly not complete, but while no points were kept, we do know that it is well documented that Eddie Anderson of Grinnell, Iowa was declared the first IMCA stock car champion.

The first race of the season was held at the Mid-America Fairgrounds on May 30, which became the traditional Topeka Memorial Day Race.  Bob McKim of Salina, Kan., won the 200-lap feature in an Oldsmobile 88 owned by Ron Rice. Ray Rutman finished second, Eldon Burkeholder took third and Frank Winkley was fourth.

Winkley and his wife Verna would later form Auto Racing, Inc. (ARI) and for many years promoted IMCA events. The other group that promoted IMCA sanctioned events for years was National Speedways, Inc. led by Al Sweeney.
 
Herschel Buchanan receive congratulations from IMCA promoter Al Sweeney.
 

It is also reported that Hershel Buchanan of Shreveport, Louisiana won a race at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds in a Nash on the same day that may have been an IMCA sanctioned event. Buchanan had spent a number of years racing in the IMCA big car (sprint car) division prior to racing stock cars. In 1950 and 1951 Buchanan won the IMCA stock car championship.

On July 4, the IMCA stock cars ran a 200-lap race at the Kansas State Fairgrounds at Hutchinson with McKim leading 96 laps in his 1940 Oldsmobile 88 (which carried the number 88), prevailing again before 8,000 fans. Norm Horn finished second, Jim Roper third, Herschel Buchanan fourth and Don Smith fifth.

Also, in the field was Nick Nachicas. Nachicas would later work for Winkley and ARI serving as an announcer of IMCA events for many years.

As for Jim Roper, that’s the same Jim Roper from Halstead, Kan., that won the first ever NASCAR strictly stock car race on June 19, 1949 at the three quarter-mile Charlotte Speedway. Roper pulled a Lincoln all the way to Charlotte, N.C., and ran second to Glenn Dunaway. Roper was awarded the win when Dunaway was disqualified for illegal use of rear springs.

As for Dunaway…

The first National Speedways, Inc., sanctioned stock car race took place on August 20, 1949 at Cedar Rapids, Iowa with Glen Dunaway of North Carolina winning in an Oldsmobile. Yes, the same Glenn Dunaway that was disqualified at Charlotte.
 
A tremendous crowd of 14,000 jam-packed the All-Iowa Fair grandstand and watched Dunaway push his black 1949 Oldsmobile coupe around the half-mile 200 times in 2 hours and 22 minutes. He finished two laps ahead of Herschel Buchanan.
 
"Wild" Bill Harrison of Topeka, Kan. - Photo courtesy of Troy Harrison
 
 

On August 21, Wild Bill Harrison of Topeka, Kansas drove his Lincoln to the 200-lap feature win at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa, before 7,052 curious fans. Glen Dunaway followed in an Oldsmobile with Buchanan third in his 46’ Nash. The race took 2 hours, 9 minutes and 30 seconds to complete.

August 23 saw the series back at Topeka, Jim Roper of Great Bend, Kansas winning a 200-lap feature in a Lincoln.  Three days later, on August 26, Herschel Buchanan drove his Nash to victory at the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls.

On September 1, 1949, Anderson came alive and drove his 1949 Mercury to a 200-lap victory at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines defeating highly touted Herschel Buchanan.  The car Anderson drove had been wrecked in a highway accident near Grinnell, and Anderson took possession of the car from the insurance company only five days before the race.

On September 2, at the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, Tom Adelman of Minneapolis drove his 1948 Kaiser-Fraiser to a win in the 200-lap event. Bill Harrison in a Lincoln and Wally Dahl in a Ford finished second and third.

Eddie Anderson scored another win on September 4, at the All-Iowa Fair in Cedar Rapids, Jack Morgan of Duenwig, Mo., ran second driving a 1941 Mercury with Dick Hobel of Cedar Rapids third in a Buick and Harlan Young of Anamosa, Iowa fourth in a 1940 Willys. 

Herschel Buchanan, who set fast time by blistering the half-mile in 34.765 seconds, finished fifth after making a couple of pit stops. Anderson’s winning time was 2 hours, 10 minutes and 35 seconds.
 
IMCA Stock Cars roll down the front stretch at the Nebraska State Fair. A standing room only crowd eagerly awaits the action.
 

On September 9, at the Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln, Eddie Anderson continued his winning ways once again taking a 200-lap win pocketing $500 for his efforts. Herschel Buchanan brought his Nash home second, Wayne Selzer of Omaha was third in a Ford and open-wheel ace Frank Luptow ran fourth.

Anderson kept his streak going by winning the 200-lap race at Topeka, Kansas on October 2. He then added yet another win on October 9 back at Hawkeye Downs where he completed the 200-lap affair in 2 hours and 20 minutes with Don Fischer in a '46 Ford finishing second and Sonny Ebsen in a '41 Mercury third.

The final event of the season was run on October 26 at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds in Shreveport with Buddy Keith winning in a 1939 Lincoln. For a good part of the 29 years that the IMCA stock car series raced, the series started the season and ended the season in Shreveport.

There were several other IMCA events that were reported ran in 1949, but no reliable information is available on those events. In the end, we know that Eddie Anderson in his wrecked '49 Mercury was the class of the field and usually had to battle Herschel Buchanan in his Nash for the win.

The IMCA stock car series grew to be the leading series in the Midwest for many years and in the beginning rivaled NASCAR. IMCA races at the various state fairs routinely drew 20,000 or more fans. Ernie Derr became a legend in the series, winning 12 IMCA national stock car championships, but in the end the series faded into history with 1977 being its last year of competition.