Thursday, August 5, 2021

1973 – Sessions Grabs Race, Track Title

Sam Sessions, driving the Amerling #1, won the USAC 40-lapper at Terre Haute.

Terre Haute, Ind. (August 5, 1973) - Sam Sessions won an oft-stopped sprint car race at the 37th annual Vigo County Fair yesterday afternoon, taking the United States Auto Club 40-lap feature and winning the Action Track title at the same time.

The track title was worth an extra $1,000 to the driver from Nashville, Mich., who closed on the leader in the USAC points race for the division. Sessions now has 581 points to trail leader Rollie Beale, who was fifth yesterday on the clay oval at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds, by 87 points.

Lee Kunzman, third in the point’s standings, finished second behind Sessions in the main event. Tom Bigelow, Larry Cannon and Beale rounded out the top five finishers.

The yellow flag was out for a good portion of the feature, especially on the 10th lap. It took three attempts to complete that turn around the oval.

Duane “Pancho” Carter was the first to be knocked out of the race. The Californian hit the cushion high on the track, heading into the first turn, and flipped three times.

He made contact with the guardrail and flipped over, coming to rest outside of the track, where a fence probably prevented his car from continuing into the carnival area of the fair.

Carter had some bruises and a cut over one eye but didn’t require hospitalization.

Then, with the race restarted, Rich Leavell and Johnny Parsons were knocked out of action when they were involved in a mishap on the backstretch. Leavell, trying to avoid a slower driver, spun and lost his front wheel. That wheel hit the right side of Parson’s car and he flipped, coming to rest against the guardrail. Neither driver was injured.

Nothing happened again until lap 32 when Bruce Walkup spun coming out of the fourth turn where he was hit by Bill Cassella.

Walkup lost his opportunity to win the Action Track title in the accident. Had he held on to finish in the top five – ahead of Saldana, where he was running at the time, he would have earned the extra $1,000 for having the most points in 1973 sprint car races here.

As it were, Sessions – who had not been in the top five here prior to Sunday – took home that honor with 89 points. Saldana, winner of the Hulman Classic, was second and earned $300 while Rollie Beale finished fourth with 79 points and won $200. Walkup was a point back of Beale.

In winning, Sessions drove a car owned by Mauri Amerling with Dave McPherson serving as chief mechanic.

“You were able to run high out there today. When you run high, the track is in good shape,” remarked Sessions.

In addition to mishaps whittling the number of finishers to nine, engine problems in hot laps caused other drivers to cancel the day’s activity before time trials, including Charlie Masters, George Snider, Bill Engelhart and Jackie Howerton.

Former sprint champ Larry Dickson didn’t even make the trip because of car trouble while touted East coast challenger Jan Opperman didn’t show. He said he had problems with his car even though earlier he said that he would be driving the #4 car piloted by Bill Puterbaugh in the feature.

Results –

Time trials – Joe Saldana (23.31)
Heat #1 – Rollie Beale
Heat #2 – Gary Bettenhausen
Semi-main – Joe Saldana
Feature –
1. Sam Sessions
2. Lee Kunzman
3. Tom Bigelow
4. Larry Cannon
5. Rollie Beale
6. Joe Saldana
7. John Toth
8. Bill Koepfer
9. Gary Bettenhausen
10.Bill Puterbaugh
11.George Snider
12.Bruce Walkup
13.Billy Cassella
14.Don Nordhorn
15.Bill Burks
16.Jerry Nemire
17.Rich Leavell
18.John Parsons
19.Pancho Carter
20.Gordy Lee

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

1972 – Goodwin cops Knox County Fair win

Ray Lee Goodwin, driving the Swenson & Williams Chevy, won the Knox County Fair feature. 

Knoxville, Ill. (August 4, 1972) - It seemed only fitting that after two years as national sprint car champion Jerry Blundy would end his reign before a hometown crowd.

The local favorite, who was seriously injured in a race wreck last month, appears to be out for the remainder of the season. He had built up a formidable lead in the International Motor Contest Association point standings early in the year, only to have the mishap at Webster City, Iowa, cut short his chances at winning three straight national titles.

Blundy's heir apparent, Ray Lee Goodwin of Kansas City, Mo., went into Friday night's sprint races at the Knox County Fair trailing Blundy by 10 points. Goodwin turned in second-best time in qualifications and then placed third In a heat race to take over the No. 1 spot in the standings.

But it was later in the evening that Goodwin proved himself as a viable contender for the IMCA national championship.

Weaving his way through the middle of the field, Goodwin scored a come-from-behind victory in the 25-lap feature event.

The hard-charging Goodwin throttled his Chevy-powered sprinter into the lead with four laps to go and coasted to victory behind the wild cheers of area race fans . . . it seemed only fitting.

Two new Knox County Fair track records were set last night as rain earlier in the week left the half-mile, semi-banked dirt track in near perfect condition.

Pleasantville, Iowa's Earl Wagner cracked the 8-lap record at the fair track, while John Babb of Ottumwa, Iowa, set a new standard for five laps.

Wagner was clocked at 3:27.11, which betters the old mark of 3:29.13 set in 1968 by Don Daniels.

Winning the STP match race with a 2:08.27 timing, Babb clipped the old record of 2.08.52, which Ron Perkins wrote into the book in 1968.

Time trials featured opening race action last night at the fair. Ron Perkins and Dick Sutcliffe, representing Dave Van Patten's famed Corn Belt Racing team, finished 1-3 in the qualifying runs. Perkins toured the half-mile track in 24.67 seconds, while Sutcliffe was timed in 25.07. Goodwin had the second best time at 24.78.

The field was divided up into three heats, with the fastest qualifiers put in the back rows - IMCA's inverted-order start.

Despite two yellow flags in the opening-heat race, Perkins battled from last to first. He took over the lead with three laps to go and coasted to victory. Sutcliffe finished second.

In the next heat race, Earl Wagner stormed into the lead on the third lap and had an open track to run on the rest of the way. He set a new record in winning the 8-1ap race.

The third heat consisted of only five cars, since three others were unable to compete due to mechanical difficulties. Cliff Lilly of Claycomo, Mo., led from start to finish; his winning time was 3:31.80.

The fourth event of the evening race card was the STP match race. The four fastest qualifiers clashed head on in a 5-lapper with Babb winning in record time. Goodwin was also in the match race but had to be scratched when his car began having engine difficulties. It appeared doubtful if his sprinter would be ready for the feature event.

Cars which failed to qualify for the feature had one last chance in the 10-lap consolation event. Following up his victory in the match race, Babb won the consolation by five car lengths. Ralph Parkinson Jr. and Bill Burks Jr. earned spots in the main event by placing second and third.

In the wreck-marred feature, Goodwin ran third for more than half of the race. On lap 16, he slipped into second place and then with just two miles left to go, he powered into the lead.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

1968 – Richert Leads All the Way at Fair

Jerry Richert tears up the Allentown dirt. 

Allentown, Penn. (August 3, 1968) – Jerry Richert never trailed in winning the first of three races in the Keystone State Trophy Series on Saturday afternoon at the Great Allentown Fair – a race that was halted after 20 laps due to a spectacular first turn flip by last year’s two-time winner Bobbie Adamson.

Richert, who was forced out of the 7-lap trophy dash and failed to make his qualifying heat because the car would not maintain oil pressure, finally corrected the problem and copped the 15-lap semi-feature before walking away with the windup.

The two-time International Motor Contest Association point titlist and this year’s leader was never headed in the semi-feature which he won by three seconds over Lynn Paxton.

The afternoon’s main event, which never really got off the ground due to two caution flags, was halted prematurely on the leader’s 21st circuit when Adamson lost everything in the first turn. The race was scheduled to go 25 laps, but of the 20 that were already scored, 9 were run under caution.

Adamson, who proved last year that he knows how to handle a sprint car, was running quite well on lap 20, having moved from his 12th starting position to sixth place in only 11 laps.

Then he hit the first turn, the middle of which was like a washboard covered with marbles. He drove hard across a decided bump at the start of the turn and ended up sideways off the ground.

When he hit there was nothing he could do except ride it out. The car slammed down, flipped over, caromed off the wall and ended up on its roll bar facing in the opposite direction. Adamson, after a few anxious moments, unbuckled and crawled out of the car.

Eleven cars had been scored on the 21st lap – the lap of the mishap – when the red flag came out, halting the race.

Following Richert across the line were Ray Tilley of Clearfield, Penn., who started in the second position; Bill Roynon of Tampa, Fla., who started in the third position; and Gus Linder of Pittsburgh, easily the hottest driver in the field.

Richert, the Forest Lake, Minn., driver who leads this year’s IMCA point’s race by 780 markers over Benny Rapp of Toledo, Ohio, picked up $400 for the victory.

Richert, who tested on Thursday afternoon, found a strong groove about three-quarters of a way through the turns. The difference may have been the tires he used – ordinary recapped snow tires built onto racing tire casings. They cost him only $12 apiece.

Linder, who qualified for the feature by being one of the top seven point men in the standings, started in the 13th position. He scrambled past three cars on the first two laps, waited out the caution until lap 7, then moved out again.

By the time Richert was halfway through the eighth lap, Linder had gone by Gene Varner, who was running fourth, and Darl Harrison of Tiffin, Ohio. He stayed solidly entrenched in fourth place until the end.

Results –

Trophy dash – Gus Linder, Pittsburgh
Heat #1 – Ronnie Rough, Nescopeck, Penn.
Heat #2 – Dick Kistler, Dayton, Ohio
Consolation – Jerry Richert, Forest Lake, Minn.
Feature –
1. Jerry Richert
2. Ray Tilley, Clearfield, Penn.
3. Bill Roynon, Tampa, Fla.
4. Gus Linder
5. Darl Harrison, Tiffin, Ohio
6. Bobbie Adamson, Coraopolis, Penn.
7. Buzz Rose, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
8. Ronnie Rough
9. Dick Bailey, Grove City, Penn.
10.Benny Rapp, Toledo, Ohio

Monday, August 2, 2021

1977 – Kenyon comes home to take USAC midget victory

Mel Kenyon

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (August 2, 1977) – The “mighty” midgets invaded Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Hawkeye Downs Speedway for special USAC-sanctioned show on Tuesday, August 2, 1977, and when the dust settled it was a former hometown boy named Mel Kenyon that was in victory lane. Kenyon had attended school in Cedar Rapids through the ninth grade and lived in Davenport, Iowa until 1967.

A crowd of more than 6,000 people watched the return of the midgets, the first time competing at the half-mile since the late 1960’s.

Kenyon, driving out of Lebanon, Ind., and the current USAC midget point’s leader, started on the inside second row, took the lead on the 12th lap and simply outran the field. Johnny Parsons of Speedway, Ind., took over the second spot from Stan Fox of Janesville, Wis., in the late stages and made a run towards Kenyon but ran out of time and laps. Fox finished third followed by fast timer Ron Shuman of Tempe, Ariz., and Ron “Sleepy” Tripp of Costa Mesa, Calif.

Several drivers experienced problems during the feature race. Among them was Indy star Johnny Rutherford who pulled out on lap five of the 50-lap race with mechanical problems. On lap 29, Tom Steiner of Orland Park, Ill., flipped in turn three. He was not seriously injured but was finished for the evening. Another favorite, Lee Kunzman of Guttenberg, Iowa, suffered mechanical problems and was unable to make the feature event.

Results - 

1. Mel Kenyon, Lebanon, Ind.
2. Johnny Parsons, Speedway, Ind.
3. Stan Fox, Janesville, Wis.
4. Ron Shuman, Tempe, Ariz.
5. Ron Tripp, Costa Mesa, Calif.
6. Larry Patton, Anaheim Calif.
7. Ken Nichols, San Carlos, Calif.
8. Lonnie Caruthers San Carlos, Calif.

1970 – Kullman Scores Win in Monza Classic

Stash Kullman (with towel) is joined in victory lane by starter Smokey Smith (far left), race sponsor Burt Rose (second from right) and announcer Wayne Adams after winning the Monza Classic at Raceway Park. - Stan Kalwasinski Collection

Blue Island, Ill. (August 2, 1970) - Raceway Park is the home of the short track Monza style events. The first one was held in 1957, shortly after the big event in Monza, Italy and Saturday night, Raceway held its first such event of the 1970 season.

It consisted of three, 30-lap features for late models with the final victory going to the top point driver after three races.

Saturday night’s racing series was termed the ‘Burt Rose Ford Mustang Classic’ and following 90 hectic laps of torrid action, Stash Kullman of Roseland accepted the huge trophy from Mr. Burt Rose, Roseland area Ford Dealer.

Kullman accumulated 285 points out of a possible 300 by finishing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the three features, defeating Bud Koehler and George Hill by 5 points, as they tied for second with 280 points each. Hill won two of the features but finished 5th in the other after spinning during early laps.

Feature #1 - 

A field of 20 started, led by Bill Harper, who spun on the 2nd lap and lost the lead to Vern Mullennix. James Bond gained the top spot on the 3rd lap and on the 5th, Hill spun while running a close 3rd place.

Kullman, who started 13th, took the lead on the 9th lap, and raced his 1969 Chevelle to victory ahead of Bud Koehler, Jerry Kemperman, James Bond, George Hill and Ray Para. The fourth-place finish for Bond was his best feature effort of the year.

Feature #2 - 

Only 17 starters took the green flag and Mullennix grabbed the lead, then the race was halted on the 3rd lap after Ray Freeman spun and was hit solidly by Bill Harper. Both cars stalled on the track in a dangerous position.

Kullman took the top position on the 7th lap and held until the 15th, when Hill passed him on the inside. Hill scored his 10th win of the year over Kullman, Koehler, Para, Gary Mitidiero and Danny Autullo. Jerry Kemperman was racing a close 3rd when he spun out on the 29th lap.

Feature #3 - 

It took Kullman only 8 laps to run thru a field of 17 late model cars and he led until the 17th lap, when Hill again moved out front. This race was stopped on the 24th lap after Gary Mitidiero and Danny Autullo hooked wheels and spun entering the 3rd turn.

After the restart, Hill rode to his second win of the evening and his fifth of the year, in his 1965 Chevelle ‘350’. Koehler finished second; Kullman third; Kemperman fourth; Para fifth; and Bill McEnery sixth.

Overall Finish –

1. Stash Kullman
2. George Hill
3. Bud Koehler
4. Jerry Kemperman
5. Ray Para
6. James Bond
7. Gary Mitidiero
8. Bill McEnery
9. Danny Autullo
10.George Young

Saturday, July 31, 2021

1973 – Barton Charges to Boone Title

George Barton of Ankeny, Iowa, won his record third Grand Nationals title at Boone. Flagman Floyd Michels joins Barton in victory lane. - Beetle Bailey Photo

Boone, Iowa (July 31, 1973) – George Barton of Ankeny, Iowa, grabbed the lead on lap 36 and went on to win the Grand Nationals at Boone Speedway on Tuesday night.

For Barton, it was his third Grand National title in the seven year history of the event.

Thirty-three cars lined up Indy-style with Arnie Braland of Boone starting on the pole.

However, it was Stan Stover of Reinbeck, Iowa, grabbing the lead at the start. He would maintain the top spot for the first 36 circuits until Barton, who had been hanging on Stover’s bumper throughout, powered inside of Stover to take over first place.

For the final 14 laps, however, Barton and Stover would race door-to-door with Barton finally getting the edge on the white flag lap. With the checkers flying, Barton would edge Stover by less than a car length for the victory and the $1,200 first prize.

In Monday night’s time trials, Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, earned the pole position by fact that he was the fastest qualifier with a time of 17.32 seconds.

Heat wins went to Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, Stan Stover and Mike Pinckney of Des Moines.

A special event was held Monday night comprised of the top seven finishers from each heat, Ron Weedon was the winner of that contest.

Results –

1. George Barton, Ankeny, Iowa
2. Stan Stover, Reinbeck, Iowa
3. Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley, Iowa
4. D. Arthur Nesteby, Waterloo, Iowa
5. Mike Pinckney, Des Moines
6. Denny Hovinga, Laurens, Iowa
7. Del McDowall, Ames, Iowa
8. Bob Shryock, Estherville, Iowa
9. Ray Guss, Milan, Ill.
10.Earl Tice, Ames, Iowa

Friday, July 30, 2021

1983 – Wolfgang’s first visit to Wilmot a good one

Doug Wolfgang

Wilmot, Wis. (July 30, 1983) – Doug Wolfgang, Sioux Falls, S.D., made his first visit to Wilmot Speedway on Saturday night a memorable and winning experience as he won top money in the second round of the J&L Gas – Wilmot Winged Open sprint car series.

His win came after Rick Ferkel, Tiffin, Ohio, lost steering in his #0 Morgan sprinter. Ferkel had started outside front row in the 20-car field for the 40-lap feature and led 37 circuits.

His departure from the race will always leave in doubt the question that Wolfgang and his Gambler #18 car could have made the winning pass in the final laps of the race.

Wolfgang had started seventh in the field but was in second by lap 10 after passing Wilmot point leader Gib Wiser of Neosho, Wis., but by then Ferkel had a full straightaway lead on the rest of the field.

That lead diminished on lap 14 when Gary Zobel of Lake Villa, Ill., dove into the infield with a flat tire just as Ferkel was making an inside pass. Contact between the cars almost sent Ferkel into a spin, but he corrected and then seemed to find an advantage by using traffic of slower cars to keep Wolfgang from getting close enough to attempt a pass. But on the 37th lap, Ferkel slowed, moved to the outside of the track and came to a stop on the backstretch, done for the evening.

The yellow came out for both Ferkel and Jim Moulis of Johnsburg, Ill., the fast qualifier for the 44-car field, who also suffered steering problems and stopped his car in the fourth turn.

Wolfgang was never challenged in the final three laps, winning handily. Wiser took second, followed by Jimmy Sills of Sacramento, Calif., Bob Robel of Oconomowoc, Wis., and Kenny Haynes of Bourbonnais, Ill.

Heat wins went to Dean Shirley of Middletown, Ill., Ferkel, Sills and Bill Kojis of Milwaukee. Ken Biertzer of West Bend, Wis., won the B-main and Darrell Dodd of Lake Villa, Ill., was the C-main winner.

Results –

1. Doug Wolfgang, Sioux Falls, S.D.
2. Gib Wiser, Neosho, Wis.
3. Jimmy Sills, Sacramento, Calif.
4. Bob Robel, Oconomowoc, Wis.
5. Kenny Haynes, Bourbonnais, Ill.
6. Dean Shirley, Middletown, Ill.
7. Craig Curzon, Baileys Harbor, Wis.
8. Dennis Spitz, Kenosha, Wis.
9. Ken Biertzer, West Bend, Wis.
10.Bob Warren, Beaver Dam, Wis.