Wednesday, August 16, 2017

1975 – Fretheim Fast, Bjorge Faster at Owatonna


Owatonna, Minn. (August 16, 1975) – While others were spinning and crashing, Dave Bjorge was busy holding off Em Fretheim to capture the 50-lap Late Model Invitational feature at the Steele County Fair on Saturday afternoon. For his efforts, Bjorge picked up $600.
While Fretheim chased Bjorge, most of the early-race action was kept to position changes, but on lap 30, Ed Ward of Rochester, Minn., spun his Monte Carlo around on the backstretch. Luckily, all cars were able to steer clear of the mishap.
Ten laps later, in nearly the same spot, Dave Noble did not fare well either. Noble’s Chevelle ran head-on into the retaining wall at high speed. Although the veteran driver escaped without injury, his recently-completed car was badly damaged.
Fretheim made his final desperate bid on the last lap, nearly pulling the upset, but Bjorge was up to the challenge. Mert Williams was third, followed by Wendell Kuehn.
Dave Noble’s 19-year-old son, Mark, fared better than his father, driving a steady race and finishing fifth.

Results –

1.     Dave Bjorge, Austin, Minn.
2.     Em Fretheim, Decorah, Iowa
3.     Mert Williams, Rochester, Minn.
4.     Wendell Kuehn, Rochester, Minn.
5.     Mark Noble, Blooming Prairie, Minn.
6.     Dick Sorenson, Rochester, Minn.
7.     Leroy Scharkey, Rochester, Minn.
8.     Terry Hanson, Owatonna, Minn.
9.     Al Schueler, Winona, Minn.
10.   Jim Schell, Rollingstone, Minn.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Today in Racing History

Mark Noble of Blooming Prairie, Minn., won the modified "A" main at the Steele County Fairgrounds in Owatonna, Minn., on August 15, 1996. — Neil Miller Photo

Monday, August 14, 2017

1955 - Derr goes non-stop to win 100-miler

Ernie Derr

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (August 14, 1955) - Ernie Derr of Keokuk, driving a 1954 Oldsmobile nonstop, capitalized on the car trouble of his brother-in-law to win the 100-mile accident-free stock car race before 7,500 fans at Hawkeye Downs Sunday afternoon.

Derr's winning time is a track record. It was the opening amphitheater attraction of the 20th annual All-Iowa fair.

Derr copped the lead on the 123rd lap of the 200-lap endurance test when his brother-in-law, Don White of Keokuk, was forced to the pits when his right rear wheel locked. White had powered his new Oldsmobile to a comfortable lead, having lapped the entire 25-car field except Derr.

When Derr took the lead, his chief challenger was Herschel Buchanan of Shreveport, La., driving a Ford Thunderbird. But again Derr's fortune was the result of another man's misfortune when Buchanan fell out of the race at 155 laps with front wheel trouble.

After that, Derr drove steadily without apparent trouble with his car and without serious challenge. Only man with an outside chance of catching him in the final laps was Johnny Beauchamp of Harlan, Iowa. But Derr, driving a 1955 Chevrolet, came home easily one-third of a lap ahead of Beauchamp.

Derr, the 1953 International Motor Contest Association champion, was wheeling the same car he's had in competition for two years. Yet he did not need a pit stop Sunday. His time was 1 hour, 47 minutes, and 34.15 seconds. The fast condition of the track also enabled Derr and Buchanan to establish one-lap track record of 30.10.
Among Cedar Rapids drivers, Doc Narber finished fourth, George Miller was 13th and Frank Richards of Marion was 17th. All were driving new Chevrolets. Narber, who won the July 3 race at the Downs, currently ranks fifth in IMCA points standings.

Miller was driving the same car which Paul Newkirk of Cedar Rapids was critically injured at Oskaloosa last Monday.

Results –

  1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
  2. Johnny Beauchamp, Harlan, Iowa
  3. Dewayne “Tiny” Lund, Harlan, Iowa
  4. “Doc” Narber, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  5. Roxy Dancy, Shreveport, La.
  6. Wayne Chadwick, Des Moines, Iowa
  7. Dirk Houdek, Wichita, Kan.
  8. Bobby Brown, Springfield, Mo.
  9. “Tubby” Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
  10. Bob Potter, Duluth, Minn.
  11. Bob Ward, Anita, Iowa
  12. Bob Hilmer, Waterloo, Iowa
  13. George Miller, Cedar Rapid, Iowa
  14. Newt Bartholomew, Carlisle, Iowa
  15. Herschel Buchanan, Shreveport, La.
  16. Bill Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
  17. Frank Richards, Marion, Iowa
  18. Don White, Keokuk, Iowa
  19. Delmar Donaldson, Burlington, Iowa
  20. Roy Springer, Amery, Wis.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

1975 – Racing Promoter Lenoch; No Grandiose Delusions

By Gary Jacobson
Rochester, Minn. (August 13, 1975) – Don’t ever accuse Floyd Lenoch of having grandiose delusions. His goals, though sometimes difficult, are all within the realm of possibility.
Currently, Lenoch’s No. 1 priority is making stock car racing at the Howard County Fairgrounds in Cresco, Iowa, a viable and profitable operation. Nothing would make the Austin, Minn., promoter happier than standing by the scoring tower on the field of the 3/8-mile dirt track and seeing 2,000 smiling spectators smiling back at him from the grandstand.
“It’s the culmination of all my desires,” Lenoch said. “My main goal is to see if a guy can go down there in the middle of nowhere and make a race track go.”
“If you’re running a track in a population center, it’s almost a guarantee that you’re going to make some money. But out in the country away from the cities is a whole different story.”
Cresco is a northern Iowa community of some 3,000 residents located 60 miles south of Rochester, Minn., and 50 miles northeast of Waterloo, Iowa.
Lenocch and his partner in the Inside Pole Racing Association, Clem Weber, also of Austin, began promoting races in Cresco three years ago. They sustained losses of about $6,000 each of the first two years of operation, according to Lenoch, but are getting close to breakeven this season.
Lenoch says the average attendance at the regular Friday night cards featuring late models and hobby stock competition is up between 500-600 over last season, falling in the 1,500-2,000 range.
“I would say that up until last Friday night, we were turning things around at Cresco this year,” Lenoch said. “However, we drew only 1,100 people then. We probably shouldn’t even have had a show. It rained during the heat races.”
The largest crowd of the year at the track this season was 2,385.
Lenoch, 50, has been in the race promoting business for seven years, operating Minnesota tracks in Lansing and Austin before moving to Cresco. This year Inside Pole Racing Association is also handling the races at North Iowa Speedway in Mason City, Iowa.
“Things have been better at Mason City,” Lenoch admits. “We’ve been averaging between 2,500 and 2,700 people and paying an average purse of $3,000.
But no matter how successful Mason City is, Lenoch will constantly be plagued by the challenge of making Cresco go.
“I honestly think it’s the best track around,” said of the Howard County facility. “If we could just get 2,000 people out every Friday night. Maybe I’m so interested in it go I because it’s such a challenge.”
Lenoch is always trying new ways to boost interest in the Cresco operation. Last year he brought in Wisconsin asphalt ace Dick Trickle to take on the hometown pilots. His first season at the track began the Ole Brua Memorial card. Late this August he plans on a bicentennial celebration with a special card feature twin 38-lap features and the overall winner could collect a potential $1,500 of the $5,000 purse.
Cresco area merchants have also shown a desire to help make the track succeed, The Ford dealership in Cresco and Austin each contributed $500 to bring in Trickle. And now several Cresco businesses have pooled $1,000 to bolster the Twin 38’s purse.
“You can tell the real race fan,” Lenoch says. “He comes up with a big donation and then doesn’t ask for a free pass. We do have some of them in Cresco.”
Lenoch doesn’t plan any changes in the Cresco operation, but does point out some alteration may be made next season if he loses money again this year.
“But I don’t look to lose money,” he quickly added.
For Lenoch, optimism is not a delusion.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

1978 – Wolfgang Knoxville Nationals Winner

Knoxville, Iowa (August 12, 1978) – Doug Wolfgang, driving the Bill Smith Speedway Motors’ Chevrolet, won the 30-lap A-main at the Knoxville Nationals on Saturday night at the Marion County Fairgrounds.
The Lincoln, Neb., driver led all 30 laps after starting on the outside of the front row.
Steve Kinser of Bloomington, Ind., driving the Kinser Brothers Chevrolet, hung close and challenged the whole way, but had to be content with second place.
Eddie Leavitt of Kearney, Mo., the 1975 and ’76 champion, finished third in Max Roger’s Chevrolet and Shane Carson of Oklahoma City, driving Bob Trostle’s Chevy, took fourth. Danny Smith of Danville, Ill., rounded out the top five.
The hard charger on the evening was Jack Hewitt of Troy, Ohio, as he came from his 20th starting position to come home in sixth place.
Sammy Swindell of Germantown, Tenn., was the tough luck story of the night. Swindell, who started on the pole, didn’t even complete one lap as the rear end gear of his car tore apart and he was finished for the evening.

Results –

1.    Doug Wolfgang, Lincoln, Neb.
2.    Steve Kinser, Bloomington, Ind.
3.    Eddie Leavitt, Kearney, Mo.
4.    Shane Carson, Oklahoma City
5.    Danny Smith, Danville, Ill.
6.    Jack Hewitt, Troy, Ohio
7.    Charlie Schwartz, Hendersonville, Tenn.
8.    Bobby Allen, Hanover, Penn.
9.    Bubby Jones, Danville, Ill.
10.  Bill Robison, Topeka, Kan.
11.  Buster Venard, Tustin, Calif.
12.  Ron Milton, Jacksonville, Ill.
13.  Tom Corbin, Carrollton, Mo.
14.  Jack McCorkell, Redwood Falls, Minn.
15.   Lee Osborne, Jamestown, Ind.
16.   Lee James, Northridge, Calif.
17.   Larry Clark, Tolleson, Ariz.
18.   Rick Ferkel, Findlay, Ohio
19.   Mike Brooks, Knoxville, Iowa
20.   Mike Shaw, Northridge, Calif.
21.   Gary Scott, Holts Summit, Mo.
22.    Sammy Swindell, Germantown, Tenn.

Friday, August 11, 2017

1968 – Californian Wins IMCA Sprint Honors at Eldon

 Norm Paul

Eldon, Iowa (August 11, 1968) – A field of 22 of the top IMCA sprint cars invaded the Wapello County Fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon for the annual renewal.
Norm Paul of Auburn, Calif., would set fast time in the afternoon, touring the half-mile in 25.75 seconds, driving the Pittman Chevy Special.
The feature was in the true sense of the word a grand finale with the lead changing hands three times.
Ralph Parkinson of Wichita Falls, Tex., jumped into the lead on the first lap and stayed there for the next 10 circuits fighting off the constant challenges of Dick Sutcliffe of Greenwood, Mo., and Lee Kunzman of Guttenberg, Iowa.
Kunzman brought the Iowa fans to their feet when he put the L&M Speed Shop Special into the top spot on lap 11. Kunzman would stretch out to a commanding lead until a yellow came out on lap 16 when Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., and Cliff Cockrum of Benton, Ill., locked up in the second turn causing both cars to spin.
When the green dropped again, it was Norm Paul, who had started sixth on the invert, right on the bumper of Kunzman. Paul would go nose-to-tail with Kunzman down the backstretch and entering turns three and four, Paul would power past the popular Iowan on the inside.
From there, Paul would open up a three car-length lead over the final five laps and win easily. Kunzman would settle for second while Sutcliffe would take third.

Results –

Qualifying – Norm Paul, Auburn, Calif. (25.75)
Heat #1 – Lee Kunzman, Guttenberg, Iowa
Heat #2 – Johnny Babb, Ottumwa, Iowa
Heat #3 – Ron Perkins, Bethalto, Ill.
Consolation – Stan Borofsky, Kansas City
Trophy dash – Lee Kunzman
Feature –

1.    Norm Paul
2.    Lee Kunzman
3.    Dick Sutcliffe
4.    Ralph Parkinson, Wichita Falls, Tex.
5.    Hank Smith, Mt. Ayr, Iowa
6.    J.L. Cooper, Kansas City
7.    Cliff Cockrum, Benton, Ill.
8.    Stan Borofsky, Kansas City
9.    Ron Perkins
10.  Chuck Lynch, Springfield, Ill.

Editor’s Note – The win at Eldon, Iowa, would be Norm Paul’s first and last IMCA sprint car win. A little over a month later, Paul would be involved in unfortunate crash while competing in Spencer, Iowa, and lose his arm. The accident would end Paul’s racing career.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

1974 – Gaines Nabs Knoxville Nationals Victory

Dick Gaines is congratulated by Jan Opperman for winning the 1974 Knoxville Nationals as announcer Chris Economacki looks on.

Knoxville, Iowa (August 10, 1974) – After following Jan Opperman by distances of two to 20 car lengths for 29 circuits, Dick Gaines of Floyd Knob, Ind., charged hard off of the last corner to win the 14th annual Knoxville National Championships at the Marion County Fairgrounds on Saturday night.

The margin of victory was less than a car length.

Opperman, of Beaver Crossing, Neb., earlier had appeared to be on the verge of victory as he pulled away to a healthy advantage. Gaines would never allow Opperman to build an insurmountable lead, however.

As the leader throughout the race, Opperman appeared to negotiate traffic less loosely than Gaines. Gaines, considered an excellent chauffer in traffic, had earlier impressed race fans with the ability to maneuver through traffic.

“I like the tackiness of the track as it allowed freedom I like,” expressed Gaines afterwards.

Opperman indicated that he had probably not found the best gear, suspension and tire combination. The car had earlier taken some frame and axle damage from an accident with Stan Borofsky of Raytown, Mo. Borofsky’s car appeared to make a right turn on the front straightaway and it ran up over Opperman’s car as it was passing on the outside. The Borofsky car flipped wildly for some 100 yards. Borofsky was hospitalized with injuries described as not severe.

In the B-main, Larry Kirkpatrick of Wood River, Ill., charged from his eighth starting position to take the win. The race was Kirkpatrick’s first feature win at the half-mile. Finishing second was Doc Dawson of Lima, Ohio and Bob Moore of Phoenix, Ariz., raced from his 23rd starting spot to finish third.

In an accident-marred C-main, Bob Moore took an early lead and went on to win the 15-lapper.

Heat wins went to Bob Moore, Ron Shuman, Phoenix; Kenny Weld, York, Penn; Mackie Heimbaugh, Des Moines; and Gary Johnson, Newton, Iowa.

An estimated crowd of 11,300 enjoyed the action. Gaines’ victory netted him $3,600. Opperman’s second place effort was worth $2,300.

Feature results –

1. Dick Gaines, Floyd Knob, Ind.
2. Jan Opperman, Beaver Crossing, Neb.
3. Ted Wise, Hubbard, Ohio
4. Lou Blaney, Hartford, Ohio
5. Fred Linder, Fremont, Ohio
6. Ken Weld, York, Penn.
7. Ron Rae, Panorama City, Calif.
8. Roger Rager, Mound, Minn.
9. Eddie Leavitt, Kearney, Mo.
10. Bubby Jones, Danville, Ill.
11. Ron Shuman, Phoenix, Ariz.
12. Larry Kirkpatrick, Wood River, Ill.
13. Roger Larson, Beavertown, Penn.
14. Lonnie Jensen, Lincoln, Neb.
15. Dick Sutcliffe, Greenwood, Mo.
16. Larry Clark, Phoenix, Ariz.
17. Jerry McClung, Phoenix, Ariz.
18. Ken McCarty, Hastings, Neb.
19. Doc Dawson, Lima, Ohio
20. Larry Gates, Evansville, Ind.
21. Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa
22. Buddy Cochran, Sharon, Penn.
23. Daryl Dawley, Sioux Falls, S.D.
24. Thad Dosher, Topeka, Kan.