Sunday, September 15, 2019

1979 - Nesteby wins Memphis Nationals

Memphis. Mo. (September 15, 1979) – D. Arthur Nesteby captured the late model title at the Mid-America Half-Mile Nationals at the Scotland County Fairgrounds on Saturday evening.

The Waterloo, Iowa, veteran driver made the tow almost 200 miles to race at Memphis and as if that was not enough, he had to survive numerous yellow flags to win the 40-lap feature.

The 40-lapper got off to a bad start when a mix-up on the backstretch caused a complete restart. The next attempt wasn’t any more successful as several cars got together in turn four, necessitating another restart.

The third time saw Jerry Pilcher of Ottumwa, Iowa, grab the lead only to drop out on the second lap due to earlier damage.

Pilcher’s bad luck was Nesteby’s good fortune as he inherited the top spot. That lead would be short-lived as Johnny Babb of Ottumwa, Iowa, would slip under Nesteby on lap 8.

Nesteby would get around Babb on lap 11 to regain control. Ron Jackson of Burlington, Iowa, who had been nibbling at the leaders’ bumper, would slide by Babb as well to take over second.

Meanwhile, Joe Churchill of Peosta, Iowa, and Bob McCall of Ottumwa, Iowa, were challenging all three contenders. They stayed that way until lap 19 when Churchill’s car went up in smoke and was forced to the pits.

On the same lap, Jackson, sensing victory, dove under Nesteby to take the lead. The two drivers battled wheel to wheel and came across the line in a dead heat on lap 24. Jackson would maintain the edge until lap 32 when Nesteby slipped under him.

Jackson would go to the outside and on lap 38, pass Nesteby in turn four, only to spin out between laps one and two.

Nesteby would roar by the disabled Jackson for the lead and hold it for two laps to score the win. Jackson would recoup to hold on to second while Johnny Babb took third. Bob McCall would grab fourth and Russ Derr of Keokuk, Iowa, rounded out the top five.

In other action, Fred Knapp of Des Moines won the sportsman title and Darrel DeFrance of Marshalltown, Iowa, was the hobby stock titlist.

Results –

1. D. Arthur Nesteby, Waterloo, Iowa
2. Ron Jackson, Burlington, Iowa
3. Johnny Babb, Ottumwa, Iowa
4. Bob McCall, Ottumwa, Iowa
5. Russ Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
6. Mark Keltner, Morning Sun, Iowa
7. Paul Carr, Ottumwa, Iowa
8. Leo Randall, Sigourney, Iowa
9. Karl Ritterbusch, Clermont, Mo.
10. Randy Harrison, Memphis. Mo

Saturday, September 14, 2019

1963 – Ward Wins Hoosier Hundred

Rodger Ward show perfect form en route to winning the 1963 Hoosier Hundred. - Walt Imlay Photo

Indianapolis, Ind. (September 14, 1963) - Rodger Ward of Indianapolis set a blistering pace from start to finish to win the 11th annual Hoosier Hundred in record time at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Saturday.

Leading from the pole position, which he won at a record clip of 103.986 miles per hour, the two-time Indianapolis “500” champion raced the distance in 1 hour and 4 minutes, for an average speed of 93.545 mph.

Don Branson, Champaign, Ill., finished second, trailing Ward across the finish by 16 seconds. A.J. Foyt of Houston, Tex., third followed by Johnny Rutherford of Fort Worth, Tex., and Jim McElreath of Arlington, Tex.

Seventeen of the 18 starters finished the race. The missing was Parnelli Jones of Torrance, Calif., who spun on the very first lap, returned to the race but was out for good a few laps later with mechanical issues.

Ward, who grabbed his 23rd major victory in the last 10 years, pocketed $16,725 for the winner’s share of the purse worth $51,850. Both were records for the Indiana event.

It was also Ward’s third triumph of the year, having won 100-mile events at Milwaukee and Springfield, Ill.

Results –

1. Rodger Ward, Indianapolis
2. Don Branson, Champaign, Ill.
3. A.J. Foyt, Houston, Tex.
4. Johnny Rutherford, Fort Worth, Tex.
5. Jim McElreath, Arlington, Tex.
6. Roger McCluskey, Tucson, Ariz.
7. Johnny White, Warren, Mich.
8. Lloyd Ruby, Houston, Tex.
9. Ronnie Duman, Dearborn, Mich.
10.Jim Hurtubise, North Tonawanda, N.Y.

Friday, September 13, 2019

1958 – Sachs Wins Hoosier 100 in Record Time

Indianapolis, Ind. (September 13, 1958) – Eddie Sachs, ignoring a broken windshield and cut hands, won the rich Hoosier Hundred auto race Saturday at an Indiana State Fairgrounds record speed of 92.142 miles per hour. A crowd of 21,000 witnessed the action.

The grinning Center Valley, Penn., veteran fought his Schmidt Special around Johnny Thomson of Boyertown, Penn., in the 52nd mile and beat him to the finish line by three-quarters of a mile.

Sachs’ cuts, from glass splinters when his windshield split, were no serious. He collected $9,000 from a $32,700 purse – biggest on the USAC circuit outside the Indianapolis 500 race.

Jud Larson of Tampa, Fla., who set the old record of 91.751 miles per hour last year, hung up a one-mile qualifying record at 100.167 miles per hour, but his engine quit early in the race.

George Amick of Venice, Calif., the current USAC point leader, was also sidelined by engine problems, even before the race started.

Tony Bettenhausen, the old-timer from Tinley Park, Ill., led the first 49 miles. Thomson passed him but held the lead for only two miles before Sachs charged ahead.

Thomson had won the last three 100-milers at Springfield, Ill. Du Quoin, Ill., and Syracuse, N.Y. Sachs’ only previous victory of the season was at Langhorne.

Results –

1. Eddie Sachs, Center Valley, Penn.
2. Johnny Thomson, Boyertown, Penn.
3. Rodger Ward, Los Angeles
4. Don Branson, Urbana, Ill.
5. Tony Bettenhausen, Tinley Park, Ill.
6. Earl Motter, Hayward, Calif.
7. Jimmy Reece, Indianapolis
8. A.J. Foyt, Houston Tex.
9. Ed Elisian, Oakland, Calif.
10. Elmer George, Indianapolis

Thursday, September 12, 2019

1975 – Parkinson Sr. tops Spencer IMCA Sprints

Ralph Parkinson Sr. accepts congratulations and the trophy from IMCA flagman Larry Shipley while track steward Hal Meyer presents the checkers. - Beetle Bailey Photo

Spencer, Iowa (September 12, 1975) – The International Motor Contest Association’s point race for the grand championship sprint cars was tightened, two new records were set, and Ralph Parkinson Sr., of Kansas City, won the 30-lap feature here at the Clay County Fair on Friday afternoon.

The racing activities got underway with Bill Utz of Sedalia, Mo., the defending IMCA sprint car national champion, establishing fast time in qualifying. He made the one-lap circuit with a time of 24.04 seconds around the half-mile dirt oval. Parkinson Sr. had sixth quickest time, which, with the inverted top six start, gave him the pole position for the feature event.

Parkinson would grab the lead at the wave of the green flag and never look back, leading all 30 laps in a dominating performance.

The racing action took place for second and third positions which were held by Jan Opperman of Noxon, Mont., and Utz. The two veterans raced nose to tail for almost the entire race with Opperman frustrating the champion at every turn.

Dick Forbrook of Morgan, Minn., who was running behind Utz, challenged the duo only once and settled for fourth place.

Bob Thoman of Higginsville, Mo., Opperman and Dick Morris of Sioux City, Iowa, were heat winners and Gene Kester of Odessa, Mo., grabbed the consolation. Bill Mellenberndt of Sioux Falls, S.D., won the STP trophy dash.

Results –

1. Ralph Parkinson Sr., Kansas City
2. Jan Opperman, Noxon, Mont.
3. Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
4. Dick Forbrook, Morgan, Minn.
5. Bill Mellenberndt, Sioux Falls, S.D.
6. Sonny Smyser, Lancaster, Mo.
7. Daryl Dawley, Sioux Falls, S.D.
8. Jim Edgington, Fairmont, Minn.
9. Gene Kester, Odessa, Mo.
10. Dave Engebretson, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

1966 - Kunzman Wins National

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (September 11, 1966) – Young Lee “Stub” Kunzman borrowed the ride of his life Sunday afternoon as he captured the National Late Model Modified Stock Car Championship before a crowd of 7,500 at Hawkeye Downs.

The Guttenberg native smashed up his 1966 Chevy convertible in Saturday night’s regular weekly program and sought a ride for the nationals. He found one in a 1964 Ford, owned and chauffeured normally by Buzz McCann of St. Paul, Minn.

McCann was under doctor’s orders not to drive and things couldn’t have worked out better.

The outcome of the 100-lap feature produced a check for $1,000 to Kunzman and McCann, the largest chunk of change ever won for a single race by the popular 22-year-old.

“It just feels great,” Kunzman said after receiving his championship trophy from promoter Homer Melton. “Buzz’s car handled beautifully. It was real steady during the whole race and that made the difference.”

For the second year in a row, Benny Hofer of Rock Island latched onto second place. He took home $600. Mert William of Rochester, Minn., finished third for $300. John Connolly of Delhi won $200 for finishing fourth.

Total purse for the program was $5,000.

Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Herb Shannon of Peoria, Ill., Jerry Reinhart of Moline, Ill., and Connolly all picked up checkered flags in their respective heat races. Shannon also triumphed in the 10-lap consolation with Dolan coming in second.

Johnny Beauchamp of Atlantic, Iowa, raced to victory in the 20-lap semi-feature after starting 20th in the 26-car field. He whipped Mert Williams by two car lengths in an exciting finish. Beauchamp, a former IMCA national champion, wasn’t as fortunate in the feature.

Kunzman and Hofer both drove a dandy of a race, even though the 100-lap spectacular started out as a game of “catch us if you can” with front row starters Verlin Eaker and Darrell Dake, both of Cedar Rapids, setting the pace for the first 58 laps.

Eaker earned the pole position by setting a Downs’ record on the quarter-mile oval with a time of 16.67 seconds in his hemi-powered 1965 Dodge. Williams had established the previous mark of 16.89 seconds earlier this year. Dake also cracked the standard with a time of 16.74 seconds.

Dake, hoping to defend his national championship successfully, charged into the lead on the 58th lap when Eaker’s car began to heat up. Red Droste of Waterloo, the season point champion, had already dropped from the race by this time. He went to the pits on lap 35.

Dake’s hopes lasted for only two more laps when he was forced out with a flat tire.

Eaker regained the lead, but by this time, his engine had heated up, smoking badly and obvious he wouldn’t able to maintain the torrid pace much longer. On lap 65, the inevitable happened.

Beauchamp slipped inside the slowing Eaker and grabbed the front spot, followed by Kunzman and Hofer. Johnny had started seventh in the 24-car field, Kunzman 10th and Hofer started way back in the 20th slot.

For the next 30 circuits, Beauchamp controlled the thrilling action in his 1955 Chevrolet. The ex-Daytona 500 driver experience seemed to be the difference.

But on the fourth turn of the 95th lap, the cap broke on Beauchamp’s right front tire, crippling his car. Kunzman snapped into the lead and held tight the rest of the way with Hofer breathing down his neck.

Results –

Heat #1 – Roger Dolan, Lisbon
Heat #2 – Herb Shannon, Peoria, Ill.
Heat #3 – Jerry Reinhart, East Moline, Ill.
Heat #4 – John Connolly, Delhi
Consolation – Herb Shannon
Semi-main – Johnny Beauchamp, Atlantic, Iowa
Feature –

1. Lee Kunzman, Guttenberg
2. Benny Hofer, Rock Island, Ill.
3. Mert Williams, Rochester, Minn.
4. John Connolly
5. Bill Zwanziger, Waterloo
6. Johnny Beauchamp
7. Ray Guss, Milan, Ill.
8. Don Bohlander, Glasford, Ill.
9. Bill McDonough, Cedar Rapids
10.Jim Gerber, Mount Joy

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

1978 – Bobby Unser Wins Governor’s Cup

Bobby Unser takes the checkers at the Milwaukee Mile.

West Allis, Wis. (September 10, 1978) – Bobby Unser, the hard-charging driver from Albuquerque, N.M., led much of the way Sunday and easily won the Governor’s Cup 250-mile late model stock car race as the event ended under the yellow flag at Wisconsin State Fair Park.

Unser, who hadn’t won a stock car race since 1974, was leading Dave Watson of Milton, Wis., by 13.5 seconds when a yellow flag waved seven laps from the finish of the race.

The victory earned Unser $7,885 – the winner’s share of a record $41,400 purse.

A.J. Foyt of Houston, Tex., who leads the United States Auto Club point standings, finished third.

Unser, driving a 1978 Camaro, led 191 of 250 laps, battling Foyt, who also drove a 1978 Camaro, in the early stages before Foyt was forced to make a series of pit stops because of tire issues. After that, Watson, driving a 1977 Buick Skylark, challenged Unser through the middle stages of the race but could not take command.

Sal Tovella of Addison, Ill., was fourth, two laps back, in a 1977 Plymouth Volare, followed by Jim Sauter of Necedah, Wis., piloting a 1977 Dodge Aspen.

Unser said the race was especially satisfying for him because it had been so long since he’d been in the winner’s circle.

“It was a very timely victory,” Unser said. “It did me a lot of good. I’ve had a hard time winning races lately, yet I know I’m a good race driver.”

Results –

1. Bobby Unser
2. Dave Watson
3. A.J. Foyt
4. Sal Tovella
5. Jim Sauter
6. Bob Brevak
7. Bay Darnell
8. Gary Bowsher
9. Bob Schacht
10. Ramo Stott
11. Joe Ruttman
12. Terry Ryan
13. Gordon Blankenship
14. Tom Schley
15. Rich Clement
16. Jack Bowsher
17. Rick O’Brien
18. Eddie Wachs
19. Dale Koehler
20. Russ Peterson
21. Ken Miller
22. Charlie Glotzbach
23. Tom Meinberg
24. Terry Pearson

Monday, September 9, 2019

1967 – Andretti, Foyt 1-2 in Rich Hoosier 100

Mario Andretti eagerly awaits the start of the 1967 Hoosier Hundred.

Indianapolis, Ind. (September 9, 1967) – Defending champion Mario Andretti, who led for the last 86 laps of the Hoosier Hundred on the Indiana State Fairgrounds one-mile dirt track, defeated A.J. Foyt and nudged within 60 points of Foyt in the USAC national driving championship standings for the year.

Andretti, who handled the dirt like the White Knight, finished the race with an average sped of 95.546 miles per hour before a record crowd of 26,733 spectators.

Andretti, who now has 2,380 racing championship points, compared with Foyt’s 2,440, was nearly 10 seconds ahead of Foyt at the finish line.

They were followed to the checkers by Al Unser, rookie Bill Vukovich Jr., Jim McElreath and rookie Bruce Walkup.

Vuky, the son of a racing great, and Walkup both made big splashes as rookies in this, the richest of all dirt events.

Vukovich made a big move in the last 20 laps, and finished fourth by taking both McElreath and Walkup, who had startled the veteran stars by winning the pole with a record qualifying lap of 104.076 miles per hour.

Foyt, winner of this year’s Indianapolis 500, then gave chase to the rookie from Downey, Calif., finally slipping past on the fourth turn of the 35th lap.

Andretti had opened a big lead by the mid-point of thee race with Foyt still trying to shake loose from Walkup and McElreath dueling with Al Unser for fourth-place.

By the end of the 100 laps, however, Unser had shaken loose and Vukovich had come from the back of the pack to take both McElreath and Walkup.

The total purse for the 15th annual running of the Hoosier Hundred was a record $61,400. The bulk of which, of course, will go in the pocket of the “Lil Italian” from Nazareth, Penn., who has won five other championship class events this year.

Results –

1. Mario Andretti
2. A.J. Foyt
3. Al Unser
4. Bill Vukovich
5. Jim McElreath
6. Bruce Walkup
7. Carl Williams
8. Roger McCluskey
9. Chuck Hulse
10. Ralph Liguori
11.Ronnie Duman
12. Rollie Beale
13. Norm Brown
14. Larry Dickson
15. Bill Puterbaugh
16. Johnny Rutherford
17. George Snider
18. Bobby Unser