Monday, July 15, 2019

1981 – History Repeats for Walton at Oskaloosa

Ken Walton

Oskaloosa, Iowa (July 15, 1981) – History repeated itself in the Pepsi-Mountain Dew Special stock car race on Wednesday night at the Mahaska County Fairgrounds when Ken Walton of Viola, Iowa, won the late model feature nipping Kenny Fenn of Washington, Iowa, by six inches.

It was Walton’s first feature win of the season although he’s finished no worse than fifth this year. “This happened three years ago, too,” said the happy Walton. “I won my first feature of the year in this event, then I went to Eldora (Speedway) and won my first World 100. I hope I can win that again too.”

Walton won $1,000 for winning the 35-lap feature on the half-mile track. The event, sanctioned by the National Speedways Contest Association, also helped Walton regain the point lead in the series’ standings.

Fenn, the point leader at the Iowa State Fairgrounds track in Des Moines, started the race on the pole and quickly took a commanding lead in his 1981 Corvette. By lap 7 he had a straight-away lead over second place Jerry Pilcher of Ottumwa, Iowa.

A yellow flag would come out on lap 11 for an accident involving Curt Hogue of Ames, Iowa and Johnny Johnson of Morning Sun, Iowa. During the caution, Fenn would replace his right rear tire.

After the restart, Fenn would lose his stagger and speed. However, Walton was unable to do much except slowly creep on Fenn, getting his Camaro into second place on lap 18.

On lap 30, Fenn would encounter lapped traffic allowing Walton to tag on to his bumper as the laps ticked away. On lap 34 tried to pass Fenn down the backstretch but couldn’t get around. Coming out of turn four, however, Fenn would get loose, sliding high, allowing Walton the opportunity to dive low and start a drag race to the checkers. Walton would nip Fenn by half a foot at the start/finish line.

Pilcher would finish third, Ron Jackson of Burlington, Iowa, was fourth and Curt Hogue would come back from his accident earlier in the race to finish fifth.

Results –
Heat #1 – Kenny Fenn, Washington, Iowa
Heat #2 – Jerry Pilcher, Ottumwa, Iowa
Heat #3 – Tom Hearst, Wilton, Iowa
Challenge race – Tom Hearst
Feature –

1. Ken Walton, Viola, Iowa
2. Kenny Fenn
3. Jerry Pilcher
4. Ron Jackson, Burlington, Iowa
5. Curt Hogue, Ames, Iowa
6. Curt Hansen, Dike, Iowa
7. Jerry Roberts, Prairie City, Iowa
8. Craig Jacobs, Des Moines
9. Tony Stewart, Washington, Iowa
10. Billy Moyer Jr., Des Moines

Sunday, July 14, 2019

1961 – Stott trails Derr in Lakeside Stock Main

Kansas City, Kan. (July 14, 1961) – A new IMCA world’s record for late model stock car was written into the books at Lakeside Stadium’s lightning fast half-mile on Friday night.

With Gene Van Winkle and Woody Brinkman handling the officiating for National Speedways, Inc., Ernie Derr of Keokuk, Iowa flawlessly powered his 1961 Pontiac to the checkered flag in the 50-lap main event in 22 minutes and 21 seconds.

Derr, the defending IMCA national champion, thus erased the old mark of 22 minutes and 59 seconds set by Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1959.

Ramo Stott, also of Keokuk, Iowa, found the going excellent as well, as he edged Derr in the 10-lap trophy dash to set a new IMCA standard of 4 minutes and 28 seconds. Stott, racing a 1961 Ford, eclipsed the old record of 4 minutes and 31 seconds set by Derr in 1959.

Stott trailed Derr across the finish line in the main event with Chub Liebe of Oelwein, Iowa coming in third and Lenny Funk of Otis, Kan., fourth. Liebe and Funk race 1961 Fords.

Derr, who also won the first heat, nudged ahead of Stott on the first lap of the feature and was able to stave off numerous challenges by his fellow townsman as he sped to the new world mark.

Results –

First Heat: Ernie Derr

Second Heat: Dick Hutcherson

Third Heat: Chub Liebe

Trophy Dash: Ramo Stott


1. Ernie Derr

2. Ramo Stott

3. Chub Liebe

4. Lenny Funk

5. Jerry McCreadie

Saturday, July 13, 2019

1969 – Bobby Unser Slips Through to Win Miller 200

Bobby Unser accepts his accolades after winning the Miller 200 at Milwaukee. 

West Allis, Wis. (July 13, 1969) – Bobby Unser navigated his 1969 Ford Talladega through a hail of metal on an oil-slicked track Sunday to win the Miller 200-mile stock car race at State Fair Park.

Unser took the lead only six miles from the finish when Jack Bowsher’s 1969 Ford Torino coasted into the pits out of fuel while a caution flag was out.

The flag was out after Paul Bauer’s 1968 Chevrolet cut off Don White, nicked the Keokuk, Iowa driver’s fender, and smashed head on into the grandstand wall on lap 192.

Two laps later, Bowsher pitted and Unser took the lead. The safety trucks kept the cars in line until the 198th lap, much to the dismay of the 31,774 race fans in attendance. When the green flag was finally reinstated, the Unser’s lead was too big for White to surmount in the final two circuits.

White’s 1969 Dodge Charger finished second, Bowsher was third, and Norm Nelson - Saturday’s fast qualifier at 103.122 miles per hour – was fourth in his 1969 Roadrunner.

Yellow flags were the story of the day and kept the winning speed down to 94.27 miles per hour as four of the race leaders were forced out.

A.J Foyt grabbed a huge early lead and held it through three yellow lights during the first 80 miles.

Ray Dropp of Palatine, Ill., spun out on lap 17 for a brief caution; then Al Unser blew his engine on the 53rd lap. Roger McCluskey skidded in the oil left from Unser’s engine and slammed backwards into the wall. McCluskey’s rear end was so wrinkled, his crew had to batter away just to remove the gas cap.

USAC rookie Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., took over the lead when Foyt pitted after another spinout on lap 80. Trickle’s lead was fleeting, and he too was forced out when the engine on his 1969 Torino let go on lap 120.

Don White was the next leader and his reign lasted from lap 90 to 135 when he went to the pits for fresh tires. During that time, Foyt and Butch Hartman staged a brilliant duel for a distant second which didn’t end until Foyt slammed into Ron Keselowski on lap 107. Keselowski spun out on the north end and there simply wasn’t any place for Foyt to go.

Butch Hartman steered his 1969 Charger into the lead when White stopped for tires and led until his engine let go on lap 168. Bowsher took over from there until he ran out of fuel.

Bobby Unser praised his car and crew. “The car ran very well,” he said. “It never missed all day. I wouldn’t have had anything to complain about if I hadn’t won. All it needed was a little chassis adjustment on the first pit stop.”

Unser, gulping aspirin, said all the blown engines and pit stop made things “a little confusing”.

“I don’t usually take aspirin after a race but the stock cars are sort of hollow and the sound reverberates in the there.”

Results –

1. Bobby Unser
2. Don White
3. Jack Bowsher
4. Norm Nelson
5. Bruce Sparrman
6. Gene Marmor
7. Jack Knippel
8. Terry Nichels
9. Whitey Gerken
10.Paul Feldner
11.Roger McCluskey
12.Dave Whitcomb
13.J.J. Smith
14.Don Hill
15.Joe Frasson
16.Bob Haack
17.Frank Freda
18.Bill Nelson
19.George Giesen
20.Paul Bauer
21.Tom Jones
22.Glen Bradley
23.Butch Hartman
24.Jim Lord
25.Jay Behimer
26.Jerry Smith
27.Dick Trickle
28.Roger Regeth
29.Ed Hoffman
30.A.J. Foyt
31.Ron Keselowski
32.Sal Tovella
33.Bill Shirey
34.Ron Goudreau
35.Everett Fox
36.Ray Dropp
37.Dale Jett
38.Al Unser
39.Fred Zack
40.Bay Darnell

Friday, July 12, 2019

1976 - Ohio's Ferkel wins Missouri Sprint Nationals Final

Rick Ferkel 

Sedalia, Mo. (July 12, 1976) - Ohio sprint car driver Rick Ferkel lived up to his reputation of being the hot test item on the circuit Saturday, blowing off the competition for a win in the 35-lap Missouri Sprint National finals.

The Tiffin, Ohio, racer picked up a check for $2,000 after running away with the second annual sprint car classic before 4,000 fans at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia.

Coming out of a half-season retirement, Sedalia s Bill Utz grabbed second place and $1,200 Saturday night, Ralph Parkinson Jr., picked up third spot and $1,000 after battling with Kearney’s Eddie Leavitt during the main event.

Racing on the half-mile dirt oval opened Thursday on a sad note with the announcement that Larry Kirkpatrick, Wood River, Ill., died earlier in the day of injuries he suffered July 5 in a sprint car race at West Memphis, Ark.

Kirkpatrick, a competitor at the Sprint Nationals last year, had made the jump this season to the United States Auto Club circuit. Saturday night drivers passing through the crowd collected $1,602 from the fans for Kirkpatrick’s widow and three children.

Second-year driver Dick Morris, Sioux City, Iowa, made the railbirds set up and take notice as he toured the track in 22.06 seconds, the fastest a sprint car has ever been timed around the oval. He erased the 1971 qualifying run of 22.45 seconds which had been the standard. It was set by Steve Schultz of Indianapolis, Ind.

Morris, rookie of the year last year at Knoxville, Iowa, not only set fast time, he also won his 12-lap heat race and copped the 5-lap cash dash added race featuring the four fastest cars.

Three of the four quick times Thursday came from the first five qualifiers on the track. Columbia's David Dwyer was the third driver out and was clocked in 22.32, good for second place. Eddie Leavitt, the 1975 National Super-Modified Champion at Knoxville, was the first car out Thursday and his 22.71 time was good enough for third spot. Chuck Amati, from Freeman Spur, Ill., was the third fastest with a 22.66 time, he was the 26th driver on the track. Morris came out in the fifth position.

The format called for four 12-lap heat races with the top three in each heat moving on to the A-Feature on Saturday night. Morris, Dwyer, Amati and Leavitt all captured first place in the heat races, Morris came back to edge Dwyer in the cash dash.

The night wound up with a 15-lap consolation feature for all the non-qualifiers. Johnny Suggs, Mesquite, Tex., edged Jerry Johnson, Kirksville, Mo., for first place in that event, with Don Bradberry, Sweet Springs, Mo., fourth.

Friday night the track was considerably slower, Ralph Blackett, Des Moines, Iowa, turned in the night’s fastest time with a 23.46 lap.

Gene Gennetten, Parkville, Mo., Ferkel, 20-year-old Sammy Swindell, West Memphis, Ark., and Utz raced to wins in the four 12-lap heat events. Blackett came back to capture the cash dash, edging out Gennetten, Ferkel and Tom Corbin, Carrollton, Mo.

The 15-lap consolation feature went to Ralph Parkinson Sr., of Kansas City, with Jim Braden, Kansas City second and John Stevenson, St. Paul, Minn., third.

Corbin gained a spot in the A-Feature on Thursday night with a second-place finish to Morris in the first heat. But he blew the engine in his sprinter on the first lap of the cash dash, forcing him to find another ride for Friday night and another shot at the field. He came back with a second-place finish to Ferkel in the second heat.

Dean Elliot, California, Mo., grabbed third place in the fourth heat to earn a spot in the A-Feature. Elliott drove Bill Campbell’s car in the Friday event. Campbell, of Russellville, had qualified for the C-Feature on Thursday night then elected to give up that spot and let Elliott have a shot at the A-Feature. Elliott made his first driving appearance since flipping down the backstretch in last year’s sprint car show at the Missouri State Fair.

While Ferkel, Utz and Parkinson Jr., took the big cash Saturday, it was Jim Jenkins, Slater, Mo., that did most of the work and passed the most cars.

The veteran racer was qualified for the B-Feature but was called upon to start in the C to make a full field of cars for the 20-lap race. Coming from the 17th spot, he took first place in that race, nipping Johnny Suggs in the final three laps.

He came back to finish second to Ralph Parkinson Sr., in the 25-lap B-Feature after only a 20-minute intermission. But in doing so he lost the brakes on the right rear of his car and was forced to change the system during the B and A main events.

In the A, Jenkins started from the 25th spot and was flagged in the ninth position when the race ended, running 80 laps of green flag competition Saturday. Gennetten, winner of the Memorial Day sprint and midget main events on the track, was unable to start the feature as he encountered car problems prior to the show Saturday night.

Morris and Dwyer made up the front row with Amati and Leavitt in the second row and Utz and Ferkel in row three.

Defending Missouri Sprint National champ Gary Scott, Holts Summit, Mo., ran fifth in the A-Feature, starting from the inside sixth row spot.

Results –

1. Rick Ferkel, Findlay, Ohio
2. Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
3. Ralph Parkinson Jr., Kansas City
4. Eddie Leavitt, Kearney, Mo.
5. Gary Scott, Holts Summit, Mo.
6. Dick Morris, Sioux City, Iowa
7. Tom Corbin, Carrollton, Mo.
8. Ralph Blackett, Des Moines, Iowa
9. Bobby Marshall, Dallas, Tex.
10.Jim Jenkins, Slater, Mo.
11.John Beaber, Vermont, Ohio
12.Bob Williams, Kansas City
13.Dave Dwyer, Columbia, Mo.
14.Sammy Swindell, West Memphis, Tenn.
15.Steve Perry, Dallas, Tex.
16.Bill Curtis, Kansas City
17.Phil Howe, Jacksonville, Ill.
18.Jim Braden, Kansas City
19.Bob Thoman, Higginsville, Mo.
20.Dean Elliot, California, Mo.
21.Butch Bahr, Lincoln, Neb.
22.Sonny Smyser, Greenwood, Mo.
23.Chuck Amati, Freeman Spur, Ill.
24.Ron Milton, Jacksonville, Ill.
25.George Lasoski, Dover, Mo.
26.Ralph Parkinson Sr., Kansas City

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

1966 - McCluskey Sweeps Winchester Clean

Winchester, Ind. (July 10, 1966) - It was Roger McCluskey day on the hallowed, high-banks of the Winchester Speedway yesterday afternoon.

McCluskey, who is starting to make a runaway of the United States Auto Club’s sprint division, set fast qualifying time, won the first 8-lap heat race and came back to win the 30-lap feature. This is Roger’s fourth win out of the five sprint races.

It wasn’t really that easy racing Roger. Don Branson, USAC’s racing grandfather, got the jump on McCluskey from his (Branson’s) outside, front row starting position and Roger was running a distant second for the first few laps.

McCluskey said after the race, when asked why he fell back so far at the start, “I was just getting ready to get on it when someone bumped me in the back end. My foot slid off the throttle and Branson took off.”

Grandpa Branson “took off”, as McCluskey said, as if he wanted to win his 29th USAC sprint feature, but Roger went to work on his lead and at the end of six laps was nose-to-tail with Branson.

On the seventh lap, Grandpa slid high in number four turn and bounced his right rear wheel off the steel guard rail. This was the opening McCluskey had been working for and he drove into first place.

Roger proceeded to build a healthy lead as Al Smith, sitting in the Wynn’s Friction Proofing Special for the injured Johnny Rutherford, moved up to challenge Branson for his second-place spot.

Again, number four turn was Grandpa’ s downfall, he bounced off the rail a second time and Smith was chasing the fleeing McCluskey with Branson running third.

This was the order of finish for the first three. Bobby Unser started 10th but when the checkered flag fell he had moved the Chevrolet-powered K.E.Y. Special to fourth place and was closing on Branson.

Time for the 30-lap, 15-mile, feature was 9 minutes and 1 second, which is just a shade off the track record.

Dee Jones and Norm Brown finished the second heat race in a wheel-to-wheel battle which had the fans standing at the end of the eight laps. Jones was declared the winner, but it was by a matter of inches.

Al Smith won the third eight-lapper and Bobby Unser set a new track record for the 10-lap consolation. Unser ran the five miles in 2 minutes and 59 seconds, half a second faster than the old record, and figures out to 100.11 miles per hour. (That’s going around a half-mile oval fairly fast.)

A patient crowd of 5,500 race fans enjoyed the action. . .which got underway nine minutes early.

Results –

1. Roger McCluskey
2. Al Smith
3. Don Branson
4. Bobby Unser
5. Bud Tinglestad
6. Sam Session
7. Ronnie Duman
8. Ron Lux
9. Dave Lundy
10. Arnie Knepper
11. Dee Jones
12. Norm Brown
13. Greg Weld
14. Bob Pratt

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

1967 – 20,000 See Derr Win Iowa 300

Ernie Derr flashes a broad smile as he accepts his trophy from Miss Iowa ‘300’ Linda Leslie.

Des Moines, Iowa (July 9, 1967) - Ernie Derr of Keokuk, Iowa, took the lead on the first lap, relinquished it only briefly during three pit stops and cruised to his second straight Iowa 300 late-model stock car race Sunday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds before a crowd of 20,351.

Dick Hutcherson, the former International Motor Contest Association champion who is now a NASCAR star, provided the strongest challenge for 295 laps. That's when the engine of his 1967 Fairlane Ford blew up and he dropped from second to third place.

Keokuk's Ramo Stott, three-time Iowa 300 winner, took over second place after Hutcherson's misfortune. Derr had his 1967 Charger purring over the 150-mile grind on a track which he said was in its best condition ever.

Derr's pay for the day was $1,375. He received $1,100 for winning the race, $100 for each of two records he broke and $75 for finishing second behind Hutcherson in the time trials.

Derr broke Stott's 100-lap record of 49 minutes and 37 seconds - set July 7, 1963, with a time of 46 minutes and 4 seconds. The old 200-lap mark of 1 hour, 35 minutes and 54 seconds was Hutcherson's, set August 22, 1964. Derr's time was 1 hour, 34 minutes and 44 seconds.

Hutcherson, formerly of Keokuk, started on the pole after setting a one-lap record on the half-mile dirt track of 25.83 seconds. That broke Stott's mark of 26 seconds set July 10, 1966. Derr also was under Stott's time at 25.88 seconds to gain a front row starting position.

Hutcherson stayed close to Derr and attempted to pass on lap 35 but Derr's Dodge Charger was able to stay ahead.

Derr pulled into the pits for his 30-second mandatory pit stop in the first 100 laps on lap 91 and Hutcherson would take the lead.

Hutch then took his required recess on lap 93 and Stott went into a one-lap lead. Der would zip back in front when Stott pitted on lap 94. 

Derr would return for gas on lap 107 and again, Hutcherson would take over the top spot. But Derr would regain the lead 12 laps later and begin to pull away from Hutcherson and the rest of the field.

The seven-time IMCA national champion would lap Hutcherson on lap 171. Both would stop for gas on lap 206 with Hutcherson back on out first but his gain would be insignificant.

By lap 150, Derr had an 18-second lead and 20 circuits later, as Hutcherson began to slow with engine troubles, Derr had increased his margin to over 20 seconds.

Despite an ailing motor, Hutcherson appeared to have second-place cinched but his car began smoking badly with only 8 laps left. It finally gave out on lap 296.

Results –

1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
3. Dick Hutcherson, Camden, S.C.
4. Ole Brua, Albert Lea, Minn.
5. Lewis Taylor, Shawnee, Kan.
6. Wally Christensen, Minneapolis
7. Irv Janey, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
8. George Barton, Ankeny, Iowa
9. Leon Bowman, Wichita, Kan.
10. Bob Perry, Springfield, Mo.

Monday, July 8, 2019

1979 - Planks Tops Late Model Go in Buddy Baker 40

De Pere, Wis. (July 8, 1979) – Although all eyes were on NASCAR star Buddy Baker, Leon Plank of Mondovi, Wis., stole the show as he won the late model feature, the Buddy Baker “40” at Paul’s Super Speedway Sunday night.

Baker, who made the trip all the way from Charlotte, N.C., to be in the race, had to leave the feature after only 19 laps. No reason was given for his early departure. Baker, who hadn’t competed on a dirt track in over 10 years, started in the 17th position.

Plank, who was in second place most of the race, took the lead on lap 36 of the 40-lapper and held on to win by three car lengths.

Finishing behind Plank were J.J. Smith, Pete Parker, Mike Melius and Lowell Bennett.

The feature race was highlighted by three restarts, each one caused by a mishap in turn four.

The first restart was caused when Wayne Weckwerth of Appleton, Wis., spun out.

The next restart was caused by Bob Menor of Wausaukee, Wis., when he came out of turn four too fast and rode the outside guardrail into the grandstand. Luckily, no one was injured, but the underside of Menor’s car was severely damaged.

The final restart occurred when Doug Larson of Green Bay spun out in turn four.

Once the race finally got started, Plank, who was on the outside of the first row, jumped into the lead over Smith and Parker.

The top three stayed that way until lap 10 when Parker passed Plank before the starter signaled a yellow flag due to a spinout in turn three. Parker went on the outside coming out of turn four and was half a car length in front of Plank when they came in front of the starter waving the yellow flag.

Parker held on to first place, helped by 14 laps under the yellow flag, until lap 35. On that lap, Plank pulled alongside Parker coming out of turn four. The two remained that way for a full lap, but then coming out of turn four on lap 36, Parker got too low on the track and was slowed when he went through a large puddle that was just on the lip of the infield. This allowed both Plank and Smith to pass Parker as he tried to regain control of his car coming down the straight.

Plank then held off Smith for the last four laps and wound up in victory lane, collecting a $1,000 check. Smith finished second and Parker third.

Results –

1. Leon Plank, Mondovi, Wis.
2. J.J. Smith, Appleton, Wis.
3. Pete Parker, Kaukauna, Wis.
4. Mike Melius, Random Lake, Wis.
5. Lowell Bennett, Greenville, Wis.
6. Scott Hansen, Green Bay, Wis.
7. M.J. McBride, Shawano, Wis.
8. Bill Strom, West Allis, Wis.
9. Al Schill, Franklin, Wis.
10. Gordie Seegert Jr. Greenfield, Wis.