Monday, April 13, 2015

1975 - Senneker Sets World Record at Winchester ASA Stock Go

Winchester, Ind. (April 13, 1975) - After blazing to a new world record for paved half-mile track in qualifying with a second lap (103.681 mph) around high-banked Winchester Speedway, Bob Senneker of Dorr, Mich., totally dominated the 100-lap main event for American Speed Association (ASA) late model stock cars today, leave the second place car by two lengths at the finish.

Senneker’s record smashing performance marked his second straight win on the Winchester track, having won the rich “Dri-Powr 400” on the ASA “Circuit of Champions” Series last September.

He dominated action in the 24-car feature event, racing past really leader Jack Shanklin on lap 4 and steadily increasing the margin on the remainder of the field from that point.

Senneker’s only serious challenger all day long was Larry Moore of Dayton, Ohio, who also broke the old single lap world mark of 17.93 seconds (held jointly by Vernon Schrock and Ed VanderLaan) in qualifying with a 17.907 second lap. Moore kept Senneker in sight until he blew a right front tire on lap 67, necessitating a pit stop.

Mickey Flora, of Muncie, Ind., mounted a daring charge by starting deep in the pack and fighting his way to third position in a blue brand-new Ford Falcon out of Jody Ridley’s shop in Chatsworth, Ga. A broken distributor gear sidelined him at 36 laps.

Behind Senneker and Moore, however, was a scrap for position throughout the race involving Carl Smith, Harold Scott and Moose Myers. Smith finally took charge until the post race inspection revealed he was short of the required weight, resulting in a post-race disqualification.

Smith's misfortune elevated Scott to second in the final standing, with Myers third; Dave Sorg fourth and Don Keevan in fifth.

Senneker’s victory was worth $1,115.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

1972 - Dickson Back in Winner’s Circle

Larry Dickson

Winchester, Ind. (April 9, 1972) -Larry Dickson has served notice to his fellow USAC sprint car competitors that the winning combination for his Leffler Chevy sprinter has been found.

Dickson did so Sunday at Winchester Speedway when he scored a seemingly easy and convincing victory in the 40-lap feature event on the high-banked paved half-mile oval.

Starting from the pole position Dickson throttled his beautiful dark blue sprinter past a strong but outclassed field of 20 starters to gain his 35th sprint car feature win.

Following a restart, caused when Roger West and Merle Bettenhausen tangled in the first turn at the drop of the green flag, Dickson literally blasted past the field in record breaking time.

The time for the 40-lap feature was 11 minutes and 27 minutes, 21 seconds better than the track record established by Rollie Beale in 1971.

While being interviewed in victory circle, Dickson revealed that it was Larry Dickson, the wrench man, and not the driver who was the reason far the team's poor start during the first three races of the season.

“I believe we finally have found the fight combination for the car and we're going to be a hard team to beat from here on out,” said the two-time national sprint champ.

“Probably the main reason for our poor start was because I changed the chassis around, experimenting too much. From now on I'll do the driving and leave the work on the car to Paul (Leffler the car owner),” he said.

The large crowd that braved the mud and cold couldn't help but notice the different driving styles of two very familiar faces on the sprint circuit, that of Larry “Boom Boom” Cannon and Johnny Parsons Sr.

Many of the same fans that were viewing the activities on Sunday were also at Winchester last September when Cannon took one of the worst flips ever seen in sprint car competition. The hair-raising style of driving done by Cannon wasn’t to be seen Sunday.

Parsons turned in another fine driving performance in the Parsons-Meskowsi sprinter, capturing the 12-lap semi-feature and finishing seventh in the feature.

Parsons is due to drive in the Hulman Classic. Parsons entered the Winchester race ranking fifth in points after a third place finish at Cincinnati, fourth at Harrisburg, Pa. and ninth at Rossburg, Ohio.

The Parsons-Meskowki team looks like a strong combination for the sprint car championship.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

1995 - ‘Wild Child’ wins at State Fair in Oklahoma WoO action

Oklahoma City, Okla. (April 2, 1995) – Just when it looked as though Mark Kinser and Danny Lasoski might take control of the Spring Nationals and the World of Outlaws’ point race, fate and Jac Haudenschild stepped in to turn the tide.

Kinser, the early leader in the point’s standings, appeared to be on his way to his second victory of the young season Sunday afternoon at State Fair Speedway when Haudenschild passed him for the lead on the 19th lap. Injury was added to insult five laps later when the top wing supports on Kinser’s #5m Wirtgen Maxim broke, sending him crashing into the turn three wall.

The “Wild Child” kept his #22 Pennzoil Maxim ahead of the field during the final 12 laps to claim the $6,000 first prize. The victory, the 15th of his World of Outlaws career, pushed him into first place in the Skoal Outlaw Series point lead.

Lasoski earned his third fast time award of the year after pacing the 34-car field with a 17.210 second, 105.590 mph qualifying lap. But a collision with Aaron Berry during the fast dash sent him crashing into the retaining wall in the second corner. “The Dude” drove his backup sprinter past eight cars in the B feature but failed to qualify for the main event. He dropped into 11th in the point’s race.

Kinser, the fast dash winner, started the 30-lap A-main on the pole. He burst into the lead as the green flag fell, and opened a three-car-length lead within three laps. He caught the backmarkers by lap six.

The “Wild Child” caught Kinser midway through the race, and challenged him for the lead at every turn. Kinser was trying to pass Terry McCarl early on lap 19 when he slid out of the low groove in turn two. Haudenschild took the lead, and opened up a 10-car-length advantage within three laps.

Haudesnchild, who set a one-lap record on the semi-banked, half-mile oval last March 27, raced comfortably ahead of the field during the final six laps. He was eight car lengths ahead of the “Buckeye Bullet” Dave Blaney when he took the checkered flag.

Results –

  1. Jac Haudenschild
  2. Dave Blaney
  3. Stevie Smith
  4. Jeff Swindell
  5. Greg Hodnett
  6. Andy Hillenburg
  7. Joe Gaerte
  8. Sammy Swindell
  9. Aaron Berryhil
  10. Gary Wright
  11. Lance Blevins
  12. Tommie Estes Jr.
  13. Johnny Herrera
  14. Randy Smith
  15. Rickey Hood
  16. Terry McCarl
  17. Shane Stewart
  18. Randy Hannagan
  19. Steve Beitler
  20. Danny Wood
  21. John Bankston
  22. John Hunt
  23. Mark Kinser
  24. Donny Schatz

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Original Third Mile Nationals

by Lee Ackerman
Omaha, Neb. - In 1968, Eagle Raceway just east of Lincoln, Nebraska started a season ending special event for Sprint Cars and called it the Third Mile Nationals.
On Monday night, September 2, 1968 it was the true outlaw himself Gordon Woolley of Waco, Texas, winning the inaugural Third Mile Nationals. Woolley charged passed Lloyd Beckman on the second lap and despite being challenged most of the race by Beckman, pulled away in the closing laps for the win. Ray Lee Goodwin was third, Roy McCain was fourth.

Beckman won the dash and his heat. Other heats went to Lonnie Jensen and John Stevenson. Kenny Gritz won the Junior Championship (B feature) with a last lap pass of Dutch Buettenbach.

In 1969, it was veteran Kansas City chauffeur Dick Sutcliffe behind the wheel of the Gary Hanna Chevy taking the lead almost immediately from his inside second row starting position and sailing to the win in the 30-lap feature before a capacity crowd to pick up the $1,250 first place money.

Little Joe Saldana set fast time of 16.26 seconds then broke a driveshaft in his car and borrowed the car of Frank Brennfoerder, started 8th and put on a great drive to finish second. Pole sitter Lloyd Beckman finished third followed by Eddie Leavitt in the Brewer Chevy and Jay Woodside.

Ed Bowes won the Junior Championship (B feature) taking the lead from Larry Upton when Upton’s engine expired. Chuck Kidwell and Glenn Robey followed. Second fast qualifier Lloyd Beckman won the dash and his heat. Lonnie Jensen and Dick Sutcliffe won the other heats and Roy McCain the B feature.

The 1970 Third Mile Nationals can be described in one word “Controversial.” Things kicked off on Sunday night with 35 cars taking time and Lincoln’s Lonnie Jensen setting fast time at 15.85 followed at 15.99 by Ed Bowes. Heats went to Kenny Parde, Jerry Everett, Roger Rager and Jim Golden. Dennis Oltman won the dash with Jan Opperman winning the B. Fast Qualifier Lonnie Jensen was the victim of a wild flip which eliminated him from further competition.

In the feature which was a total inversion, Beatrice, Nebraska’s Kenny Parde started deep in the field and drove to a win in the Junior Third Mile Nationals over Roger Rager, who also started deep in the field. Pole sitter Dan Holliman would finish third followed by Jim Golden and Frank Brennfoerder.

On Monday night heats were won by Lonnie Jensen, Jan Opperman, Ray Lee Goodwin and Denny Oltman. Ed Bowes took the dash over Ray Lee Goodwin and the "Roarin’ Rebel” Roy McCain won the B.

It was time for the 50-lap Third Mile National feature and that’s where all the controversy would come in. Lonnie Jensen would start on the pole but was passed very early on in the going by Ray Lee Goodwin. Goodwin would soon develop handling problems. The problem which turned out to be a broken torsion bar slowed Goodwin to a crawl on the backstretch and Jan Opperman looking to take the lead hooked Goodwin’s tire. This sent Goodwin into the infield and Opperman setting on the edge of the racetrack.

For whatever reason, the race was allowed to go for a lap before the yellow came out to check on Opperman, who was apparently shaken in the incident. When the race was resumed with 17 laps remaining Jensen had the lead and Opperman was sent to the tail and scored one lap down. Opperman then stormed through the field passing Jensen on the last lap for what appeared as the win.

Opperman went to victory lane and Jensen went to the pits. Then they rolled Jensen’s car back on the track and Larry Swanson, Jensen’s car owner protested giving the win to Opperman. After a long discussion officials declared Jensen the winner contending the Opperman had done nothing more than unlap himself. The ensuing argument lasted well into the morning. “I thought there was going to be a riot.” remembers long-time racing historian Bob Mays. “It was really a wild scene.

The official order of finish would be Jensen, Ed Bowes, Roger Rager, Stan Borofsky and Don Droud with Opperman being scored 8th.

In 1971, it was Topeka’s Dell Schmidt claiming the 30-lap Junior Championship on Sunday night over Lloyd Beckman, Ray Lee Goodwin, Jay Woodside and Dennis Oltman. Beckman set fast time of 15.69 seconds for fast time. Goodwin made a last lap pass of Oltman to win the dash. Beckman, Droud and J.J. Riggins won heats.

Ray Lee Goodwin held off the challenges of the persistent Jay Woodside to claim the $1,250 first prize in the 50-lap Third Mile Nationals on Monday night. Ralph Blackett, Larry Upton and Ken Parde rounded out the top five. Beckman, Jensen and Oltman all retired early in the race that saw only 9 of the 19 starters finish the race. Jensen won the dash and his heat with other heat wins going to Beckman, Woodside and Goodwin.

The 1972 Third Mile Nationals would go to an invader in California’s Jimmy Boyd who picked up a $1,500 pay check. Boyd charged from his 4th row starting position to claim the win over Beckman, Thad Dosher, Dick Sutcliffe and Gerald Bruggeman. It was the biggest win of Boyd’s up to that time and one of the major upsets in Sprint Car Racing. The race saw Don Maxwell eliminated early by a nasty flip in turn one. Don Droud set fast time at 16.29 seconds. Beckman won the dash with heats going to Bruggeman, Beckman, Boyd and Droud.

In Sunday nights’ Junior Championship, it was Lonnie Jensen taking the win over Sutcliffe, Goodwin, Upton and Boyd. Heats went to Roger Larson, Goodwin, Beckman and Upton with Gordon Woolley winning the B.

The 1973 Nationals belonged to Eddie Leavitt. First he won the Junior Nationals on Sunday night with a last lap pass of Dick Sutcliffe and on Monday night he drove away from the field to win the Third Mile Nationals.

While attempts were made to run the Third Mile Nationals after 1973, that was the last true Third Mile Nationals for many years. Memories of the Third Mile Nationals are awakened each year with the running of both the Eagle Nationals and the season ending Nebraska Cup at Eagle the week after Labor Day.

Special Thanks go to well known Sprint Car Historian Bob Mays for his help with this story.