Thursday, June 13, 2019

1965 – Nelson by Nine Seconds in USAC Tilt at Indianola

Norm Nelson

Indianola, Iowa (June 13, 1965) - Veteran Norm Nelson, a strapping "Great Dane" from Racine, Wis., tamed the hairpin curves, steep grades and narrow asphalt Sunday to win the 200-mile United States Auto Club stock car race at Greenwood Raceway.
Nelson, who looks something like a greased-smeared Gary Cooper, fought off a frantic final effort by Paul Goldsmith, Munster, Ind., and Don White, Keokuk, for the checkered flag. The 43-year-old Racine, Wis., driver covered the 200-miles in two hours, 24 minutes, 39 seconds.

A crowd announced at 10,337 swarmed thickest around the dangerous curve sections on the 3-mile track, but the race was relatively free of accidents.

There were no serious accidents over the winding three-mile road racecourse, but Jim Hurtubise, on the comeback trail after being critically burned in a racing accident last year, spent most of the race sitting on the top of his car in a nearby lake. Hurtubise spun out of control at the end of the main straightaway at about 90 miles per hour and wound up in four feet of water.
“My oil blew out and I lost control of my car going down the grade,” smiled Hurtubise, unhurt. “The car kept right on going into that little lake or swamp. It came to a rest, I scrambled out and watched the rest of the race from the roof of the car."
Goldsmith led during much of the race but lost time in two pit stops and was not able to catch Nelson. He finished nine seconds behind the winner.
Bobby Isaac, Catawba, S.C., finished fourth and Herb Shannon, Peoria, Ill., came in fifth. White's Ford was the only non-Chrysler product finishing in the first five places. Winner Nelson drover a 1965 "Hemi-Head" Plymouth. 

Nelson, who has been racing 25 years and is a former USAC national champion, had two pit stops. The first time he paused just long enough for his pit crew to pour 18 gallons of fuel into his 25-gallon tank. The second time he took on 20 gallons and two new tires on the left side.

Only a dozen of the original 19-car field was on hand at the finish. Besides Hurtubise, David Pearson, who qualified for the pole position in a 1965 Dodge, was among the spectators when it ended. Pearson was stalled in the pits for 20 laps due to a suspension failure after the opening lap.

In trying to get back in the race, Pearson drove like a man possessed, with radars clocking him at speeds as high as 150 miles per hour on the straightaways  Twice he averaged 85 miles per hour for one lap on the treacherous course. He finally quit for good when his water pump broke on the 41st lap.

No injuries were sustained on the rough, winding Greenwood course and only two other incidents were reported. Dick Passwater blew a tire and John Riva lost a wheel.

Both Goldsmith and the victorious Nelson had two pit stops, but Goldsmith's first stop cost him two laps on a delayed tire exchange.


Results –


1.     Norm Nelson, Racine, Wis.

2.     Paul Goldsmith, Munster, Ind.

3.     Don White, Keokuk, Iowa

4.     Bobby Isaac, Catawba, S.C.

5.     Herb Shannon, Peoria, Ill.

6.     J.C. Klotz, Fort Wayne, Ind.

7.     Gary Bettenhausen, Tinley Park, Ill.

8.     Lou Burmeister, Milwaukee

9.     Bruce Jacobi, Salem, Ind.

10.   Bob Goesch, Tinley Park, Ill.

11.   Bay Darnell, Deerfield, Wis.  

12.   Bill Moore, Villa Park, Ill.

13.   David Pearson, Randleman, S.C.

14.   John Riva, Chicago

15.   Bob Christie, Grants Pass, Ore.

16.   Dick Passwater, Indianapolis

17.   Jim Hurtubise, North Tonawanda, N.Y.

18.   Bud Gaghey, Indianapolis

19.   Rick Clement, Chicago

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

1972 - Masters Wins at Action Track

Terre Haute, Ind. (June 11, 1972) - With a large, enthusiastic crowd on hand at the Action Track, Charlie Masters won his first United States Auto Club sprint car feature on dirt, nipping Larry Dickson by three car lengths Sunday.

Masters jumped into the lead on the first lap after starting second. Dickson was never able to catch him although he pulled even several times. Behind Dickson were Gary Bettenhausen, Tinley Park, Ill., Chuck Allen, San Diego, Calif., and Sam Sessions, Nashville, Mich.

Sessions’ fifth place finish allowed him to maintain his lead in the USAC sprint division point standing.

Masters, who won $1,600 of the $9,000 purse, had never won a USAC sprint car feature on a dirt track and his last feature victory in the sprints was at Salem, Ind., in 1969.

Billy Cassella won the 12-lap semi-feature while Bubby Jones, Springfield, Ill., won the first heat race. Larry Cannon, Oakwood, Ill., took the second heat. Duane Carter Jr. of Huntington Beach, Calif., won the third and Merle Bettenhausen of Indianapolis took the fourth heat.
I was lucky to win it," said Masters, as he accepted pats on the back from well-wishers following the race.
Sessions, winner of Saturday’s Eldora Sprint at Rossburg, Ohio, picked up 25 points for his fifth-place finish Sunday. He now has 334 points to lead all USAC drivers in sprint action.
Dickson for the second day in a row finished as runner up. Dickson, currently in second place in the USAC standings, closed the gap on the leader. Sessions, by adding 35 giving him 310.
Gary Bettenhausen, who qualified sixth, was the day’s fastest qualifier, winning
the ice bucket trophy. Bettenhausen turned the half-mile track in 23.5 seconds.

It turned out to be a perfect afternoon for racing as the fans watched the accident-free race under clear blue skies.
Several cars spun out on the track as it turned slick after an afternoon of intense racing.
Early qualifiers found the track prepared to their liking as the first six men out turned in times on the mid-23 second range.

Jones won the first heat race with top qualifier Bettenhausen. Starting at the back of the inverted seven-car field and unable to get around traffic, and finally spinning out on the last lap in turn three.

“Boom Boom” Cannon grabbed the second heat but developed engine trouble on the last lap that proved fatal in the feature. Cannon started the championship running on six cylinders and was the first car out to drop out of the race.
Carter jumped out to an early lead and hot-footed it to win the third heat. Carter nicknamed “Pancho” was the birthday boy on Sunday and was presented a cake by Vigo County Fair Queen Betsy Larr when Billy Vukovich and friends dropped a bucket of ice water on the driver and local announcer, Bob Forbes.
Bruce Walkup, winner of the Hulman Classic, jumped out to the lead in the fourth heat but couldn’t hang on as Merle Bettenhausen, Darl Harrison, Tom Bigelow and Dickson finished ahead of him.
Cassella, in his first year on the USAC circuit, won the semi-feature event after passing Chuck Allen on the seventh lap. Allen finished second with Bettenhausen third. Steve Cannon and Lee Kunzman finished fourth and fifth.


Results –

Heat #1 – Bubby Jones
Heat #2 – Larry Cannon
Heat #3 – Duane Carter
Heat #4 – Merle Bettenhausen
Semi-main – Bill Cassella
Feature –
    1.     Charlie Masters
2.     Larry Dickson
3.     Gary Bettenhausen
4.     Chuck Allen
5.     Sam Sessions
6.     Tom Bigelow
7.     George Snider
8.     Steve Cannon
9.     Rollie Beale
10. Johnnie Parsons
11. Darl Harrison
12. Bubby Jones
13. Rick Goudy
14. Merle Bettenhausen
15. Gary Ponzini
16. Duane Carter
17. Ralph Liguori
18. Bill Cassella
19. Bill Puterbaugh
20. Larry Cannon

Saturday, June 8, 2019

1969 – Young Californian Banks $400 for Victory

Des Moines, Iowa (June 8, 1969) – Jan Opperman of Hayward, Calif., won the 15th annual Hawkeye Futurity at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon.

Opperman, the rookie of the year in IMCA’s midget division last year, took the lead at the drop the green and led all 30 laps.

Driving a Chevy powered printer owned by Bill Smith of Lincoln, Neb., Opperman proved hard to beat. After early morning rains had swamped the half-mile track, the sun turned the black dirt into a boulevard; slick on the bottom and mushy on the top.

The feature race wasn’t without some spinouts. Jerry Blundy and Earl Wagner spun on lap 28 as Blundy was attempting to get around the fourth running Wagner. Kenny Gritz of Lincoln, Neb., looped his machine while running third a few laps earlier.

Al Futrell of St. Louis, Mo., was treated for water burns after his car lost a water hose in the last laps of the feature. He was not seriously injured and later released from a local hospital.

A crowd of 4,500 watched the Futurity under ideal conditions, but the early morning storms put a damper on the attendance.

Dick Sutcliffe of Greenwood, Mo., the day’s fastest qualifier with a 24.90 second clocking, finished second to Opperman in the race.

Third went to Jay Woodside of Kansas City and Roy Bryant of Wichita took fourth. Bill Utz of Sedalia, Mo., rounded out the top five.

Ken Williams of Kansas City, Bryant and Dave Ross of Jetmore, Kan., were heat winners. Opperman also won the STP trophy dash and Woodside won the consolation.

Results –

1.     Jan Opperman, Hayward, Calif.
2.     Dick Sutcliffe, Greenwood, Mo.
3.     Jay Woodside, Kansas City
4.     Roy Bryant, Wichita
5.     Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo
6.     Dave Ross, Jetmore, Kan.
7.     Curt Houge, Ames, Iowa
8.     Ron Larson, White Bear Lake, Minn.
9.     Bill Compton, Sylvania, Ohio
10.  Chuck Lynch, Springfield, Ill.
11.  Ken Williams, Kansas City
12.  Don Mack, East Grand Forks, N.D.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

1990 - Phillips is Wire-to-Wire Miller Winner

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (June 6, 1990) - If Larry Phillips is too old to run 100-lap races as he says, you’d have trouble convincing the rest of the field in the Miller 100 stock car race Wednesday night.
Phillips jumped off the first row and led every lap but had to withstand furious late-race charges by first Steve Carlson of West Salem, Wis., and then Bryan Reffner of Wisconsin Rapids.
“I was very fortunate to have a front row start,” said Phillips, a 48-year-old racer from Springfield, Mo. “Everything just worked out fine. I just got awfully tired. I’m not used to running 100-lap races. I’m too old for this.”
Old or not, Phillips was successful in holding off some younger competitors before an estimated 3,500 fans at Hawkeye Downs.
Carlson, who leads the regular weekly Late Model standings at Hawkeye Downs and won the Late Model feature Wednesday night, started in the sixth row and worked his way up to second place. After the race’s third caution flag, though, a cracked rim on his left front wheel let the air out of his tire and took the wind out of his hopes for a victory. “The car was set perfect,’ Carlson said. “I’m disappointed.” 
After Carlson dropped out, Reffner made his strong bid.
“The track started to get a little bit greasy,” Reffner said. “And we seemed to work better on a slick track. We needed a couple more laps I guess.”
Phillips, the fifth different winner in five ARTGO races this season, held off Reffner, Tom Carlson of La Crosse, Wis., Kevin Cywinski of Mosinee, Wis., and Richie Bickle of Edgerton, Wis.
Steve Carlson and Steve Holzhausen tied for fast time of the night with matching 19.00 second clocking. Defending Miller 100 champion Holzhausen had a problem and crashed into the wall coming out of turn two on the 23rd lap.
Early in the main event, there was a spectacular and scary crash at the end of the front stretch.
Tim Fedewa of Lansing, Mich., blew an engine coming out of turn three and coasted to the high side of the track. 
As the field drifted past and he slid to the inside of the track, Ken Reiser of Waukon slammed into the back of Fedewa's car. Moments later, Fedewa's car was engulfed in flames. Both drivers escaped serious injury. 
“I looked at my mirror after the field went by, started to come down on the track and bang,” Fedewa said. “I felt heat and looked back and saw the fire. I decided it was time to get out of there.”
Phillips said the caution periods almost cost him the race. “That killed us,” he said. “It caused a problem with our chassis set-up. When it cooled off, it just wasn’t there.”


Results –

1.    Larry Phillips
2.    Bryan Reffner
3.    Tom Carlson
4.    Kevin Cywinski 
5.    Rich Bickle
6.    Terry Baldry
7.    Larry Schuler
8.    Jim Weber
10.   Matt Kenseth
11.   Steve Carlson
12.   Scott Hansen
13.   Tim Steele
14.   Bob Brownell
15.   Tracy Schuler
16.   Kregg Hurlburt
17.   Dave Hammond
18.   Dennis Lampman
19.   Steve Holzhausen
20.   Dave Weltmeyer
21.   Jim Sauter
22.   Tim Fedewa
23.   Ken Reiser