Saturday, September 25, 2021

1965 – Beale Wins IMCA Test

Rollie Beale 

Nashville, Tenn. (September 25, 1965) – Rollie Beale of Toledo, Ohio, won his first career International Motor Contest Association sprint car race at Fairground Speedway Saturday night before a “bundled up” crowd of over 5,000.

In winning the 25-lap feature, Beale bested 15 other cars and posted a winning time of 9 minutes and 54.48 seconds.

Jim McCune, also of Toledo, ran second while Dick Gaines, Mitchell, Ind., was third.

The big point battle for first place still continues with Jerry Richert, Forest Lake, Minn., and Jim Moughan, Springfield, Ill. In the driver’s seat. Richert is in first place with Moughan right behind him.

Gordon Woolley, Waco, Tex., who had been third in the IMCA point standings was mathematically eliminated as he drove in the consolation but not in the feature.

Beale, driving a Chevy, had little trouble in winning the feature. He grabbed the lead at the drop of the green and never looked back, winning by five car lengths at the finish.

The only major accident of the afternoon occurred at the beginning of the consolation when Gordon Woolley and Tom Bigelow, Whitewater, Wis., got tangled up.

Woolley hit the outer fence at the start and Bigelow got caught up in the melee, ending up under the steel fence. The race had to be halted for 15 minutes to remove the car and Bigelow was taken to an area hospital where he was listed in good condition with tire burns on his right shoulder.

Results –

Heat #1 – Charlie Masters, Waddy, Ky.
Heat #2 – Don Brown, Sam Bernardino, Calif.
Heat #3 - Don Hewitt, Toledo, Ohio
STP Match Race – Gordon Woolley, Waco, Tex.
Consolation - Dick Gaines, Mitchell, Ind.
Feature –
1. Rollie Beale, Toledo, Ohio
2. Jim McCune, Toledo, Ohio
3. Dick Gaines
4. Sonny McDaniels, St. Paul, Minn.
5. Jerry Richert, Forest Lake, Minn.
6. Jim Moughan, Springfield, Ill.
7. Duke Cook, Dayton, Ohio
8. Don Brown
9. Bill Puterbaugh, Roxanna, Ill.
10.Chuck Taylor, Alton, Ill.

Friday, September 24, 2021

1978 - Williamson Captures Open at Grove

National Open winner Kramer Williamson is joined by his wife and child and mechanic Davey Brown in victory lane. – Lee Greenwalt Photo

Mechanicsburg, Penn. (September 24, 1978) – Kramer Williamson took the lead with 40 laps remaining in the 100-lap National Open on Sunday, breaking open what had been the most competitive race in the 16-year history of the season-ending classic.

During the first 50-lap segment of the long-distance grind, Williamson chased Smokey Snellbaker, who started on the pole as a result of his 21.58 second clocking in Saturday’s time trials and led every lap.

Williamson moved into the runner-up spot on lap 25 and held it until lap 45 when Van May, the defending National Open champion, passed him for a brief moment.

It was at this stage that Snellbaker, May, and Williamson all got together, with May getting the worst of is and dropping back to sixth.

After the incident, Williamson followed Snellbaker under the checkered as the race was halted for a mandatory fuel stop.

When the race restarted, Snellbaker retained the upper hand until a caution on lap 60. On lap 61, Williamson moved low in the first turn and came off the second turn with the lead.

Once in front, the veteran chauffeur was the class of the field. He never got a serious challenge even though the yellow flag was displayed on two occasions.

For his victory, Williamson collected $4,180 in purse and contingency money. He was quick to credit mechanic Davey Brown with numerous changes during the mid-race break. They included new rear tires, an adjustment with the wing and a slight change of weight.

Snellbaker hung on for second, a quarter of a lap behind. For his day’s work, he collected $3,030. As for May, he was never a factor after being forced to pit stop on the 58th lap.

Tom Spriggle came home third even though he was running a small 312 engine. Allen Klinger was fourth and Rod Gross fifth after a last-lap mix-up which saw Keith Kauffman drop from third to 11th.

Results –

1. Kramer Williamson
2. Smokey Snellbaker
3. Tom Spriggle
4. Allen Klinger
5. Rod Gross
6. Barry Camp
7. Bobby Weaver
8. Steve Smith
9. George Harbour
10.John Draucker
11.Keith Kauffman
12.Garry Kuhn
13.Gary Howard 
14.Scott Ausherman
15.Elmer Stoltzfus
16.Dan Heatherly
17.Van May
18.Tom Dickson
19.Billy Stief
20.Ed Zirkle

1960 – Tennessee Fair Feature to Shepherd

A.J. Shepherd waves to the crowd after winning the 25-lap IMCA big car feature at the Tennessee State Fair. – Merle Wilson Collection 

Nashville, Tenn. (September 24, 1960) – A.J. Shepherd proved once again that the half-mile Tennessee State Fair racetrack belongs to him as he roared to his fourth straight victory in the International Motor Contest Association big car contest.

The standing room only crowd of 11,000 cheered Shepherd as he crossed thee finish line but turned loose with a tremendous standing ovation for the runner-up, Johnny White.

Shepherd may have been the winner, but White was the hero. He started last, in the 15th position. It’s doubtful anyone had their eyes on anybody but White from the time starter Al Sweeney dropped the green flag, until he waved the checkered.

White, who had earned the right to start on the pole position with a record shattering performance in times trials, lost the right when he spun out in his heat race. Not finishing his heat race barred him from starting in the feature but with the capacity crowd encouraging Sweeney to “bend the rules”, White was allowed to start at the rear of the field.

In the first heat, White spun high on the embankment of the first turn, tearing up almost everything under his car. For the rest of the afternoon, White’s crew worked feverishly to get the car running again.

Once on the track, White was a driving maniac with one thought in his mind; To win.

Did the last place start discourage him”

“Heck no, you can always win a race, no matter where you start,” White replied, who was being mobbed by spectators after the race.

Even Sweeney admitted afterwards it was the second best race he’s seen in 25 years. Bert Hellmueller started 16th in a race at Tampa once and won the race. “If Johnny had won this, it would’ve been the best,” Sweeney said.

“I couldn’t imagine who that was coming so hard,” Shepard said as he and White exchanged congratulations.

Most of the crowd felt that with three more laps, White may have won the race. “Time just ran out on me,” White remarked.

Results –

Heat #1 – Jerry Blundy
Heat #2 – A.J. Shepherd
Heat #3 – Hank Lawshe
Match race – Buzz Barton
Consolation – Marvin Faw
Feature –
1. A.J. Shepherd
2. Johnny White
3. Buzz Barton
4. Hugh Randall
5. Mickey McCormick
6. Red Renner
7. Harvey Konkel
8. LeRoy Neumayer
9. Bob Mathouser
10.Jerry Blundy

Thursday, September 23, 2021

1973 – Grundy’s Short Track Championships Dominated by Wisconsin Drivers

Morris, Ill. (September 23, 1973) - The North American Short Track Championships for Late Model Stock Cars at the Grundy County Speedway Sunday turned out to be the Wisconsin championships as Joe Shear and Dick Trickle dominated the action in the two 100-lap championship events.

Shear won the first 100-lapper in a close finish over Back and Trickle as the Illinois regulars managed five of the top ten spots. The second century saw Trickle taste the lead for the first time in the day on the 56th lap and then pull away from Shear after the final caution for the win.

Sunday’s wrap-up the two-day speed spectacular was a contrast to Saturday’s preliminaries where Illinois drivers won all seven events on the third-mile paved fairgrounds speedway. However, Saturday’s 12-car feature pile-up took its toll on equipment with most restarting Sunday in a crippled condition.

Track champion Ed Hoffman, in the center of Saturday’s melee, dropped out of the second race with engine vibration; Ray Young, the only other 100-lap winner in the track’s three-year history, cruised the distance with a stock replacement engine.

Larry Schuler cracked the fourth turn wall in the second race; and Tom Jones dropped out of the first race while running third with a burned piston.

The only serious accident of the day came in the opening laps of the first race when Bob Brevak backed into the third turn wall and set a new altitude record as Tom Reffner slid into him. Both cars were out for the balance of the program.

Following introductions of the 28 starters at trackside, Back shot past pole sitter Jones at the green flag to hold a firm lead for the first 30-laps before Shear worked his way to the front. For the next 20 circuits Back and Shear ran tightly through the traffic mainly in the outside groove before Shear took the lead.

In the 94th lap Dave Watson spun on the homestretch, bringing out the final caution flag and bunching the leaders to set up close finish.

After an intermission, the second race was line up in reverse order of the first finish with Lee Schuler taking the lead at the green for five laps before John Knaus came past on the outside groove for the lead.

Super modified driving star Johnny Reimer gave the hometown fans something to cheer about as he took the lead on the 10th lap, but in three laps Watson took over. Five laps later Reimer tried for the lead again, but Watson chopped him into the infield causing Reimer to lose nearly a lap. He finished 8th after dropping out of the first race when the rear-end locked up.

Trickle moved swiftly through the field to race side-by-side with Watson for several laps before the caution flag came out in the 52nd lap. When the green flew three laps later, Trickle moved into the lead past Watson and was not to be touched in the last half of the race.

The match between the country’s two 400-plus feature race winners — Dick Trickle and Bud Koehler — never developed as Koehler hit the wall in the first event and was not competitive in the second leg.

Before the start of the race, Koehler was most critical of the ‘no-bumping’ rule being enforced; “For 25 years we’ve (Raceway Park drivers) been building tanks to bang into each other with to fill the stands and today cars of half the weight come here to run. . . and we can’t touch them.”

Koehler’s comments received a big ovation by the good-sized Sunday turn-out.

Results -

Feature #1 –

1. Joe Shear, Beloit, Wis.
2. Jim Back, Vesper, Wis.
3. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
4. Bill McEnery, Evergreen Park, Ill.
5. Don Leach, Beloit, Wis.
6. Larry Schuler, Lockport, Ill.
7. Ed Hoffman, Niles, Ill.
8. Al Schill, Franklin, Wis.
9. Boyce Sparkman, Rockford, Ill.
10.Gary Zobel, Mundelein, Ill.

Feature #2 –

1. Dick Trickle
2. Joe Shear
3. Dave Watson, Milton, Wis.
4. Al Schill
5. Jim Back
6. John Knaus, Rockford, Ill.
7. Don Leach
8. Johnny Reimer, Caledonia, Wis.
9. Jerry Kemperman, Blue Island, Ill.
10.T.K. Shear, Beloit, Wis.

1967 – Nashville IMCA Tilt to Busson

Karl Busson

Nashville, Tenn. (September 23, 1967) – Karl Busson increased his point lead Saturday night as he captured the 25-lap feature race of the two-day IMCA sprint car championship races at Fairgrounds Speedway.

Busson, of Oregon, Ohio, took the lead on the first lap and never looked back. Driving a Chevy-powered car, Busson increased his point margin over Jerry Richert by some 350 points as Richert finished in the runner-up spot. Richert, a three-time national champion, never gave up, staying on Busson’s bumper the entire race.

Two cautions were the only things that kept Busson from setting his second record of the night. He won the 10-lap dash in a record-setting 3 minutes and 29.26 seconds. That broke the old mark of 3 minutes and 29.76 seconds set by Dick Gaines in 1964.

Gaines, who finished third in the feature, still has something to lean back on, however, as he set a new one-lap qualifying record time of 19.76 seconds.

An estimated crowd of 6,350 saw Charlie Masters and Don Brown fill out the top five, respectively, of a starting field of 18 cars.

Masters, driving a Chevy-powered roadster out of Harrodsburg, Ky., won the 5-lap STP dash.

1956 - Sachs is Winner over O'Connor

Eddie Sachs

Salem, Ind. (September 23, 1956) - Eddie Sachs of Greensboro, S. C., captured the 100-lap United States Auto Club-sanctioned Joe James Memorial big car sprint race here Sunday afternoon.

Sachs in the Cheesman Special won the 50-mile feature after catching Pat O'Connor of North Vernon, Ind., on the 43rd lap. It was strictly a two-car race between Sachs and O'Connor the entire route. O'Connor pushed Sachs all the way.

The North Vernon speedster, who was piloting the Bob Estes Special, finished in second place. He also set the fastest qualifying time of the afternoon.

The race which attracted a nearly record crowd and some of the nation’s top drivers was delayed until almost 5 o'clock due to rain.

Andy Linden, veteran Indianapolis pilot, crossed the finish line in third place followed by Tony Bettenhausen, another 500-mile veteran.

Fifth place went to Bob Veith the 1956 Indianapolis Speedway “Rookie of the year”.

Other top-10 finishers in order were Jim McWithey, Ed Elisian, Don Branson, Gene Force and Red Renner.

Results –

1. Eddie Sachs
2. Pat O’Conner
3. Andy Linden
4. Tony Bettenhausen
5. Bob Veith
6. Jim McWithey
7. Ed Elisian
8. Don Branson
9. Gene Force
10.Red Renner

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

1962 – Blundy Wins Nashville IMCA Race

Nashville winner Jerry Blundy receives a kiss from Mrs. Jerry Blundy in victory lane. 

Nashville, Tenn. (September 22, 1962) – Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., surprised favorites Johnny White and Pete Folse and won the International Motor Contest Association big car race at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds on Saturday afternoon.

White, the young driver from Warren, Mich., who had won four straight features in the last two years here, finished second. Folse, the three-time IMCA champion from Tampa, Fla., took third.

Going into the race Folse held a 30-point lead for national honors and White managed to whittle 20 points of this margin with only three races remaining on the circuit.

Blundy traveled 20 laps in in a record time for IMCA. His average speed of 85.308 miles per hour broke the old mark of 84.096 set by White here last year.

Folse, who has never done well in Nashville, gave his best local racing performance, apparently racing for his life. He came up with the fastest time in time trials, averaging 85 miles per hour, slightly off White’s record of 85.88 miles per hour.

The feature had to be restarted before one lap was completed. Tom McLellan spun on the backstretch coming off the number two turn. While he was sitting on the track, Al Williams came barreling into him. Williams went over the front end of the car and somersaulted down the track. Miraculously, no one was injured.

A packed house was on hand for the six-event program which began with Harry Kern of St. Paul, Minn., edging White in the first heat. Twenty-six cars were in action.

Results –

Heat #1 – Harry Kern, St. Paul, Minn.
Heat #2 – Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
Heat #3 – Arnie Knepper, Belleville, Ill.
Match race – Johnny White, Warren, Mich.
Consolation – Ray Duckworth, Anderson, Ind.
Feature –
1. Jerry Blundy
2. Johnny White
3. Pete Folse, Tampa, Fla.
4. Arnie Knepper
5. Ray Duckworth
6. Dean Mast, Dover, Ohio
7. Buzz Rose, Compton, Calif.
8. Harry Kern