Monday, April 20, 2009

1974 - Martin gets back on track in Knoxville

Bill Martin of Council Bluffs, Iowa, is seen here with his 1972 Chevelle that he piloted to victory at the Marion County Fairgrounds in Knoxville, Iowa, on Sunday afternoon, April 21, 1974, in the "Cornbelt Special" before 3,000 spectators.

by Kyle Ealy

In 1973 Council Bluff, Iowa's Bill Martin made a career change. "I changed jobs and started to manage my dad's apple farm," he stated. "I had a lot to learn so it didn't leave a lot of time for racing." Fact is, Martin raced a total of four times that year.
Despite being away for a year, the then 29-year-old didn't forget how to drive a race car. On April 21, 1974, he showed a field of top late model drivers that despite being away for a year, the reflexes were definitely still there.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, during the Cornbelt Special at the Marion County Fairgrounds in Knoxville, Iowa, Martin won his heat, finished second in the trophy dash and then proceeded to go out and show the 3,000 spectators on hand that he could still pilot a race car by winning the 20-lap feature and collecting the $600 top prize.

Martin had a tough battle with Waterloo, Iowa's Red Dralle before he could collect his winnings however.

Dralle, driving a 1972 Chevelle, was leading until Bill took over the point on lap 10. Dralle didn't give up and stormed back to overtake Martin on lap 15. A couple of laps later, though, Martin grabbed the lead and made it stick, capturing the checkers on the historic 1/2-mile.

Dralle would settle for second while Omaha's Bob Kosiski, Ken Walton of Viola, Iowa and Don Hoffman of Des Moines would round out the top five. In addition to Martin winning his heat, Dralle, Omaha's Ed Morris and Council Bluff's Dave Chase were winners. Dralle would also cop the trophy dash money. John Connolly of Delhi, Iowa, won the consolation and Council Bluffs' Bob Jiskra was tops in the Australian Pursuit.

The car Martin drove to victory lane was owned by Larry Kelley of Omaha. It was a car previously driven by Ed Sanger the year before in which "Fast" Eddie won a staggering 44 times in it. Martin mentioned after the race, "I hope we can win half or a fourth of that total this year."

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