Thursday, May 28, 2009

Midwest Racing Archives (This week in history)

Bob Jaeger of Dubuque, Iowa, holds the checkers after winning the super stock special at Jackson County Raceway in Maquoketa, Iowa, on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28, 1977.

1998 - It was a great night of racing but a sad day on Sunday, May 30 at Interstate Speedway in Jefferson, S.D. Track owner Cecil Beauchene, who built the track in 1970, passed away recently after a long illness. Before racing, Mr. Beauchene's casket and a procession of race cars made a final lap around the track and a short memorial service followed. Rich Germar (modified), Jay Noteboom (street stock), Frank Schuller (hobby stock), James Demeter (chargers) and Kent Hustead (roadrunners) were the evening's winners.

1987 - Hot shoe Tony Weyant of Springfield, Ill., won the 25-lap winged sprint car feature Friday night, May 29 at Jacksonville Motor Speedway, making it his fourth win of the season. Weyant also set fast time (11:490) to nip Springfield's Ron Standridge (11:502). Weyant edged Standridge in the feature event followed by Saybrook's Dave Feese, Randy Standridge and Brian Tobin of Bloomington.

1977 - Bob Jaeger of Dubuque, Iowa, took the lead on the 12th lap after two restarts and then held off fellow hometowner Bob Kinsella to grab the Memorial Day super stock special at Jackson County Raceway in Maquoketa, Iowa on May 28. Last year's point champion, Jim Gerber of McCausland, Iowa grabbed third, Jim Leverington of Freeport, Ill., was fourth and Mark Liebfried of Rickardsville, Iowa was fifth. The 30-lap feature ended with 12 cars on the lead lap.

1971 - 31-year-old Tom Bowsher of Springfield, Ohio, walked away with the 100-lap ARCA feature at Capital Speedway in Oregon, Wis., on May 30. Taking the lead from the start, Bowsher lapped every driver in the 24-car field except runner-up Ramo Stott of Keokuk, Iowa. Bowsher, the 1970 ARCA rookie of the year, finished the 50 miles in 39 minutes and six seconds ahead of Stott, Ken Reiter of Louisville, Ky., Iggy Katona, Willis, Mich., Bill Clemons of New Albany, Ind. and Andy Hampton of Louisville.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

1973 - White takes Memorial Day midget spectacular at Princeton

Warren "Newt" White of Lockport, Ill., driving the George Holterman Chevy II, won the 1973 United Auto Racing Association (UARA) championship. White scored five victories on the 22-event schedule.

Princeton, Ill. - They managed to give the fans enough thrills to keep them on the edge of their seats. The Bureau County Fairgrounds in Princeton, Ill., opened their gates on Memorial Day, May 25, 1973 to the UARA midgets for the first time ever on the flat half-mile circuit.
A full field of drivers were in attendance from six states including Lucky Mays of Gulfport, Miss., Elton Porter of Houston, Tex., John Tenney of Battle Creek, Mich., Danny Frye Jr. of St. Louis, Warren "Newt" White of Lockport, Ill. and Bobby Blume of Logansport, Ind.
Some guy named Rich Vogler of Glen Ellyn, Ill., set fast time in the Harry & Beth Turner Chevy II. Vogler's qualifying mark of 28.902 established a new track record. Vogler would start on the pole of the dash and win that easily over Jim McLean.
In the first heat it was Vogler-McLean again with Vogler also winning. The second heat turned out to be a duel with Bob Nichols of Columbus, Ind., and Roger Branson of Gridley, Ill., with Branson taking the victory. Danny Frye Jr. had no problem in winning the third heat. Bob Anderson of Burlington, Iowa got the jump at the green in heat four and had no problem. In the semi-main, Bobby Blume outlasted Bob Magee of Joliet, Ill., to take home the win.
Feature time found quite a few lead changes and that's what the fans came to see. Elton Porter took the point at the drop of the green and looked good until a blown cylinder slowed him on lap three. Frye Jr. grabbed the top spot followed by John Tenney and Newt White not far behind.
Tenney moved his Coxie Bowman Chevy into contention quickly and took over the lead with White, driving George Holterman's Cross Flow Chevy, on his tail. Third spot was claimed by Bill Humphreys. 

That guy Vogler started making his way through the field as well and settled into fourth. Time and time again, Humphreys and Vogler challenged the top two spots but Tenney and White held their ground.

On lap 19 of the 25-lap main, White scooted past Tenney for the lead and led the charge across the finish line. Tenney settled for second, Humphreys took third, Vogler fourth and Ron Foster rounded out the top-five finishers. A disappointed Frye, who led early, finished sixth.
White would go on to win the UARA Midget Series championship in 1973.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Midwest Racing Archives (This week in history)

Don Mack of East Grand Forks, N.D., won double features at Buffalo River Speedway in Glyndon, Minn., on Sunday, May 22, 1977.

1999 - In only his seventh career start behind the wheel of a late model, George Bohn of Machesney Park, Ill., won the 40-lap NASCAR Winston Racing Series feature at Rockford Speedway on May 22. The 34-year-old Bohn led wire to wire in picking up the victory.

1994 - Garrett Slager of Moheka, Ill., scored his first career UMP late model win at Kankakee (Ill.) Speedway on Friday night, May 20 and then followed that up with another win the next night at LaSalle (Ill.) Speedway on May 21. He won both features in dominating style leading green to checker.

1988 - A hard, dusty track proved to be the right combination for 56-year-old Earl Muilenberg of Sparta, Mo., as he grabbed the lead with five laps to go to win the 2nd Annual Coors National Series for IMCA modifieds on Thursday, May 19. John Anderson of Lexington, Ill., had held the lead throughout until a flat tire sidelined him, giving Muilenberg the lead and the win. Dale Plack and Larry Satterfield, both of Brimfield, Ill., took second and third respectively, Wayne Brau of Guernsey, Iowa grabbed fourth and Bob Dominacki of Bettendorf, Iowa rounded out the top-five.

1977 - Don Mack of East Grand Forks, N.D., made his presence felt by winning four races at Buffalo River Speedway in Glyndon, Minn., on Sunday, May 22. Mack won the first heat, trophy dash, make-up feature and regular night feature. Mack also won the Friday night feature at Grand Forks making it a stellar weekend.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Midwest Racing Archives (This week in history)

 Jim Wyman of Oakland, Iowa, set a new track record at Shelby County Speedway in Harlan, Iowa, by winning six consecutive "A" features in a row in 1971. Wyman drove a 1971 Mustang Mach I.

2003 - Rick Eckert of York, Penn., started in the 11th spot and passed leader Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., with 9 laps to go to win the Xtreme DirtCar Series 50-lap feature at Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, S.D., on May 16. After leading the first 41 laps of the race, Bloomquist brought his car home in second. Dale McDowell of Rossville, Ga., Jimmy Mars of Elk Mound, Wis. and Darren Miller of Chadwick, Ill., rounded out the top five.

1982 - Steve Burgess of Eau Claire, Wis., got the jump on the field, then out raced Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., to win the 20-lap late model feature, Wednesday, May 12 at La Crosse Interstate Speedway. Dave Watson, Milton, Wis., took third, Tom Reffner of Rudolph, Wis., fourth and Marv Marzofka of Nekoosa, Wis., fifth. Trickle set fast time (19.714), won the trophy dash and his heat while Don Turner of La Crosse and Burgess were the other heat winners. Steve Holzhausen of Bangor, Wis., won the semi-feature.

1976 - Ernie Brookins of Fargo, N.D., edged Dave Bjorge of Austin, Minn., by half a car length to win the late model feature at the 2nd Annual Spring Invitational at Viking Speedway in Alexandria, Minn., on May 15. Joe Salner of Clear Lake, Buddy Watkins of Litchfield and Dave Knott of Wabasso rounded out the top five finishers.

1971 - A crowd of 3,080 at Shelby County Speedway in Harlan, Iowa saw Jim Wyman of Oakland, Iowa, make it clean sweep on Saturday night, May 14. Wyman, driving a 1971 Mustang Mach I, drove to victory in three events, the Harlan Chamber of Commerce Ambassador's trophy dash, the second heat and the 16-lap "A" feature. Finishing behind Wyman in the main event were Omaha's Glen Robey and Bob Kosiski, Dave Chase of Council Bluffs and Rich Lyons of Jefferson, Iowa.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The 1992 IMCA Deery Brothers Season: No Repeat Winners

Mike Smith of Jewell, Iowa; 1992 Deery Brothers Summer Series champion

by Lee Ackerman
Omaha, Neb. — 1992 was a unique year in the history of the IMCA Late Model Deery Brothers Summer Series in that it saw the series run 12 races without having a repeat winner. That was quite a contrast from the previous year, which saw multiple race winners during a 16-race schedule. Curt Martin had posted five wins, Rollie Frink three and Jay Johnson two.

The 1992 season kicked off on May 24 at Marshalltown Speedway with Danville, Iowa’s Ron Jackson leading 23 of the 35 laps to take the win. In picking up the win Jackson had to overcome the bad luck, which had plagued him during the first month of the racing season. He had broken in nine of his first 14 races. Early race leader Darrel DeFrance was forced to the pits on lap 12 with a broken axle. Another veteran Ed Sanger challenged Jackson through the later stages of the race and lead once but ended up settling for second.

On June 3, the series moved west to the Audubon (Iowa) County Speedway where Omaha’s Joe Kosiski passed early race leader Mike Smith for the lead after a lap 18 caution bunched up the field and took away Smith’s sizeable advantage. 1991 IMCA Late Model National Champion Jeff French pressured Kosiski throughout the later part of the race, but was forced to settle for second. Smith would finish 16th.

On June 10 at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Mike Smith of Jewell, Iowa made up for his Audubon misfortune by passing early race leader Bruce Hanford on lap 18 and used a good run on the low side of the track to pick up the win. Marshalltown winner Ron Jackson was coming on strong at the end but ran out of time and had to settle for second.

Frank Shickel Jr. of Bloomington, Ill., added his name to the list of Deery Brothers feature winners by picking up the win at the East Moline (Ill.) Speedway. Steve Lance took the early lead until lap eight when Greg Kastli passed him. On lap 22 Shickel followed Lance and Mike Smith by Kastli and five laps later moved into the lead and came away with the victory. Gary Webb put on perhaps the best drive of the night. After staying with leaders early and challenging Kastli for the win, a spin in turn three forced him to go to the rear. For the rest of the race he sliced through traffic and got by Lance in turn four of the final lap for the runner-up spot.

Three nights later on July 8 at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa, Donnellson’s Kevin Cale decided it was time to add his name to the Deery Brothers records books. Unlike the previous winners, Cale started on the pole and led all 35 laps. He was, however, given a fierce challenge at the end of the race by Ron Jackson, who finished second.

Defending Deery Brothers Champion Curt Martin won the August 5 series event at the Independence Motor Speedway much to the delight of his hometown crowd. Martin battled early race leader Dan Forsyth before assuming the point on lap six. From there, Martin pulled away from the field in a caution-free event. Bryan Wanner finished second.

On July 27, the series made their annual stop at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Over 40 cars showed up to battle it out. Twenty- nine would start the 50-lap feature on the big 1/2-mile. Gary Webb started on the pole and led all 50 laps, but it was not without some serious challenges. Jeff French was quickly in hot pursuit and the two pulled away from the field and battled it out for the first 48 laps. A caution with two to go made it a three-car shoot-out between Webb, French and Mike Smith. On the restart Smith dove low and mounted a serious challenge, but Webb responded to the challenge coming off two and pulled away for the win, leaving French and Smith to fight it out for second, with Smith taking the spot.

Next came the late model portion of the IMCA “Super Nationals” at the Boone Speedway. Darrel DeFrance took the early lead, but not without a fight from Jeff French. On lap 18 Rick Wendling passed French for second and would battle it out with DeFrance over the final 10 laps of the race, with DeFrance holding on for the win and Wendling coming home second.

The next night, September 5, the series headed back to Independence for round nine of the series. Craig Jacobs of Des Moines took the early lead in a race that saw three cautions in the first four laps. Things settled down and Boone McLaughlin joined Jacobs and the two pulled away from the field. Near the races end Jacobs extended his lead and took the checkers with McLaughlin in second.

On September 12 the series made its first stop ever at the Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa. Fifty-two cars signed into the event with 28 starting the feature. Bryan Wanner had things in hand for the first half of the race but then Omaha’s Ed Kosiski, who had been on fire all year at Corning, came charging from his seventh row starting position and grabbed the lead, bringing Jeff French with him. The two battled it out for the remainder of the 40-lap feature with Kosiski taking the win and French finishing second.

The series made its second stop of the season at 34 Raceway on September 19 and saw yet another winner. Bryan Wanner took the lead from Jeff Laue on lap 29 and went on to win his first-ever Deery Brothers feature. Terry Schlipman also got around Laue and battled Wanner the last seven laps for the win but had to settle for second.

The season finale for the series came on October 2 with a return visit to Boone. Mike Smith held a 14-point lead over Ron Jackson in the points battle. Jeff Aikey grabbed the early lead but was passed by Kevin Pittman early in the race for the top spot. Pittman would hold on for the win despite being challenged in the later stages of the race by a hard-charging Ron Jackson. Jackson would come home in second place. Mike Smith would finish fifth.

After 12 races with 12 different winners Mike Smith would be crowned the 1992 Deery Brothers Champion. Smith finished with 324 points to Jackson’s 316. It would be the only year in the history of the IMCA Late Model Deery Brothers Summer Series in which there was not a repeat winner.

1970 - Blankenship, Saldana split Knoxville weekend doubleheader as tragedy strikes

Gordon Blankenship 

Knoxville, Iowa - It was a rare doubleheader weekend at the Marion County Fairgrounds in Knoxville, Iowa on May 15 & 16, 1970. 

It was also a weekend of unfortunate tragedy. It started on Friday night where the stock cars were the headliner. Cedar Rapid's Bill McDonough grabbed the lead and remained there until lap 5 when a radiator hose blew and he spun out on the back stretch. The cloud of steam from McDonough's car was enough to blind several drivers and car after car careened into the wreck. Richard Montgomery of Oskaloosa took the worse spill rolling several times. He was uninjured. 

From there, Gordon Blankenship of Keokuk, Iowa, making his first appearance at the half-mile this season, took the lead and never relinquished it in winning the 15-lapper. Dick Oldham and Phil Reece, both of Des Moines too place and show, Mike Brooks of Hartford, Iowa nabbed fourth and George Barton of Ankeny, Iowa was fifth. Oldham took trophy dash and first heat honors, while Brooks and Reece grabbed heat wins as well. Don Hoffman of Des Moines took the consolation. 

Keokuk's Lem Blankenship set a new track record, besting Liscomb, Iowa's Bob Bonzer's old mark with a time of 24.24 seconds. 

Saturday night was reserved for the super modifieds. A hearty crowd of 3,505 race fans were on hand to see the very best in the Midwest compete. 

Joe Saldana

In the 25-lap feature, Joe Saldana of Lincoln, Neb., edged Kansas City's Dick Sutcliffe in the feature that paid the winner $500. Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, who set fast time (22.11) took third. Del Schmitt of Topeka and Jerry "Flea" Atkin of Holt City, Mo., rounded out the top five finishers. 

Saldana won the trophy dash and first heat. Sutcliffe, Ralphie Blackett of Des Moines won the third heat and Bill Utz of Sedalia, Mo., took the consolation victory. 

Unfortunately, just as the evening's program was getting started, tragedy struck. Jay Opperman, brother of the legendary Jan Opperman, died when his super modified rolled end over end 10 times during the second heat race. 

Jay, who was racing for the first time in the Midwest since moving from California, had hoped to follow in his brother's footsteps. He was pronounced dead shortly after being transported to Collins Memorial Hospital in Knoxville.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

1982 - Hearst scores rare 4 for 4 weekend

Tom Hearst of Wilton, Iowa, scored 42 feature wins in 1982 and won the NASCAR Grand American Weekly Racing Series national title. - Photo Courtesy of Kyle Ealy

Cedar Rapids, Iowa - With the quality of late model competition in the Midwest and specifically in Iowa, the chances of a 3 for 3 weekend sweep are indeed rare. On one weekend in May of 1982, Wilton, Iowa's Tom Hearst not only accomplished that feat but went one better.

Hearst was already off to a hot start to the young season before his fantastic weekend even started. He had scored two wins in the NASCAR Grand American Racing Series as well as two non-sanctioned tallies.

That early-season success would continue at Davenport Speedway on a Thursday night, May 6th, as he captured the first of what would be an incredible four feature wins. Dick Schiltz of Waterloo took second, Billy Moyer Jr. of Des Moines grabbed third, Bill Beuer of Wapello was scored in fourth and Duane Steffe of Colona, Ill., rounded out the top-five.

The next night at Hawkeye Downs Speedway, the hot streak would continue as he grabbed the 25-lap feature win over Dick Schiltz, Steve Spahr of Monticello, Kenny Fenn of Washington and Darrell Sells of Waverly, Iowa.

Saturday evening, May 8, he made the short haul to the Muscatine County Fairgrounds in West Liberty, Iowa. Luck played its part in Hearst's third straight win. Denny Osborn of Cedar Falls, Iowa led the first 18 laps of the main but was hurt by a couple of late restarts. Hearst, who started 12th, methodically inched his way to the front and eventually ran Osborn down for the lead and the victory. Osborn settled for runner-up honors, while Schiltz took third, Kenny Fenn fourth and Ron Pallister of Wapello, Iowa, fifth.

Sunday evening, May 9th, Hearst hauled his hot machine across the Mississippi River to Freeport, Ill., for their season opener. Hearst would start the race on the pole, grab the lead at the drop of the green and never look back, winning in convincing style over Freeport's Jim Jeffrey, Bob Grenoble of Nora, Ill., Steve Pfeiffer of Freeport and Tom Schony of Dakota, Ill.

A remarkable 4 for 4 weekend!

Driving for Keith Simmons and Gary Oliver, Hearst would continue his incredible run and take 27 of the 50 NASCAR-sanctioned races that he entered. Hearst would also score 15 of the 17 non-sanctioned races in which he competed. He would become the first NASCAR Grand American national champion in 1982.

Midwest Racing Archives (This week in history)

Al Schill at Rockford Speedway

1985 - Al Schill of Franklin, Wis., won the one-week rain-delayed ARTGO-sanctioned 8th Annual Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway on May 12, 1985. Taking over the lead from Steve Holzhausen on the 59th lap, Schill built a commanding lead as he scored his fourth career ARTGO series victory. Holzhausen, John Ziegler, Larry Schuler and Rich Bickle rounded out the top-five.

1980 - Don Hobbs of Whiteland, Ind., took the lead on the 90th lap and won the $30,000 National Dirt Racing Association feature at Hawkeye Downs Speedway on Sunday evening, May 11, 1980. Hobbs grabbed the top spot from Loveland, Ohio's Rodney Combs and sailed home the victor in the first-ever NDRA show in the upper Midwest. Tom Helfrich of Haubstadt, Ind., led the first 86 laps before pulling into the pits with mechanical problems.

1975 -"Big" Bob Kelly of Leland, Ill., three-time Sycamore Speedway track champion, won the super late model feature in Sycamore, Ill., on May 10, 1975. Kelly took advantage of multiple cautions to inch towards the front, finally securing the lead and the win.

1968 - Roger Larson of Sioux Falls, S.D., wheeled his #33 to the "A" feature victory as Huset's Speedway opened its 1968 season on Mother's Day, May 12th. Larson finished just inches ahead of Sioux Falls' Larry Lapes as the checkers waved.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

1992 - Tom Carlson; The Drive for Five

Tom Carlson poses proudly after winning the prestigious Oktoberfest 200 at La Crosse. Carlson garnered five ARTGO victories during the 1992 season, his most successful ever. - Al Fortner Photo

by Kyle Ealy 

Cedar Rapids, Iowa - Mention the name Carlson up in Wisconsin and your first thought is Steve Carlson, who has dominated short tracks not only in the cheese state but all over the Midwest.

However, Steve wasn't the only Carlson from up those parts to make a name for himself. Older brother Tom Carlson did pretty well for himself in the 1980's and 1990's winning numerous features all through Wisconsin against the very best that short track had to offer. 

In 1992, the La Crosse, Wis., veteran put together a string of victories in the always competitive ARTGO Challenge Series that highlighted one of his most successful seasons. 

It started in the Badgerland 50 at the Milwaukee Mile on June 10th. Four lead changes among four drivers highlighted the 50-lap contest. Future NASCAR star Matt Kenseth grabbed the point before Steve Carlson took command on lap three. Steve held on to the lead until the 18th circuit when troubles brought him to the pit area. Dennis Lampman took over from there, putting his Ford into the top spot. Six laps later it was Tom Carlson taking the lead for good. Carlson managed to hold off a hard charging Bob Senneker to take the win with Lampman settling for third, fast qualifier (and future crew chief) Robbie Reiser taking fourth and ARTGO Series leader Jim Weber grabbing the fifth spot. 

Fifteen days later on Memorial Day Weekend in Kaukauna, Wis., the ARTGO-sanctioned Spring Nationals 125-lap race took place before a crowd of 5, 606. Thirty late models started in the main event with Dennis Lampman coming off the front row to take the point and keeping it there for the first half of the feature. Meanwhile, Carlson sliced through the field and by lap 41 had worked his way up to third position, getting by Kenseth. Four laps later, Carlson moved around Bob Brownell for the runner-up position. Carlson closed in on Lampman quickly and on lap 48 sped past him on the backstretch to grab the point and seal the deal. From there, Carlson withstood a couple of cautions to take the seven-car length victory over Butch Miller, Jim Weber, Steve Carlson and Lampman. 

The third victory for Carlson was his toughest. The ARTGO 100 at Berlin Raceway in Marne. Mich., had been rain-delayed for two weeks and even on the day of the race, June 6th, rain showers were imminent. Carlson, who started eighth, led only one lap but it was the final one as he edged past his younger brother Steve coming through turns one and two in an exciting side by side battle that had the fans on their feet. Michigan favorite Dick Harrington took third, Bob Brownell was fourth and Jim Weber rounded out the top-five. Seven days later at Illiana (Ind.) Speedway, Carlson started 24th in the field and charged through the field like a knife through warm butter but Joe Shear edged out Carlson to take the win and ending Carlson's impressive winning streak. 

Carlson's season wasn't even finished as he came back a few weeks later and squeezed past rookie Rick Beebe on the last lap to win the Minnesota State Championship 100 at Elko Speedway on July 3. 

To cap off his successful year, Carlson ended the 1992 season in spectacular style. At the 23rd Annual Oktoberfest Weekend, Carlson charged from the rear of the field to take the victory. Carlson elected to take the $500 Ultimate Challenge and started 27th despite being second fastest qualifier. Carlson passed seven cars on the very first lap, was up to ninth by lap 17 and was on his younger brother's bumper by the half-way point. Steve passed leader Rick Beebe on lap 53 for the lead with Tom getting by Beebe two laps later. 

It was then Carlson vs. Carlson... 

Tom got by Steve for the top spot on lap 62 and then managed to hold off his sibling for the remaining laps until Steve's tires wore out with 10 laps left. Beebe mounted one last charge but it was to no avail as Carlson held on for his second straight Oktoberfest title. Beebe held on to second with Joe Shear third, Steve Holzhausen fourth and Jim Weber fifth. 

Carlson's win also made history as it was the first win in the new ARTGO Concept Engine which was presented as a cost saving option to the familiar 9:1 engine. The new engine featured cast iron, unported heads and a flat tappet cam. 

Despite Carlson's five ARTGO-sanctioned wins, he finished third in the final points to champion Jim Weber and his younger brother Steve. Needless to say, Tom Carlson had a spectacular season. 

To give you a better perspective on Carlson's accomplishments that year, Tom had eight career ARTGO-sanctioned victories in his career, five of them in 1992.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hartford Hotshoes

John Stevenson (31) and Doug Wolfgang
 (4) battle during sprint car action in Hartford, S.D., on May 3, 1981. – Bob Mays Collection

Midwest Racing Archives (This week in history)

Bill Zwanziger had a successful weekend, May 2-4, 1975, going three for three feature wins at Davenport, Eldon and Cedar Rapids. He's shown here at Eldon, Iowa. 

2002 - Peoria Speedway honored their owner Chuck Hamilton who passed away on April 25. As a final salute, over 100 stock cars pulled out onto the quarter-mile that Hamilton and his widow Sherrie had operated for the last 14 years. As for the evening's action, Billy Tuckwell (late model), Jeff Maher (modified), B.J. Richardson (sportsman) and Doug McKendrick (street stock) were winners. 

1998 - Tommy Myers of Blooming Prairie, Minn., took home the IMCA modified season opener at Hancock County Speedway in Britt, Iowa on Friday, May 1, 1998. Ed Wolf of Algona, Iowa made a clean sweep of the IMCA stock car class and Marathon, Iowa's Jeremy Mills dominated the IMCA hobby stock feature. 

1975 - Bill Zwanziger of Waterloo, Iowa and Curt Hansen of Dike, Iowa pulled off late model hat tricks over the weekend. Zwanziger captured wins at Davenport, Iowa on Friday, May 2, Eldon, Iowa, on Saturday, May 3 and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Sunday May 4 in the Star Engineering/Cronbaugh Transport Chevrolet. Hansen started his triple crown run in Oskaloosa on Wednesday, April 30, continued with a victory at Columbus Junction, Iowa on Friday, May 2 and completed the tri-fecta with a win in Denison, Iowa on Saturday, May 3 before a capacity crowd of 3,100 race fans. 

1970 - Ramo Stott beat fellow "Keokuk Komet" Ernie Derr in the 30-lap late model feature at I-70 Speedway near Kansas City on May 2, 1970. Stott was also a heat winner. Derr copped trophy dash honors. In the other part of the program, Jerry Blundy captured the 30-lap super sprint car main event and also set a new track record in qualifying with a time of 18.15. Dick Sutcliffe captured a pair of wins, copping the trophy dash and the second heat.

Friends and foes: Schrader and Collins dominated like no other

Emory Collins is joined by legendary racer Barney O' Field and WHO Radio announcer Ronald Reagan. - Bob Mays Collection

By Kyle Ealy
Cedar Rapids, Iowa - From 1933 to 1948 two men dominated sprint car racing like no other. Competitive on the track and friends off it, Gus Schrader of Newhall, Iowa and Emory Collins of LeMars, Iowa, thrilled millions of race fans across the United States and Canada.

Emory “Spunk” Collins was born in Sibley, Iowa in 1904 but his parents moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1907. He began working in a garage at age 9 and by the time he was 17, he started taking an interest in racing. A fledgling race car driver at the time, Collins was actually more noted for being an outstanding hockey player who had played for the Canadian National Team in the Olympics.

It was the promoter J. Alex Sloan, the self-proclaimed “Daddy of Dirt Track Racing” who brought Collins to the United States in the 1930’s hoping to make Collins a star for a professional hockey franchise in Chicago that Sloan was bidding on at the time. Sloan soon found out that Collins was a better with a steering wheel than a stick and it was then that Collins embarked on a stellar racing career.

One of the first places Collins raced at upon starting his career in the United States was the old Frontier Park in Cedar Rapids.

It was said that Collins was very superstitious and wouldn’t allow anyone to take his photo before a race. Collins drove the number 7, which was always painted red. After he retired, he mentioned that despite the perils of sprint car racing during that period, he was never upside down his whole career.

Another little-known fact about Collins was he would nervously bite his fingernails while traveling on public highways. When asked why, he replied, “At the track, they’re all going the same direction. You don’t have some incompetent driver coming at you head on.”

Gus Schrader's Offenhauser kicks up rooster tails at St. Paul, Minnesota in 1938. - Bob Mays Collection

Gus Schrader was born in Newhall, Iowa on May 22, 1895. Schrader started racing motorcycles in his teens and turned to cars soon after World War 1, first racing Model T Fords, and then switching to Nash, which happened to be the dealership in Newhall.

Schrader held many track records all over and very few drivers could beat him, unless he wanted them to.

In the days before superspeedway racing (Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the only one at the time) dirt track drivers were larger than life heroes to many Americans and it wasn’t uncommon to see Schrader and Collins rubbing shoulders with politicians and movie stars such as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Jack Benny during their prime.

Collins and Schrader would put on a show that would leave the fans standing and yelling for more every time. “It was the most gosh darned demonstration of speed and skill you ever saw,” admired one gentleman. “There would be 20 cars on the track but as soon as Emory and Gus got out there, they’d head for the pits. They’d both have their Offenhauser's kicking dirt 50 feet up in the air going through the turns. They’d be going side-by-side in complete control of their cars. The crowd just ate it up.”

Schrader and Collins began their battles in the early 1930’s, racing throughout the country and gaining most of their fame racing IMCA competition. Schrader would win the national championship from 1933 to 1937. Collin would win the crown in 1938 on the very last race of the season. Schrader would regain the title in 1939 and defend it successfully until his untimely death in 1941.

With no racing from 1942 to 1945 because of World War II, Collins would have to wait until 1946 to grab his second national championship and to prove it was no fluke, followed that up with crowns in 1947 and 1948.

Off the track Collins and Schrader became close friends who enjoyed going fishing and hunting in Minnesota and Canada when autumn came and they put their cars away for the winter.

Sadly, Schrader lost his life in what was his “retirement” race. He and his wife Eunice had decided it was time to settle down on the family farm in Newhall. Schrader, having wrapped up his eighth IMCA national championship already, was lured into racing one final time, at the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport on October 2, 1941.

He and another top driver in that period, Jimmy Wilburn, were racing side-by-side into the turn on the half-mile when Wilburn’s sprinter drifted out and Schrader’s didn’t. Schrader’s sprint car ran over Wilburn’s axle and flipped end over end 15 times. Schrader died two hours later of a skull fracture, concussion and cerebral hemorrhage. Schrader was only 46 years old.

Ironically, the car that Schrader lost his life in was only slightly damaged in the crash and repaired. In the following nine years, two more drivers would lose their lives in the very same car, Eddie Nicholson at the Milwaukee Mile in 1946 and Bill Anderson in Indiana in 1950.

It is believed that there was problem with the steering arm after Gus Schrader had converted the car to a cross-spring front. According to Charles Davis, who later owned the car, the spring shackle was mounted on the front axle, too close to the steering arm. In certain circumstances the arm could become entangled with the shackle and take the steering away. After Bill Anderson's accident, Peaches Campbell, who owned the car at the time, changed the steering geometry. The car was raced for many more years without serious incident.

Collins would retire from competitive racing in 1951 and settle down in LeMars, Iowa. Some say that if World War II hadn’t come, he would’ve won more than the four titles he earned. He passed away on June 2, 1982, in LeMars after suffering a heart attack.

Emory Collins and Gus Schrader were true pioneers of open wheel racing. They were daredevils not only because of how they raced but also what they raced.

An Omaha car owner named Les Vaughn and a kid named Foyt

21-year-old A.J. Foyt of Houston, Texas in the Les Vaughn Offy at the Minnesota State Fair (1956) - Bob Mays Collection

by Lee Ackerman
Omaha, Neb. - Omaha native Les Vaughn got involved in racing in 1948 at Playland Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Vaughn had a wrecker service (Les also owned a van and storage business) and started providing wrecker services at the races at Playland. Before long, he was hooked and built a 1940 Ford coupe to race. By 1957, Vaughn had a stable of eight race cars, two each for Modified Stocks, Midgets, Sprint Cars and Three-Quarter Midgets. Over time, some of the best local drivers found themselves behind the wheel of Vaughn’s cars. Names like Bob Parker, Carl Lillenthal, Porky Rachwitz and Tiny Lund.

For several years Les raced his midgets throughout the Midwest at such tracks as Olympic Stadium in Kansas City, Riverview Park in Sioux City and Playland Park in Council Bluffs. Midget racing started to fall out of grace in the ’50s, and Les turned more and more to Sprint Cars. In 1953, he bought a Big Car that had tried to qualify at Indy, but had a limited amount of success because the car simply overpowered the tracks.

In 1955, Vaughn bought an Offy with a smaller engine, which was more suited for the dirt tracks he was running on. He also started painting his cars black and pink, with his No. 24 in silver on the side. Vaughn claimed that the bright pink and silver made his cars easier to keep track of on dusty fairgrounds race tracks. Vaughn’s Offy became one of the better cars competing in the International Motor Contest Association Series.

In early August 1956, at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot, Vaughn ran into a 21-year-old midget driver from Houston, that was chomping at the bit to get a Sprint Car ride. Vaughn already had a driver and so the kid talked legendary car owner Dizz Wilson into letting him take one of his cars out for warm-ups. Wilson cautioned the kid to take it easy, but when the green flag flew for hot laps, the kid immediately floored the gas and with each passing lap, the kid went faster and faster, passing cars, high, low and anywhere on the track he could. Wilson was terrified, as he saw an out-of-control kid and when the kid pulled into the pits, Wilson screamed at the kid to get out of the car. He made it clear to the kid, that if he ever did land a ride, that neither he nor his car would last one afternoon.

Les Vaughn saw something else. He saw car control and a tremendous confidence and it wasn’t long and the kid was driving the Les Vaughn Offy. On August 24, 1956, the kid from Texas set the IMCA regulars on their ears. As the IMCA yearbook for that year states, “A.J. Foyt, 21-year-old Houston driver, startled Minnesota State Fair officials by setting fast time in big car trials. He grabbed the pole spot from 42 other qualifiers with a time of 23.54 seconds.” The next day at the Red River Fair in Fargo, N.D., Foyt ran away with the feature and scored his first IMCA Sprint Car feature win. On August 29, back at the Minnesota State Fair he finished third in a stellar field of cars.

A.J. Foyt would leave for the United States Auto Club in 1957, and a career that is perhaps unequaled in American racing, but before he did, he would put on, one more incredible driving exhibition behind the wheel of the Les Vaughn Offy. On June 16, at the high-banked asphalt track at Salem, Ind., Foyt set second quick time and then drove the Vaughn Offy around the asphalt circuit in dirt tracking, tire smoking fashion. In a battle with Bob Cleberg, Foyt traded the lead with Cleberg four times before pulling off the win. Les Vaughn would rank this as his biggest win ever. The IMCA yearbook covering 1957 made the following comment about the races at Salem, “IMCA drivers did what others said was impossible on the high banks and started all preliminary events from inverted starts.”

The Les Vaughn Offy has long disappeared from the racing scene. In late 1960, while at an IMCA race in Oklahoma City, Vaughn suffered a mild heart attack, and the doctors told him his traveling days were over. Les Vaughn would pass away in February 1961. As for the young kid from Texas, in 2007 he celebrated 50 years in Indy Car racing and his name has become synonymous with Indy Car racing, the Indianapolis 500, and winning in any type of car, anywhere. Every race fan has his own opinion about who was the greatest driver in the history of American Motor Sports, I have no doubt who gets my vote.

One of my favorite races of all time was the 1977 Indianapolis 500 when driving a car built by himself and his dad in their Houston shops, called a Coyote, A.J. Foyt became the first four-time winner of the greatest spectacle in racing. To me, that will always be one of the greatest moments in American Motor Sports.

I also remember French sports car driver Bob Wollek questioning what the GREAT A.J. FOYT was doing on his team for the 24 hours of Daytona. In the dark early morning hours and driving in the rain, A.J. Foyt set the fastest time of the race as the team went on to win the 24 hours of Daytona. The stories about that young kid from Texas are endless, books have been written about his exploits. I think it's save to say that there will never be another one quite like him.

In 2000, Les Vaughn was inducted into the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame. As for the Foyt kid, well I have heard he has been inducted into a few Halls of Fame himself.