by Kyle Ealy
Knoxville, Iowa - Kenny Weld from Thomason, Penn., proved once again why he is considered one of the nations foremost super sprint pilots when he pushed his Floyd Trevis-built Weikert Livestock machine to victory on Saturday night, August 12, 1972. It was the 12th running of the Super Modified Nationals at the Marion County Fairgrounds and came before a crowd of 13,000 race fans.
Following a frustrating evening of preliminary events, which found everything and anything happening on the track, including the flagman quitting, Weld outran polesitter Buddy Cochran from his outside front row starting spot to grab command of the lead of the 30-lap main event.
Weld was just starting to pull away from the field when a spectacular four-car accident that included Earl Wagner of Pleasantville, Iowa, flipping over the top of Darrell Dockery of Phoenix, Ariz., who had also flipped after making contact with a spinning Ray Lee Goodwin of Kansas City. Sedalia, Mo.'s Bill Utz was also involved in the melee and saw his car burst into flames when the safety bladder broke.
On the restart, 24-year-old Arizonian Bill Shuman caught Weld napping and sped past him down the backstretch. Weld later commented that he had his lost rhythm and concentration during the red flag period.
However, two laps later, Weld regained his composure and put back the top spot for good as he shot past Shuman coming off the fourth corner. He then proceeded to open up a straightaway lead on the rest of the field.
With Weld comfortably in front, the crowd's attention them turned to the battle for second place between Shuman and Lonnie Jensen of Lincoln, Neb. The pair hooked up in a tremedous duel exchanging postition lap after lap before Shuman took command on lap 23. Finishing fourth was Eddie Leavitt, who charged from his 17th starting postition while former Nationals champion Jay Woodside nailed down fifth. Fast timer Buddy Cochran broke a sway bar and had to settle for sixth, while David James, Ted Wise, Bob Williams and Rick Ferkel rounded out the top 10.
Weld pocketed a check for nearly $4,000 out of a record purse of $22,000. In addition to winning the main event, Weld also won a semi main and two heat races in the three days of racing.
Cochran was the only driver of the 109 competitors to break the 21 second time barrier, clocking in at 20.28 seconds during time trials. Weld won the Thursday night preliminaries while Roger Larson of Solomon, Kan., won his heat and the 15-lap feature on Friday evening.