Monday, August 17, 2009

1974 - Andretti, Larson, Hutcherson post Sedalia victories

by Kyle Ealy

Sedalia, Mo. - For the fan that loves all types of racing, it was a dream come true. The Missouri Speedweeks got off to a rousing start on the weekend of August 17 -18, 1974, at the one-mile dirt oval of the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia.

On Saturday afternoon, the USAC championship dirt cars took the stage and Mario Andretti of Nazareth, Penn., was the center of attention winning the 100-lap feature. Andretti started on the pole position and was never headed as he won by a full straightaway over Tom Bigelow of Whitewater, Wis. Tiffin, Ohio's Darl Harrison was third followed by New Jersey's Wally Dallenbach and Larry Dickson of Indianapolis. The race took one hour, nine minutes and 49 seconds to complete for an average winning speed of 85.921 miles per hour.

The Saturday night super sprint portion of the program fell victim to rain and it was decided to run that feature on Sunday morning. What was scheduled to be a 50-lap feature, was shortened since the ARCA late models were scheduled to run later that afternoon. The feature started as people were still entering the fairgrounds at 10:00 am.

Earl Wagner of Pleasantville, Iowa, jumped out to the lead only to be passed by Roger Larson of Solomon, Kan., a few laps later. Wagner would experience mechanical issues and drop out. Eddie Leavitt of Kearney, Mo., took over second and pressed Larson throughout the contest. For the last three circuits, Leavitt stayed glued to Larson's bumper but could not complete the pass. Larson would grab the victory with Leavitt second, hometown hero Bill Utz third and Minnesota's Dick Forbrook fourth.

As the sun came out and the temperatures rose, the ARCA late models set out for their 100-lap journey. Ron Hutcherson of Keokuk, Iowa, would lead wire to wire in picking up the win. Mike Derr, also of Keokuk, provided the stiffest challenge of the afternoon as he was running a close second to Hutcherson on lap 46 when a valve spring broke forcing him to drop out.

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