Saturday, February 27, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
By Kyle Ealy
Cedar Rapids, Iowa – In 1971, promoter Earl Baltes created an event like no other. The very best drivers from all parts of the United States would come together in Rossburg, Ohio and compete against each other in a 100-lap race at his track; Eldora Speedway.
As we all know, the event was a smashing success from the beginning and developed into one of the crown jewels of grass roots racing. It was called the World 100.
But it wasn’t the first World 100…
Frank Winkley and his Auto Racing Inc., was a long-time promoter of IMCA stock cars, big cars (sprints) and midgets on the “fair circuit” for many years. Hawkeye Downs Speedway was, among others, one his venues in which he promoted events. One of the more popular events he promoted there was the Hawkeye 200 for IMCA stock cars held in late April.
In January of 1968, “Wink” as he was called, signed a contract with the All Iowa Fairboard and took over the weekly racing program there, which had gone into decline over the past few years.
When Winkley came aboard in January, he announced that a new race for super modifieds would be held on Memorial Day Weekend. And this wouldn’t be just any race…
Instead of the standard 25-lap feature that super modifieds were accustomed to, the feature would go 100 times around the quarter-mile. Winkley also set the purse much higher than what cars of this nature ran for; $4,200. His thinking was with the higher purse, he would lure the very best talent in the world of super modified racing.
Winkley appropriately named his new event; “The World 100”.
It would be a two-day event with time trials and preliminary events on Wednesday, May 30th with the consolation, STP trophy dash and 100-lap main event on Thursday, May 31st.
With 100 laps of racing, fuel consumption would be the biggest concern for drivers. Jerry Blundy played the role of a miser with his gasoline and captured the feature. The Galesburg, Ill., veteran, in his 19th season of auto racing, measured practically every drop of fuel that went into his tank prior to the 100-lapper.
Jerry Blundy had enjoyed a big night in the preliminaries Wednesday, when he set the fastest qualifying time. But he admitted before the feature his strategy was merely to make sure he finished the race. He let someone else set the pace. Any fuel worries Jerry possessed were for naught, however. At the end of the marathon he still had "about 10 gallons" remaining.
Blundy's big advantage actually was the fact he didn't have to pit for fuel. "I started to worry about my strategy," he said. "For awhile I didn't know if it was going to work."
For the first 50 laps it was a battle between Earl Wagner, who held the lead, and Russ Laursen and Blundy, who exchanged second place three times in that distance. Only a car length separated the trio most of that time.
Blundy made his bid for the lead on lap 65, dipping down inside Wagner on turn four to move out in front. Three laps later, Wagner headed for the pits for fuel and a tire change. Then, on the 70th circuit, Laursen made the first of his two fuel stops which proved disastrous.
In the meanwhile, Lee Kunzman of Guttenberg had made his move from the rear of the pack and zipped into second when Wagner and Laursen made their stops. Kunzman, the former Downs late model ace, finished on the same lap with Blundy although he ran out of fuel on the final tour.
Blundy took home a sizable paycheck for his two nights of work. Jerry won $750, including $500 for winning the main event. The near-capacity crowd not only appreciated Blundy’s victory but the skills displayed by the other top finishers.
For Winkley though, the race was not a success. Only 11 cars showed up after it had been advertised that no less than 24 drivers had already filed entries and a field of 30 was expected when the usual late-comers arrived.
Winkley was beside himself when he discovered the number of absent drivers. "I'm slowly losing faith in a driver's word," Winkley was quoted in the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette. "A signed entry form is the same as a contract and it should be honored by both parties at all times”.
“I wish I had an explanation for it. I don’t know if the drivers (who failed to appear) found a better deal somewhere else,” a disgusted Winkley told the paper. “We do know that a few attended the funeral of a friend and competitor, Harry Kern in St. Paul late Wednesday afternoon.” Kern had been killed a week before in the Little 500, the same race many of the missing drivers had competed in.
"If I knew this was going to happen, I would have cancelled the program. But I had close to $1,000 already invested in advance publicity.”
Then “Wink” made an unprecedented move. It was a move that made him one of the best promoters of his era. He took the microphone prior to the first race and announced that all adults would be granted a $1 admission ticket to be applied toward any future race that season at Hawkeye Downs.
Over 3,400 tickets were shelled out for the event but Winkley felt he had to make the gesture and nobody argued with it. "I don't think it was a matter of guts," he said. “It simply was necessary. I don't want the race fans to feel like they've been taken.”
Despite the low car count and losing a little money, Winkley was encouraged by the competitiveness of the race and the crowd response. “We’ll definitely have this race again next season,” Winkley mentioned. “I won’t let a good idea die”.
But unfortunately, the idea did die along with a great promoter. Two months later, while coming home from a race, Frank Winkley lost control of his vehicle on a two-lane highway near his home of Minneapolis and was killed instantly. Verna Winkley, his widow, took over the reins for the 1969 season but didn’t continue on with the super modified special for one reason or another.
The original World 100, like a lot of other Frank Winkley promoted races of that era, was history. But it is just that, a piece of history that an innovative promoter can lay claim to as being the first with the idea.
World 100 Results –
1. Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill. (100 laps)
2. Lee Kunzman, Guttenberg, Iowa (100)
3. Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa (97)
4. Russ Laursen, Cumberland, Wis. (96)
5. Dale McCarty, Kansas City (93)
6. Butch Smith, Des Moines (87)
7. Stan Borofsky, Raytown, Mo. (82)
8. Burt Sonner, Des Moines (69)
9. Johnny Babb, Ottumwa (49)
10. Phil Reece, Des Moines (49)
Trophy Dash –
1. Earl Wagner
2. Jerry Blundy
3. Russ Laursen
4. Phil Reece
5. Butch Smith
2. Lee Kunzman
3. Johnny Babb
4. Stan Browsky
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Bobby Davis Jr., piloting the Casey Luna Gambler, won the opening night of the All Star Sprints Winternationals at Volusia County Speedway. Davis would go on to win the World of Outlaws title that season as well.
On Wednesday night February 8th, Bobby Davis Jr. was the class of the 20-car field and took home the $3,000 payday shelled out by track owner Dickie Murphy. Davis started on the front row opposite Robbi Stanley and quickly darted out to the lead and never slipped in the 20-lapper.
Kenny Jacobs, piloting the Weikert Livestock Special, won the 30-lap finale of the All Star Sprints Winternationals at Volusia County Speedway. - Jim Fisher Photo
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
In 1981 Means became the promoter for a new series called the “National Outlaw Stock Car Association.” Unfortunately the season had one major adversary, the weather. The series opener was to be “the 1st Annual Ozark Outlaw Nationals” to be held at 65 Raceway Park in Branson, Mo., on March 20 through 22. When the event was finally put in the record books on April 5, it was done so under threatening skies and with a certain amount of controversy.
Changing weather conditions and a fluctuating wind made the track hard to predict and presented a real challenge to the drivers. The feature would see Larry Phillips on the pole (Phillips had won the feature the night before in Tucson, Arizona). The outside front row would have Billy Moyer Jr. off a second place finish the night before in the Frostbuster 10,000 at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia. The two would put on an outstanding battle for 25 laps before the race was stopped because of a driver being struck in the face by a rock. That driver was John Seets of Peoria, Ill.
On the restart Joe Merryfield of Des Moines had moved up from the back of the pack to join the battle. With just 11 laps to go Moyer and Ken Schrader tangled in turn 4, caused by dusty track conditions when a car entered the infield. After some discussion, Moyer was given his position at the front of the pack back. From that point on it was Moyer and Merryfield battling to the end with Moyer edging out Merryfield at the checkers.
The race judges then got together and after more discussion awarded the race to Merryfield with Springfield, Missouri’s Jake Deemer second, Larry Phillips third and Billy Moyer Jr. was awarded fourth place. A special feature of the NOSCA show was the “Outlaw Shootout” a series of one-on-one races among the top eight qualifiers. Larry Phillips would pick up the $200 first prize with Kansas City’s Gene Claxton finishing second.
On Monday, May 25, round two of the NOSCA season was completed at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia. Gene Claxton of Kansas City, Mo., was fast qualifier. Roger “The Racing Lawyer” Thompson of Junction City, Kan., would lead the first 29 ½ laps before being trapped by a lapped car and Kevin Gundaker would slip by and take the lead and the win. Ken Walton would finish third, Don Hoffman fourth and Joe Merryfield fifth. The race would be called the “Missouri Outlaw Stock Car Classic.”
The next scheduled race for NOSCA was to be held on Sunday, June 21 at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill. The weatherman decided to change that and the event was rescheduled for July 12. Kevin Gundaker continued his winning ways by posting a clean sweep. He set fast time, won his heat and then came back to lead the entire 30 laps of the feature event driving his familiar #11 Camaro. Steve Kosiski would finish second, Bo Smith third, Ken Walton fourth and Larry Phillips fifth.
Action moved to Fun Valley Speedway in Hutchinson, Kan., the next weekend. On Friday night, Kansas driver Clarence Bontrager would set fast time with Larry Phillips setting second quick time. Heats would go to Steve Kosiski and Phillips. On Saturday night Phillips would take the lead from his outside front row starting position and drive a flawless race in taking his winged Interstate Towing Camaro to victory land and a $2,000 first prize. Dhon Hauserman of Wichita would came from the third row to finish second followed by Joe Kosiski, Steve Kosiski and the pole setting Bontranger.
After a mix up in booking dates and more bad weather, round five of the series was completed on Sunday, August 23 at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City. After completing the first night of racing on August 15, heavy rains forced a one week postponement of the second day of the two day show.
Buck Cadwell of Arnett, Okla., would set a new track record in qualifying as he turned the half mile in 22.90 seconds over one and a half seconds off the old record of 24.58 seconds. The outlaw shootout was won by Ken Walton over fast qualifier Cadwell. Last chance qualifiers went to Larry Phillips and Junior Slay.
In the feature event of the day it was Ken Walton adding another $2,000 to the $200 he picked up in the shootout making it a $2,200 pay day. Following Walton to the line was Larry Phillips, Roger Thompson, Dhon Hauserman and Ferris Collier.
The next round of the NOSCA season was to be the North Iowa Outlaw Stock Nationals to be held on September 5 and 6 at the Mason City Speedway in Mason City, Iowa. That event does not appear to have been held.
The final event of the NOSCA racing season was to have been a three day affair to be held October 2, 3 and 4th at George Butland’s Colorado National Speedway. That event was cancelled when the money behind the NOSCA series disappeared.
“The thing I remember about running with the wing on the car is you had to take drive out of the car so you could get through the corners,” recalls Joe Kosiski. “It was tough on equipment and you could easily blow a motor,” remembers Steve Kosiski.
So ended, the one year life of the Winged Outlaw Late Models called the National Outlaw Stock Car Association. Weather and the lack of funding put a premature end to a novel concept.