Saturday, July 30, 2011

This Week in History

2005 - Battling a slumping right rear tire, Jerry Coons Jr. outfought Davey Ray to earn his first Belleville Midget Nationals title on Saturday night, July 30. Coons led all 40 laps on the 1/2-mile after starting on the pole. Ray stayed stapled to Coons' tail tank over the course of the final 25 laps as the lead duo began lapping cars. Coons kept Ray at bay, however, as they weaved in and out of traffic. Johnny Rodriguez, the defending USAC Western Midget Series champion, finished third, followed by Danny Stratton and Tracy Hines.

2000 - Lowell Bennett of Neenah,, Wis., and Brad Mueller of Random Lake, Wis., staged a spectacular battle for the lead in the final 10 laps before Bennett edged Mueller by less than one-half-car length to win his second Miller Lite Nationals title in the closest finish in the 21-year history of the prestigious late model event at Slinger Super Speedway on July 30. Bennett led most of the 200-lap event with Mueller applying pressure the last 50 laps. In another side-by-side battle at the finish, John Zimmerman of Markesan, Wis., edged Conrad Morgan of Wausheka, Wis., for third.

1995 - Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., took the lead on the 10th lap and went on to easily capture the 50-lap UMP Northern Outlaw Nationals on July 30 at Vermilion County Speedway in Danville, Ill. Kevin Weaver led the first 9 laps before mechanical issues sent him to the pit area. Moyer, who was also fast qualifier (14.208), took the top spot and won easily over runner-up John Gill. The victory earned Moyer $5,000.

1989 - Jay Maupin won and lost at the Dodge City (Kan.) Speedway Summer IMCA Sprint Car Nationals on July 29. Maupin was pleased about winning the 25-lap feature and when fellow competitor John Burton was waiting in the claiming area to buy Maupin's engine, he was more than happy to sell. Earlier this year, Maupin had won a IMCA sprint car race but refused the claim and was disqualified from national competition for 21 days and lost all of his points. Maupin started mid-pack and drove a smooth and steady race finishing ahead of Garry Lee Maier to the checkers. Dale Borger took third ahead of national point's leader Gary Zitterich, who made the 700-mile trek from Sioux Falls, S.D.

Friday, July 29, 2011

1995 - History made as Wapello Speedway closes

Ted Pallister holds the checkers after winning the last late model feature at Wapello Speedway. - Kyle Ealy Collection

Wapello, Iowa (July 28, 1995) — History was made Friday night at Wapello Speedway.

And then Wapello Speedway became history, closing its doors for the final time after the final feature.

Winning the final features ever at Wapello Speedway were Ted Pallister in late models, Darin Thye in pro stocks, Randy Wages in modifieds, Mike Raymond in T.Q. midget sprints, John Richardson in hobby stocks, Kirk Kinsley in Friday/Night Cruisers and Lisa Hinds in Lady Cruisers.

In addition, season point’s championships were awarded to Pallister, Thye, Raymond, Richardson and Kinsley. Also claiming points titles were Jim Willert in modifieds and Carla Timmerman in Lady Cruisers.

Pallister, who won the first late model feature at the track in 1993, also won the final late model feature, clinching the point’s championship in the process.

Pallister entered the night with a 13- point lead over Steve Sutliff with Rob Toland, LeRoy Brenner and Gary Russell, also within reach of the title. Pallister started on the pole and led Sutliff off the start. Toland quickly moved to the low side with Pallister to grab second place by the end of the first lap. Pallister held on through three cautions, and then fought off Toland by staying in the low groove. Toland tried high and low, but Pallister held his line and beat Toland to the finish line by a car length.

"I'd like to dedicate this one to my mom (Susan)," Pallister said. "We needed this one. (Toland's) pretty tough. It's hard when you're leading because you don't know if your line is working or not. I heard him back there. I figured he would be coming pretty hard - he normally does."

Thye also won the first and last pro stock races at the track. Thye entered the night with a 27-point lead over Dave Goble in the point’s standings.

Thye, starting from the pole, grabbed the quick lead on the high side. Thye began pulling away midway through the feature and easily beat Goble to the checkered flag to win the points championship.

"I won the first race here and the last," Thye said. "I tried to stay on the high side. I knew nobody would get around me there. Dave (Goble) and I usually have some good races."

Willert entered the modified feature with a 51-point lead over Bill Roberts. Willert clinched the point’s title before the first lap was completed. Roberts spun out in turns three and four of lap one, causing major damage to his car. With Roberts out of the race, the point’s title was Willert's.

Willert, who had cylinder problems with his car in the feature, went on to finish fourth behind winner Randy Wages.

"I'd like to thank the Pallisters for bringing modified racing here," Willert said. "It's sad to see it ending. But this was probably one of my greatest feats. I've been racing for 14 years and this is my first point’s championship."

Raymond ended the T.Q. midget sprint season the same way he started it - with a win. Raymond, who lost only one race at the track, overtook Jay Anderson with one lap remaining to win the feature and points title.

"I wanted to win it," Raymond said of the point’s title. "I wanted to make a race out of it and make it exciting for the fans. But that's hard to do with just three cars in the field."

Richardson clinched the hobby stock point’s title while winning his 16th feature of the season. But he paid a high price for the win. Richardson held a 56-point lead over John Schulz entering the feature. Richardson and Schulz, just as they have all season, dueled for the lead throughout the early portions of the race. After six yellow flags, Richardson finally pulled away to beat Rodney Bliesener for the win.

But Richardson's car broke an axle as he went into turn one after taking the checkered flag. A tire flew off the car, sending the car rolling over the turn.

An ambulance and several drivers rushed to the scene. Richardson was not injured, but was upset about the damage to his car.

"It doesn't mean anything," Richardson said of the point’s title. "There's no track anymore."

Kinsley held an eight-point lead in the Friday Night Cruisers class over Rodney Bliesener with Bryan McCleary and Marlin O'Donnell also within reach. But Kinsley took the lead on the start, and then held off a late charge from Bliesener and Tim Wagner to win the feature and the point’s title.

Lisa Hinds will go down in the history books as the last driver to win a feature at Wapello Speedway. Hinds got past Carla Timmerman in lapped traffic with two laps remaining in the I Lady Cruisers feature to win the final race at the track. Despite finishing second in the feature, Timmerman claimed the point’s title.

Results –

Late Model Feature -

1. Ted Pallister
2. Rob Toland
3. Steve Sutliff
4. Gary Russell
5. LeRoy Brenner
6. Jeff Guengerich
7. Bill Dusenberry
8. Joe Dopler
9. Ron Weedon
10. Brent Slocum

Pro Stocks Feature -

1. Darin Thye
2. Dave Goble
3. Bob Adams
4. Larry Digman
5. Mike Devol

Modified Feature -

1. Randy Wages
2. Bart Miller
3. John Simenec
4. Jim Willert
5. Rob Bauman
6. Ed Strickland
7. Bryan Behning
8. Jeff Bockes
9. Bill Roberts

10. Jeff Toland

Thursday, July 28, 2011

1976 - Leavitt erases 1967 mark in 25-lap sprint victory at Fairgrounds

Des Moines, Iowa (July 28, 1976) - Eddie Leavitt of Kearney, Mo., capitalized on good track conditions Wednesday night and led all the way as he captured the “A” feature on the Elder-Forester Invitational sprint car program at the State Fairgrounds.

Leavitt, who won $1,500 before a crowd of nearly 5,000, set a 25-lap record - one of three broken. Leavitt's clocking of 9 minutes and 56.82 seconds wiped out the mark of 10:29.09 set by Jay Woodside of Kansas City, Mo., in 1967 for the 12 ½ -mile race.

Bobby Marshall of Dallas, Tex., finished second, Joe Saldana of Speedway City, Ind., was third, Roger Larson, Madison, S.D., fourth and John Stevenson of St. Paul, Minn., took fifth.

Leavitt, who just started driving the car owned by Fred Atin of Tucson, Ariz., two weeks ago, felt the condition of the track was a factor in his one-half straightaway victory over Marshall.

“The track was in good shape for a fairgrounds track,” said Leavitt, who also won the six-lap trophy dash. “It's the best condition I've ever seen this track in.”

Marshall slid past Saldana on the twenty-fourth lap to take second-place money of $750. But his total for the night reached $870 after setting a one-lap record in qualifying and finishing fourth in the trophy dash.

The native Texan powered his sprinter around the half-mile oval in 23.036 seconds to wipe out a 20-year-old record set by the late Jud Larson of Kansas City, Mo.

“I'm really pleased, especially to get the track record,” Marshall said. “I'm originally from Austin, Tex., and my father grew up with Jud Larson. He was one of my first idols," continued Marshall. "I never got to see him race but I watched a lot of films of his races.”

Marshall was one of five drivers to go under Larson's record. The others were Roger Rager of Mound, Minn., Saldana, Larson, and Doug Wolfgang of Des Moines, who was sixth in the feature.
The “B” feature was won by Lenard McCarl of Des Moines, with Dave Ellis of Pacheco, Calif., second and Gary Johnson of Colfax third.

McCarl passed Johnson for the lead on the sixth lap of the 15-lap race and was never threatened. McCarl's biggest problem, however, was his own car, which threw oil onto him all during the race and lost its power steering midway through the event.

Mark David of Ankeny was the “C” feature winner over Roy Petz of Gilmore City.

The other record broken came in the third heat when Ralph Parkinson Jr., of Kansas City, Mo., set an eight-lap mark of 3:09.94. The clocking eclipsed a run of 3:16.53 by McCarl in the first heat. The record of 3:18.38 was set by Chuck Lynch in 1969.

"A" Main Results –

1. Eddie Leavitt, Kearney, Mo.
2. Bobby Marshall, Dallas, Tex.
3. Joe Saldana, Speedway, Ind.
4. Roger Larson, Madison, S.D.
5. John Stevenson, St. Paul, Minn.
6. Doug Wolfgang, Des Moines, Iowa
7. Dick Morris, Sioux City, Iowa
8. Jack McCorkell, Redwood Falls, Minn.
9. Butch Bahr, Lincoln, Neb.
10. Gary Scott, Holts Summit, Mo.
11. Lloyd Beckman, Lincoln, Neb.
12. Ralph Parkinson Jr., Kansas City, Mo.
13. Ralph Blackett, Des Moines, Iowa
14. Mike Pinckney, Des Moines, Iowa
15. Rich Brahmer, Wisner, Neb.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

1981 - Peters, Phillips win in Grand Nationals

Mike Peters, in the Charlie Ochs and Jack Williams owned Chevrolet, celebrates on the frontstretch after winning the 50-lap national championship race – Brian Carroll collection

Hutchinson, Kan. (July 26, 1981) - Wichitan Mike Peters never dreamed he’d win the Grand National Championships at the Kansas State Fairgrounds.

Larry Phillips of Springfield, Mo., never dreamed he would even compete in the prestigious NCRA (National Championship Racing Association) event.

But those two race drivers walked off with the super modified and late model stock titles Sunday before an estimated 9,000 fans. It was the Silver Anniversary for the NCRA's oldest competition.

Peters, 30, has been either attending or competing in the Grand Nationals since he was a youth. He out dueled pole-sitter Herb Copeland, also of Wichita, during the final 26 laps after a 30-minute rain delay. Peters overtook Copeland coming out of the fourth turn on the 48th lap of the 50-lap event.

“This is just something that I've always come to but I had no idea I'd ever win it,” Peters said. “I think Herb running into lap traffic was the key for me. I think he hesitated which way to go and I was able to get past him. When I got through, there wasn't any lap traffic in front of me.”

Copeland, who had qualified for the pole by moving up six places in winning his heat earlier, said a blistered right rear tire had led to his car's inability to handle the turns.

“The left one then just wore out and it kept me from getting the throttle going coming out of the turns,” Copeland said. “If we'd been working good like we were earlier (in the race), there'd been no problems. We floundered. I'm not surprised (at losing). Not the way we were working.”

For Peters, the victory Sunday was his first NCRA title since 1979 when he won at Oklahoma City.

“No doubt, this is the biggest thrill of my life,” he said. “The car was well prepared when I got here and the guys (pit crew) and the owners did a fantastic job. It was a team effort.”

Early-race casualties were defending champion Harold Leep and Dale Reed, a two-time past champion, both of Wichita. Both cars lasted just through the second lap before exiting.

Woodside overtook Copeland coming out of turn one on the 16th lap and held the lead until the rain delay hit as the cars started the 24th lap. After the delay, Copeland and Peters moved past Woodside on the backstretch of the 36th lap.

It was the two cars that battled the remaining 14 laps, with Peters taking the lead for good on the 48th lap. He maintained a two car-length lead through to the checkered flag. Woodside was third and Walt McWhorter, also of Wichita, was fourth.

While Peters has been around the Grand National event for several years, Phillips' appearance was his first. The fact the race is run during the day, and in hot July, is more reason than any for Phillips, 38, staying away in the past.

“I had a friend who has been trying to get me out here for a while but he's always telling me how hot it is,” Phillips said. “Now I believe him. I'd like to come back but I'd like for it to be about 10 degrees cooler next time.”

Phillips, too, had nabbed the pole position for the feature race by winning his heat during Saturday's qualifying. Phillips reveled in his victory.

“Yes sir, I'm thrilled to death,” Phillips said. "I'm fortunate enough to be lucky out there on the track.”

Lucky, maybe. A good driver, definitely.

Phillips rarely makes an appearance in NCRA events, running where the money is best. But when he does compete, he usually performs well. He was two of two a year ago in NCRA events.

“How much did I win today?” he asked. “I hope it's a good purse. I'd like to come back and defend next year. This track is good one when you get the lead.”

Phillips had lost his lead at the outset of the race, with Terry Deatherage moving past him on the first lap.

“That really made me mad and I just kept close until it was the right time to make the move,” Phillips said. “It was a tough race. Terry's a good driver. He got up beside me (on the 41st lap) but I held him off and then was able to pull away.”

Phillips credited his car's new Dick Sweat motor for Sunday's victory. “The new motor is working just great,” he said. “I think that showed here today. This was a good one (victory). The best I ever had.”

For Deatherage, the runner-up finish provided only another frustrating performance for him at the Grand Nationals. It was the third straight year he has finished in that position.

“I got boxed in (on lap 23) and he just happened to find the hole to go by me,” said Deatherage. “It's nobody's fault but my own. I thought I could get him back but I started losing fuel pressure with about 25 laps to go. Larry's one of the best short trackers in racing and he just beat me around.”

Saturday, July 23, 2011

This Week in History

1994 - Paul Proksch and Mike Belling topped the NASCAR late model twin 25-lap features at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway on Saturday, July 23. In the first feature, Proksch came from his seventh starting position, worked his way through traffic and passed Shawn Pfaff on lap 19 for the lead and the checkers. Pfaff settled for second, holding off a hard-charging Kevin Nuttleman, who finished third. In the second main event, Belling had a relatively easy time, taking the lead from John Christenson on lap 3 and lengthening his lead from there. Tim Nelson, Rick Wateski, Proksch and Jeff Krueger followed.

1988 - Billy Moyer Jr. grabbed the lead on the 48th circuit and went on to win the World of Outlaws late model feature at Santa Fe Speedway in Hinsdale, Ill., on Friday night, July 22. Dick Potts paced the first 14 laps of the event before Willy Kraft powered in front. Kraft dominated for the next 34 laps before lapped traffic slowed up the leader. Moyer took advantage of the traffic to weave past Kraft and gain the lead on lap 48. Moyer led the remainder of the race to take home the $4,000 first place money. Kraft, Larry Phillips, Potts and Johnny Stokes rounded out the top five.

1983 - Willie Goeden notched his second victory of the summer as he topped the 30-lap super modified feature on Saturday, July 22, at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth, Wis. Goeden grabbed the lead on the second lap and maintained a slight edge over Frankie Heimerl throughout the event. Dick Berth placed third while Greg Hartlaub nosed out Ron Luedtke for fourth.

1977 - For the second year in a row, Dave Watson of Milton, Wis., showed a star-studded field of late models the route to victory in the 100-lap Missouri State Asphalt Championships at Fairgrounds Speedway in Springfield, Mo., on July 22. Watson grabbed the opening lead and was trailed by Joe Shear of South Beloit, Ill., Mark Martin of Batesville, Ark., and David Goldsberry of Bolivar, Mo. Shear rode Watson's bumper at the beginning of the race until dropping off the pace on lap 54. Martin would apply pressure and on lap 58, take the lead. As Martin slowly pulled away from Watson and the rest of the field, a caution on lap 83 bunched everyone up. On the restart, ignition trouble brought Martin's car to a halt, giving the lead back to Watson. Watson then held off a fast finishing Goldsberry to ice the triumph. Rusty Wallace of St. Louis, Mo., would finish third after running with the leaders early in the contest.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

1976 - Over ruled Knoxville race chief quits

Knoxville, Iowa (July 21, 1976) – The “acting director of racing” at the Marion County Fairgrounds here resigned Monday following a decision by the track's racing committee to overturn a ruling made during Saturday night's racing.

The resignation by Dave Van Patten came after the committee voted Sunday to overturn the decision to disqualify feature winner Eddie Leavitt because of an oversized tire.

Leavitt, a driver from Kearney, Mo., had led the 20-lap super sprint feature from the start. After post-race ceremonies, officials were requested to measure the right rear tire on Leavitt's car.

They found the tire was one-eighth inch more than the allotted 97-inch circumference.

For nearly two hours, Van Patten and other officials conferred over the one-eighth inch and decided Leavitt had violated the rule. The group then gave the win to Roger Larson of Kreamer, Pa., who was driving a car owned by Bob Trostle of Des Moines, who requested the measurement.

But Sunday the racing committee said an error was made and Leavitt was reinstated as the winner.

“From the information we have, the tire had a circumference of 96 inches before the race and it's impossible to tell how much one is going to swell during a race,” said Marion County Fair Secretary Ralph Capitani.

The title of acting director had been pinned on Van Patten this year after Race Director Ray Grimes of Des Moines had brain surgery and was unable to return.

Capitani said Van Patten had been hired as track announcer and got involved in some decision-making.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Finish Line

By Les and John Burianek - Cedar Rapids Citizen Times

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (July 20, 1966) - The cool afternoon of Friday, July 15, prompted us to climb aboard with Bill McDonough and his pit crew, Ray Hyman of Cedar Rapids and Keith Breese of North Liberty.

The car was headed down Interstate 80 Davenport way to the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, which supports a very good high-banked clay quarter mile track.

Arriving at the track we find the pits packed with modified stock cars, their engines screaming as the crews are giving them last minute tunes.

We find McDonough's car, #171, parked next to the Red Droste and Darrell Dake cars. The car, in its gleaming off yellow, is or was a 1966 Chevrolet 2-door Impala, under the hood is stuffed a 427 cubic inch beast of an engine, the racing adaptations of the engine and chassis are business office of #171 is something else. The driver's seat (the only seat) is well placed in the center of the car but almost in the back seat area, which is for weight balance. The controls are specially designed, so the driver has everything within lazy reach. On the floor at the driver's feet are brake and gas pedals. These are used in competition.

A full set of pedals are located on the floor on the right side of cockpit, for use in driving in and out of the pits. We thought it would take a piano player to drive it. Looking around the pit area around #171, we found big chests of tools, spare race equipment and stacks of big ten and a half inch wide race tires that cost a bundle...would you believe $62.50 each?

We met the car owner, who we have seen around race tracks for a long time, Dwayne Schneider of Iowa City. The car owner operates a successful radiator repair business and for 10 years has owned stock cars, has a wonderful sense of humor, which is the first owner or they cry a lot.

Dwayne formerly had Cal Swanson of Cedar Falls behind the wheel of his race cars for years. Watching Schneider double check his car in the pits explained why he has been successful with race cars.

The races start at 8:00 p.m. with the novice cars first on the program. The novice races are wild and slam bang. In the first heat of the modified, #171 was running very strong with McDonough able to pull away from the field at will on the straight-aways, but the turns were like glass and he had to be happy with a second place. The other heats, semi-main, were wild and with one of the cars taking two other cars over the bank on turn one, then crashing into electricians pick up truck, putting all involved out of the race including the electrician’s truck.

The hard running McDonough fought and dodged the slippery turns and spinning cars, including a complete 360 spin by himself, and was able to finish third in the feature, a good night's work despite the conditions.

With #171 loaded on the truck, tools and equipment stowed aboard, we sat around rerunning many races, while the drivers waited for the pay window to open. We talked with McDonough and many of his driver friends and learned that Bill has been driving 14 years in sports cars, three quarter midgets, and modified stocks, mostly on the Midwest tracks with many races on the southern Minnesota tracks.

We wanted to meet Bill's wife, but when asked where she was, the husky lead foot answered, “home helping Tim build his soap box derby car for Sunday's races." Bill, we found, is an excellent public speaker on the subject of racing, ala the late Eddie Sachs, and spoke to 17 local groups last winter.

The big laugh of the evening was, noting the driver's hurry to get headed for home, we asked why the hurry? Bill answered, “I have to feed the dogs!”

We found the throttle jammer raises Great Danes, has eight all as big as Polo Ponies.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

This Week in History

1994 - Jim Brown of Fremont, Iowa scored an emotional win in the 15-lap IMCA stock car feature at Bloomfield (Iowa) Speedway on Friday, July 15. Brown started on the outside of the front row, took the lead heading into turn one and then stayed up front the remainder of the way. Brown drove the #54 stock car, the car that was built for his son Aaron to drive that season. However, Aaron was killed in a auto accident in March, so Brown, along with member's of his late son's pit crew, completed the car and Jim had been driving it this season. In another ironic twist to the finish, Mike McClure of Eldon, Iowa finished second driving the car that Aaron Brown drove during the 1993 season.

1988 - R.M. Van Pay of Green Bay took the lead at the start, then held off race-long threats by Merv Chandler of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and J.L. Cooper of Claycomb, Mo., to win the rain-delayed IMCA Modified National Series race on Saturday afternoon, July 16, at Luxemburg (Wis.) Speedway. The event began Friday night and with the modified feature lined up and ready to go, it began to rain and the race was rescheduled for Saturday afternoon. With the track rough from the previous night's rain, Van Pay held on for the $500 victory with Cooper right behind at the finish. Chandler grabbed third, Earl Muilenburg of Sparta, Mo., up from the 17th position, took fourth and Danny Wallace of Des Moines, Iowa, up from the 16th starting spot, rounded out the top five.

1983 - With his pre-race strategy working to perfection, Tom Helfrich scored the richest victory of his 15-year career in the 100-lap late model feature, capping the three-day National Dirt Racing Association (NDRA) Stroh's Dodge Nationals on Saturday, July 16, at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo. Starting eighth in a 24-car field, Helfrich ran steady in the early going and restarted fourth following a mandatory fuel stop on lap 51. Helfrich stayed patient, then watched as Larry Moore, Freddy Smith and Rodney Combs all dropped out while leading the event. Helfrich inherited the lead on lap 74 and then held off Kevin Gundaker and then Johnny Johnson to collect the $20,000 payday. "Fuel and tires was the key" said Helfrich in victory lane." I knew it would be a race of attrition, so I just wanted to be near the front at the end,"

1977 - Watching the top-10 drivers in points drop like flies, Ken Nichols scored an upset win in the USAC Midget National 40-lapper at Lil' Springfield Speedway on July 16. Nichols passed Ron Shuman on lap 23 and then held off both Larry Rice and Jerry Nuckles to secure the victory. Mel Kenyon, Sleepy Tripp, Duke DeRosa and Bob Wente all saw their night's end due to mechanical issues or on-track accidents. Kenyon, the point's leader, won the trophy dash and first heat but got involved in a tangle early and finished 15th. Tripp, the defending champion, was also involved in a melee and was credited with 18th.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

1987 - The Iowa Firecracker Jamboree

by Lee Ackerman
Omaha, Neb. - The United States Auto Club (USAC) had a short stint as a sanctioning body of dirt late models. By the end of the 1984 racing season the long tradition of the USAC Stock Car Series, the series of factory sponsorship and big name drivers such as Don White, A. J. Foyt, Norm Nelson, Butch Hartman and others had came to an end. This led USAC to try sanctioning dirt late models for a time.

So from 1985 thru 1988, the sanctioning body, known more for open wheel racing, had a dirt late model series. Perhaps the most published of these races was the August 7, 1986 event shown on ESPN from the non-defunct Santa Fe Speedway in Hinsdale, Illinois. But in 1987, the series scheduled five races around the July 4th holidays called the Iowa Firecracker Jamboree. When the dust had settled only the first three races were ran under USAC sanctioning, but one thing was clear Billy Moyer Jr. had made a triumphant return to his Iowa roots.

The Jamboree kicked off at the legendary Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids and Moyer wasted no time in qualifying for the pole against a 37-car field. He set a new track record in qualifying of 20.812 seconds. In the first heat, it was Moyer winning handily with Larry Moore and Lance Matthees in tow. Heat two saw Galena, Missouri’s Ken Essary win over Jerry Inmon of Bruce, Mississippi. Heat three went to Waterloo, Iowa’s Dick Schiltz over Minnesota’s Willy Kraft, with the fourth heat featuring a couple of Rick’s. At the wire it was Fargo, North Dakota’s Rick Aukland besting St. Paul, Minnesota’s Rick Egersdorf.

Larry Phillips

The B feature certainly wasn’t without talent as Missouri racing legend Larry Phillips of Springfield won over Johnny Johnson of Wapello and 1985 USAC Late Model Champion Charlie Sentman of Waveland, Indiana. In the feature it took Moyer until just the fourth lap to storm from his sixth starting position and cruise to a victory in the 40-lap feature. Rounding out the top five were Essary, Egersdorf, Gary Webb of Davenport and Mitch Johnson of Fargo, North Dakota.

The following night at 34 Raceway in Burlington would turn out to be the only glitch in the Moyer Iowa tour. First off, it was Rick Egersdorf setting fast time with a lap at 16.311 seconds. Heat race winners did not include Moyer as the four heats went to Dick Taylor of Springfield, Illinois (winner of USAC season opener at Springfield), Gary Wright of Hooks, Texas (yes sprint car fans, Gary drove late models), and a pair of Johnson’s in Mitch and Johnny.

The B feature once again featured some heavy hitters as Larry Moore of Dayton, Ohio emerged victorious over Jerry Inmon, Jay Johnson of Wapello, David Karst of Casper, Wyoming and Dick Potts of Morocco, Indiana. For the only time during Jamboree week, the feature did not go to Moyer. Ken Essary held on to win the main event over Moyer, Phillips, Inmon and Egersdorf.

Day three found several of the teams using Karl’s Chevrolet in Ankeny as a place to catch up on maintenance before they headed off to the ¼-mile high bank oval in Marshalltown. This was really a homecoming for Billy Moyer as he used to race Marshalltown on a regular basis. Thirty-four late models took time, with Ken Essary setting fast time at 15.29 followed by Gary Webb, Jerry Inmon and Larry Phillips. Moyer would be 8th quickest. Heat one would see Larry Phillips win over Illinois’ Gibby Steinhaus. Bob Hill of Story City, Iowa guided his JD1 to the win in heat two over Rick Aukland. Milan, Illinois’ Ray Guss Jr nailed down heat three besting Willy Kraft and Moyer returned to the winners circle in heat four with a win over Jerry Inmon.

Sixteen of the scheduled 18 starters took the green in the B feature, and pole sitter Gary Webb won the event over third starting Johnny Johnson with Indiana’s Kurt Nahre coming from the middle of the pack for third. The 50-lap feature would see Pete Parker start on the pole with Moyer starting eighth. It didn’t take long and Moyer had his Larry Shaw race car at the point and once again dominated the event at a track he had raced at regularly seven seasons before. The battle for second was much more exciting as Jerry Inmon and Ken Essary swapped the position several times with Inmon winning out and Essary settling for third. Larry Phillips and Willy Kraft rounded out the top five.

When the Jamboree moved to the Hamilton County Speedway in Webster City on the 4th of July, one thing had changed. The races would no longer carry USAC sanctioning. Nevertheless 30 late models from at least 10 states showed up to do battle. Billy Moyer Jr. started up right where he left off the previous night as he sailed to a win in the first heat race. Will Kraft would run second. Heat two saw Ken Essary take the win over Rick Aukland. In heat three it was Greg Moyer over Pete Parker with Jerry Inmon winning the last heat over Gary Webb.

Lance Matthees would defeat David Karst and Dick Schiltz in the B. It was time for the 50-lap feature. End of suspense, Billy Moyer Jr. wired it, leading all 50 laps. Trailing the red and yellow #21 were Ken Essary, Larry Phillips, Willy Kraft and Larry Moore.

Willy Kraft

The car count dwindled a bit for the final night of the Firecracker Jamboree as the series moved to the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa on Sunday night. Things looked promising for the rest of the competition as Moyer did not win his heat. Heat races went to Tommy Joe Pauschert of Carlisle, Arkansas, Johnny Johnson and Willy Kraft. Then it was feature time. Once again, it was Moyer taking the win in the 50-lap feature as he picked up his fourth win in five Jamboree events. Willy Kraft posted his best run of Jamboree with a second place finish, followed Inmon, Phillips and Jay Johnson.

The first edition of the Iowa Firecracker Jamboree was history and there was no doubt in anybodies mind who the dominate driver was. Except for some sanctioning glitches it was a good five days of racing and brought some of the best dirt late models in the country to the Hawkeye State for a showcase event.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

This Week in History

1994 – Veteran driver Chet Fillip posted the first career USAC National Sprint Car Series feature win of his career Saturday night, July 9 at Salem (Ind.) Speedway. Fillips, making his first series start of the season, worked traffic to perfection as he drove from the eighth starting position to the front in just 13 laps. Fillips dove under leader Bill Rose as the two entered turn one of lap 13 and finished nearly a full straightaway ahead of Rose, who took runner-up honors. Jim Mahoney finished third followed by Doug Kalitta and Kevin Thomas.

1988 – Rookie Craig Sunt of Sioux City, Iowa, recorded his first limited sprint car feature win at the mid-season championships at Lake County Speedway in Madison, S.D., on July 9. Sunt, in just his fourth weekend piloting a sprint car, led all the way by a straightaway over Mike Brudigan of Hoskins, Neb., while Kenny Hansen of Nunda, S.S., worked his way up to finish third. In the street stock division, it was the familiar red #75 of Marty Barber, Sioux Falls, taking honors for the seventh time this season.

1983 – Les Duellman of Fountain City, Wis., grabbed the lead on the 18th circuit and went on to claim the 25-lap super modified feature at Dodge County Speedway in Kasson, Minn., on July 10. Duellman took the top spot from Lance Matthees of Winona, Minn., who then held on to finish in the runner-up spot. Bob Saterdalen, Don Zweifel and Tom Hoksch rounded out the top five.

1977 – Ray Guss of Milan, Ill., set fast time, topped his heat race, and went on to win a wild and woolly feature event at Peoria (Ill.) Speedway on July 9. The feature was marred by numerous mishaps of which occurred on the fifth lap. Scottie Harris’ car crashed through the wall in turn number three, went down the embankment, and burst into flames. Harris escaped injury, but his car was demolished. On lap 17, Jim Strube’s car went through the wall less than five feet from where Harris’ did. Strube was able to continue however. Bob Crump’s car caught fire on lap 19, in which Crump leaped from the vehicle with flames on him. He was rolled in the dirt to extinguish the flames and was not severely burned. Don Bohlander avoided trouble in the feature to finish second followed by another popular veteran, Dan Bennett.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Spaulding wins race at DuQuoin on final lap

DuQuoin, Ill. (July 4, 1971) – Wib Spaulding overtook Jerry Blundy on the 50th and final lap to win the DuQuoin Super Modified Blockbuster 50 before 4,600 race fans on Sunday afternoon.

The Granite City, Ill., resident walked away with $1,500 including a bonus of $300 for being the fastest qualifier in Saturday afternoon’s time trials.

Crowd favorite Chuck Amati of Greenfield, Tenn., jumped to a big lead over Bubby Jones, Bob Kinser, Spalding and Blundy early in the contest.

On the 10th lap Blundy passed Spaulding and Kinser for third place and ran behind Amati and Jones for several laps. Amati, formerly of Freeman Spur, Ill., opened up a 12 second lead over third place Blundy after 15 laps before the yellow caution flag was waved on lap 16. Blundy and Spaulding moved into second and third respectively behind Amati on lap 28 before a yellow flag on the 31st round.

They both passed Amati on the back straightaway of lap 32 and increased their distance from the rest of the field. Spaulding ran at Blundy's heels the rest of the race before catching him on the inside down the back straightaway of the final lap.

The victory was Spaulding's first victory and reportedly Blundy's first loss in one mile dirt track competition.

“I believe Blundy just ran out of fuel on that last lap,” Spaulding said after the race. “I had tried all along to get him on the inside but couldn't. I wasn't holding anything back for that last lap.”

“I’ll be back next year for sure,” a smiling Spaulding said from victory lane.

Results –

Trophy Dash – Bubby Jones, Danville, Ill.
1st Heat – Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
2nd Heat – Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.

Consolation –

1. Tom Custer, Peoria, Ill.
2. Buzz Gregory, Speedway, Ind.
3. Wes Stafford, Vincennes, Ind.
4. Bobby Brooker, Clinton, Ind.
5. Hal Minyard, Speedway, Ind.


1. Wib Spaulding, Granite City, Ill.
2. Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
3. Chuck Amati, Greenfield, Tenn.
4. Bubby Jones, Danville, Ill.
5. Jerry Miller, Speedway, Ind.
6. Hal Minyard, Speedway, Ind.
7. Wes Stafford, Vincennes, Ind.
8. Bob Sitz, Decatur, Ill.
9. Jackie Cook, McKenzie, Tenn.
10. Bobby Brooker, Clinton, Ind.
11. Tom Custer, Peoria, Ill.
12. Larry Kirkpatrick, Wood River, Ill.
13. Bob Kinser, Bloomington, Ind.
14. Buck Buckley, Kennett Square, Pa.
15. Gene Henson, Paris, Ill.
16. Dennis Ervin, Harrisburg, Pa.
17. Bill Burks, Marion, Ill.
18. Buzz Gregory, Speedway, Ind.
19. Cliff Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
20. Frank Kurmucha, Murphysboro, Ill.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

This Week in History

1994 - Joe Shear topped Kevin Cywinski in a close finish to win the 100-lap 18th annual ARTGO Summer Nationals on Saturday, July 2, at the Dells Motor Speedway before the largest crowd in six years. Cywinski bested a field of 46 participants from nine states with a record lap of 13.504 seconds around the 1/3-mile oval, but started the race from the 15th spot as a roll of the dice plus an added factor of "nine" determined the number of cars to be inverted. Shear, only the 14th fastest, started on the outside and grabbed the lead at the start. Cywinski mounted a charge and with eight laps to go, brought the crowd to its feet as he shot past second place Steve Carlson and pulled alongside Shear. With four laps to go, the leaders encountered lapped traffic and spent several laps in single file formation while passing. Cywinski tried the outside groove on the last lap in an attempt to get by Shear but fell short at the checkered. It was Shear's sixth Summer Nationals victory, having won in 1977, ' 78, '82, '87 and '89.

1988 - It was an all-Kosiski show on July 4 at Hawkeye Downs Speedway as Steve Kosiski and older brother Joe Kosiski finished 1-2 in the Firecracker 50, a NASCAR/Busch All Star Tour race. Steve Kosiski outdueled Kenny Walton on Viola, Iowa on the first lap to take the lead. Joe Kosiski came on strong from his thrid row starting spot and made it a two car battle with his brother with Steve hanging on to record his first career win at Hawkeye Downs. Curt Martin of Independence, Iowa moved ahead of Tom Hearst of Wilton, Iowa in the final five laps to finish third. Walton wound up fifth in the 50-lap event.

1983 - Carman Menzardo of Elcalpon, Ill., won the Interstates Racing Association (IRA) sprint car feature at the Freeport, Ill., half-mile on Sunday, July 3. A torrid four-car battle between Manzardo, Darrell Dodd, Gib Wiser and Cliff Blundy highlighted the 20-lap main event. From his fourth starting position, Menzardo took the lead from Dodd on lap 14 and held it to the checkers. Bob Robel made a fine drive from his 12th starting spot to finish in fifth.

1977 - Jerry Smith of Medina, Wis., led the special 50-lap feature from start to finish to claim the final leg of the Super Stock Car Series II for late models at Paul's Super Speedway in DePere, Wis., on July 3. Roger Paul of New London, Wis., gave chase to Smith early in the race before dropping out with over heating problems. Bill Zwanziger of Waterloo, Iowa, nipped at Smith's bumper for the last 15 laps but had to settle for second. Herb Iverson of Gladstone, Mich., Fred Horn of Marion, Iowa and Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa rounded out the top five finishers. Ken Walton of Viola, Iowa, who had won the two previous legs at both Paul's Neillsville Raceway on July 1 and Marshfield Speedway on July 2, flipped his car on lap 18 of the feature and was unable to finish the race.