Thursday, August 4, 2011

1951 - 28 Stock Car Drivers to Vie At Raceway Park

Chicago, Illinois (August 3, 1951) - Twenty-eight stock car drivers will compete Wednesday in the 100-lap midseason stock car championship race at Raceway Park. The race will be the third 100-lapper of this season.

Drivers considered leading contenders in the long race will be Bob Pronger and Bud Koehler of Blue Island, Jerry Cannon and Bill Cornwall of Harvey, Henry Smith of Chicago Heights and Bob Button of Midlothian. Other top contenders expected will include Don O'Dell and Tony Saylor of Toiler, Hal Ruyle of St. Louis, Bill Van Allen, Charley Johnson, Eddy Anderson and John Slowiak of Chicago.

Last week on Wednesday, Bud Koehler won his second consecutive stock car feature race, his third of the season, as he became the first driver to start 24th in the feature, work his way up in 30 laps to the lead and hold it until starter Tom Plouzek waved the checkered flag.

Harvey Sheeler of Chicago took an early lead and held it until the 26th lap when Koehler passed him for the lead. The Ford team won the team battles in two straight heats over the Packard’s. Tony Bigelow, Don Oldenberg, and Henry Smith drove for the Fords against Fred Jarvis, Mike Kelja and Richard Ex. Rich Sutkus set a new track record in the first heat, Bill Brown, the Marine on leave, won the second heat and Bob Pronger and Charley Johnson won the other two elimination races.

Friday the stock car races were postponed because of rain. Saturday a record number of midget cars and drivers competed in the time trials. Fifty-two drivers sought the 21 starting places in the two feature races.

Ed Yaeger of Indianapolis, the 1949 Indiana champion, made his first appearance at Raceway, winning the 25-lap class B feature over Larry Johnson of Chicago, Jim Bender of Des Plaines, Wally Johnson of Chicago and George Van of Oak Lawn.

Hank Nykaza of East Chicago Heights won the Class A feature over 10 other Offies and a fast Ford. Ray Lankheim of Chicago held off the bids of Bud Koehler who started in the last row and Rick Kerr of Floral Park, N. Y., the driver of the Ford midget. In the three-car finish for second, Lankheim kept in front and Koehler edged Kerr out by inches. Ernie Zartler of Chicago was fifth and Harlan Hunt, sixth.

Bob Pronger, making his debut in a midget, won the consolation race of 10 laps while the car driven by Rich Irvine caught fire. Kerr won the handicap race and the first heat. Howie Bradshaw of Milwaukee, Nykaza and Yaeger won the other three heats.

In a three-car finish on Sunday night, Charley Johnson of Chicago won his second stock car feature race of the season, edging out Red Duvall of Hammond and Tom Cox of Chicago. John Slowiak, Chicago, Bob Button of Midlothian and Larry Farr of Chicago were fourth to sixth.

The race was restarted after a five-car crash in which Koehler suffered damage to his car that put it out, spoiling his chance to become the first driver to win three consecutive races. Gary Doudnman of Roseland took an early lead, but lost out to Eddy Anderson who held the lead until the 16th lap when Johnson forged ahead. Milton Kors spun and was hit by Rich Irvine, Bob Pronger, Bill Van Allen, Rich Sutkus and Bob Meyers. Don O'Dell then went into the pits and Tony Saylor hit the wall, blowing out a tire. Bob Halston and later Bob Pronger went into wild spins as they both experienced mechanical difficulties.

Bill Cornwall of Harvey suffered a wrenched back and was dazed after his car flipped into the air during the fourth race, which was restarted four times as hectic accidents littered the track with damaged cars.

No comments:

Post a Comment