Friday, September 16, 2011

1978 - Eaker wins Yankee Dirt Track Classic

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (September 16, 1978) - Verlin Eaker of Cedar Rapids looked toward the sky with a big smile on his face that indicated he just had to be the happiest man in Cedar Rapids Saturday night.

The reason for the smile was that Verlin had just captured the 89-lap rain shortened Yankee Dirt Track Classic at Hawkeye Downs Speedway. The race was to have gone 100 laps but was stopped after 89 when a heavy rain began to fall on the speedway.

Leading from his pole position from the very start, Verlin found the inside groove and never gave up the lead. For his efforts, Verlin pocketed $5,000 first place prize money and close to another $1,000 in lap money.

The runner-up was Doug Kenimer, who came up from the outside of the sixth row to challenge Eakers for the last 10 laps. Kenimer’s second-place finish paid $2,500 and third-place money of $2,000 went to Fred Horn of Marion who started in the front row next to Eaker.

The six fastest cars from Friday’s time trials and the first four finishers in Saturday’s six heat races made up the field for the feature event which, was run before another capacity crowd.

Denny Osborn, Ed Sanger, Bill Zwanziger, Don Hoffman, Duane Steffe and Doug Kenimer all captured victories in the heat races.

In the 20-lap “B” Main Event, Gary Crawford pulled away from the field to take the checkered flag. Axel Dahlberg finished in second place and Ron Weedon filled the third spot.

At least 12 cars made up the field for each event and several times the cars were running under the yellow caution flag due to spinouts on the fast track. The red flag was dropped twice during the feature but there were no serious accidents although some cars had trouble in the west turn and came to rest up against the wall.

The race paid a total purse of $25,000 the largest purse paid this year in the Midwest and brought to the speedway a total of 81 drivers from 21 states and Canada

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