Friday, December 30, 2011

1962 – Davies wins third USAC midget crown

Indianapolis, Ind. (December 30, 1962) – Jimmy Davis of Monticello, Ind., won his third straight United States Auto Club National Midget Championship title this year, it was announced today.

Davies was chased to the title by the same gentleman who finished in the runner-up spot the other two years behind Davies, Bob Wente of St. Louis, Mo.

It was first thought that Bob Tattersall of Streator, Ill., had beaten out Tommy Copp of Fresno, Calif., for the third spot by a mere 1.85 points but after a check of the points, Copp received the nod by seven points.

Final Standings

1. Jimmy Davies, Monticello, Ind. – 474.96
2. Bob Wente, St. Louis, Mo. – 416.35
3. Tommy Copp, Fresno, Calif. – 266.00
4. Bob Tattersall, Streator, Ill. – 259.00
5. Mel Kenyon, Davenport, Iowa – 228.25
6. Russ Congdon, Indianapolis, Ind. – 213.75
7. Chuck Rodee, Speedway, Ind. – 202.05
8. Allen Crowe, Springfield, Ill. – 176.05
9. Bobby Grim, Indianapolis, Ind. – 141.30
10. Billy Wood, Kenosha, Wis. – 129.50
11. Cliff Spalding, Seattle, Wash. – 124.75
12. Parnelli Jones, Torrance, Calif. – 117.30
13. Jigger Sirois, Shelby, Ind. – 101.30
14. Bob McLean, Granger, Ind. – 97.70
15. Harry Beck, Indianapolis, Ind. – 96.65

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

1973 – Shear champion at Wisconsin Int’l Raceway

Joe Shear in victory lane - Bob Bergeron Collection

Kaukauna, Wis. (December 28, 1973) – Joe Shear throttled his 1973 Camaro to three victories in five starts at the Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna and captured the state championship crown in the process.

The 29-year-old speedster held a 3,200 to 2,935 advantage of Dave Watson of Beloit, Wis., at the end of the five-race series.

Shear scored wins in the Spring Sizzler 50, Fall National 50 and the second leg of the Red, White and Blue State Championship Series. He also placed fifth in the “Red” and “Blue” races.

Watson wheeled his 1973 Camaro to victory in the “Blue” race while finishing second in the Fall National 50, third in the Spring Sizzler 50, fourth in the “Red” race and fifth in the “White” race.

Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., won the “Red” race and finished sixth in the final point standings. Rudolph’s Tom Reffner placed third in the final standings followed by Marv Marzofka of Nekoosa and Jim Back of Vesper. Trickle and Reffner drove 1970 Mustangs while Marzofka and Back piloted 1973 Camaros.

Shear, a veteran of nine years in stock car racing, also established a new one-lap record of 21.17 seconds (85.02 mph) for the half-mile paved oval during the “White” race time trials, which drew 8,396 fans, the largest of the season.

Track officials indicated their satisfaction with the growth of the series and the $31,000 racing event will be repeated again in 1974.

Final Point Standings

1. Joe Shear – 3,200
2. Dave Watson – 2,935
3. Tom Reffner – 2,140
4. Marv Marzofka – 1,695
5. Jim Back – 1,610
6. Dick Trickle – 1,070
7. John Rank – 1,045
8. Jim Sauter – 950
9. Fred Bender – 670
10. Jim Pierson – 630
11. Steve Arndt – 630
12. Dan Bellard – 595
13. Larry Detjens – 580
14. Wally Jors – 525
15. Rich Somers – 515
16. Neil Callahan – 490
17. Red Hutchinson – 475
18. Paul Christianson – 440
19. Jerry Smith – 435
20. John Knaus - 435

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

1988 - Kraft outpoints Moyer for USAC LM Crown

Willy Kraft

Speedway, Ind. (December 20, 1988) – Willy Kraft scored six feature victories on his way to outpointing two-time defending champion Billy Moyer for the 1988 USAC Late Model Championship Series crown.

Kraft opened the season impressively as he scored three consecutive victories at I-55 Speedway (Pevely, Mo.), Bolivar (Mo.) Speedway, and I-44 Speedway (Lebanon, Mo.). However, Moyer notched a runner-up finish and third-place showing in two of those events before winning at Monett (Mo.) Speedway and held the top position after the first four events.

Both Kraft and Moyer failed to compete in the fifth event, June 12 at Salem (Ind.) Speedway, which Jim Cooper won, finishing ahead of Noel Witcher and Dick Potts.

Victories July 2 at 34 Raceway Park (Burlington, Iowa) and July 3 at the Southern Iowa Speedway (Oskaloosa) combined with a runner-up finish at Davenport (Iowa) Speedway and a third place showing July 1 at Marshalltown (Iowa) Speedway pushed Kraft into the series point lead with 300 markers.

Larry Phillips, who won the Marshalltown and Davenport events, slipped into second with 284 points, one ahead of Moyer.

Moyer scored back-to-back victories on September 16 at Bolivar and September 17 at I-44 Speedway respectively, but Kraft placed fourth and fifth in the two races to remain 49 points ahead of Moyer.

Both Moyer and Kraft failed to compete in the season finale, September 25 at Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, Ohio), giving Kraft the season title with 403 points. Moyer placed second with 359 followed by Phillips and Ken Essary.

Kraft led all drivers with six feature wins while Moyer was second with three. Phillips won two races while Cooper and Doug Ault (Eldora) came away with one victory each.

Moyer topped qualifying five times while Essary was fast timer on three occasions.

In four years of USAC late model racing, Moyer leads the all-time series with 12 victories and 19 top-two finishes in 32 events.

Final Standings

1. Willy Kraft – 403
2. Billy Moyer – 354
3. Larry Phillips – 288
4. Ken Essary – 287
5. Ray Guss Jr. – 261
6. Dick Potts – 189
7. T.J. Pauchert – 158
8. Johnny Stokes - +7
9. Charlie Sentman – 95
10. Ray Godsey - 81

Saturday, December 17, 2011

1967 - Fairmont Speedway - Final Point Standings

George Trimbo - Promoter

1. Jim Edgington, Algona, Iowa -3,320
2. Marv DeWall, Jackson, Minn. – 2,490
3. Jack McCorkell, Redwood Falls, Minn. – 2,305
4. Bob Geldner, St. Peter, Minn. – 2,025
5. Dick Forbrook, Morgan, Minn. – 1,805
6. Ray Forsyth, Mankato, Minn. – 1,740
7. Virgil Kopeschka, Fairmont, Minn. – 1,550
8. Vic Dicks, Jackson, Minn. – 1,525
9. Bob Fisher, Renwick, Iowa – 1,455
10. Leo Christensen, West Bend, Iowa – 1,450
11. Junior Thaemlitz, Lakefield, Minn. – 1,450
12. Garry Sill, Fairmont, Minn. – 1,400
13. Larry Smith, Windom, Minn. – 1,310
14. Gene Schattschneider, Algona, Iowa – 1,265
15. Gale White, Laurens, Iowa – 905
16. Ray Smith, Worthington, Minn. – 875
17. Frank Wacholz, Fairmont, Minn. – 875
18. Les Wilden, Algona, Iowa – 865
19. Bill Kahler, Jackson, Minn. – 755
20. Dave Hargan, Jackson, Minn. - 620

Other notables;

23. Darryl Dawley, Sioux Falls, S.D. - 485
27. Roger Larson, Sioux Falls, S.D. - 205
35. Arnie Nimerfroh, Avoca, Minn. - 60
43. Stacy Redmond, Mason City, Iowa - 20

Monday, December 12, 2011

MRA Remembers: Joy Fair (1930-2011)

- Born September 10th, 1930
- Harry S Truman was President of the United States when Joy started his career. Fair drove in six decades -- and has made hints he wants to try for his seventh!
- First race was Pardington's Pastures Speedway in Sterling Heights, MI (14 Mile and Dequindre area)!
- Won at the International Exposition Fairgrounds in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- Champion, 1965 Baer Field in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
- Champion, six years running, Toledo Speedway, Ohio, 1967-1972, then again in 1974, late model division.
- Late Model Champion ten times, Flat Rock Speedway, Michigan.
- 1977 Mt. Clemens Race Track, Michigan late model champion.
- Late Model Champion at Flat Rock, Mt. Clemens and Toledo, all in 1981 (at the time, Mt. Clemens was a NASCAR sanctioned track).
- Won inaugural Glass City "200" at Toledo, 1968 (Joe Ruttman also won this race, driving Joy's four-door Maverick). Joy won the race again in 1975 and 1976.
- Won nine out of 14 features at Flat Rock Speedway in 1969, including 100 lap invitational where he lapped the entire field; also won 10 of 14 features at Toledo.
- Won the 1974 Ohio State "500" championship.
- Won two ARCA Supercar (ReMAX) Series races at Toledo and at Sun Valley (now Anderson) Speedway in Indiana in 1972.
- Won over 700 short track features in 12 states and Canada. Winningest driver in state of Michigan with over 600 victories.
- Two NASCAR Grand National (now Nextel Cup) Series starts, both coming in 1956. Best finish ninth at Soldier Field, Chicago, IL. Other start was on Daytona's Beach course where he experienced a DNF (clutch).
- Won dirt all-star race inside the Pontiac Silverdome (former home of the NFL's Detroit Lions) in 1982, beating NASCAR greats David Pearson (second place), Neil Bonnett and Kyle Petty and short track ace Bob Senneker, among others.
- Inducted into the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1987.
- Car #1 retired from ARCA competition in 1999 -- first and only driver in series history to receive such an honor. Also that year given honorary ARCA lifetime membership.
- Won almost every event he finished; dominant on various types of tracks rarely seen from any other stock car driver.
- Many articles on Joy in "Stock Car Racing Magazine", "Late model Digest" and others.
- Prepared cars for some of the best short track and NASCAR drivers in the country, including: Ruttman, Dave Marcis, as well as Rick Sheppard and Dick Price, to name a few.
- Best known as, "The Fair One".
- Passed away December 10, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

1986 - Guss Sr. feted as ISA champion

Farmer City, Ill. (December 11, 1986) – Ray Guss Sr., a veteran of 23 years in racing, emerged as the point champion for the Illinois Stockcar Association for 1986. Guss totaled 2,044 points to take the title.

Guss and 49 other drivers were awarded trophies, certificates and prize money at the awards banquet held at the Epcot Center in Farmer City. A total of 157 drivers registered with ISA for the ’86 season.

Not only did he walk away with the lion’s share of the point fund ($3,000), Guss Sr. also received a new chassis from Full Tilt Race Cars. Second place went to Gary Webb, third to Bob Pierce, fourth was Herschel Roberts and Bob Helm finished fifth. The ISA Rookie of the Year was Jim Rarick, who finished 12th in points.

Tracks competing in the Illinois Stockcar Association for 1986 were Peoria Speedway, Farmer City Raceway, East Moline Speedway, Charleston Speedway and Vermillion County Speedway in Danville.

Final Point Standings
1. Ray Guss – 2,044
2. Gary Webb – 1,635
3. Bob Pierce – 1,602
4. Herschel Roberts – 1,402
5. Bob Helm – 1,400
6. Don Bohlander – 1,300
7. Tom Miller – 1,287
8. Roger Long – 1,264
9. Ron Weedon – 1,205
10. Marvin Burton – 1,161
11. Roger Cary – 1,115
12. Jim Rarick – 1,049
13. Rick Cox – 1,014
14. Ray Guss Jr. – 1,07
15. Tom Rients – 980
16. Eldon Wright – 950
17. Jake Willert – 869
18. Ron Gustaf – 844
19. Jerry Conners – 806
20. Jack Dowers – 793
21. Roger Sanders – 690
22. Ed Bauman – 674
23. Kevin Weaver – 635
24. Rick Standridge – 622
25. Dick Taylor - 581

Thursday, December 8, 2011

1974 -Schwader, Utz tops in IMCA

Des Moines, Iowa (December 8, 1974) - International Motor Contest Association stock car national champion Bill Schwader of Riverdale, Iowa received $3,750 in prize money at the auto racing organization's awards banquet Saturday night at the Hotel Fort Des Moines.

And, of the $20,700 total prize money presented, Bill Utz of Sedalia, Mo., the 1974 sprint car national champion, pocketed $2,750.

In the stock car division, Gary Lindgren of Ogden, Iowa was named Rookie of the Year; Shorty Acker of Windsor, Mo., was the “Most Improved Driver”, Tommy Taylor of Irving, Tex., was “Hard Luck Driver of the Year” and the pit crew of Billy Myers of Grand Island, Neb., was judged “Best Dressed”.

Steve Lewis of Kansas City, Mo., was named Rookie of the Year in the sprint car division. Ralph Parkinson, Jr., Kansas City, Mo., was “Most Improved Driver”, in that division; Roger Rager of Lincoln, Neb., was “Hard Luck Driver” and Thad Dosher of Topeka, Kan., had the “Best Dressed” pit crew.

Gene Gennetten of Gladstone, Mo., a sprint car driver, won IMCA’s sportsmanship award.

Schwader won the 1974 championship with 955 points, 95 more than runner-up Gordon Blankenship of Keokuk, the 1973 champion. Lindgren was third with 722.

Utz compiled 2,400 points in earning his title, with Larry Kirkpatrick of Wood River, Ill., finishing second with 2,245 and Ralph Blackett of Des Moines taking third with 1,640.

Kirkpatrick was presented with $1,600 on Saturday night, Blackett $950 and Gennetten $500. Blankenship was awarded $2,500, Lindgren $1,750, Gerry Harrison (fourth in points) of Topeka, Kan., $1,200, Myers $900, Jim Anderson of Kansas City, Mo., $725, and Jim Still of Topeka, Kan., $600.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Race Tracks from the Past; Remembering Ord

Mike Salay at the Valley County Fairgrounds

by Lee Ackerman
Omaha, Neb. — The history of auto racing in the Midwest is deeply tied to tracks at county fairgrounds. Many fairground tracks started out with horse racing, but migrated to automobile races as the automobile gained in popularity. One of Nebraska’s most famous early auto racing facilities was located at the Valley County Fairgrounds in Ord.

The first auto race staged at Ord in 1926 when a three-day show was staged. Leonard Krebs of Otis, Kansas won the first two days with the third day being rained out after the first event. It was reported that 17,000 fans attended the three-day affair. From 1926 until its final season in 1964, despite not racing every year, Ord would see some of America’s best dirt track racers visit the historic track.

John Bagley

In 1927 and 1928, Omaha’s John Bagley won two of three events each year. The year 1929 saw Sioux City native and later Omaha resident Sam Hoffman take two out of three features. Unfortunately, driver Sam Larson was killed during qualifying. The cars of these days had few if any, safety features and the drivers usually drove with leather helmets, which were no protection if the car flipped or the drivers were thrown from the car.

Big name drivers continued to appear at Ord in 1930 and 1931, but it was the legendary Johnny Gerber of Stanwood, Iowa, who dominated both years winning all six features. The first race of 1930 saw an especially stout field of cars, in a race sanctioned by AAA (the forerunner to USAC). In that race Gerber had to contend with the likes of Sam Hoffman, Johnny Kreiger, Leonard Krebs, Arch Powell, Bert Ficken and others. AAA did not sanction the races the next day but it didn’t stop Gerber in setting a new track record of 26.46 seconds. This broke the track record set by John Bagley in 1928, and led to a war of words between the Ord Quiz and the Omaha World Herald. The World Herald ran an article calling Ord, a bullring, and the Quiz responded by pointing out that Omaha promoter D. C. Olney had failed to attract either racers or fans.

Joie Chitwood

The Loup Valley Fair, as it was sometimes called, was discontinued from 1932 to 1934 because of the depression, despite large crowds at the auto races. In 1935, racing resumed at Ord under the direction of Clyde Baker, who was the race superintendent at Ord from 1929 through 1951. The great Lloyd Axel who would become the winningest driver in Ord racing history dominated the 1935 to 1937 era of racing at Ord. Also winning at Ord during this time was Joie Chitwood, who would later go on to found the famous Joie Chitwood Auto Thrill Show.

The Midget era started at Ord in 1938 and ran off and on at Ord through 1956. That first year of Midget racing saw both day races dominated by Nineveh, Ind., native Harry McQuinn. McQuinn defeated a strong field of drivers including Carl Forberg, Danny Oakes, Eddie Kracek and others. Of course, 1938 just happened to be the year McQuinn scored an amazing 61 feature wins in a Midget. He would later drive in 10 Indy 500’s and after retiring as a driver, become Chief Steward at Indy. Indy 500 star Lloyd Ruby and Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Famer Bobby Parker picked up multiple wins in the Midgets during this era. Open wheel legends Jud Larson and Bob Slater were also among the participants.

Deb Snyder - Larry Sullivan Collection

The Big Cars (forerunners to the modern day Sprints) made several appearances at Ord from 1947 to 1951 and featured future IMCA Sprint Car national champions, Deb Snyder, Bobby Grim and and Jerry Blundy. The legendary Deb Snyder closed out the era of Big Car racing at Ord, sweeping both events in 1951. Grim did not win at Ord, but was behind the wheel of Hector Honore’s City of Roses Special. Later after gaining Bardahl sponsorship, the Grim-Honore combination would dominate IMCA Big Car Racing winning four straight national championships.

From 1947 to 1949 Ord showed its versatility by having a series of motorcycle races. The 1947 event saw a rider from Omaha named Don Greenwood win an exciting feature over Cliff Edwards. Greenwood turned out to be none other than Der Merkley, who in addition to being a good motorcycle rider was an accomplished Midget racer.

The hot rods came to Ord in 1948. The 1948 races were sanctioned by the Colorado Automobile Racing Club and were dominated by future Indy Car driver Keith Andrews. In 1949, the hot rod races featured the Nebraska Hot Rod Racing Association (NHRRA). Some of the top racers of that group were Gordie Shuck, Harry Hoff, Bob Rager and Chuck Sears. But for those two races at Ord in 1949, the races were totally dominated by two cars from California. Dubbed “the California Gold Dust Twins,” Roy Prosser, driver of one of the California cars not only set a track record for hot rods of 25.3 seconds but also won every race he entered.

In 1952, Modified Stock Cars or coupes started racing at Ord. While racing at Ord was entering its twilight, and races were not held every year, stock cars and coupes would dominate the action through 1964, the last year of racing at Ord. Some well-known Midwest Stock Car drivers would race at Ord. In 1952, Don Pash, Carl Lillenthal and a driver from Harlan, Iowa, named Johnny Beauchamp would win at Ord. Over the next few years, names like Lloyd Beckman, Bud Burdick, Bobby Parker, Harry Smith and Bill Fann would test the Ord oval.

Many Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductees competed at Ord in this era including car owners Bill Smith of Speedway Motors, Chet Wilson, Les Vaughn and Otto Ramer. Drivers such as, Lloyd Beckman, Carl Forberg, Ralph Foster, Ronny Householder, John Bagley, Don Ostendorf, Dean Ward, Gordie Shuck, Bob Parker, Bud Burdick, Ralph Foster, Sam Hoffman and Chuck Sears. Race Superintendent Clyde Baker, as well as Omaha flagman Stan Cisar, Sr., who flagged at Ord, are also Hall of Fame Inductees. Bill Smith even tried his hand at promoting at Ord in 1953, but that’s another story.

The track and grandstands at Ord are long gone, but there is no doubt that Ord in its days held some of the best races in the Midwest.

Special Thanks to Ray Valasek and Bob Mays co-authors of Valley County Thunder, The History of Racing at Ord, Nebraska published by Fastrack.