The "Ohio Traveler" Rick Ferkel - Coastal 181 Photo
Sedalia, Mo. (July 12, 1976) - Sprint car driver Rick Ferkel lived up to his reputation of being the hottest item on the circuit Saturday, blowing off the competition for a win in the 35-lap Missouri Sprint National finals.
The Tiffin, Ohio, racer picked up a check for $2,000 after running away with the second annual sprint car classic before 4,000 fans at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia.
Coming out of a half-season retirement, Sedalia’s Bill Utz grabbed second place and $1,200 Saturday night, Ralph Parkinson Jr., picked up third spot and $1,000 after battling with Kearney’s Eddie Leavitt during the main event.
Racing on the half-mile dirt oval opened Thursday on a sad note with the announcement that Larry Kirkpatrick, Wood River, Ill., died earlier in the day of injuries he suffered July 5 in a sprint car race at West Memphis, Ark.
Kirkpatrick, a competitor at the Sprint Nationals last year, had made the jump this season to the United States Auto Club circuit. Saturday night drivers passing through the crowd collected $1,602 from the fans for Kirkpatrick's widow and three children.
Second-year driver Dick Morris of Sioux City, Iowa, made the railbirds set up and take notice as he toured the track in 22.06 seconds, the fastest a sprint car has ever been timed around the oval. He erased the 1971 qualifying run of 23.45 seconds, which had been the standard. It was set by Steve Shultz of Indianapolis, Ind. Shultz is a native of Sedalia and had lived in Chillicothe. Morris, the rookie of the year last year at Knoxville, Iowa, not only set fast time, he also won his 12-lap heat race and copped the five-lap cash dash added race featuring the four fastest cars.
Three of the four quick times Thursday came from the first five qualifiers on the track. Columbia's David Dwyer was the third driver out and was clocked in 22.32, good for second place. Eddie Leavitt, the 1975 National Super Modified Champion at Knoxville, was the first car out Thursday and his 22.71 time was good enough for third spot. Chuck Amati, from Freeman Spur, Ill., was the third fastest with a 22.66 second time, he was the 26th driver on the track. Morris came out in the fifth position.
The format called for four 12-lap heat races with the top three in each heat moving on to the A-Feature on Saturday night Morris, Dwyer, Amati and Leavitt all captured first place in the heat races, Morris came back to edge Dwyer in the cash dash.
The night wound up with a 15-lap consolation feature for all the non-qualifiers. Johnny Suggs, Mesquite, Tex., edged Jerry Johnson, Kirksville, for first place in that event, with Don Bradberry, Sweet Springs, fourth.
The night was virtually accident free following a wild crash in the hot laps. Rick Weld, Kansas City, and Bill Thrasher, Bedford, Tex., tangled in the third turn on the track, Weld flipped over the guard rail and Thrasher, the 1970 Texas sprint champ, came to rest against the outside guardrail.
Both cars were knocked out of the action. Thrasher was taken to a Sedalia hospital with a neck injury but he was back at the track before the night was over, Weld was treated at the track for a leg burn.
Friday night the track was considerably slower, Ralph Blackett, Des Moines, Iowa, turned in the night's fastest time with a 23.46 lap.
Gene Genetten, Parkville, Ferkel, 20-year-old Sammy Swindell, West Memphis, Ark., and Utz raced to wins in the four 12-lap heat events. Blackett came back to capture the cash dash, edging out Genetten, Ferkel and Carrollton's Tom Corbin.
The 15-lap consolation feature went to Ralph Parkinson Sr., of Kansas City, with Jim Braden, Kansas City second and John Stevenson, St Paul, Minn., third.
Corbin gained a spot in the A-Feature on Thursday night with a second place finish to Morris in the first heat. But he blew the engine in his sprinter on the first lap of the cash dash, forcing him to find another ride for Friday night and another shot at the field. He came back with a second place finish to Ferkel in the second heat.
Dean Elliot, California, grabbed third place in the fourth heat to earn a spot in the A-Feature. Elliott drove Bill Campbell’s car in the Friday event Campbell, of Russellville, had qualified for the C-Feature on Thursday night then elected to give up that spot and let Elliott have a shot at the A-Feature. Elliott made his first driving appearance since flipping down the backstretch in last year's sprint car show at the Missouri State Fair.
While Ferkel, Utz and Parkinson Jr., took the big cash Saturday, it was Slater’s Jim Jenkins that did most of the work and passed the most cars.
The veteran racer was qualified for the B-Feature but was called upon to start in the C to make a full field of cars for the 30-lap race. Coming from the 17th spot, he took first place in that race, nipping Johnny Suggs in the final three laps.
He came back to finish second to Ralph Parkinson Sr., in the 25-lap B-Feature after only a 20 minute intermission. But in doing so he lost the brakes on the right rear of his car, and was forced to change the system during the B and A main events.
Saturday Results –
1. Rick Ferkel, Tiffin, Ohio
2. Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
3. Ralph Parkinson Sr., Kansas City, Mo.
4. Eddie Leavitt, Kearney, Mo.
5. Gary Scott, Holts Summit, Mo.
6. Dick Morris, Sioux City, Iowa
7. Tom Corbin, Carrollton, Mo.
8. Ralph Blackett, Des Moines, Iowa
9. Bobby Marshall, Dallas, Tex.
10. Jim Jenkins, Slater, Mo.
11. John Beaber, Vermont, Ohio
12. Bob Williams, Kansas City, Mo.
13. Dave Dwyer, Columbia, Mo.
14. Sammy Swindell, West Memphis. Ark.
15. Steve Perry, Dallas, Tex.
16. Bill Curtis, Kansas City, Mo.
17. Phil Howe, Jacksonville, Ill.
18. Jim Braden, Kansas City, Mo.
19. Bob Thoman, Higginsville, Mo.
20. Dean Elliot, California, Mo.