Tuesday, August 28, 2012

1961 – Hutcherson – Folse - Derr top Minnesota State Fair races

St. Paul, Minn. (August 28 - 31, 1961) – Dick Hutcherson, a 29-year-old construction company owner from Keokuk, Iowa, nosed out Ernie Derr, also of Keokuk, to win the 100-lap IMCA new model stock car race at the Minnesota State Fair on Monday afternoon, August 28. Hutcherson beat Derr to the finish line by less than 30 yards and set a new track record for 50 miles by touring the half-mile in 46 minutes and 44.39 seconds beating the old mark (47:44.96) set by Johnny Beauchamp in 1956.

Hutcherson wheeled a 1961 Ford while Derr piloted a ’61 Pontiac. Hometowner Harold “Buzz” McCann finished third, more than a lap behind the two leaders while Beauchamp, driving a 1960 Ford finished fourth and Oelwein, Iowa’s Chub Liebe (’61 Ford) took fifth.

On Tuesday, August 29th, defending IMCA national sprint car champion Pete Folse of Tampa, Fla., outran a 14-car field to win the 20-lap feature. Folse charged out front on the first lap and held the lead all the way to the $850 first prize.

Russ Long of Yupica, Calif., driving the Hansen Chevrolet, took second but had to stave off challenge after challenge by Jim McElreath of Arlington, Tex., in Dizz Wilson’s Offy. Finishing right on McElreath’s bumper was Johnny White of Warren, Mich., in the Ernie Johnson Offy.

Jumping into the lead on the first lap, Folse scored his second straight “big car” feature win the following day, August 30. The husky little fellow from Florida was behind the wheel of Hector Honore’s #2 Offy.

Jim McElreath started to whittle away at Folse’s big lead until a blown tire knocked him out of action on the 22nd lap.

Ernie Derr, the defending IMCA stock car national champion, gunned his ’61 Pontiac to a win in the 200-lap feature on Thursday afternoon, August 31. Derr, who won the same event in 1960, set a new track record traveling the distance in 1 hour, 36 minutes and 51.92 seconds erasing the old mark (1:38:53.57) set by Johnny Beauchamp in 1956.

Lennie Funk of Otis, Kan., took the early lead in the race and held it on lap 23 when engine trouble sent Funk to the sidelines. Chub Liebe of Oelwein, Iowa inherited the point and then had the inevitable task of holding off Derr, which he did until his motor let go on the 37th circuit. Derr took over at the point and never looked back in winning.

Mert Williams of Rochester, Minn., Eddie Harrow of Corpus Christi, Tex., Bob Reynolds of Edmond, Okla., and Ole Brua of Albert Lea, Minn., rounded out the top five.

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