Sunday, November 11, 2012

1955 - Leon DeRock Through as a Big Car Driver

Mason City, Iowa (November 11, 1955) - Leon DeRock of Mason City is finished as a big car auto driver but he's not finished with racing. Next racing season DeRock will be paying more attention to the promotion side of racing and will be driving a new model automobile in stock car races.

It was about six years ago that DeRock astounded the racing world by starting right out to drive an Offenhauser. That sort of business is reserved for experienced dirt track drivers after a few seasons of racing. But DeRock did well and got the bug. Emory Collins, the king of the speedways in the Midwest, was going to retire. So DeRock bought him out. That included his racer, an extra 310 cubic inch engine and crankshafts. Even Offenhauser wasn’t making engines that big anymore.

DeRock even bought a new chassis for his auto. His campaigning was good. He won his fair share of races, set some track records and even made a little money for eating dust and risking his life.

But he’s sold his auto. DeRock has another engine and he’s going to build a new car around it but it will be for sale - not for his own use.

Last summer he got into the promotion business with a big list of drivers who joined him. It was for big cars as well as stock cars. The operation was in five Midwest states with the heaviest concentration of action being in Southern Minnesota.

Just recently Leon arid his brother Mel, partners in Mel’s Smoke Shop, headed the incorporation named Speedway Cars, Inc. Under the wing of this group will be about 60 drivers, most of them with DeRock last summer. Ken Gottschalk figures to be the top driver in the field as he finished first in the Central States Racing Association point standings last year. DeRock was leading at the time he quit competition and wound up in third place.

The early summer big car auto races and stock car races at the North Iowa Fairgrounds were promoted by DeRock, He hopes to land the North Iowa fair dates if the new track is completed for the 1956 fair at the new west city limits site.

Vic Spindler has been hired as the secretary-treasurer of the new organization and his job will be to take care of the correspondence, all bookwork and the finances of Speedway Cars. Upcoming on November 28 is a fair manager’s meeting in Chicago at which major bookings are made for 1956 fairs. Speedway Cars, which again will operate under the sanction of CSRA, will be represented at the meeting to acquire major dates.

DeRock plans a major change in the big car auto racing program for 1956. Whereas most feature races are for seven, 10 or maybe 15 laps, De Rock will run the races over 50 laps to liven enthusiasm, open the field for steady driving, and put an extra accent on endurance of auto and driver instead of giving the “fast autos” the big break to sweep home first on an initial burst of speed.

All of the operation of the new organization will center in Mason City.

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