Monday, July 30, 2012

1967 - Harold Leep Corners National Jalopy Title; Takes Crown Second time


Harold Leep is awarded the trophy after winning the National Jalopy Championship in 1967 - Photo courtesy of Bob Lawrence/Frank Lies Collection


Hutchinson, Kan. (July 30, 1967) - They take big chances and play for big prizes in the National Jalopy Championships — a sort of Russian roulette on four wheels.

Sunday before another packed crowd at the Kansas State Fairgrounds the big luck rolled with #11. The sleek tan speedster driven by Harold Leep, Wichita, roared through heavy traffic to catch the checkered flag after 50 grueling thrill-packed laps.

It was the second national title for Leep, who previously won in 1961. Second was Walt McWhorter, Wichita, and third was three-time champion Roy Bryant, also of Wichita.

Time for the 25-mile race, five of which were run under the caution flag, was 24 minutes and 16 seconds.

The luck of the drivers of those spinning little cars was generally good. Not one person was seriously injured.

But in this game it can’t be all good.

Frankie Lies, Wichita, who won championships in the first two national races, was literally flying as he took the third corner turn. He had taken over third place in the feature and appeared to be gaining on the leaders.

But the car driven by Larry Dewell, of Fowler, hit soft dirt at the turn and started to spin. Lies' car clipped a wheel and landed on the trunk of Dewell’s machine. Both were knocked out of the race. That was the crash that raised the yellow flag.

David Ross, the flying farmer from Jetmore, Kan., set the early pace in the feature. He was leader for 10 laps but on the 11th lap, while trying to lap slower cars he was forced into rough, soft track at the inside of the fourth turn, and skidded. Leep, riding the hard center, promptly took over first place and held it to the finish.

Ross’ bad luck wasn’t to end there. He was still in second place through 37 laps - and then blew a tire that forced him out.

Walt Pickard, Pueblo, Colo., and H. A. Ratzlaff, Dodge City, collided in a cloud of dust in the third turn, and Pickard's car slammed into the concrete fence, streaking it with tire marks five feet up and 12 feet long.

But Pickard kept on the track and was uninjured. The smash would have ripped a big hole in the old board fence. Still, the car was through for the day. Ratzlaff backed out, when traffic thinned, and made another turn of the track before heading for the infield.

For various reasons, starting with tire failure and running through engine failure, spinouts and crashes, 14 of the starters were forced out of action.

Results –

1. Harold Leep, Wichita, Kan.
2. Walt McWhorter, Wichita, Kan.
3. Roy Bryant, Wichita, Kan.
4. Joe Lehman, Denver, Colo.
5. Don Spreier, Larned, Kan.
6. Dick Hendershot, Hutchinson, Kan.
7. Herb Copeland, Dodge City, Kan.
8. Bill Lewis, Del City, Okla.
9. Andy Brandt, Oklahoma City, Okla.
10. Buddy Cagle, Tulsa, Okla.
11. Dick Pollard, Solomon, Kan.
12. David Ross, Jetmore, Kan.
13. Frank Lies, Wichita, Kan.
14. Larry Dewell, Fowler, Kan.
15. H.A. Ratzlaff, Dodge City, Kan.
16. Walt Pickard, Pueblo, Colo.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

This Week in Racing History

1974 - Kenny Walton of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, nearly made it a clean sweep as he grabbed late model feature honors at Freeport, Illinois on Sunday evening, July 28. Walton took home wins in the trophy dash, third heat and feature but had to settle for second fastest in time trials, losing that to John Connolly of Delhi, Iowa, who sped around the big half-mile in 26.40 seconds. Walton battled to take the lead from Ron Greenlee in the feature, finally securing the top spot on lap 7. Walton couldn’t shake Greenlee, however, and finished a car length ahead at the checkers. In turn, Boyce Sparkman was right on Greenlee’s bumper the whole time and took third. Don Bohlander and Connolly rounded out the top five.


1973 – Starting from the very back of the field, Larry Smith of Shakopee, Minn., pushed his 1973 Mustang Fastback through the field and won the NASCAR late model 30-lap feature at Minnesota National Speedway in Elko, Minn., on Saturday, July 28. Smith, the evening’s fast qualifier, went quickly into battle and relentlessly worked his way through traffic, reaching second place by lap 27. On the white flag lap, Smith charged past race-long leader Mike Miller of New Prague, Minn., and went on to take the checkers for his second straight victory. Smith’s victory also propelled him into the NASCAR Minnesota state point lead over Dan Prziborowski, 1,126 to 1,108.

1972 – National auto racing history was made at Illiana Speedway in Schererville, Ind., on Friday, July 28, as George Kladis won the United Auto Racing Association 25-lap feature piloting the revolutionary new Lockard Wankel rotary engine. It marked the first time a Wankel engine won a feature in the United States. The brainchild of engineer Bob Lockard, the Wankel was a highly-controversial power plant. It was a rotary combustion engine that could be classified as a baby turbine, although its working functions were totally original. The Wankel was a radical departure from the four, six and eight cylinder engines developed in Detroit, Mich. Designed by German engineer Felix Wankel in 1930; it was rarely used until 1966. Lockard’s experiment was to prove that the 60-cubic inch engine could be refined to compete with and beat engines two and a half times bigger. The Wankel’s biggest asset was its size and weight. In comparison with the popular Chevy II engine used in most midget cars, the Wankel, at 200 pounds, was 85 pounds lighter and half the size.

1968 – Leon Keenan of Sioux Falls, S.D., won the 50-lap modified mid-season championship at Huset’s Speedway on Sunday, July 28. Keenan overtook race leader Bill Weinkauf on a late restart and held off both Weinkauf and Marlin Hanten at the checkers to earn the winner’s share of the $3,429 purse. Jim Klasse took a commanding lead and won the 25-lap “B” feature, in what was a grand slam night of racing, as he also won the first heat and the first trophy dash. Bud Berger was a double winner on the night, scoring the victory in the fourth heat and second trophy dash.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

1995 – Out of staters finish 1-2 in Red Dog Open Wheel special

Scott "Breezy" Whitworth - Barry Johnson Photo


Columbus Junction, Iowa (July 26, 1995) - Although they had the longest journey to reach Louisa County Speedway, Scott Whitworth and Ricky Logan proved to be the fastest.

Whitworth held off Logan for the final half of the 20-lap race to win the Red Dog Open Wheel Special 360 limited sprint car feature Wednesday night at the 4/10-mile oval track.

For his efforts, the Worthington, Mo., driver claimed the $1,000 first prize. Whitworth also pocketed another $200 for posting the fastest time in time trials, again edging Logan for the top spot.

Also winning his first race ever was Larry Herring of Lone Tree. Herring claimed the modified 15-lap feature race.

Larry Pinegar of Des Moines was first on the track in the limited sprints time trials. Pinegar posted a time of 19.72 seconds on his second lap to claim the early lead. But Whitworth quickly erased Pinegar’s mark, turning his first lap in 19.43 seconds. That time would be just enough to beat Logan's 19.50.

"That was lucky," Whitworth said. “I drove the car way too rough in the time trials. I just got lucky and it stuck.”

Bob Thompson of Des Moines grabbed the early lead in the first heat race to pull ahead of Whitworth, and then held on as Whitworth nearly overtook him at the checkered flag.

Logan, making the trip from Little Rock, Ark., went low in turn four of lap three to get by Bruce Williams, then blew away the field to easily win the second heat and set up a showdown with Whitworth in the feature.

Whitworth drew the pole position for the feature, while Logan drew a third row starting spot. Logan knew before the race began he had his work cut out for him.

“He started up in front of us,” Logan said. “I drew a third-row starting spot. That made it pretty tough, but I figured with 20 laps I had a chance.”

Whitworth grabbed the lead on the start and quickly opened the gap ahead of Steve Breazeale and Thompson with Logan quickly moving up to fourth.

Logan moved up to third on lap three, and then got past Breazeale in turn four of lap nine for second place. But Whitworth had already pushed his lead to nearly the length of the front straight. Logan caught a break three laps later when Jeff Haines spun out in turn two, bringing out the yellow flag.

But once again, Whitworth grabbed the lead on the restart and began to pull away. He seemed set for victory as he took the white flag with Logan lurking in the distance.

But there was a tense moment just seconds later. Williams and Breazeale got tangled up coming out of turn four of lap 19. The violent collision sent Williams’ car airborne, rolling and flipping before coming to rest on its side in the front straight. Breazeale’s car spun several times before coming to a halt in the turn.

An ambulance and rescue squad rushed to the scene. Both drivers escaped without injury, although Williams' car sustained major damage. Both were through for the night.

With two laps remaining on the restart, Whitworth once again got the jump on Logan off the start and held on for the win. Pinegar finished third while Terry Alexander was fourth. Bart Schneiderman of Burlington moved up four spots to grab fifth place. Scott Newman, racing a new motor for the first time, moved up three places to finish seventh. West Burlington's Ned Fry finished ninth.

“I’m really happy,” Whitworth said. “We have a lot of fun coming up here. We usually come up here and run with the 410’s. That’s always a blast, so I thought we’d just keep coming back.”

“I didn’t know if I would be able to hold (Logan) off. You never know. I was just hoping like hell I could. Where I was at I couldn't tell what kind of lead I had. I didn't know if I was gaining or losing. I was glad I was able to hang on.”

“(Whitworth) was running pretty fast,” Logan said. “It was faster up on top, but that made it harder to pass.”

Herring, a second-year driver from Lone Tree, claimed his first win ever in the modified feature race.

Herring finished second in his heat race behind Bruce Hanford of Davenport, but was able to turn the tables in the feature. Herring grabbed the lead on the start of the 15-lap feature with Terry Schrader close behind.

But Schrader slammed the wall in turn three of Lap 4, taking him out of the race and bringing out the yellow flag.

Herring took the lead on the restart as Hanford and Steve Boley closed in behind. Herring then pulled away in the ensuing laps and won the race handily. Hanford held off Boley to claim second.

“It was real nice,” Herring said. “I’m glad they had us down here. On the first restart, I got a good start. On the second one, (Hanford) started sooner than I thought he would. I got on the gas a little and the tail swung out. On the third restart, I got a pretty good jump and held it there.”

Results –

Limited Sprint Feature:
1. Scott Whitworth, Worthington, Mo.
2. Ricky Logan, Little Rock, Ark.
3. Larry Pinegar, Des Moines, Iowa
4. Terry Alexander, Knoxville, Iowa
5. Bart Schneiderman, Burlington, Iowa
6. Jeff Haines, Oskaloosa, Iowa
7. Scott Newman, Burlington, Iowa
8. Lyle Sylvester, Bondurant, Iowa
9. Ned Fry, West Burlington, Iowa
10. Steve Breazeale, Pleasantville, Iowa


Modified Feature:

1. Larry Herring, Lone Tree, Iowa
2. Bruce Hanford, Davenport, Iowa
3. Steve Boley, Kannapolis, N.C.
4. Mike Bender, Kalona, Iowa
5. Chuck Mayerhofer, New Liberty, Iowa
6. Mike Weikert Jr., Muscatine, Iowa
7. Brian Behning, Albia, Iowa
8. Terry Walker, Riverside, Iowa
9. Bart Miller, Clarence, Iowa
10. Denny Banks Washington, Iowa

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

1949 - Ritchie, Newkirk and Russo grab midget wins

At Waterloo –

(July 23) – Dick Ritchie of Cedar Rapids drove the #50 to a midget victory at the Tunis Speed Bowl on Saturday night in the 25-lap mid-season championship. Starting from the pole position, Ritchie too an early lead and held it all the way. Red Hoyle chased Ritchie right down to the finish but couldn’t overtake him.

At Cedar Rapids –

(July 24) - Paul Newkirk was the winner of the main event in the midget auto races held at Ce Mar Acres Sunday night. The race meet was one of the fastest and most thrilling of the season, with all races being close, with one record being broken and all of the rest of the events run in close to record time. Newkirk grabbed the lead at the starter's flag and held it all the way but was pressed by Dick Hobel, who chased him right down to the finish. Jimmy Summers and Vic Ellis fought it out for third place with Summers getting the call.

At Burlington -

(July 24) – Tony Russo raced to a win in the main event at the midget auto races at the Burlington Fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon. Starting from a first row position, the Wisconsin speedster grabbed the lead at the first turn and was never headed. Red Hoyle chased Russo all the way to the finish line but couldn’t track him down.

Monday, July 23, 2012

1969 - Speedway Invitational won by Rochester’s Fitzpatrick

Eau Claire, Wis. (July 23, 1969) – Rochester’s Paul Fitzpatrick, using a little bit of luck combined with driving skill and endurance, walked away with top honors at the Lake Model Invitational held Wednesday night at the Eau Claire Speedway.

A crowd of close to 3,000 people watched the races in ideal weather conditions.

Fitzpatrick took home a first place trophy plus a cash prize of $515 for his fine performance but not before a bizarre chain of events in the feature race left the crowd wondering what exactly had happened.

The Rochester speed demon piloted his 1965 Chevelle to the front of the pact on the 34th lap after misfortune struck a pair of early leaders battling for the top spot since the start of the race.

The hard-luck award of the night went to Canada’s Tom Nesbitt and local favorite Phil Prusak. Nesbitt, who started the race in the pole position, led the race for the first 33 laps with Prusak on his tail before a unusual chain of events started.

Nesbitt’s 1966 Studebaker and Prusak’s 1966 Chevelle bumped on the main straightaway in front of the grandstand throwing Nesbitt into a spin. Prusak took over the lead but suddenly ran into mechanical problems on the following lap and ran off the track in the south turn. Fitzpatrick, running third at the time, spotted the opening and slipped past the fallen drivers to a lead he never relinquished. Prusak ended the race in the pits while Nesbitt finished fourth.

Last month’s Invitational winner, John Connolly of Delhi, Iowa, finished in the runner-up spot while Cumberland’s Russ Laursen took third in a 1969 Super Bee. Fitzpatrick started the race from the 10th spot while Connolly was side inside of the 6th row.

Two other local favorites, Harold Mueller and Red Steffen, failed to finish the race. The 40-lap feature attracted 18 cars but only nine finished the race.

Results –
Feature:
1. Paul Fitzpatrick, Rochester, Minn.
2. John Connolly, Delhi, Iowa
3. Russ Laursen, Cumberland, Wis.
4. Tom Nesbitt, Ft. Williams, Ont., Canada
5. Cecil Henderson, Dakota, Minn.
6. Mert Williams, Rochester, Minn.
7. Darrell Hendrickson, Elk Mound, Wis.
8. Bob Saterdalen, Oronoco, Minn.
9. Roger Freeman, Eau Claire, Wis.
10. Bob Jusola, Minneapolis, Minn.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

1969 – Karl Sanger tops Vinton race field

Vinton, Iowa (July 22, 1969) - Karl Sanger of Waterloo had little trouble winning the 25-lap late-model stock car feature Tuesday night at the Benton County fairground.

Karl started on the outside pole in the finale, took the lead from Bill Zwanziger coming out of the second turn and proceeded to run away from the rest of the 13-car field.

Only eight cars were running at the finish. Many either suffered blown engines or heated up to the point they were forced to drop out.

Ramo Stott of Keokuk, the former IMCA star who made a special appearance Tuesday, wheeled one of the cars that got too hot. He was out after 16 laps, only moments after Curt Hansen’s 'Torino hashed an engine.

Second place went to Ed Sanger, Karl’s brother, nearly 300 yards behind. Carl Swanson of Reinbeck earned third, while John Connolly of Delhi was fourth, followed by Zwanziger.

The latter and Karl Sanger finished in a dead-heat for the top spot in the second heat. Arlo Becker of Atkins and Red Droste of Waterloo were other heat winners.

Connolly won the 15-lap semi, while Ed Sanger copped the trophy dash.

Results –

Feature –
1. Karl Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
2. Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
3. Cal Swanson, Reinbeck, Iowa
4. John Connolly, Delhi, Iowa
5. Bill Zwanziger, Waterloo, Iowa
6. Dick Bragg, Hiawatha, Iowa
7. Arlo Becker, Atkins, Iowa
8. Red Droste, Waterloo, Iowa
9. Bob Hilmer, Dysart, Iowa
10. Glen Martin, Independence, Iowa

Saturday, July 21, 2012

This Week in Racing History

Mike Duvall

1984 – “I didn’t know Rodney was out of the race until it was over,” Mike Duvall said after he took the checkered flag first to take home the $20,000 by winning the NDRA Stroh’s/Dodge Super National at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo., on July 21. Rodney Combs of Lost Creek, Va., was so far ahead of the field, that when blue smoke rolled from his car on lap 54, he was well ahead into lapped traffic and no one noticed that he left the event with a blown piston. Comb’s exit gave the lead to Duvall and with only one yellow flag being waved the entire event “The Flintstone Flyer” didn’t know he had won until he saw the checkers come out. Bill Martin of Council Bluffs, Iowa put on the drive of the night, coming from his 20th starting spot to finish second. Mississippi’s Jerry Inmon took third while Willy Kraft of Lakefield, Minn., grabbed fourth and Omaha’s Joe Kosiski rounded out the top five.


Greg Leffler

1979 – Two of the USAC sprint car division’s younger drivers, Greg Leffler and Steve Chassey, showed the veterans the fastest way around the high banks of Roger Holdeman’s Winchester (Ind.) Speedway on Sunday afternoon, July 22. Each driver won a 30-lap feature in the circuit’s program which capped the tracks annual Old-Timer’s Weekend. Leffler won the first feature in record time, averaging an eye-popping 111.857 miles per hour with Chassey in hot pursuit. Chassey then reversed the finish in the nightcap and upped the speed mark in 112.112 miles per hour as Leffler finished second, nearly a straightaway behind.

1972 – Tom Maier of Midland, Mich., led only 4 feet of the100-lap Ohio State Championship feature but that’s all it took to claim the $2,000 first prize on Sunday, July 23 at Tri-County Speedway in West Chester, Ohio. Maier’s 1969 Chevelle started 19th and climbed to second behind Rodney Combs who led from lap 71 onward. But on the final lap, Combs’ Chevelle ran out of gas on the back stretch and started to slow dramatically. Maier’s machine managed to close the gap as they came out of turn four and only feet from the start/finish line, whipped by Combs. Ed Howe of Beaverton, Mich., the early leader in the event, took third while Milford, Ohio’s Bruce Gould earned fourth. Tom Collella of Pittsburgh rounded out the top five.

1967 – After biding his time and avoiding traffic during early laps, Dean Montgomery of Milan, Ill., slipped into the lead just four laps from home and won the 50-lap IMCA late model mid-season championship at Quad City Raceway in East Moline, Ill., on Sunday, July 23. Montgomery overhauled Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley in the closing laps after it appeared Weedon was going to have an easy ride to victory. When two cars spun on the south turn on lap 44, Weedon, who had led the entire race and had a 60-yeard advantage over Montgomery, slowed momentarily to avoid the spinning cars. Montgomery closed the gap immediately and rode Weedon’s bumper until two laps later when he was able to get around him for the lead and eventual win. Montgomery won by 20 yards while Weedon had to scramble to retain second ahead of a charging Jim Gerber of Davenport and Don Bitner of Peoria.

Friday, July 20, 2012

1969 - Big league stock car racing complexion changing

Detroit, Mich. (July 20, 1969) – The complexion of big league stock car racing is changing.

NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Racing) Grand National racing may soon be restricted to the superspeedways, or at least tracks one mile or longer, while the newer and now successful Grand Touring circuit will replace the big stockers on the half-mile ovals.

The problem is supply and demand. There just are not enough available weekends in the year to take care of the major events, which now exist on the schedule, plus those which will be coming up.

Grand National features the standard issue Detroit cars, while the intermediates race under the Grand Touring banner.

It has also been noticed that Johnny Marcum’s ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) has been getting an increasing number of race dates on NASCAR tracks.

Within the ranks of the Midwest state fair circuit, IMCA (International Motor Contest Association), there are also two circuits with occasional conflicting dates, but they resolve the problem numbers by permitting the smaller cars, such as Mustang, Cougar and Javelin, to race alongside the Torino and Charger, in direct competition.

The USAC (United States Auto Club) stock car circuit has really come to life this year, under the direction of former Californian Bill Taylor, who boasted 69 entries a week before last Sunday’s Milwaukee, (Wis.) 200-mile race, with “no less than 29 of them 1969 models”.

Also, of course, Taylor has the advantage of Indianapolis winners A. J. Foyt and Bobby Unser driving stockers along with other Indianapolis heroes like Roger McCluskey and Al Unser.

IMCA’s AI Sweeney enthusiastically pointed out “more than half of the entries are driving 1969 cars”. The once liberal used car market in the auto racing industry has, for some reason, disappeared. Everything from Javelin and Mustang to Charger and Torino are showroom fresh. The new cars are probably the result of a loot economy, or the result of past racing experiences.

“Today’s stock car driver is going first class,” Sweeney continued. “Not only is there new Detroit iron, but they are towed to and from the race in mobile trailer, which could house a family of four, plus a workshop and the race car.”

Also on the IMCA professional tour, Keokuk, Iowa has sent two more of its sons to the stock car wars, a youngster named Gordon Blankenship and the icon of the nine-time IMCA national champion, 21-year-old Mike Derr, a student at Northeast Missouri State College. “I know Mike has the sense and ability to be a good one,” said his father, Ernie Derr.

This makes a total of 18 drivers to come out of the Iowa town, which doesn’t even have a racetrack of its own. Keokuk greats include the perennial champion Ernie Derr, IMCA and USAC stock car champ Don White, IMCA and NASCAR great Dick Hutcherson, his younger brother Ron Hutcherson, IMCA and ARCA star Ramo Stott, and IMCA’s Jerry McCredie.

“In the past 15 years, this city has produced more champions and near chaimpions than any other city in America,” commented IMCA and National Speedways’ Gene Van Winkle. Salute Keokuk!

Bill Benton, a man who was most involved with Ford’s original stock car racing program, when he was in the Charlotte (N. C.) and Southeastern sales offices, has been prompted again, this time to executive assistant, sales group, North American automotive operations of the Ford Motor Co., moving upward out of Ford Division.

Benton’s involvement in racing was in the heyday of the famed “purple hogs” driven by rough rider Curtis Turner and Joe Weatherly in the late 1950s when Darlington (S. C.) was the biggest track and the word ‘superspeedway’ had not even been coined.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

1981 - Copeland reaps rewards on oval

Herb Copeland in the Lynn Nance # 1n


Hutchinson, Kan. (July 19, 1981) - For Wichita’s Herb Copeland, the highlights of an 18-year racing career has been few and far between.

Oh sure, he’s had his moments.

Like in 1969 when he captured the Hutchinson Nationals at the Fairgrounds and was also the Kansas State Champion.

But Copeland, a veteran at 41, figures he’s paid his dues. And now he’s ready to start collecting. The super-modified driver is reaping the harvest of an outstanding year in 1981 after having joined forces with Wichitan Carol Nance late last season.

Heading into the Grand National Championship races at the Fairgrounds, July 25-26, Copeland has won four of the seven NCRA (National Championship Racing Association) sanctioned races.

“This is a lot like anything else - you have to pay your dues,” Copeland says. “Maybe mine have been paid. I’m just fortunate to get to drive this car. These kinds of cars are a privilege to drive.”

Copeland, a used car salesman, has rarely raced outside the Wichita and surrounding area - primarily due to the lack of a quality car. That has changed since he and Nance joined forces.

“This is the first time we’ve run the whole series,” says Copeland. “We just got together and decided to do this. This is our main objective and we decided on it during the winter.”

In two of his early races last fall, Copeland finished third and second at Oklahoma City and Muskogee, Okla. It was those finishes that prodded him and Nance into deciding to run the entire NCRA series.

“We felt we had the right car that could compete with the other top cars,” says Copeland. “All the credit (for the success) goes to guys who own and work with the car. As long as I don’t go to sleep, I think I have a chance to win every time out.”

Nance, who has been in auto racing since 1957, said he was pleased with the first-season success of the team.

“We got our feet wet last year and now are going the full series,” he says. “Herb and I do mainly all the work on the car. There’s a lot less hassle and we work well together. We know that the work that is done will be done right. With Herb, I just don't have any problems.”

That mutual trust is shared by Copeland. “I have a lot of confidence in Carol,” says Herb. “We always talk about what the car is doing and he fine-tunes the chassis. I have it in my mind what we need to do and we’re usually not wrong.”

During the ‘81 season Copeland has produced winning efforts at Dallas, Muskogee, Okla., Oklahoma City and Lawton, Okla. “If we win here (Hutchinson) and then place in the top five at the others, we should have a good chance of winning the championship,” Nance says. “But there’s always somebody there to take your place if you slip up.”

Nance says his car has become one of the best on the NCRA circuit. “We’ve sold about six of them and now we have to compete against our cars,” he says. “The car seems to be more stable and is more adaptable to all types of situations on the track. We think it’s better because of the engineering idea.”

Copeland regards himself as a driver who doesn't take many chances. At the same time, however, he believes he is aggressive when the time is right.

“I guess I've been tagged the gentleman driver around the circuit,” says Herb. “I don't feel like we take chances because our car will do what we ask it to do, within reason. The track here (in Hutchinson) is narrow and tough to pass on.”

Copeland, a native of Dodge City, got his start in auto racing in 1963. At the time he was racing motorcycles and spent much of his time on the road, traveling to far away places.

“A policeman in Dodge City thought if I was crazy enough to race cycles that I should get into racing cars,” Herb recalls of his start. “Racing the cars enabled me to stay closer to home since I had just gotten married. It just seemed a whole lot easier.”

After 18 years of racing, Copeland gives no hint of slowing down. “More than anything, it's a fear of quitting,” he says. “Everybody wants to win and you want to be good at what you do. I'm no different. If you can be good at it, stick with it. I've stuck with it longer than anything else in my life. When I quit enjoying it, then it's time to get out.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

1981 - John Connolly dies of heart attack

John Connolly behind the wheel of Keith Simmons #38 in 1980


Delhi, Iowa (July 17, 1981) – John Connolly, veteran driver from Delhi, Iowa, died from an apparent heart attack while competing in the Minn-Kota Invitational late model special at Cass County Fairgrounds in West Fargo, N.D.

Connolly, who was driving Gary Crawford’s #95, was running ninth in the feature event when he lost control of his car and smashed the retaining wall in turn one. The ambulance crew and track officials worked nearly 30 minutes to extricate Connolly from the car. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Witnesses reported seeing Connolly’s head slump forward seconds before he drove straight on into the retaining wall.

John Connolly began racing in 1958 at the age of 23 and would race for 23 more years, making numerous friends throughout the Midwest. John began his career racing jalopies at the Dubuque County Fairgrounds, racing there for four years and winning point titles for three of them.

In 1962, he switched to late model modified stock cars, driving a Plymouth for Joe Lehman. By 1965, Connolly was in the top three in points at three tracks; Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Waterloo.

For the 1966 season, Connolly was hired to pilot a 1961 Ford for the G&H Racing Team out of Clarence, Iowa. At the end of the ’66 season, he ranked in the top five in points at four tracks; Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Waterloo and Sterling, Ill. He would race with the G&H Racing until they disbanded in 1968.

For the 1968 season, John drove a 1964 Ford for Chuck Thompson. That first year he would win the point championship at Sterling and was second in points at Peoria, Ill., running only a half season He also received the “Sportsmanship Award” at Peoria.

The following year – 1969 – would be Connolly’s best ever. Racing an average of five nights a week and traveling to special events all over the Midwest, Connolly racked up an impressive record. He won two invitationals at Eau Claire, Wis., finished second in the Illinois State Championships, won two invitationals at Burlington, too second in the Tri-State Championship at Davenport and also won the Corn Belt 1,000 at Sterling, Ill.

In 1970 he competed weekly at Freeport, Ill., and despite driving three different cars during the season, finished third in the point standings.

He continued to drive for Thompson through 1973. For two years he raced for John Nielsen and in 1976 he teamed with Keith Simmons of Freeport and drove his late model through the 1980 season, winning the point title at Freeport in four of those five years.

Monday, July 16, 2012

1961 - Pete Folse takes 30-lap feature at Fairgrounds

Terre Haute, Ind. (July 16, 1961) - Pete Folse of Tampa, Fla., two-time national driving champion, led all the way in winning the International Motor Contest Association's 30-lap Hoosier Sweepstakes yesterday at the Vigo County Fairgrounds.

Al Sweeney and his National Speedways Inc., promotion along with 45 of the top sprint car drivers and their machines invaded what was normally USAC territory with an IMCA sprint car program at the fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon.

Folse, the outstanding performer in the program, also won the trophy dash, his heat race, and turned in the fastest qualifying lap. His winning time in the feature event was 13 minutes and 2.88 seconds.

In addition to the spray of dirt and the sound of engines there was a touch of beauty at the track. Miss Indiana of 1961, Miss Kathleen Jane Burke of Terre Haute, was on hand to kiss the winner and present the IMCA inaugural trophy.

Folse, handling the controls on his Bardahl Offenhauser Special, owned by Hector Horore, took the lead from his pole position and finished a good seven seconds ahead of his closest competitor.

Cecil Beaver of Bedford, Ind., was second and Buzz Rose of Compton, Calif., finished third in the feature field of 16 drivers. Beaver drove a Chevrolet and Rose an Offenhauser.

Finishing behind the top three in the money were Buzz Barton of Tampa, Fla.; Arnie Knepper of Belleville, Ill.; Jerry Richert of Forrest Lake, Minn.; Harold Leep of Wichita, Kans.; Johnny Leverenz; Duke Hindahl of Pekin, Ill.; Gerald Daniels of St. Paul, Minn.; Eddie Frese of Quincy, Ill.; and Hershel Wagner of Hickman Mills, Mo.

Only 11 cars finished the race. At stake was a purse valued at better than $3,100 plus accessories and championship points. Folse, who qualified in 24.14 seconds - more than a full second faster than the next best qualifier - blazed from his last place start to head man in the first lap of the first heat race and won going away in 3 minutes and 4.45 seconds. Behind him were Daniels, Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., and Barton.

Each heat race went seven laps. Richert captured the second heat race ahead of Beaver, Wagner and Leverenz in 3 minutes and 4.43 seconds. despite a yellow flag delay when Roger Hegg of Minneapolis crashed into the retaining wall. Hindahl finished in front in the third heat with Knepper, Rose and Jim McElreath also qualifying. Hindahl's time was 3 minutes and 8.35 seconds.

Folse then returned to win the four-car, five-lap trophy dash in 2 minutes and 12.22 seconds. Behind him were Johnny White of Warren, Mich.; Blundy and Leverenz. Leep won the special consolation event of 10 laps which provide fans with the most excitement. Jerry Shumaker of Wichita, Kan.; Gordon Woolley of Waco, Tex.; and Johnny Rutherford of Fort Worth, Tex., were runner-ups.

Twenty cars were entered in the consolation event and only 10 finished. Six cars spun on the second lap which caused the red flag to be displayed and a restart ordered. Two more cars were forced to retire after spins on the first lap after the second start. Dale Breedlove of Waco, Tex., added to the action when his Chevrolet caught on fire.

The 3,500 race fans who turned out to view the “invaders” expressed nothing but praise for the handling of the program, which was slowed by a light shower after the consolation. They also gave out high marks for the caliber of drivers competing on the IMCA circuit.

Results –
1. Pete Folse
2. Cecil Beavers
3. Buzz Rose
4. Buzz Barton
5. Jerry Blundy
6. Herschel Wagner
7. Arnold Knepper
8. Ray Duckworth
9. Duke Hindahl
10. Harold Leep
11. Jerry Richert
12. Jerry Daniels

Sunday, July 15, 2012

1967 - Iggy Katona Wins 1st Annual Redbud 500

Iggy Katona


Anderson, Ind. (July 15, 1967) - Veteran stock car campaigner Iggy Kalona of Willis, Mich., won the first annual Redbud 500 at Sun Valley Speedway Saturday night in a 1965 Dodge.

The stocky Michigander held a comfortable lead of seven laps over runner-up Paul Wensink of Deshler, Ohio, when starter Butch Brooks dropped the checkered flag at the end of 500 laps. Katona covered the 125 miles in 2 hours, 19 minutes, and 17 seconds after tying with Les Snow of Bloomington, Ill., for pole position on Saturday afternoon.

Snow and Katona both ran the quarter-mile in 14.64 seconds during time trials but Snow got the pole by virtue of qualifying first.

Snow, driving a 1967 Dodge Charger, moved out from the pole to grab the lead as the race got under way, Charles Glotzbach and then Herb Shannon of Peoria, Ill., moved into second, with Katona third.

That’s the way it stood at 100 laps, and 62 laps later Katona moved up to in position to challenge Snow when Shannon went to the pits. Katona stayed at Snow’s bumper and the two went into the lead on lap 251 when Snow pitted. Snow came back out and a few laps later got the lead back when Katona had to stop for fuel.

Snow was back in the pits on lap 271, and he never came out. From then on it was Katona all the way. At the 300-lap mark, it was Wayne Fisher of Bloomington, Ill., in second, with Wensink third. Fisher then dropped out of the race and Wensink took over second and kept it the rest of the way.

Results –
1. Iggy Katona
2. Paul Wensink
3. Bill Clemons
4. Leon Van Atta
5. Omar Good
6. Norman Myers
7. Les Snow
8. Herb Shannon
9. Charlie Glotzbach
10. Wayne Fisher

Saturday, July 14, 2012

This Week in Racing History

2006 – Taking advantage of a rare start with the Winged Outlaw Warriors, Jerrod Hull of Sikeston, Mo., made a late charge to take the victory at 24 Raceway in Moberly, Mo., on July 15. Randy Martin led the 18-car field to green and led in the early going with Matt Fox, Tracy Nichols and Hull in hot pursuit. Fox would take over the top spot from Martin on lap 7 and begin to widen the margin between the leader and the rest of the field. Hull would get by Martin on lap 14 for the second spot and start to close the gap on Fox as he began to encounter lap traffic. Getting a nice run in between turn one and two, Hull would use the middle groove of the track and get by Fox for the lead on lap 18. He would go on to extend his lead and take his first series victory. Fox would hang on to second, Martin would settle for third, while Nichols and Brad Best would round out the top five.
2000 – Racing to the front from the middle of the field, Jeff Anderson of Atlantic, Iowa, won the Midwest Motorsports Best of the Midwest feature for IMCA stock cars at Stuart (Iowa) Speedway on July 13. Starting 12th, Anderson worked his way through the field and scooted past race leader Jeff Wollam of Marshalltown on the 25th circuit. Defending series champion Mark Elliot of Webster City joined Anderson in making the opportune pass and nearly caught up to Anderson in the remaining 5 laps but would settle for runner-up honors. Current series’ point leader Todd Foster of Webster City finished third, followed by Rick Brown of Kellogg and Mike McClure of Bloomfield. The Midwest victor was Anderson’s third of the season and ninth of his career.
1990 – Jeff Gordon passed Stan Fox on the last lap to win the 50-lap feature during the co-sanctioned USAC National Midget Series/Badger Midget Auto Racing Association program on Saturday, July 14 at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wis. Fox pulled around Russ Gamester on lap 2 and pulled away from the rest of the field early on. A caution on lap 10 would bunch the field up with Gordon on Fox’s bumper for the restart. It took only 3 laps after the contest resumed to snare the lead away from the veteran. Fox would mount a comeback and move into the top spot once again exiting turn four on lap 22. Fox would maintain a one-car length advantage over Gordon for the next 15 laps as they both negotiated lapped traffic smoothly. With 10 laps left, Donnie Beechler’s engine expired bringing out the yellow. On the restart, Gordon made several attempts to pass Fox, who pulled away to a two-car length lead and appeared to be headed to victory. However, a car slowed on the white flag lap, bringing out another caution flag. Gordon would use the final restart to his advantage and pass Fox on the high side coming out of turn two to take the victory and the $2,105 payday.

1984 – The racing community mourned the loss of legendary Rockford Speedway owner Hugh Deery, who died of an apparent heart attack on Saturday morning, July 14. Deery became a partner in Rockford Speedway in 1959 and became the speedway’s sole owner in 1966. Deery became one of the best known and most successful short track promoters in the United States. In 1966 Hugh originated the National Short Track Championships, one of the first season-ending specials in the nation. In 1976, Deery was named the first RPM Auto Racing Promoter of the Year by his peers and was nominated for the same award in 1977, 78, ’79 and 1980. He was also instrumental in recognizing the high cost of racing and he developed the controversial “Rockford Rules” in 1973, which called for a common tire, common engine parts and other components. The specifications were designed to add parity to the competition and to cut the costs out of racing.

Friday, July 13, 2012

1964 - Race Driver Sonny Helms Dies in Crash

Sonny Helms in the Ralph Malamud Offy in 1961 - Bob Bergeron Photo


Bloomfield, Iowa (July 13, 1964) – Veteran race driver Sonny Helms of Avon Lake was killed Sunday night when his car crashed during the first heat race on the weekly program at the Davis County Fairgrounds.

Helms, 37, suffered a fractured skull and was pronounced dead on arrival at Davis County Hospital.

The wreck occurred when Helms’ super-modified racer ran over the wheel of another car and flipped over, then jumped a fence and crashed.

Helms started his racing career in Knoxville and also competed in events at the old Pioneer Raceway in Des Moines. He drove sprint cars on the International Motor Contest Association circuit for two years.

Last year he joined the United States Auto Club and drove in a few of that group’s races. He was fifteenth in the 1963 IMCA sprint car standings, winning $4,160 and scoring 660 points. He was twenty-fourth in 1962.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

1976 – Ohio’s Ferkel wins Missouri Sprint Nationals final

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.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

1971 - Derr Overtakes Stott in 300

Ernie Derr celebrates his 1971 Iowa 300 win at the Iowa State Fairgrounds


Des Moines, Iowa (July 11, 1971) - Somebody turned to a newsman with 60 laps remaining in the Iowa 300 stock car race at the State Fairgrounds Sunday and said, “Ramo won’t win. One guy in his pit crew is wearing green socks.”

There is a racing superstition that green is bad luck.

Ramo Stott and Ernie Derr of Keokuk were embroiled in one of the hottest duels they ever had at the time - and they had many during the 1960s. They were 15 laps ahead of everyone else.

Stott, in a 1970 Roadrunner had been leading since lap 132 but Derr stayed close. At the 250-lap mark Derr’s 1970 Dodge Charger went sliding into the wall. By the time he was hauled into the pits and a tire - which had blown - was replaced, he was eight laps behind when he got back into action.

Stott slowed the pace and cruised merrily on his way. His pit crew danced with joy. There was no way he could lose.

But by golly, that fan’s prediction came true. Ramo finished second. Derr was the winner of the 150-mile event – Iowa’s longest stock car race - for the sixth consecutive time.

Here’s what happened before an estimated crowd of 10,100. On lap 178, the left front wheel on Stott’s car tilted inward. Ramo continued to run, slowly, and primarily on three wheels.

At the other end of the pits, Derr’s crew suddenly jumped to life and signaled their boss to start gunning it. Stott had to pit twice to replace tires, which lasted only a few laps. The suspense built.

Derr worked the deficit down to four laps; then down to three. On the 295th lap, the whole wheel assembly tore lose from the car and Ramo tried to stop, but his brakes were gone. He made one more circuit of the track, was black-flagged and finally stopped, although he again overshot his pit area.

“I guess the upper ball joint gave way,” Ramo said after the race as he reclined on the hood of the car signing autographs. “I guess that old bad luck is still with me.” But he added he didn’t believe the “green” superstition.

Ramo was one of the International Motor Contest Association's top drivers during the 1960s, but he never finished better than second in point standings. Derr, who has won 11 1MCA titles, was first most of those years.

Finally, the frustrated Stott switched to the Auto Racing Club of America in 1969. He came into Sunday’s race as ARCA’s defending champion and current point leader.

Asked if he thought he could have kept going and won had he not been black flagged, he said "No." Derr, who isn't one to give

Derr, who isn’t one to give long replies to questions, was asked if he believed he had a chance alter he fell eight laps behind.

He shook his head and said, “I’ll tell you one thing, it doesn't pay to give up. No, I didn’t believe I had a chance, but I just wanted to stay in there.”

The Keokuk “Komets” set a torrid pace and Stott set a track record of 1 hour, 13 minutes, and 64 seconds for the first 150 laps. The old mark was 1:14:25.68, which he held since July 7, 1968. Derr’s time for winning was 2 hours, 34 minutes and 17 seconds, well off the record of 2:23:51.76.

Unofficially, the lead changed 14 times. Joe Wallace of Leavenworth, Kan., took the initial lead. Ron Hutcherson of Keokuk passed him on the fourth lap. Derr took over on the sixth circuit, and from then on either he or Ramo led.

Ramo had the lead most of the time, his biggest being from lap 112 through 296. He also had big margins from 26 to 45 and from 46 to 101. Derr’s best leads were from lap six to 20 and 101 to 132.

But, as Derr said, “Leads don’t always mean much. It’s whose ahead at the finish that counts.”

He went home with $1,610. The winner’s share of the purse was $1,200. The STP Corporation added $450 additional purse money, with $250 for the winner. Ernie collects $100 for each race he attends for being 1970 IMCA national champion and he earned $60 for third fastest time trials.

Stott collected $1,000, Mike Petrucci of St. Paul, Minn., finished third and Gary Martin of California, Mo., was fourth.

Hutcherson, who is second in IMCA point standings, had engine problems and finished fourteenth, completing 171 laps. Another lop contender, Irv Janey of Cedar Rapids, also had mechanical problems and placed eighth, with 213 laps. Mike Derr, Ernie’s son, finished sixteenth after being plagued by mechanical troubles.

Officials used the yellow flag 10 times slowing the race for 41 laps - because of wrecks and debris on the track. No one was hurt in a wreck.

However, Jim Washburn of Keokuk, a pitman for Stott, suffered minor injuries during one of Ramo’s late pit stops. He appeared to have been hit by the car as Stott tore out of the pits.

Results –

1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
3. Mike Petrucci, St. Paul, Minn.
4. Gary Martin, California, Mo.
5. Don Cooper, Sedalia, Mo.
6. Glen Arnold, Sweet Springs, Mo.
7. Jerry Covert, Topeka, Kan.
8. Irv Janey, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
9. Butch Hall, Russell, Minn.
10. John Farmer, Sweet Springs, Mo.
11. Dean Roper, Springfield, Mo.
12. Jerre Wichman, Kansas City, Mo.
13. Gerry Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
14. Ron Hutcherson, Keokuk, Iowa
15. Joe Wallace, Leavenworth, Kan.
16. Mike Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
17. Jim Hager, Liberty, Mo.
18. Thurman Lovejoy, Kansas City, Mo.
19. Gordon Blankenship, Keokuk, Iowa
20. Vernie Covert, Topeka, Kan.
21. Roger Brown, Waverly, Iowa
22. Terry Ryan, Davenport, Iowa
23. Bill Stahl, St. Paul, Minn.
24. Bill Stark, Des Moines, Iowa

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

1971 - Drivers battle track, weather

Boone, Iowa (July 10, 1971) - It was a rough Saturday night for the top runners at the Boone Speedway as they fought a rough track and the weather.

Only two of the track’s top-10 in the point standings were running at the end of the super late model feature - seventh-ranked Dwight Engleen, Ogden won it and ninth-place Earl Tice, Ames was third. Only eight of the 18 cars that started the race crossed the finish line. This was Engleen’s second feature win of the season.

The race, which was hampered by a rough spot in number three turn of the track which had been soaked by rain all week, required seven restarts.

Most of those were caused by spinouts or minor accidents, although twice they were required after on of the cars stopped on the track.

Early in the race, a brief flurry of activity on the back straightaway sent point leader Denny Hovinga, Laurens, and second place point man Gene Schattschneider, Algona, into the pits with cars out of commission.

Schattschneider had set the fast time for the night in the opening trials of 18.30 seconds, and Hovinga was second with 18.33 seconds.

Arnie Braland, Boone, who has been plagued with engine trouble the past few weeks, opened the night with a trophy dash win, the fifth trophy he has won this year, but then had radiator trouble. Braland was third in point standings going into the Saturday night program.

Hovinga won the second heat and Schattschneider topped the third qualifying event. In the first heat, it was Dick Swanson, Dayton, leading the way to the checkered flag. Lynn Ballard, Ames, was scheduled for the outside pole position, but came out late and had to start at the back of the pack. He worked his way through the field to finish second.

In the second heat, Rich Green, Webster City, who ranked eighth in the point standings, held the lead for a while and then went to the pits. He also dropped out of the B-Main after tangling with Fred Jorgensen, Ames. Tice, who placed one position out of the feature qualification in the heat race, came back in the B-Main to win that event, taking the lead early from Jorgensen.

Braland, also trying to qualify in the B-Main, pulled out with radiator trouble after running third for a while. Greg Davis, Boone, the fourth place man in points, went out of the feature with a flat tire.

In the feature, Del McDowall, Ames, held the lead through several laps, fighting off challenges from Arlo Dorenbush, Boone. Going through number two turn, McDowall slid and was clipped by Engleen. McDowall slammed into Dorenbush on the rebound, and both those cars went to the pits. McDowall was sixth in point standings and Dorenbush was fifth. Ballard, ranked 10th in points, had to pull out of the main event with car trouble.

Results –

Fast time – Gene Schattschneider, Algona, Iowa (18.30)
Trophy Dash – Arnie Braland, Boone, Iowa
Heat One – Dick Swanson, Dayton, Iowa
Heat Two – Denny Hovinga, Laurens, Iowa
Heat Three – Gene Schattschneider
B-Main – Earl Tice, Ames, Iowa

Feature –
1. Dwight Engleen, Ogden, Iowa
2. Dale DeFrance, Marshalltown, Iowa
3. Earl Tice
4. Del Stokke, Ames, Iowa
5. Darreld Bunkosfke, Algona, Iowa
6. Gary Lindgren, Ogden, Iowa

Saturday, July 7, 2012

This Week in Racing History

1990 – Wayne Lodholz of Wausau, Wis., held off Rudolph’s Tom Reffner in the second half of the 76-lap Central Wisconsin Racing Association (CWRA) late model feature at Dells Motor Speedway in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., on July 7. Lodholz’s feature win, his second of the year on the 1/3-mile asphalt, was the headliner for the annual “Escape to Wisconsin Classic”. Reffner made several spirited attempts to pass Lodholz in the latter circuits, but Lodholz’s defensive driving proved too much for Reffner to handle. Steve Holzhausen of Bangor closed in on the leaders towards the end of the contest to take a very close third, just ahead of CWRA point’s leader Tom Carlson of Lacrosse.


1984 – It was a pub brawl in Beertown and Jim Sauter was the last man standing, taking a hard-fought victory in the ASA Sliver Creek-sanctioned Miller 200 at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis, Wis., on Sunday afternoon, July 8. A crowd of 27,000 watched Sauter’s Dairyland Transport Firebird finish a scant one second ahead of Alan Kulwicki’s Hardee’s Firebird that saw a record 16 cautions but a like number of cars battling on the lead lap at the end of the race. Just fractions behind Sauter and Kulwicki were Mike Eddy in third, Bob Senneker taking fourth and Rusty Wallace rounding out the top five.

1979 – NASCAR star David Pearson showed Iowa fans at Golden Hawk Speedway in Mason City that he could get around a half-mile dirt track just as easily as a high-banked superspeedway as he made a special appearance on Sunday night, July 8. Pearson, driving Bruce Busho’s late model out of Owatonna, Minn., started the feature last in the 17-car field, but worked his way steadily towards the front before settling for fourth in the 35-lap late model main event. Out front at the checkered was Mike Niffenegger of Kalona, Iowa, followed by Bill Rice of Des Moines and Kenny Farrell of New Hampton.

1973 – Bill McDonough of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, made an astonishing recovery after totaling out his ’65 Chevelle just nights before, by coming back on Saturday, July 7, to win the 35-lap mid-season championship for late model stock cars at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines before 8,888 race fans. McDonough totaled his racecar in Oskaloosa on Wednesday night, July 4, careening into the guardrail on the backstretch and rolling several times. The leader in the point standings at the midway break in the season, McDonough started on the pole and led from green to checker in the contest. Stan Stover of Reinbeck, Iowa piloted his 1972 Nova to second place while Bill Wrich of Kennard, Neb., took third driving his ’71 Monte Carlo.

Friday, July 6, 2012

1986 - Miller edges Allison to win Miller 200

West Allis, Wis. (July 6, 1986) - Butch Miller won his third American Speed Association race of the season Sunday as he held off NASCAR veteran Bobby Allison to win the Miller High Life 200 at State Fair Park.

Miller, of Coopersville, Mich., took the lead for good on lap 175 in his Chevrolet Camaro, survived two late caution flags and went on to win by a margin of 1.06 seconds with an average speed of 84.260 mph. Allison, of Hueytown, Ala., finished second in a Ford Thunderbird, while Joe Shear, of Beloit took third in a Chevrolet Camaro. Tom Jones, of Northbrook, Ill., was fourth in a Camaro and pole sitter Harold Fair, of Livonia, Mich., was fifth.

“This race ranks right up there with Michigan in ASA,” said Miller, who took over the ASA points lead with 728. Jones is second at 672 and Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, a 20th-place finisher, is third at 653.

“I would trade a lot of ARTGO and other wins for a win here,” Miller said. “If you would guarantee me a win here before the race, I would take it.”

Miller had to earn his victory and $8,990 check as Allison, who has competed in every ASA race here since 1977, was not willing to concede anything in the last 25 laps.

“I thought we had a good shot at winning it, I really did,” said Allison, who last won here in 1978. “I saw that he was running awfully good and was hoping that he would make that one mistake in his 10 years.”

Miller didn’t make any mistakes even though he lost third gear early. He held the lead three times for 50 laps and also managed to slip through a three-car accident on lap 163.

Mike Eddy of Midland, Mich., and Bobby Dotter of Milwaukee, vying for the lead, touched going down the back straightaway. Trickle, running fifth, was unable to avoid the accident but Allison and Miller were.

“They were running tight and got together,” Allison said. “Both lost their traction and it was fortunate for me that they went down on the track first instead of up. I went high and was able to get by.”

Trickle and Dotter were able to get back into the race but Eddy never finished. Neither did Mark Martin, who blew an engine going into turn one on lap 47. The Franklin resident was one of 14 drivers who escaped the 140-degree track temperatures early.

“It’s fortunate for all three of us that (Martin) dropped out early,” Miller said. “He was hooked up and his motor was tuned perfectly. He would have been right up there, if not in first.”

Shear, running in his first ASA race of the season, was content with his finish.

“I wasn’t that fast but I ran consistently all day,” he said. “I would have liked to run with the leaders but the car wasn’t handling that well. I just watched the drivers in front of me drop out and pretty soon I was in third place.”

The first driver to drop out was Ken Lund of Oregon. His Pontiac Firebird bad an oil problem and it went into the pits for good on lap 13. Lund brought out he first of 11 caution flags that ate up 60 laps. The last came on lap 179, four laps after Miller took the lead.

“I expected (Allison) to blow past me at the restart but he didn’t,” Miller said. “After that I was worried about getting as much distance between myself and him just in case something would happen.”

Results –
1. Butch Miller
2. Bobby Allison
3. Joe Shear
4. Tom Jones
5. Harold Fair
6. Kent Stauffer
7. Kenny Wallace
8. Russ Urlin
9. Ed Cooper
10. Larry Conroy
11. Ken Christenson
12. Pete Gibbons
13. Danny Darnell
14. Dennis Vogel
15. Garry St. Amant
16. Gene Harsch
17. John Wilson
18. Doug Mayr
19. Steve Seligman
20. Dick Trickle
21. Bobby Dotter
22. Larry Middleton
23. Mike Eddy
24. Bruce VanderLann

Thursday, July 5, 2012

1975 - Feese, Lee win in Fairbury racing

Fairbury, Ill. (July 5, 1975) - Dave Feese of Saybrook took the lead on the fourth lap from his hometown racing rival, Terry Pearson, and then held off the challenges of Tom Myers of Pontiac for the remaining 21 laps to win his second feature of the year at the Fairbury Speedway.

Feese, who pilots a 1972 Chevelle with a 350 cubic engine, that was built by Butch Hixon of Gibson City, did an excellent job of driving. Myers was right on his bumper at all times, just waiting for Feese to make a mistake, but he drove a near flawless race.

Terry Pearson held on to third, Joe Cleary of Odell was fourth, Jack Wissmiller of Lexington was fifth, Jerry Roberts was sixth, Rich Sanders of Forrest was seventh, Ed Bolen with eighth, Jack Tyne was ninth, and Jerry Reeder was tenth.

Roberts turned fast time for the eight-cylinders with a time of 15.99 seconds. Then starting on the pole in the trophy dash, Roberts ran away from the field to win in a record time of 1 minute and 35 seconds. Tom Myers finished second and Jack Tyne third.

Dave Pleines of Arrowsmith won the first 10-lap heat in a close battle with Gerry Reeder of Peoria. Mick Branz was third. Terry Pearson beat Dave Feese and Jerry Roberts in the second heat. Eldon Norrick of Watseka won the third heat. Bobby Nagel and Reggie Weller trailed Norrick. Pleines became a double winner as he outdistanced Branz and Rick Scharp in the consolation.

In six-cylinder competition, Sammy Lee won his fourth feature in five tries this season. Ron Starks chased Lee all the way, but when Sammy Lee gets the “Green Weenie” out in front, it is mighty hard to get by him. Bobby Shell of Clifton was third, Les Peterson of Macon was fourth, and Rich Harlan was fifth.

Ron Starks turned fast time and just like Roberts in the eight-cylinders, Starks won the six-cylinder trophy dash in a measure, record time of 1 minute and 41 seconds. Shell and Harlan chased Starks across the line. Bob Morgan won the first heat, also in record time. Dan Mehrkens was second and Jerry Osborn was third. Les Peterson held off Lee and Shell to win the second heat and Ron

Bohm beat Jim Wright and George Aimone in the third heat. Bohm also won the consolation, beating Al Miller and Wright.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

1961 - Nelson wheels to victory at Raceway Park

Indianapolis, Ind. (July 4, 1961) – Norm Nelson, USAC national stock car champion last year, won a wire to wire victory in the 100-lap stock car race at Indianapolis Raceway Park Tuesday.

Nelson, of Racine, Wis., averaged 74.36 miles an hour in his 1961 Ford and was 2.8 seconds ahead of Paul Goldsmith, St. Clair Shores, Mich.

Goldsmith trailed nearly a half-lap in his 1961 Pontiac during the middle laps but started making his bid at the 80-lap mark. However, he was through the 62.5 miles before he could catch the flying Nelson. They were the only two in the same lap at the end of the contest.

Nineteen stockers were still running when the checkered flag fluttered. There were 26 starters. Third place went to Whitey Gerken of Chicago in a 1961 Chevrolet and Elmer Musgrave, Miles, Ill., was fourth in a 1961 Ford.

Following in order were Don White, Keokuk, Iowa, Ray Berry, LaGrange, Ill.; Iggy Katona, Willis, Mich.; Eddie Sachs, Center Valley, Pa.; Gordon Gorman, Libertyville, Ill., and Donald O’Dell, Palo Heights, Ill.

Nelson scored a clean sweep in the day’s card. He had the fastest qualification at 28.37 and won both the first 10-lap heat and a four-lap trophy dash for the four fastest qualifiers. He drew $818 out of a $4,500 purse. Goldsmith collected $526.

Starting on the pole in the 100-lap dash, Nelson built a lead of about five seconds over Goldsmith, who moved from third starting slot to take over runner-up spot. Sachs, runner-up in this year’s Indianapolis 500, moved into third at 20 laps and held it until he had to stop for a tire change after 65 laps.

Another 500 veteran, Bill Cheesbourg of Tucson, Ariz., had a tough afternoon at the top of the 5/8-mile asphalt track. He was riding close behind Sachs in the trophy dash when Eddie spun out of the north turn and collided with Cheesbourg. In the first heat the Arizonan was caught in a three-car tangle on the final lap with White and Les Snow, Bloomington, Ill., in the middle of the north turn. And on the 14th lap of the feature, his 1959 Ford blew a tire again in the north turn.

Results –
1. Norm Nelson
2. Paul Goldsmith
3. Whitey Gerken
4. Elmer Musgrave
5. Don White
6. Ray Berry
7. Iggy Katona
8. Eddie Sachs
9. Gordon Gorman
10. Don O’ Dell

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

1958 - Top Drivers Raced Under Other Names

Des Moines, Iowa (July 3, 1958) - Lloyd B. Cunningham, secretary of the Iowa State Fair and a member of the board of directors of the International Motor Contest Association, said Thursday he is going to check to see if there has been any violation by drivers racing under assumed names at Pioneer Raceway here.

The track was ruled out of bounds for IMCA drivers two years ago by labeling the quarter-mile track as an “unsanctioned track”.

Cunningham said, “I will consult the book rules and if there was any violation it will be taken up immediately with the IMCA board.”

Johnny Beauchamp of Harlan, the 1957 IMCA stock car driving champion, won major honors at Pioneer last Sunday under the name of “Jack Davis, Dallas, Tex.”

Bob Burdick of Omaha, another top IMCA late model driver who won the feature at Pioneer a week ago Wednesday and placed second in Sunday’s feature, raced under the name of “Don Quinn, Long Beach, Calif.”

They said they had competed under assumed names to “avoid trouble with the IMCA.” The IMCA is an organization run by Midwest and Southern state fair secretaries.

Ernie Derr of Keokuk, former national champion, denied he competed under an assumed name a week ago Wednesday. “I was up to see the race that’s all,” Derr said.

Beauchamp said, “We didn’t want to get fined by the IMCA. We got in a little late; didn’t have time to check so we just signed up under other names.”

Both Beauchamp and Burdick drove to Des Moines Sunday from an IMCA sanctioned meet at Mason City where Burdick won.

Beauchamp explained, “We assumed our appearance wasn’t in conflict with the IMCA rule on dates since we’d appeared at Mason City, but we weren’t sure, so we just used other names to keep out of trouble.”

Burdick said, “We assumed it was the best thing to do. As I understand it, the IMCA promoters Al Sweeney, National Speedways, Inc., and, Frank Winkley, Auto Racing; Inc., don’t want us to use our regular names outside the IMCA circuit.”

“They don’t want fans that pay their three to four bucks a ticket at big meets, to see us for a buck at some other track in the same territory.”

Marion Robinson, who promotes races at Pioneer, said he knew of “13 or 14 of the 46 drivers here Sunday signed up under different names.”

He added, “I'm not going to question them — besides I didn't care to get into another rhubarb with Sweeney. He doesn’t want me to use his drivers.”

Editor’s Note: A week later, a press release was sent out by John Libby of St. Paul, Minn., the secretary of the International Motor Contest Association, stating that six drivers; Kenneth Schultz of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.; Bob Burdick of Omaha, Neb., John Beauchamp of Harlan, Iowa, Lloyd Jorgenson of Anita, Iowa, Newt Bartholomew of Carlisle, Iowa and Bob Short of Des Moines, Iowa, were all accused of using false names to compete in non-sanctioned races in the vicinity of IMCA sanctioned meets and were all being fined $100 a piece.

Monday, July 2, 2012

1973 – Janey snaps jinx; takes Firecracker 300 easily

Des Moines, Iowa (July 2, 1973) - Irv Janey of Cedar Rapids broke his “300” jinx Wednesday night. Man. how he broke it…

The defending IMCA stock car national champion led from lap 19 and broke three records in the 150-mile Firecracker 300 new-model stock car race at the State Fairgrounds before an estimated 8,000 spectators.

IMCA officials could not recall any of the 16 previous winners so dominating the race.

The grind is rough on race cars and mechanical problems took their toll, putting some top drivers on the sidelines.

Ron Hutcherson of Keokuk - who along with Janey and Mike Derr, also of Keokuk, had been favored - fell out on lap 45. Gordon Blankenship, another Keokuk driver and current IMCA point leader going into the race, went out with transmission problems on the lap 71. He had his 1972 Plymouth Duster in the lead early in the race.

Mike Derr finished second in a 1970 Dodge Charger; Ferris Collier of Lampe, Mo., an up and coming star, captured third and Russ Derr, Mike’s brother, finished fourth.

“I finally did it,” Janey, who operates a body repair shop in Cedar Rapids, said among the blasts of the fireworks following the race. “This is the fifth ‘300’ for me and I’ve been close before to winning it. But something has always happened.”

“About everything worked perfect tonight. The engine was working smoothly and the tires held up. I was out of brakes, but I guess everybody was in that situation.”

He explained that he still had brakes on his car, but he had to pump about seven times to get them to work. He had one close encounter with Collier in turn three on the 109th lap. “It looked like he might lose control,” Janey said. “I slowed down and would have been able to avoid him had he spun out.”

Hutcherson roared out of his front-row starting position into the first lead. Blankenship, driving like he intended to win, took over in the second turn on the first lap. Collier put his yellow and green 1973 Chevelle into the front in turn three on the second lap and was the leader until Janey sped past on lap 19.

Irv had roared to a three-lap advantage over Collier by the 110th circuit. However, that diminished to only one a few minutes later when Janey went in for the first of his two pit stops.

He was in for 1 minute and 9 seconds. Collier gained back two laps and Mike Derr, who had an 84-second pit stop, also closed in.

Mike passed Collier on the 130th lap. From there on it was a cruise for Janey. He finished nearly 1-1/2 laps ahead of Mike. Collier completed 296 laps and Russ Derr 291.

Starter Woody Brinkman used the yellow flag three times - twice because a car being pushed on the track would not start and the third time for Bland Robinson of Des Moines, who lost a wheel. Another car lost a wheel on the final lap.

Janey received $1,100 for winning the race and an additional $200 for appearance money as the IMCA champ.

Feature –
1. Irv Janey, Cedar Rapids
2. Mike Derr, Keokuk
3. Ferris Collier, Lampe, Mo.
4. Russ Derr, Keokuk
5. Gary Brooks, Grand Prairie, Tex.
6. Don Cooper, Sedalia, Mo.
7. Thurman Lovejoy, Kansas City
8. Michael Wallis, Gardner, Kan.
9. Larry Harvey, Kansas City
10. Jim Still, Topeka, Kan.
11. Carl VanderWal, Nevada
12. Jim Hager, Liberty, Mo.
13. Larry Snider, Des Moines
14. Vern Mondry, Lake Elmo, Minn.
15. Bland Robinson, Des Moines
16. John Lavin, Topeka, Kan.
17. Tom Frasher, Jefferson City, Mo.
18. Larry Lynch, Garland Tex.
19. Mike Petrucci, St. Paul, Minn.
20. Tom Stewart, Washington