Sunday, February 24, 2013

Please Take Your Top Off; The Rebel 300

Fireball Roberts (22), Joe Weatherly (12), and Rex White (4) go three-wide during the running of the 1960 Rebel 300

By Kyle Ealy

Darlington, S.C. – By the mid-1950s, NASCAR was running its Grand National, Modified and Sportsman divisions on both sides of the country and with great success.

But Bill France was always looking at other opportunities to boost his business, particularly in the Midwest, and he found it in a series called the Circuit of Champions All Stars (CCAS), an all-convertible car division. The convertibles had proven to be wildly successful and were drawing enthusiastic crowds wherever they appeared.

That was all France needed to see…in 1955, he purchased the entire series from Midwestern promoter H.E. Redkey in December. France’s plan was to run NASCAR-sanctioned convertible races as a companion division to the hardtop Grand Nationals in 1956.

Sure enough, the NASCAR Convertible Series became an immediate hit with fans and soon were drawing numbers equal to or bigger than the already established Grand National circuit.

By 1957, the convertibles had become so popular, Darlington Raceway general manager Bob Colvin decided to promote a spring race for the convertible series to compliment his already successful Labor Day Weekend race, the Southern 500. 

Over the next six years, the Rebel 300 would become one of the most popular auto races in America…

Program from the first Rebel 300

The inaugural race, despite a day’s rain delay, would take place on May 12, 1957. A paid attendance of 23,000 watched Daytona’s Glen “Fireball” Roberts unranked in the NASCAR Convertible Series; give the rag-top boys a driving lesson, winning the Rebel 300 with an average speed of 107.940 miles per hour.

Taking the lead on the 33rd lap, Roberts would hold the advantage the rest of the way in the 219-lap event in his factory-backed 1957 Ford. The only time Roberts wasn’t in the lead was lap 95 when he pitted for fuel. Bobby Myers of Winston-Salem, N.C., would merely keep Roberts’ seat in the front warm for one circuit.

Atlanta’s Tim Flock finished second driving a Mercury followed by Bobby Myers in third place. Buck Baker of Charlotte, driving a '57 Chevrolet in relief of Bob Welborn of Greensboro, N.C., fourth, and Oldsmobile chauffeur Lee Petty of Randleman, N.C., in fifth.

There were only three cautions the whole day but one of them probably made a difference in who ended up in victory lane and who didn’t.

Curtis Turner of Roanoke, Va., started third but was soon out front, and by lap 20 had set a new track record, averaging 114.640 miles per hour. He and second place Marvin Panch were dominating the rest of the field and no one was catching them.

On lap 29, however, Jim Pascal of High Point, N.C., blew a tire coming out of turn four, veered towards the pit area and collided with Buck Baker. Smoke and debris was everywhere and as one newspaper reporter stated, “It was one big free for all of racing mayhem after that.”

Turner, Marvin Panch, Bill Amick, Possum Jones and Dick Beaty were all caught up in the mess. It was miraculous no one was killed and even more amazing no one was seriously injured in view of the way the cars smashed up, one right after another.

There was also one arrest of note. The race was originally scheduled to be on Saturday, but because of rain, moved ahead to Sunday. Darlington GM Bob Colvin was arrested for violating South Carolina’s blue law against Sunday paid amusement just as the Rebel 300 got underway. Sheriff Grover Bryant slapped the arrest warrant on Colvin just as he was stepping out of the pace car. Colvin would pay the $58 bond.

The always-controversial Curtis Turner would win the 1958 Rebel 300

On May 10, 1958, Curtis Turner would revenge his bitter loss in the ’57 race by overhauling Joe Weatherly of Norfolk on the 196th lap and running off from the rest of the field to win the second annual Rebel 300. In the process, Turner established a new record for stock cars on any track at a sizzling 109.624 miles per hour average for the 219 laps.

Weatherly, who battled Turner for every lap, crossed the finish line 25 seconds behind the wealthy lumberman. Finishing behind Turner and Weatherly were Marvin Panch of Charlotte, N.C., Eddie Pagan of Lynwood, Calif., and defending winner and pole sitter Fireball Roberts.

Most noteworthy feature of the race, aside from the perfect weather and excellent driving, was the fact there were no accidents of serious nature in the race. Only two spinouts marred the performance before 22,000 onlookers.

The lead belonged to Weatherly from lap 9 to 90 when Turner became a serious contender. On lap 99, Turner took over the top spot and continued to lead until lap 158 when he pitted for fuel. Turner grabbed the lead again on lap 166 when Weatherly pitted for gas.

The lead would change several times after that with the two veterans going neck and neck down the straightaways and through the turns. Coming out of turn two on lap 196, Turner gunned his ’58 Ford past Weatherly to stay ahead for good, increasing his lead slightly on every lap.

Afterwards, Turner said that he wasn’t afraid of any particular driver, “just all of them.” But he showed absolutely no fear as he kept his foot on the floorboard and rammed his Ford around the Darlington track with devastating fury.

Cotton Owens qualified for the outside of the front row for the 2nd annual "Rebel 300" at Darlington with Smokey Yunick's Pontiac.

“A race is won in the garage and pre-race preparations,” explained Fireball Roberts after winning the Rebel 300 on May 9, 1959. “That’s why I was never worried about my car not being able to make it the distance.”

Leaving a pile of shattered records behind him, Roberts led most of the way behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Impala as he took his second victory in the Rebel 300. His average speed was 115.903 miles per hour. For his victory, Roberts picked up the $7,000 first prize. The purse was $30,640 - also a record.

Joe Weatherly, a bridesmaid for the second straight year, finished second to Roberts. He picked up $4,050, and Larry Frank of Piedmont, S.C., received $2,100 for his third place finish.

Rookie Bob Burdick of Omaha, Neb., who posted third highest qualifying time was paid $1,400 for fourth place, and fifth place finisher Rex White, of Silver Springs, Md., collected $1,175.

Roberts, Curtis Turner and Buck Baker of Spartanburg, S.C., waged a tremendous duel for the top spot for the first one third of the race before a record crowd of 30,000.

Baker took the lead as the cars rounded the first turn after the start, but Turner grabbed the lead from him before the cars had gone a lap. For the next 78 laps, it was Turner, Baker and Roberts with Turner holding a slight edge in his Thunderbird over his competitors who were driving Chevrolet Impalas.

Finally, Roberts went to the pits, Turner followed, and Baker took a brief lead. Roberts was in the pits for the shortest amount of time for tires and fuel, and he took the lead before the 90th lap. He held it the rest of the way except for a brief period when Joe Weatherly passed Roberts during a pit stop late in the race. Weatherly went to the pits shortly afterwards, and Roberts regained the lead with a lap lead. It was his race from then on.

In victory lane, Roberts explained the advantage Chevy’s had over the T-Birds. “I had figured along that the Impalas would beat the Thunderbirds because of the weight,” explained Roberts. “The Birds were too heavy and tires can’t stand that kind of weight on this type of track.”

The truth of Roberts’ statement was witnessed on the track where the Thunderbirds were forced to make more pit stops than the Chevys for tire changes.

With a lack of factory backing, the NASCAR Convertible Series would cease operations after the 1959 season. However, NASCAR and Darlington continued their commitment to showcasing the convertibles at the Rebel 300.

Rex White stands beside his '59 Chevy before the start of the1960 Rebel 300. White would start on the outside of the front row.

Joe Weatherly, the Ford jockey, would finally shed the bridesmaid role in winning the rain delayed and controversy shrouded Rebel 300 on May 14, 1960. “I’d finished second so many times here,” said Weatherly. "I was beginning to think I was stuck in that position.”

“Little Joe”, who had been running at Darlington since 1955, finally brought home a winner in the race he probably least expected to win, at an average speed (102.606 miles per hour) which no one thought could win. The average speed was 13 miles per hour off the record set in the ’59 race by former champion Fireball Roberts.

But this Rebel 300 running - the longest in the four year history of the race - was stopped completely twice and had an unusual amount of caution flags which lowered the speed average considerably.

The final two-thirds of the race was witnessed by an estimated 37,000 fans, after 30,000 on May 7 saw rain stop the running after 74 laps.

“The caution flags actually helped,” Weatherly admitted after winning. Weatherly, driving a ‘60 Ford prepared by the Holman-Moody team of Charlotte, had become irked at a decision by NASCAR president Bill France to restart the race under five caution flags, and campaigned against the yellow flags for an entire week He had refueled under the rain caution flag a week earlier, but most drivers hadn’t. He wanted to pick up the race at full speed under a given flag and had threatened court action if not allowed to do so. Ironically, he won the race by pitting under caution – four times.

Weatherly edged out young driving sensation Richard Petty, who placed second in a 1960 Plymouth prepared by his father, veteran driver Lee Petty. Both were in Plymouth's and Lee finished fourth behind his hard-driving son.

Pre-race favorite and defending champion Fireball Roberts lost a tire in the second turn and damaged the front end suspension on his powerful ‘60 Pontiac. Roberts was leading the race when it was halted because of rain last week, but was more than a lap out of the lead when he went out of the race Saturday.

This is all that remained of the scorer's stand after Johnny Allen slammed his convertible into it.

The race was halted by its second red flag in as many Saturdays when Johnny Allen slammed into the scorer’s stand in his ’60 Chevrolet. Allen, from Fayetteville, N.C., crashed into the stand after he hit a light and went over the rail on the fourth turn. It took about an hour to evacuate the scorer’s stand and replace them in another position. It took a long time because Allen’s car had knocked the steps from the stand and a ladder had to be found to get the people out of the stand.

Weatherly earned $9,070 for his victory while Petty netted $5,295 for his runner-up showing. Rex White, who placed third, took home $3,025 and the elder Petty grabbed $2,025 for fourth.

Asked if he planned on filing a lawsuit against France for the yellow flag start, Weatherly chuckled, “Let’s just forget about that. I don’t know f I have a complaint against anyone right now.”

Marvin Panch pits the Ray Fox Pontiac (#8) during the 1961 Rebel 300.

A terrific fender-banging and bumping duel between Curtis Turner and Fred Lorenzen of Elmhurst, Ill., over the final 30 laps highlighted the fifth annual Rebel 300 on May 6, 1961, as speed records tumbled on every lap.

Lorenzen would beat Turner at his own game as the two 1961 Ford pilots staged a heated battle at high speed over the mile and three-eighth asphalt plant after Fireball Roberts, who had a lap lead over the field, bowed out with a broken right front wheel.

Lorenzen took Turner on a fender-smashing desperation maneuver two laps from the finish Saturday, barreling by the usually assertive Turner on the inside. Turner, the master of aggressive racing, was sent skimming the rail as Lorenzen battled into the lead on the 217th turn around the track.

It marked the first time in Rebel 300 history that the pole winner had become the eventual race champion. Lorenzen turned 128.965 miles per hour to break the track record in time trials. His average speed for the race was 119.520 miles per hour as he won over Turner by some six-car lengths. It snapped the previous record of 115.903 miles per hour set by Roberts in 1959.

A total of 15 lead changes, among eight different drivers, were chalked up. Lorenzen took the lead at the outset, leading the first 72 laps until pit stops were made. Joe Weatherly took the lead as Lorenzen pitted. Ralph Earnhardt took over two laps later on the 74th and Turner moved into the lead on the 75th. Johnny Allen grabbed it on the 77th and Banjo Matthews on the 79th before Roberts took over on the 80th as pit stops piled up quickly. 

Roberts set a blistering pace until he had to pit on the 143rd lap. He had a lap lead over every one at the time except Lorenzen and Turner. All the top leaders pitted around the same time, with the lead rapidly changing hands. Turner took it on the 143rd, Weatherly on the 147th Bob Burdick on the 149th, Earnhardt again on the 150th, Allen on the 155th and Roberts regained the lead on the 166th.

On the 198th circuit, Roberts had to pit when his right front wheel snapped. That left Turner and Lorenzen running one-two with 30 miles left. Lorenzen took Turner on the backstretch but lost it on the homestretch as the terrific duel brought the estimated 32,500 fans to their feet.

Around the 210th lap, Turner skidded high in the first turn, almost lost control but managed to retain the lead. Lorenzen pulled even on the backstretch, but had to back off going into the third turn, with Weatherly moving up on his bumper

With two laps left, Lorenzen sped down on the inside after faking turn on an outside maneuver, brushed against Turner and took the lead going into the first turn on a daring maneuver. He took the white flag on the next lap and, at speed of 130 miles an hour, outdistanced Turner for the win.

Johnny Allen, who had taken out the scoring tower only a year before, drove to an impressive third place finish in his 1961 Chevrolet, Bob Burdick was fourth in a ’61 Pontiac and Roberts came roaring back from his wheel issues to earn fifth in his ’61 Pontiac.

The convertibles make their final NASCAR appearance at the May 12, 1962, Rebel 300 at Darlington Raceway. Nelson Stacy, driving for the Holman-Moody Ford team, went into the record books as the winner of the final ragtop race.

On May 12, 1962, Nelson Stacy of Daytona Beach, Fla., would charge past Marvin Panch on the next-to-last lap to win the final Rebel 300 race by one second. The husky winner picked up $7,900 for his efforts before a crowd of 35,000. The race was run in 80-degree weather but track temperatures hit 125 degrees.

Stacy would duel Fred Lorenzen through most of the race, but a lap penalty for passing the pace car when the caution flag was out probably cost Lorenzen the race.

As an anti-climax, Lorenzen blew a tire on the last lap and spun out. However, he finished third. While the caution flag was out six times - including the winning lap - the race was run at a relatively fast two hours, 33 minutes and 17 seconds, or 117.864 miles an hour.

Panch picked up $4,890 for his second place finish in a Ford, and Lorenzen, in the same make, won $3,310.

A three-car tangle on the third lap of the race knocked Fireball Roberts completely out of the race and put defending champion Joe Weatherly and Richard Petty too far back ever to be in contention.

Of the 32 cars that started, 21 still were on the track at the end. Mishaps, rather than mechanical failures, reduced the field.

The "King of the Convertibles" Bob Welborn would never win the Rebel 300 despite claiming the NASCAR series' championship three times (1958, '59, and '60).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

1970 - Tiny Lund earns $10,550 in Daytona 500 ‘Warm-up’

Dewayne "Tiny" Lund

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 21, 1970) – Dewayne “Tiny” Lund, a 265-pound fishing camp operator from Cross, S.C., edged Red Farmer of Hueytown, Ala., by a car length Saturday afternoon to win a 300-mile NASCAR Late Model Sportsman model race.

The warm-up race for today’s rich Daytona 500 was marred by a wreck in which Glenn Guthrie of Temple Hills, Md., slammed a 1966 Mercury into the wall on the backstretch at 175 miles per hour

Guthrie was lifted through the car window and taken to Halifax Hospital where he was reported in fair condition with a concussion and chest and spine injuries.

A crowd of 51,300 watched Lund reach speeds up to 200 miles per hour in a 1966 Ford owned by DuPont heir Bondy Long of Camden, S.C. While Lund battled with 39 other drivers, Long spent the day back home in South Carolina sailing on a lake.

Lund, averaging 133.316 miles per hour, led most of the race with Farmer usually close behind. Farmer lost valuable time late in the race when he jammed his brakes too hard in front of his slot in pit row, forcing his 1967 Ford to spin around.

Lund picked up $10,550 for his victory while Farmer’s second place finish merited $4,825. Donnie Allison of Hueytown, Ala., finished third in a 1963 Ford.

Results –

  1. Tiny Lund
  2. Red Farmer
  3. Donnie Allison
  4. Sonny Hutchins
  5. Hooker Hood
  6. Haskell Willingham
  7. Jimmy Mairs
  8. Billy Bayles
  9. Lou Lazzaro
  10. Phil Wendt
  11. Butch Hirst
  12. Ron Eulenfeld
  13. Glen McDuffie
  14. Sam Sommer
  15. Ronnie McDaniels
  16. Wayne Niedecken 
  17. Bill Hollar
  18. J.C. Spradley
  19. Jerry Churchill
  20. Ray Wulfenstein
  21. Pete Tingue
  22. Alton Jones
  23. Jimmy Moore
  24. Bug Stevens

Monday, February 18, 2013

1968 - Hampton Sheds Bridesmaid Title at Daytona

Eventual winner Andy Hampton (2) goes high to pass Jim Clarke and Dub Simpson during the 1968 ARCA 300

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 18, 1968) - Andy Hampton shrugged off a bridesmaid jinx Sunday and drove a steady pace to victory in the 300-mile Automobile Racing Club of American (ARCA) winter championship in a 1967 Dodge Charger.

Five caution flags slowed the pace to 148.372 miles per hour, and the cars finished at a reduced speed under the yellow flag because of a spectacular rolling tumbling collision six lap's before the finish. Neither of the drivers in the wreck - Bobby Mausgrover of Keokuk, Iowa, nor Gerry Wolland of Peoria, Ill., was injured.

The 39-year-old Hampton from Louisville, Ky., had finished second, third and fourth in the previous running’s of the Midwest stock car racing organization’s annual speed week’s race at Daytona International Speedway. In pre-race speculation, he wondered aloud if he’d ever hit the winning spot.

Jesse Baird of Louisville, Ky., finished second, one lap behind Hampton in a 1965 Dodge. Iggy Katona of Willis, Mich., was third in a 1967 Dodge Charger, Chuck McWilliams of Union, Ky., fourth in a 1966 Dodge and John Sommerville of Clarksville, Ind., fifth in a 1968 Chevelle.

Hampton’s winning speed of 148.372 miles per hour was an automatic record since the race was lengthened this year from its previous 250-mile distance. But the fastest average time for the race remained the 1966 speed of Jack Bowsher at 164.053 miles per hour in a 1966 Ford. The series of caution flags on 18 of the 120 laps, three of them because of debris or oil on the track, kept the pace down and gave Hampton a chance to make his pit stops under the yellow flags.

Katona, who won here in 1965, also made judicious use of the yellow flag for pitting and was leading with 22 laps to go but made two pit stops within three laps for gas and tires and fell back.

Results –
  1. Andy Hampton
  2. Jesse Baird
  3. Iggy Katona
  4. Chuck McWilliams
  5. John Sommerville
  6. Jack Shanklin
  7. Bill Clemons
  8. Jim Scott
  9. Bob Cooper
  10. Homer Newland
  11. Clyde Parker
  12. Gene Crittenden
  13. Earl Smith
  14. Bobby Mausgrover
  15. Jerry Wolland
  16. Jim Clarke
  17. Bill Kimmel
  18. Don Gregory
  19. Paul Wensink
  20. Dorus Wisecarver
  21. Buck Newland
  22. Benny Parsons
  23. Wally Arkkelin
  24. Dick Johnson
  25. Carl Smith
  26. Dave Marcis
  27. Harold Fagan
  28. Bobby Watson

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

1965 – Weld wins 50-lap Winternationals finale; McCune clinches title

Jim McCune would win the overall point's title at the 1965 IMCA Winternationals - Florida Racing History photo 

Tampa, Fla. (February 13, 1965) – Greg Weld of Kansas City ran off and hid in the Golden Anniversary “50” sprint car race at the Florida State Fairgrounds on Saturday afternoon and became the only driver to win two features in the five-meet event.

While Weld took home two trophies for his feature wins, Jim McCune of Toledo, Ohio won the Florida State Championship on accumulated points, including those points garnered with his second place finish in the feature finale.

McCune received two trophies, the Kennedy Memorial Trophy presented by Tampa mayor Nick Nuccio on behalf of the city and the Pepsi Cola Gold Trophy, both for his state championship.

Weld took the lead on the 23rd lap as he and front running Gordon Woolley of Waco, Tex. charged into the first of the lapped cars. As Weld passed, Woolley’s car broke the drive shaft and the Texan was out of the race.

A crowd of 8,307 saw Saturday’s event, bringing the total attendance for the fair dates to 38, 261, an all-time high.

Weld had his troubles early in the feature, battling to get past McCune into third place and Buzz Barton for the second spot. After getting past Barton for second, he set sail for Woolley, who had built a sizeable lead.

He closed the gap on Woolley by lap 17 and started dogging the former IMCA champion. Once in front, Weld almost hit the wall in the south turn although he was well out in front at the time.

“I was just sleeping in the turns,” he said afterwards. “I have to watch myself on that when I get out front.”

During the first couple of laps, Weld kept signaling to the pits, pointing to his left rear tire. “I was set up for a dry track and the water they put down before the feature made my car react differently,” he mentioned. “I gave my crew the signal that if a red flag came along, I wanted a quick change done to my chassis.”

As it turned out, the track dried out rather quickly and Weld’s machine was handling perfectly as the laps ticked down.

During the presentation of trophies from victory lane, McCune his hardware with thanks and was quick to point out, “I was here last year too but I was running so far back, no one noticed I was here.”

Feature Results –

  1. Greg Weld
  2. Jim McCune
  3. Bill Brown
  4. Buzz Barton
  5. Dave Lundy
  6. Jim Moughan
  7. Sam Sessions
  8. Ron Larson
  9. Red Amick
  10. Gordon Woolley
Winternationals Final Points Standings –

  1. Jim McCune – 527
  2. Gordon Woolley – 440
  3. Greg Weld – 410
  4. Buzz Barton – 398
  5. Bill Brown – 346
  6. Jim Moughan – 332
  7. Dave Lundy – 330
  8. Larry Dickson – 290
  9. Larry Cannon – 156
  10. Ron Larson - 130

Sunday, February 10, 2013

1975 - Hutcherson dominates Daytona ARCA 200

Ron Hutcherson is joined by his crew after winning the ARCA 200-miler at Daytona. 

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 10, 1975) - Lanky Ron Hutcherson of Keokuk, Iowa, drove a cool race from start to finish Sunday and won the Automobile Racing Club of America’s (ARCA) 200-mile winter spectacular.

Hutcherson, a wallpaper salesman who hopes to move up from ARCA to the richer NASCAR racing fraternity, beat Terry Ryan of Davenport, Iowa, by seven seconds. Ryan barely nosed out Gene Taylor of Huntington, W. Va. It was Hutcherson’s third start in the event while Ryan and Taylor were rookies. Hutcherson drove a Plymouth, Ryan a Chevrolet and Taylor a Dodge.

It was the safest ARCA 200 in the 12 years it has been run on the high-banked Daytona International Speedway, The only caution flags came on 14 of the first 16 laps around the 2.5-mile track after two cars blew engines.

The winner averaged 145.513 miles an hour and won $4,850. The 31-year-old Hutcherson led 67 of the 80 laps. He took first place from pole starter Ryan on the second lap and headed the pack until he pitted after 77 miles. He went back in front at the midway point and lost first place only briefly on his second pit stop.

Taylor, who led with 30 miles to go, tried to stretch his fuel and get by with one pit stop. But he had to go in for fuel and settle for third place.

Lennie Pond of Petersburg, Va., was fourth in a Chevrolet; Herk Harbour of Proctorville, Ohio, fifth in a Dodge, and James Hylton of Inman, S.C., sixth in a Chevrolet.

Results –

1. Ron Hutcherson
2. Terry Ryan
3. Gene Taylor
4. Lennie Pond
5. Clyde Harbour
6. James Hylton
7. Alton Jones
8. Jigger Sirois
9. Jim Scott
10. George Coonrod
11. Delmar Clark
12. Sal Tovella
13. John Anderson
14. Don Bohlander
15. Jerry Norris
16. Frank Lamp
17. Joe Holley
18. Dave Decker
19. Gary Wroan
20. Joe Frasson
21. A. Arnold
22. Walt Culbertson
23.Gene Boomershine
24. Joe Booher

Thursday, February 7, 2013

1971 - Katona Wins as Stott Blows

"Grandpa" Iggy Katona

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 7, 1971) - Grandfather Iggy Katona drove past a smoking Ramo Stott with 100 miles to go Sunday and won the ARCA 300 stock car race before a record crowd of 16,300.

Katona, a 55-year-old trooper from Willis, Mich., had been in contention from the start of this eighth annual classic for Midwestern drivers, but didn't make his big move until after the halfway point. Then he suddenly bolted from fifth place to second, overhauling veteran Red Farmer of Hueytown, Ala., and 43-year-old Andy Hampton of Louisville, Ky., to challenge the leader, Stott.

He was riding the Keokuk, Iowa, champion’s bumper when Stott’s blue Plymouth suddenly started trailing a plume of smoke as it raced around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway at 175 miles per hour.

Katona raced by and gained the lead on the 82nd lap of the 120-lap affair and he was never headed, although he had to beat down a late charge from Farmer.

Farmer, three-time national sportsman champ, managed to close to within a second of Katona with 30 miles to go. But he chase ended when the Alabama driver’s Ford got too high in the third turn and he scraped the wall enough to damage a tire. He lost a lap getting a replacement and finished third, behind Tom Bowsher, 1970 ARCA Rookie of the Year. Fourth place went to Jack Shanklin of Indianapolis and fifth to Hank Teeters of West Jefferson, Ohio.

Katona, who had started his Dodge in the front row beside Stott, completed the race in 1 hour, 58 minutes and 27 seconds for an average speed of 152.542 miles per hour. He was paid $5,900 from the $35,025 purse.

He became the first driver to win the event twice. He pulled his red and gold Dodge into victory circle and told his senior citizen fan club, “Let’s all go out for a round on the town.”

Katona, an eight-time grandfather, is long past the age when all but a few race drivers hang up their helmets. But Katona was in no mood to talk about quitting.

“Heck,” he said, “I’m just getting started. In fact, this was the easiest race I’ve ever won. It doesn’t bother me to run fast. Matter of fact, the faster I go the better I like it.”

Results –

  1. Iggy Katona
  2. Tom Bowsher
  3. Red Farmer
  4. Jack Shanklin
  5. Hank Teeters
  6. Billy Ries
  7. Buck Newland
  8. Len Blanchard
  9. Buddy Medlock
  10. Joe Pflum
  11. Bill Clemons
  12. Leroy Austin
  13. Ed Richardville
  14. Mickey Flora
  15. Wayne Trinkle
  16. Bob Thomas
  17. Phil Ploughe
  18. Bob McCoy
  19. Booby Junior
  20. Cleve Smith
  21. Ramo Stott
  22. Andy Hampton
  23. Blackie Wangerin
  24. Coo Coo Marlin
  25. N.D. Copley
  26. Charlie Paxton
  27. David Sisco
  28. Joe Booher

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

1971 - Leas, Blundy winners in Tampa weekend action

Tampa, Fla. (February 6, 1971) – J.D. Leas might have been halfway home to Winterville, Pa., on Sunday instead of taking the checkered flag in the feature as the third of the series of Winternational Sprints won its race against the weather.

Leas crashed his car at the Florida State Fairgrounds half-mile track on Saturday and the car’s owner, W. J. Watson, wanted to go home.

But the crew pitched in, straightened things out, and gave Leas his chance to finish in front of Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., and Jay Woodside of Kansas City, Mo., in that order.

Everything was not right because Leas hit the wall again during the second lap of time trials and was forced to take the first lap time, which was the eighth fastest of the day.

Chuck Amati, the sensation of the race meet from Greenfield, Tenn., had the fastest lap with a time of 26.504 seconds. Amati would miss the feature with a broken rear end.

Leas had a 350 cubic inch engine under the hood and Blundy only a 302 cubic engine, which may have been the reason Blundy could not get off the turns fast enough to catch Leas on the straight-aways.

Leas led from the third lap when the two front running cars tangled in the north turn, Cliff Cockrum of Mitchell, Ind., and Rich Schemelyum of Westminster, Md.

Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., the defending IMCA national champion, won his second straight feature of the IMCA Winternationals on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday Results –

  1. Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
  2. Chuck Amati, Greenfield, Tenn.
  3. Bob Kinser, Bloomington, Ind.
  4. Cliff Cockrum, Mitchell, Ind.
  5. Jay Woodside, Kansas City, Mo.
  6. David James, Arlington, Tex.
  7. Jim Moughan, Springfield, Ill.
  8. Darl Harrison, Tiffin, Ohio
  9. Roger Rager, Kansas City, Mo.
  10. Lee Osborne, Lebanon, Pa.

Sunday Results –

  1. J.D. Leas, Winterville, Pa.
  2. Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
  3. Jay Woodside, Kansas City, Mo.
  4. Billy Cassella, Weirton, W.Va.
  5. Darl Harrison, Tiffin, Ohio
  6. Dick Sutcliffe, Kansas City, Mo.
  7. Bob Kinser, Bloomington, Ind.
  8. Jim Murphy, South Haven, Mich.
  9. Tom Corbin, Carrollton, Mo.
  10. Bill Hudson, Montezuma, Iowa

Friday, February 1, 2013

1985: The Inaugural Busch All Star Tour Season

Steve Kosiski

by Lee Ackerman
Omaha, Neb. - In 1985 NASCAR decided to start a touring series for dirt late models in the Central Region. The series would be called the Busch All Star Tour. For the next 17 years the series would provide Midwest racing fans with one of the most competitive series around.

The inaugural season of 1985 saw an original schedule of 8 events planned with purses of either $10,000 or $15,000 per race. Each feature event would be for 50 laps and pay either $1,500 or $3,000 to win. A series point fund of $10,000 meant that the total payout would exceed $100,000 for the 8 scheduled events.  Six races were actually completed.

The inaugural event was scheduled for Tuesday, July 30 at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Corning, Iowa, but was actually delayed a day by Mother Nature. When things finally got underway, five qualifying heats were run. Heat winners included Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, Ken Walton of Viola, Iowa, Larry Harvey, Jr. of Kansas City, Missouri, Steve Fraise of Montrose, Iowa and Tom Hearst of Wilton, Iowa. John Chapin of Nebraska City, Nebraska and Joe Kosiski of Omaha won the two B Features. 

The first 50-lap feature in Busch All Star Tour history got off to a rocky start with the red flag coming out on the opening lap. On the restart, Ken Walton jumped into the lead with Hearst, Steve Kosiski and Dale Fischlein in tow. Steve Kosiski assumed the point on lap four, a position he would maintain for the rest of the 50-lap affair. Roger Dolan, who started in the seventh row would move into second place on lap 10 and pressure Kosiski throughout the event but would have to settle for second.

Joe Kosiski

The fastest car in the event was probably Joe Kosiski. Starting in the eleventh row as a result of winning the second B main, Joe had moved all the way up to third by lap 26. However, a tangle with a lapped car on lap 30 put the oldest Kosiski into the guardrail with a flat tire. He would return to action at the tail of the field and work his way up to eighth at the end of the feature. The worst incident of the feature was a lap 22 tangle between Omaha’s Glen Robey and Norfolk, Nebraska’s Don Weyhrich. The incident eliminated Robey from competition. The top five at the end of 50 laps was Steve Kosiski, Roger Dolan, Tom Hearst, Dave Chase and Kenny Walton as the first Busch All Star Tour event went in the record books.

Round two of the 1985 Busch All Star Tour was held on Thursday night, August 8 at the Dubuque County Fairgrounds Speedway in Dubuque, Iowa and a wily old veteran stole the show. 1974 World 100 Winner Ed Sanger of Waterloo drove past Montrose, Iowa’s Steve Fraise on lap 39 and went on to win round two of the Busch All Star Tour. Lisbon’s Roger Dolan started in the front row and led the first 31 circuits before being passed by Fraise. Dolan would get back around Fraise and finish second.

At the end of 50 laps it was Sanger, Dolan, Joe Kosiski, Fraise and Packwood, Iowa’s Dan Dickey. Heats went to Mark Burgtorf, Tom Hearst, Terry Gallaher and Dolan with Dick Barker taking the B.

Round three was held on Labor Day at the Quincy Raceway in Quincy, Illinois. Heats were won by Sonny Findling, Harley Harrelson, Joe Kosiski and Roger Dolan with Tom Frasher winning the consolation. In the feature event Roger Dolan took the initial lead but was overtaken by Joe Kosiski who went on to win the feature event. Dolan was second, Jeff Aikey third, Steve Kosiski fourth and Rollie Frink fifth.

September 27 brought the Busch All Star Tour to Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas for round four of the Tour. This event would turn out to be a mirror image of the NASCAR Central Region weekly racing series battle. In that season long battle Steve Kosiski would nip Roger Dolan for the championship. At Lakeside, it took only 40 laps for Kosiski to defeat Dolan in the fourth annual Pepsi Challenge.

Kosiski took the lead from Dolan on the 12th lap of the 40-lap feature as both drivers moved all over the race track in search of the fastest groove. Kosiski would hold on for the win with Dolan second, Steve Fraise third, Curt Martin fourth and Ed Kosiski fifth. Heats went to Steve Kosiski, Roger Dolan, Dale Fischlein and Curt Martin with Terry Gallaher taking the B.

Dale Fischlein

Round five took place at Capital Speedway in Holt Summit, Missouri. On Friday, October 4, Dale Fischlein set fast time of 20.80 seconds to assure him of a front row starting position in Saturday nights 50-lap feature. Roger Dolan won the Friday night preliminary feature over Jim O’Connor, Dale Fischlein and Donnie Cooper. Late Model qualifying heats went to Rick Beebe, Steve Fraise, Roger Dolan, Dan Dickey and Dale Fischlein.

On Saturday night, Kevin Gundaker and Donnie Cooper won the consolation races. At the drop of the green in the 50-lap feature, outside front row starter Dan Dickey driving Ken Walton’s car took the lead and led the entire 50 laps to take home the feature win. Following Dickey to the checkers was Steve Fraise, Dave Chase, Jim O’Connor and Steve Kosiski.

The final round of the NASCAR Busch All Star Tour came down to a two day event at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Missouri on October 19 and 20. It was Dolan versus Kosiski. Coming into the final race of the season, Steve Kosiski maintained a 37-point lead over Roger Dolan. On Saturday night during qualifying Kosiski out-qualified Dolan by .13 of second. Then came the six heat races. Dolan won his heat, but Steve Kosiski not only didn’t win his heat, he blew a motor on lap two. Had Kosiski finished in the top three of his heat, he would have started on the pole of the feature. As it turned out he would drive the already qualified car of Bill Baldwin and would start 24th.

Friday night heats went to Dolan, Greg Moyer, Dick Schiltz, Mike Wallace, Keith Action and Dave Chase.

Roger Dolan

At the drop of the green, Dolan jumped into the lead and was pursued by 1985 I-70 track champion Gene Claxton. By lap four Claxton had the lead but the two were battling side by side. By lap 13, Bob Hill was in third place with Bill Martin charging from the back. By lap 20 Martin had third. On lap 22 Dolan moved to the top of the race track and inched ahead of Claxton where he stayed for the remainder of the race. Claxton would finish second, Martin third, Hill fourth and Fraise fifth. Steve Kosiski would make the biggest charge of the night starting 24th and finishing eight.

When the final points were tallied, Dolan would be crowned champion by ONE point over Steve Kosiski. The win was worth $3,000 to Dolan plus another $2,000 for winning the championship.

“We blew the motor in our car on the preliminary night and were fortunate enough to get a ride in Bill Baldwin’s car,” recalls Steve Kosiski, we just came up one position short in the feature. It was a tough loss but we learned from it.”

So ended the first year of the Busch All Star Tour, the series would run through the end of the 2001 season and was the only touring dirt series in NASCAR. As it turned out, 1985 was Roger Dolan’s only championship. Steve Kosiski would go on to be the winningest driver in Busch All Star Tour history with 50 wins and seven series championships. Steve’s older brother Joe would be close behind with 45 series wins and five series championships.