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Sunday, April 21, 2013

This Week in Racing History - 1978

April 21 – John Simenec, the “Flyin Fireman” from Rock Island, Ill., improved on his second place finish of a week ago and won the 25-lap late model feature at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa, on Friday evening. Last year’s point champion, Tom Hearst of Wilton, Iowa, took the runner-up spot in the main event, followed by Duane Steffe of Colona, Ill., and last week’s winner, Mel Morris of West Liberty, Iowa. Gary Kerres of Edington, Ill., took the sportsman feature win over Denny Stewart of Davenport.

April 21 – Hometown driver Larry Phillips edged out Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., pilot Dick Trickle on Friday night to capture his fourth late model feature out of five starts at Fairgrounds Speedway in Springfield, Mo. Fred Whisler led the first 9 circuits until John Ward got crossed up on the backstretch bringing out the red flag. At the restart, Whisler dropped back to fifth with Phillips taking the lead followed by Trickle. The two hot shoes ran one-two to the checkered with last week’s feature winner, Rusty Wallace of St. Louis, finishing third and Wayne Woody of Marionville taking fourth.  Whisler captured first heat honors while Phillips took heat two. Mike Eddy of Kawkawlin, Mich., won the consolation event.   

April 22 – Larry Nipple of Albany, Wis., driving a 1975 Camaro, won the 30-lap feature for late models at Lake Geneva (Ws.) Raceway on Saturday night. Nipple took advantage of a mid-race restart to grab the point on lap 16 and held that spot until the checkered flag. John Speer of Janesville, Wis., chased Nipple all the way to the finish but settled for runner-up honors. Danny Darnell of Deerfield, Ill., was the hard charger for the evening, starting at the rear of the pack and finishing third behind Nipple and Speer. Conrad Morgan of Dousman, Wis., captured fourth and Larry Hicks of Lake Geneva rounded out the top five. Bill Henry of Elkhorn, Wis., piloting a 1967 Ford, scored his second consecutive spectator stock win, taking the 15-lap main event.
April 22 – Eddie Leavitt of Kearney, Mo., scored his first USAC sprint car win of the season at the Reading (Penn.) Fairgrounds on Saturday night. Leavitt also won the second heat, but failed to score a clean sweep when Chuck Gurney turned the evening’s fastest qualifying lap at 23.575 seconds. Leavitt, last season’s rookie of the year, started on the pole and led all 40 circuits around the historic half-mile.  

April 22 – Driving the same car his father, Etchie Biertzer, piloted to victory in last year’s season opener, Ken Biertzer won the 25-lap super modified feature to highlight opening night activities at the Kenosha (Wis.) County Speedway on Saturday. The younger Biertzer came from his seventh starting spot to overhaul front-row starter Jim Moulis of Johnsburg, Ill., for the lead on lap 12 and led the rest of the way to capture the victory. 
April 22 – Don Leach of Beloit, Wis., driving a 1977 Camaro, took the lead on the fifth lap and went on to win the 30-lap late model feature in the Rockford (Ill.) Speedway season opener. The 1977 late model point’s champion was followed to the finish line by Wayne Lensing of Rockford, Wayne Swartout of Beloit, Jim Kersten of Janesville, Wis., and Jack Klein of Rockford. Jim Harrolle of Loves Park, Ill., drove his 1967 Chevelle to a feature victory in the roadrunner division.  


April 23 – Eight USAC officials were among nine persons who died when their chartered plane crashed in a heavy thunderstorm and burned in a cornfield about 25 miles southeast of Indianapolis on Sunday evening. The victims included Frank Del Roy, 65, USAC technical chairman; Shim Malone, 47, USAC midget division supervisor and starter; Ray Marquette, 48, USAC director of public relations; Judy Phillips, 40, artist and USAC newsletter typist; Don Peabody, 54, USAC supervisor of sprint car division; Ross Teeguarden, 57, assistant to Del Roy; Dr. Bruce White, 27, a member of the USAC medical staff; Stan Worley, 65, registrar for the USAC Championship division; and Don Mullendore, 53, the plane’s pilot. The officials were returning to USAC headquarters in Speedway, Ind., following Sunday afternoon’s 200-mile USAC Championship race at Trenton (N.J.) Speedway.

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