Wednesday, August 14, 2013

1968 - ‘Vintage year’ may just be starting for Ritchie

Independence, Iowa (August 14, 1968) – Dick Ritchie may be right - up to a point.
The veteran driver and former two-time IMCA national midget champion from Cedar Rapids professed 1968 "has not been a vintage year for me" prior to the special Badger Midget Racing Assn. program at the Buchanan County Fairgrounds Wednesday night.
For a while it appeared Ritchie's luck would stay true to form as his best finish in a pair of heat races was a fourth.
As so often happens in racing, things changed quickly. Came time for the feature event and you guessed it—Dick won comparatively easy. After starting in the middle of the 14-car field, Ritchie zipped into the lead on the third lap and stayed there the rest of the 25-lap distance on the quarter-mile dirt track.
“The real secret is the car was handling so well,” Dick confided. "We got a few things straightened out by feature time.”
Earlier Ritchie said "I've raced only about 12 times this year and it hasn’t been a vintage year for me.” Is he happy taking it easy and doing only spot racing?
“No,” he said, “I would like to get back into the swing of things, but you have to travel so far and so much. There's nothing going on around here and I'm busy with my job.”
Terry Vaughn of Madison, Wis., who slipped by another Cedar Rapids driver, took Willard Yates, on the final lap to earn second place in the feature. Yates owned the distinction of setting fast time of 17.26 during qualifying for the 15 cars that were present. The spectacular chauffeur also earned second places in both the trophy dash and the second heat.
The most entertaining event for the estimated 2,000 fans present was the semi-main Australian Pursuit race that featured a couple of late model stock car hotshots from Waterloo, Red Droste and Bill Zwanziger.
Cars start single file in the Aussie race and a car must drop out once another passes it. Droste started on the pole and Wild Bill was at the rear of the eight-car field.
On the eighth lap, Zwanziger swung to the outside to take the lead from Red and sailed home for the checkered flag. Droste still managed third.
Results –
First Heat: Keith Thomas, Madison, Wis.
Second Heat: Bill Wood, Kenosha, Wis.
Third Heat: Bob Waldan, Zion, Ill.
Trophy Dash: Terry Vaughn, Madison, Wis.
Australian Pursuit: Bill Zwanziger, Waterloo, Iowa
  1. Dick Ritchie, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  2. Terry Vaughn, Madison, Wis.
  3. Willard Yates, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  4. Bill Engelhart, Madison, Wis.
  5. Bill Wood, Kenosha, Wis.

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