Monday, December 2, 2013

The 'Hawkeye' Race

By Kyle Ealy
Cedar Rapids, Iowa – One of the most prestigious and popular races on the International Motor Contest Association stock car circuit was the “Hawkeye” race at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Usually held in late April or early May, it would become the traditional season opener at the famous half-mile for 14 years. It brought in drivers from near and far and would be the first of numerous long-endurance tests for man and his machine on the rigorous IMCA national stock car schedule.

Our story begins on Sunday, May 9, 1957, as the Burdick’s, Bob and Bud from Omaha, Neb., dominated the inaugural Hawkeye “300” before a record crowd of 12,000 at the All-Iowa Fairgrounds. Bob would win both halves of the grueling 150-mile race, and almost pushed his uncle Bud home to second place in the second 150-lapper.

Despite cold temperatures and a threatening drizzle, the overflow crowd in the grandstand was kept warm throughout the three-and-a-half-hour program by some sizzling duels on the half-mile track and a series of accidents that dominated the second half of the longest stock race ever held in Iowa.

The most serious accident, however, occurred during the first half of the split feature. Arthur “Bud” Aitkenhead of Omaha, making his first IMCA start of the year, lost control of his car midway through the back stretch. He seemed to gain control as he neared the corner, but then his car spun and flipped twice. He was transported to the local hospital with minor injuries. His crash was only one of a series of mishaps that plagued the leaders in the two 150-lap tests.

Defending IMCA national champion Johnny Beauchamp of Harlan, Iowa and Don White of Keokuk, a former champ who led part way in both halves of Sunday's race were both were eliminated in accidents during the second half. Beauchamp, who finished second in the first race, was leading the field at 67 laps of the second event after a long duel with White when he flipped at nearly the same spot in which Aitkenhead was injured. Beauchamp stayed in the car and got back in the race, but was flagged off the track after twice nearly sending Bob Burdick over the outside wall.

Beauchamp, who at first refused to leave the race, was chastised by race promoter Frank Winkley after reaching the pits. He complained that Burdick had been responsible for the two near accidents. Don White did some fine driving in both halves of the race. He was in contention in the first 150 lap race when a tie-rod broke and his front wheels locked. He held control of the car and guided it into the pit area. There were numerous other accidents in the final 150 laps, but none of them serious.

In the meantime Bob Burdick, driving his 1957 Ford, put on a fine driving performance in both halves to sweep the split event. He wound up the afternoon by giving an assist to his brother Bud that almost brought him a second place finish.

Bud was in second, over a lap ahead of Chub Liebe of Oelwein, Iowa, when his car ran low on fuel and began to smoke. He was in trouble with a lap and a-half to go and brother Bob suddenly pulled his car in behind his brother's machine and proceeded to push him a lap-and-half to the finish line. Frank Winkley, however, ruled the act of brotherly love illegal and credited Liebe with second place. Bud Burdick was credited with third place overall while Lennie Funk of Otis, Kan., was fourth. Beauchamp, despite flipping in the second race, earned fifth place.

A familiar face would win the second annual Hawkeye “300” on May 18, 1958. More than 12,000 spectators turned out at Hawkeye Downs on Sunday afternoon to watch veteran Ernie Derr of Keokuk, Iowa, capture 300-lapper. In the process, the former IMCA national champ rolled his 1957 Pontiac to an IMCA world record for 300 laps on a half-mile track. He negotiated the distance in 2 hours, 26 minutes and 50.35 seconds.

Despite the record, the opening race of the 1958 campaign was not as exciting as the first Hawkeye. There were early battles for positions among the first three spots, but Derr was never headed after he took charge at the halfway point.

Part of the enjoyment was eliminated by a heavier than usual dust barrage that chased some of the fans from their box seats. Despite the weekend rains, a strong wind dried the track quickly and carried dust from the west turns directly into the stands.

The wind also curtailed the speed by drying the track too rapidly. The best time trial was a 27.10 by Don White of Keokuk, as no driver was able to break the 27-second barrier, although some were clocked less than 27 seconds during the actual race. The 300-lap record was largely due to the fact that there were no accidents and the pace of the race was curtailed only briefly by 2 caution flags.

Don White, who did an amazing job of driving in taking second behind his Keokuk brother-in-law, was the early leader. He took over the car that was being driven by Lennie Funk when his auto broke down on the 46th lap. He lost four laps in the process, but eventually worked his way back to second in Funk's 1957 Chevrolet.

Jerry Roedell of Moline, Ill., was the big surprise of the 33-car field, leading the first half of the race before having to pit for fuel and tires. Despite spinning out on lap 234, he would hold on for a respectable third place finish.

Johnny Beauchamp and defending race winner Bob Burdick would be the hard-luck drivers of the afternoon. Beauchamp's new car was not yet ready for action and he competed in an older model. He stayed among the leaders in the early going, but was eventually forced out and finished 16th. Burdick was never in the lead, but was the most consistent challenger and was the only threat to Derr in the late stages before he was forced out by engine trouble with only 14 laps to go. He would end up in seventh place.

Derr would win the third annual Hawkeye “300”, but would have a tougher time of it, surviving a see-saw battle in the early going on Sunday afternoon, May 17, 1959, before a crowd estimated at 11,000. The Keokuk Komet tempted fate in the closing laps when he ignored protests from his pit crew that his black #1 Pontiac was running low on fuel. With 20 laps to go and a one-lap lead on Keokuk's newest driving sensation, Dick Hutcherson, Derr elected to finish without a pit stop.

Hutcherson, a newcomer who has already won two features in the exact same car that Derr piloted a year ago, was exactly one lap behind in second when Derr made his decision, and that’s where the promising youngster would finish. Ernie’s decision paid off with the biggest share of $4,800 in prize money and the “300” title and its trophy. Derr and Hutcherson were followed by another young upstart, Ramo Stott, also of Keokuk.

Derr won the race in 2 hours, 37 minutes and 35.15 seconds, an excellent time considering that the field was slowed four times for yellow flags and stopped completely once for a red flag.

IMCA rivals were beginning to wonder what they would have to do to halt the winning ways of Ernie Derr at Hawkeye Downs. Derr would continue his domination of the half-mile as he won the Hawkeye “150” feature in record time on May 15, 1960, before an estimated 8,000 fans.

The Keokuk standout appeared hopelessly out of contention in the Sunday afternoon matinee as he made his first track appearance of the young season in a 1960 Pontiac. Dick Hutcherson was heading the pack after taking control on the lap 79 and Derr was straggling behind in fourth, a full lap behind the leader, heading into the 118th lap. But Hutcherson's engine blew up at that point and newcomer Eldon Scheffler, also of Keokuk, moved into the front spot. Derr was still nearly a lap behind the leader.

Bob Kosiske of Omaha, driving a 1959 Thunderbird, was challenging for the lead when his car ran out of gas on the lap 124. Then, on the 126th lap, Scheffler's engine blew up and Derr was handed the lead. Derr was never challenged from that point on as he coasted to victory in the final 24 laps. 

Despite the fact that the three leaders were sidelined, Derr still negotiated the distance in 1 hour, 13 minutes and 23.03 seconds, bettering the Downs’ track record for 150 laps. The old mark of 1:21.40.04 was set by Bob Burdick of Omaha. Herb Shannon of Peoria, Ill., finished second followed by the Kansas wheat farmer Lennie Funk. Kosiskie rebounded to take fourth and Newt Bartholomew of Carlisle, Iowa, was fifth.

Ramo Stott would bring a halt to Derr’s winning streak and set a new IMCA world record in the process at the Hawkeye “200” on May 21, 1961. Driving a 1961 Ford, Stott established a new 100-mile mark of 1 hour, 31 minutes and 40 seconds, eclipsing Don White’s 1958 record of 1 hour, 33 minutes and 1 second.

The near capacity crowd of 11,500 saw two other marks shattered during the afternoon. Dick Hutcherson, also driving a ’61 Ford, set a time trial record of 25.96 seconds to break the 1957 mark of 26.48 held by Johnny Beauchamp. During the time trials, six drivers bettered the record nine different times. Hutcherson also set a record for 50 miles. He toured the half-mile oval in 45 minutes 20.86 seconds to better Ernie Derr’s 1960 mark of 45 minutes and 41.95 seconds.

The race was probably the closest ever witnessed on the Hawkeye Downs track with the first 3 drivers - Stott, Hutcherson, and Chub Liebe - finishing bumper to bumper.

Hutcherson jumped to a quick lead and was never headed until a pit stop on lap 140 gave the lead to Stott. He would never relinquish that lead. Stott would even stop to refuel during the 143rd circuit but was still in the lead after returning to the track.

Derr, the defending three-time winner of the event, moved all the way from fifth place at the start of the race up to second at the three-quarter mark, but slipped back to fourth again after a pit stop on the 170th lap. Derr would finish there and was followed by Johnny Jones of Russell, Minn.

A fourth-place finish in an IMCA stock car race would have been a feather in the cap for some drivers, but Ernie Derr wasn’t just “some” driver. So, when the 1962 Hawkeye “250” came to town on Sunday, May 6, Derr sent out a reminder that he stilled ruled the roost in the IMCA stock car division.

Ernie Derr

An estimated 8,000 people would watch as Derr wheel his 1962 Pontiac to victory in world record time. Derr would completely outclass his colleagues as he whipped around the Cedar Rapids oval in 1 hour, 55 minutes and 46 seconds, shattering the old mark by more than three minutes.

It be only time that told the story of Derr’s superb driving feats on the day. The pride and joy of Keokuk also reeled off four other record breaking performances during the afternoon. Derr started off the program by setting a new time trail mark of 25.80 seconds, breaking the old mark of 25.96.

Despite setting fast time, the top eight finishers drew lots for positions and Derr would start fifth. He would quickly shoot into second place behind Chub Liebe, while Dick Hutcherson piloted his 1962 Ford into third place after starting eighth.

Derr would display his ability of endurance and speed from this point on. His speed was evident when he snapped the 50-lap half-mile world record in 22 minutes and 15 seconds. The 100-lap and 150-lap marks would fall as well.

At the end of 120 laps, the race narrowed down to a three-way battle between Derr, Hutcherson and a first-year driver Gil Haugen of Sioux Falls, S.D. Haugen, who finished the race in third place, rode in the second spot until lap 123. Hutcherson would get by the rookie and finish second, a full lap behind Derr.

Hawkeye Downs, notorious for its lightning fast racing surface, took a heavy toll on the cars. Out of the 19 cars that started the race, only seven went the distance.

Two more IMCA world records would broken on May 19, 1963, as Ernie Derr, the five-time IMCA stock car national champion, came from behind to successfully defend his Hawkeye 250 title before 10,000 dust-covered fans at Hawkeye Downs.

The strong winds prevalent during the race blew the dust from the track toward the stands with such force that visibility was cut to nearly zero at times. Many of the drivers had to turn on their windshield wipers to keep the dust from settling on their wind shields.

Derr, driving a 1963 Pontiac, trailed his Keokuk rival – Ramo Stott - throughout most of the race as Stott set two world marks by leading at 100 laps in 44 minutes and 43.09 seconds and the 150 mark in 1 hour, 7 minutes and 50.78 seconds.

But at that point, everything went haywire for Stott and his 1963 Plymouth. A broken ball joint sent him to the pits and, by the time the damage was repaired, he had to settle for third place behind John Mickey of Columbus Junction, Iowa.

The Hawkeye Downs track record was lowered by Stott and still another Keokuk driver, Dick Hutcherson, as they both toured their the fast half-mile in less than 25.80 seconds. Hutcherson set the fast time with 25.64 seconds in his 1963 Ford and Stott had a fast lap of 25.73. Derr was third in the field of 20 qualifiers at 25.99.

When the 1963 season ended, Ernie Derr saw his string of four straight IMCA national stock car titles come to a halt, when fellow Keokuk driver Dick Hutcherson took the top spot. Derr was bound and determined not to let that happen again and what better place was there to get the ’64 season started right than the Hawkeye “250” in Cedar Rapids on May 17.

Derr would do just that, the 41-year-old Keokuk father of five grabbed checkered flag before a crowd estimated at 7,500. His time for the 125 miles was one hour, 53 minutes and 21.55 seconds. The win gave him a sweep on the young season as he captured the season opener at Shreveport, La., on April 19 as well.

The other two Keokuk Komets, Hutcherson and Stott, were among the victims as a record-breaking pace during the early laps took its toll on many with mechanical troubles. Only eight of the 21 starters were still on the track at the finish.

Hutcherson set a machine killing pace at the onset, setting an IMCA record of 21 minutes and 46.10 seconds for the first 50 laps. But he lost the lead for good when he wheeled into the pits for gas after 52 laps. In his haste to overtake both Stott and Derr, he tore out of the pits before his crew could put the cap on his gas tank. So the pitmen, noticing the gas spraying out behind, flagged him in after four more laps. This time they poured in more gas, but Hutch was stopped for 23 seconds while his crew struggled to make the gas cap secure. He would lose almost three laps to the leader and in attempt to catch up, blew his engine on lap 82 and his day was done.

Stott would take over and would be credited with a new 100-lap mark; 43 minutes and 21.36 seconds, but like Hutcherson his day would end too soon. Stott’s Plymouth would experience rear-engine trouble after 111 laps, so Derr flashed on to post track records for 150 laps (l hour, 6 minutes and 46.53 seconds) and 200 laps (1 hour, 30 minutes and 21.10 seconds).

After Hutcherson and Stott’s exit, the responsibility of trying to overtake Derr fell to Lenny Funk, the “Flying Farmer” from Otis, Kan., in a 1963 Ford. But even Funk was no challenge to the master, finishing 7.9 seconds behind Derr. Ernie even eased up on the throttle in the final laps to avoid trouble when it became apparent he would win.

The difference between the two leaders at the finish would be pit stops. Derr stopped only twice – both times for gas during cautions. Funk made three quick stops as well when the yellow flag was flying.

Derr’s victory was worth $700; that included $600 for finishing first in the 250-lapper and $100 for setting fast time. He whipped around the dirt oval in 25.66 seconds, only two hundredth of a second slower than Hutcherson’s world mark set last year.

Funk won $560, which included $60 for having the fifth fastest time trial. John Mickey of Columbus Junction, driving a 1963 Pontiac, was third, followed by Roland Wilson of Bedford, Iowa, in a 1963 Plymouth and Vern Carman of Polk City, Iowa, in a 1963 Chevrolet.

Pit stops helped Ernie Derr win the Hawkeye “250” in 1964 but it would be his nemesis in the ’65 affair as Ramo Stott would need only one pit stop to win the coveted race on May 16.

Derr, meanwhile, would finish five laps behind his arch-rival, due in part because he would have to pit four times during the event; one when his radiator heated up and three more times for fuel. “I ran out of gas the last time, " a frustrated Derr explained. “The guys apparently weren’t getting enough gas in the tank during the pit stops. After that one gas stop I looked at my gauge and saw it wasn’t much above empty.”

Stott’s crew had his 1965 Plymouth Hemi humming and needed only one 38 second pit stop for fuel and water. Ramo’s crew hoisted him on their shoulders in victory lane but Stott said afterwards that he should have been carrying his crew on his shoulders for the fine job they did. “They were fabulous today, I couldn’t be prouder,” a happy Ramo mentioned afterwards.

Despite a muddy track, crowd of 4,600 saw the fastest 250 laps of late model stock car driving ever run at Hawkeye Downs - or any other 1MCA dirt track, for that matter. Stott was clocked in one hour 51 minutes and 35.55 seconds for the 125 miles. That mark beat the IMCA world record Derr had previously owned; 1 hour, 52 minutes and 2.63 seconds.

Stott was never headed, but Derr pursued him doggedly despite the extra pit stops. Derr’s Dodge was only a couple of car lengths behind when the cars were running under the yellow flag after 166 laps. Then Derr pulled in for his third pit stop after 217 laps and Stott had a lead of almost two laps after 224 revolutions of the track. Derr ran out of gas on the west turn after he had completed 236 laps, and Stott was able to ease up the last few miles.

Derr didn’t ease up, though. In fact, he came barreling down the straightaway wide open just as Stott got the checkered flag. Derr’s car scraped the concrete wall in front of the grandstand and threw him out of control so he went flying sideways and backwards to a dramatic stop on the muddy quarter-mile roadway on the infield.

Stott was credited with three track records, two of which were hailed as IMCA world standards. In addition to the 250-lap marks, he finished 150 laps in 1 hour, 5 minutes and 2 seconds for a world and track mark, and his 200-lap time was 1 hour, 29 minutes and 2.34 seconds for a track mark.

Due to a new grandstand being built, there would be no race in 1966, so drivers and fans alike were raring to go when the Hawkeye “200” took place on May 7, 1967. And no one was more ready than Ernie Derr…

The “Old Fox” would show a nearly packed house of 7,532 at Hawkeye Downs why he was always at the head of the pack by capturing every honor in sight on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

All Derr did that afternoon was:

  • Establish an IMCA world record for the half-mile dirt track with a 24.57 second clocking in a time trials. The old mark of 25.14 was set by Lenny Funk in 1965 at Shreveport. La.

  • Nip Funk by about a foot in an exciting finish in the five-lap STP trophy dash, featuring the eight top drivers in the national point standings.

  • Win the slated 200-lap feature, called after 132 laps because of rain, by less than 200 yards over his old nemesis, Ramo Stott, also of Keokuk.

For his day’s work, Derr walked off with $950 in prize money - $750 in the feature, $100 from STP in the dash and $100 for setting fast time.

The first eight positions in the feature were determined by the finish in the five-lapper. Ernie never trailed, and for the most part it was “catch me if you can” through the first 125 circuits, although he had a few anxious moments from both Funk and Stott.

A light sprinkling of rain forced the yellow caution flag at the 126th lap and for all practical purposes Derr was home with the checkered flag. A sudden downpour during lap 133 terminated the event.

“I did a bit of praying when the yellow flag came out,” said Derr. “When I saw those first drops of rain, man, was I happy. I kept saying ‘Come on rain, c’mon you blanket-blank rain’.”

Derr had strong reasons to be happy. Stott and he were on the same lap as the race was called. Derr waited until the 92nd tour before making his mandatory 30-second pit stop in his 1967 Dodge, while Ramo took his ‘67 Plymouth into the pits 32 laps earlier.

Ole Brua of Albert Lea, Minn., finished third, Lenny Funk took fourth and Bob Malecek of Marshalltown, Iowa, rounded out the top five.

Ramo Stott performs a victory dance after winning the 1968 Hawkeye 200. Starter Bernie Carlson presents the checkers. 

Neither rain nor Ernie Derr could stop Ramo Stott on Sunday, April 28, 1968, as Stott would whip Derr by a lap and a half to win the 11th annual Hawkeye “200” before a paying crowd of 7,551.

Ramo was pleased with the performance of his 1968 Plymouth, which was tested for this first time this year. “Nothing broke so I guess our hard work paid off,” he grinned. “I’ve been working on this car for the last four weeks both day and night, about 14 hours a day.”

The dirt oval took a good pounding in its initial test of the year under the onslaught of the 28-car field. All four corners were dug up pretty badly, especially turn three, which had “washboard holes” according to Stott.

The turning point of the race would happen at halfway point of the event. Derr, who had earned the pole position in his ‘68 Dodge Charger with a victory in the five-lap trophy dash and was enjoying a 15-second lead over Stott after 97 laps when the yellow flag waved. Derr and Stott both shot to the pits for more fuel. Ramo was out of the pits first but only seconds later, Derr was ready to resume.

But as Ramo put the pedal down, Derr’s car would suddenly stall. Efforts by his crew to push-start his car failed and a tow truck had to be pressed into action. By the time Derr was able to re-fire his car, Stott enjoyed a healthy one-lap lead. He wouldn’t be seriously threatened after that.

A fuming Derr wasn’t talking after the race, but it was learned later he was upset with a member of his pit crew who apparently killed the engine by throwing water on it while trying to cool the radiator.

Over the past few years, Verlin Eaker of Cedar Rapids had established that he could win on any given night against the locals at Hawkeye Downs. After racing on the IMCA stock car national circuit in 1967 and ‘68, and then joining up with the USAC stock car tour in ‘69, he confirmed that he could compete on the national level as well.

Verlin Eaker accepts his Hawkeye 200 trophy from Cedar Rapids Gazette editor Al Miller after winning the 1969 race.

On April 27, 1969, Eaker showed he could not only win at Hawkeye Downs and better yet, against the big boys, but come from the back of the field to do it. Eaker would win in what Cedar Rapids Gazette sportswriter Al Miller described as a “dandy of a race” in the Hawkeye “200” before 6,139 fans. The victory earned Eaker $750.

Eaker started 21st in a 26-car field and at the wave of the green was in fast pursuit of the front-running pack led by Ernie Derr. After 30 laps, Eaker had moved his ’67 Dodge RT into fourth place behind Derr, Ole Brua of Albert Lea, Minn., and Lewis Taylor of Shawnee, Kan.

Derr, the nine-time national champ, was nearly a full lap ahead in his ’69 Dodge Charger and it appeared the classic would take the usual “follow Ernie Derr” pattern that had become so familiar. Then the curse of stock car racing happened to none other than Ernie Derr.

Just as the leaders started lap 35, a puff of smoke came from under Derr’s hood. By the time he hit the backstretch, Derr’s car was smoking badly and he turned into the pit area with a blown engine. The next three cars advanced a spot and when Lewis Taylor pitted on lap 50 for fuel, Eaker found himself in second place behind Brua.

Brua and Eaker ran one-two for the next 40 laps before Ole’s ’69 Ford blew a tire. Eaker zipped into the lead and enjoyed a lap and a half advantage before Brua resumed action. But there was no stopping Eaker the final 110 laps.

“Yes, this would have to be one of my greatest days in racing,” remarked a tired, but happy Eaker afterwards. “We didn’t have any problems, but the car got a little hot to start with. I slowed down and she came around. Overall, everything handled pretty good.”

Second place was copped by Ron Hutcherson of Keokuk, Iowa, younger brother of Dick Hutcherson, who had moved on to NASCAR. Fred Horn of Marion, Iowa, took third, Ole Brua would fall back to fourth and Bill Yost of Miller, S.D., would take fifth.

Count Ernie Derr out once, but never count him out twice. After bowing out early in the ’69 race, the ageless driver was ready to regain his spot in victory lane once again. And that’s exactly what he did, winning the Hawkeye “200” on April 26, 1970, before 5,570 enthusiastic race fans.

It marked the eighth Hawkeye classic victory for the 48-year-old Derr, now a 10-time national stock car champion who was seeking his sixth IMCA crown in a row. Derr had to fight off a determined bid by Mel Morris of West Liberty to gain the victory.

It was a battle of 1969 Dodge Chargers as Morris, a 35-year-old bearded jockey driving in only his second IMCA-sanctioned race, actually led for 83 of the first 104 laps. He was ahead of the second-place Derr, by almost one and a half laps before nearly running out of gas on the backstretch of the half-mile dirt oval. By the time Mel crept into the pits and refueled, Derr took over the lead and he never relinquished it.

Ernie won by nearly three laps, with Morris finishing second. Third was Ron Hutcherson of Keokuk in a ’69 Torino, while Fred Horn of Marion wheeled his ’70 Plymouth RoadRunner to a fourth-place finish. Ernie’s 21-year-old son, Mike, stroked his ‘69 Charger to fifth place.

Derr pocketed $800 for the win, $100 for fast time in qualifying (26.20 seconds) and another$100 in appearance money for being the defending IMCA champion. Morris took home $550.

Ron Hutcherson of Keokuk, Iowa accepts the trophy from IMCA secretary Bill Hitz (left)after winning the controversial Hawkeye 200 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Flagman Woody Brinkman presents the checkers and Hutcherson's father, Leon, joins in the celebration. - Lee Ackerman Collection

Ron Hutcherson of Keokuk gave himself a belated birthday present Sunday by capturing the Hawkeye “200” late model stock car race at Hawkeye Downs on April 25, 1971, before a paying crowd of 6,212. But Fred Horn wouldn’t help Hutcherson blow out the candles…

The Marion chauffeur protested the results, contending he was the winner of the 14th annual classic. However, National Speedways, Inc., officials disallowed the protest and Horn had to settle for second place in the 100-miler on the half-mile dirt oval.

The point of Horn’s protest began on the 93rd lap when a broken ball joint stalled Mel Morris of Atalissa in the third turn and the yellow flag came out. Horn pitted his ‘70 Roadrunner under the yellow, trailing Hutch, who was the leader, and Ernie Derr. Hutch and Derr hit the pits for fuel on the next lap and both were out quickly, nearly simultaneously.

“I know Hutch passed me while I was in the pits,” Horn fumed, “but then I passed him in the pits. Then he passed me and I passed him and he never got around me again.”

On the basis of the new automatic timing system, NSI officials ruled Horn had lost a lap while pitting under the yellow.

The margin of victory for Hutcherson and his 1970 Ford Torino Cobra was a mere nine seconds on the extremely dusty and rugged track. His time was one hour, 32 minutes and 35.5 seconds.

“I'm tired, but happy,” smiled Hutcherson as he wiped the grime from his face. “This is a pretty good birthday present,” he added, explaining he turned 28 the day before.

Hutcherson, who picked up $800 for his triumph, was the third and final leader. He took over from Irv Janey of Cedar Rapids on the 87th tour. Janey was flying up to that point and had led the pack for 57 laps. But a broken lower control arm took away his steering and any hopes of winning were shattered. The early leader was Gerry Harrison of Topeka, Kan., in a ‘71 Ford.

Hutcherson and Horn would be the only drivers to finish on the lead lap. Third place went to Keokuk's young Mike Derr, 23-year-old son of Ernie Derr. It was a feather in Mike's cap as he completed 198 laps to dad’s 195. Both drove 1970 Chargers.

A new promoter in 1972, Super Stocks, Inc., headed by Dale Gegner, would have a contract with the All-Iowa Fairboard that stated no other organization could promote a race at The Downs before mid-May.

Thus, the 14-year tradition of IMCA stock cars and the Hawkeye classic would come to a bittersweet ending.

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