Tuesday, April 30, 2013

1965 – Derr and Stott cars roll again

Des Moines, Iowa (April 30, 1965) – Those Plymouths which Ramo Stott and Ernie Derr used last year to chase Dick Hutcherson to the International Motor Contest Association stock car title are operating again this season, but with different drivers.

Lewis Taylor of Shawnee, Kan., has Derr’s 1964 hemi-hummer and Blaine Morrow of Joy, Ill., is behind the wheel of Ramo's car. Both will be driving against the former owners in the Hawkeye 200 at Knoxville this weekend. Morrow finished fourth behind Derr in the Pelican 200 at Shreveport, La., on April 4th. Taylor finished 15th in the same race. Derr is now driving a 1965 Dodge and Ramo is back in a current model Plymouth.

After the Knoxville race, the IMCA late model drivers will start preparing for the Iowa 300 at the Iowa Fairgrounds May 23 and the Gopher 300 at St. Paul, Minn., on June 13.

Since Don White, United States Auto Club stock car driver, has indicated he won't drive at Knoxville this week, IMCA promoters hope he will use two of his remaining three temporary permits to run in the 300’s.

We can expect from a new field of contenders in the sprint car division comes May 15 in the qualifying trials for the Little 500 at Anderson, Ind. Former champion Jerry Richert, runner-up Jim McCune, Jerry Daniels, Jay Woodside and Greg Weld are all running USAC now. Weld already has a ride in the Indianapolis 500 in Wally Wier's Mobil Oil Special and a year's contract. Richert or Daniels may get to run a new rear-engine Hallibrand in the same race.

“We’ll have plenty of drivers,” predicted Gene Van Winkle, vice-president of National Speedways, who opened that organization’s headquarters tent at the Iowa Fairgrounds this week. Gene will supervise the Iowa 300. Al Sweeney, president, is presiding over the Little 500 and other sprints on asphalt tracks in Indiana and Ohio next month.

Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids, who is in the Mid-Continent stock car race Saturday night at Hawkeye Downs Speedway, will be in his 1962 Ford as usual. Dake said he had made no changes, commenting, “I outran all of them last year, so I think I’ll just give it a good wash job.”

In a practice session on the newly-lighted half-mile oval, Waterloo’s Red Droste reportedly beat Bill Zwanziger in a $400 10-lap winner take all affair in his new 327 Chevy engine.

Marion Robinson is hiking the price of his claim stocks from $150 to $300 in order to get a better looking class of cars running on both the Oskaloosa half-mile and the Newton quarter-mile this season.

Monday, April 29, 2013

1962 - Bobby Johns Wins Volunteer 500


Bobby Johns
 
 
Bristol, Tenn. (April 29, 1962) – Bobby Johns of Miami took the lead for keeps on the 306th lap here Sunday and drove his 1962 Pontiac to six-lap victory in the Volunteer 500 NASCAR Grand National stock car race at Bristol International Speedway.

A crowd of 15,000 sat in sunny weather, to watch Johns set a track record with an average speed of 73.561 miles an hour. He won $3,655 plus lap money in the $20,390 race around speedway oval.

Fireball Roberts of Daytona Beach was second and Jack Smith of Spartanburg, S, C., was third, both in '62 Pontiacs, Roberts took home $2,010 and Smith $1,323 plus lap money.

Two spectacular wrecks took place and four caution flags went up in the 250-mile race, which had 36 starters but only 11 finishers. Despite the wrecks, no one was seriously hurt.

Johns' speed easily eclipsed the previous track record of 72.450 miles per hour set for the raceway here by Joe Weatherly of Norfolk, Va., in last year's Southeastern 500.

Rounding out the first five finishers in Sunday's race were Ned Jarrett of Conover, N. C., in a '62 Chevrolet, and Thomas Cox of Asheboro, N. C., in a '60 Plymouth.

Roberts, starting on the pole position, led the race for the first 61 laps, when Johns took over and stayed in front until his first pit stop on the 159th lap.

Richard Petty of Randleman, N. C., then took over the lead in his '62 Plymouth but led only through the 166th, where Johns regained the lead. Petty came back to move ahead on a caution flag at the 304th, but was in front only to the 306th, where Johns reasserted command.

From there to the end the Miami driver widened his margin. The first of two big wrecks took place on the second turn, when Nelson Stacy's '62 Ford blew a tire, skidded into a guard rail, and bounced back on the track where it was hit by Maurice Petty's '62 Plymouth.

Stacy was shaken up, hospitalized for observation, and released. He suffered only a few bruises.

The second wreck was on the fourth turn, when Jarrett's car collided with George Green's '62 Chevrolet. Both cars were badly damaged and hauled off the track by wreckers, but repaired quickly. Jarrett came on to finish fourth and Green took 14th in the race.

Results –

  1. Bobby Johns
  2. Fireball Roberts
  3. Jack Smith
  4. Ned Jarrett
  5. Thomas Cox
  6. Herman Bean
  7. David Pearson
  8. Wendell Scott
  9. Bill Morton
  10. Curtis Crider
  11. Joe Weatherly
  12. Buddy Baker
  13. Jimmy Pardue
  14. George Green
  15. Fred Harb
  16. Richard Petty
  17. Bunkie Blackburn
  18. Nelson Stacy
  19. Maurice Petty
  20. Gene Blackburn
  21. Johnny Allen
  22. Joe Lee Johnson
  23. Darel Dieringer
  24. Tiny Lund
  25. G.C. Spencer
  26. Marvin Panch
  27. Buck Baker
  28. Charles Griffith
  29. Rex White
  30. Junior Johnson
  31. Stick Elliot
  32. Jim Paschal
  33. Ralph Earnhardt
  34. Fred Lorenzen
  35. Larry Thomas
  36. Larry Frank

Saturday, April 27, 2013

1969 - Cedar Rapids’ Eaker Cops Hawkeye 200


 
Cedar Rapids, Iowa (April 27, 1969) - Verlin Eaker did his thing once again Sunday at Hawkeye Downs.
 
Eaker’s “thing” is winning and the late model stock car dandy from Cedar Rapids did just that in the 14th annual Hawkeye 200 before 6,139. The triumph was worth $750.

It’s probable that Sunday’s showing was Verlin’s first and last of the season on The Downs’ half-mile dirt oval. If so, he gave IMCA and local race fans plenty to remember him by.

Eaker started 21st in the 26-car field and was in fast pursuit of the front of the front-running pack led by Ernie Derr after only 30 laps. Eaker was running fourth in his 1967 Dodge behind Derr, Ole Brua and Lewis Taylor.

Derr, the nine-time IMCA national champion, was nearly a full lap ahead in his 1969 Dodge Charger and it appeared the classic might take the usual “follow the leader” pattern. Then the curse of stock car racing happened to none other than Derr.

Ernie had just finished the 35th tour when his engine blew and the Keokuk, Iowa, veteran bowed out on the backstretch. The next three cars advanced a position and then Eaker moved into second when Taylor pitted for fuel on lap 50.

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 rejoined the action. There was no stopping Eaker, now a rookie on the USAC circuit, for the final 110 laps.

“I’m tired,” Eaker mumbled afterwards, as he dragged himself from his car. “Actually, I don’t feel too bad except for my right hand.” Verlin revealed his right palm with a rather large blister that had been ripped opened.

The track crew did an excellent job in readying the track after the heavy rains the previous day. Eaker said it was in “real good shape” throughout the 200 laps.

“You could run almost any place,” he added. “I ran high because I really didn’t know how good the tires were.”

“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”

“Yes, this would have to be one of my greatest days in racing.”

Two other local drivers also did excellent jobs. Fred Horn of Marion finished third in his ’67 Plymouth and right on his bumper in fourth was Irv Janey of Cedar Rapids in a ‘67 Dodge. Second place was copped by Ron Hutcherson of Keokuk, the younger brother of former NASCAR great, Dick Hutcherson, in a ’69 Torino.

Janey’s brother, Chuck (‘69 Charger), placed 20th, while Bill McDonough of Cedar Rapids and his ‘66 Camaro were 24th. Neither was among the 14 cars that were able to finish the race. Brua won the special five-lap preliminary event, barely nipping Derr at the checkered flag.

Results –

  1. Verlin Eaker, Cedar Rapids
  2. Ron Hutcherson, Keokuk
  3. Fred Horn, Marion
  4. Irv Janey, Cedar Rapids
  5. Ole Brua, Albert Lea, Minn.
  6. Bill Yost, Miller, S.D.
  7. Leon Bowman, Wichita, Kan.
  8. Jerre Wichman, Kansas City, Mo.
  9. Vince Rizzio, Danners Grove, Ill.
  10. Dale Keeling, Dixon, Mo.
  11. Darwin “Sandy” Sandstrom, Kansas City, Mo.
  12. Roger Bloomquist, Minneapolis
  13. Dave Wall, Kansas City
  14. Bill Schwader, Davenport
  15. Blaine Morrow, Joy, Ill.
  16. Howard Hart, Kansas City
  17. Joe Dolphy, Brighton, Minn.
  18. Lewis Taylor, Shawnee, Kan.
  19. Chuck Berg, Des Moines
  20. Chuck Janey, Cedar Rapids
  21. Leroy Scharkey, Rochester, Minn.
  22. Jack Brewer, Oak Creek, Wis.
  23. Ernie Derr, Keokuk
  24. Bill McDonough, Cedar Rapids

Thursday, April 25, 2013

1966 - Pistone's Ford Provides Virginia 500 Surprise; Paschal Winner


"Tiger" Tom Pistone
 
 
Martinsville, Va. (April 25, 1966) - The experts wrote off the Fords for the Virginia 500 stock car race, and, according to the final scoring sheet, they were right.

Jim Paschal of High Point, N.C., won the race in a 1966 Plymouth, followed by Paul Goldsmith, of Munster, Ind., in a 1965 Plymouth, and Richard Petty of Randleman, N.C., in another 1966 Plymouth.

Paschal started from the pole position and led 368 laps of the 500-lap race despite a scoring error that at first gave the win to Goldsmith.

Nevertheless, the story of Sunday's race was, in many ways, the story of a Ford driver, "Tiger" Tom Pistone, a 5-foot-3 mechanic from Chicago, Ill.

When the Ford factory withdrew its support from the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), Pistone didn't really care. He had never had factory backing anyway.

Ford was protesting a recent NASCAR rule change which required that more than 400 pounds be added to any car using Fords new overhead cam engine.

But Pistone saw something else in the rules change. For the first time NASCAR was permitting the use of two carburetors on the older Ford wedge engines.

He was convinced his 1964 Ford could be competitive with the new carburation set-up. He decided to give his theory a real test at Martinsville. Starting from 20th place, the little charger flew past the other independents and started catching the Chrysler factory cars.

First he passed Petty, then Sam McQuagg's Dodge Charger, then Goldsmith and Paschal.

As the crowd of 15,500 cheered him on, the Tiger led the race for 42 laps. A pit stop to cool a flaming rear grease seal cost him three laps but he knew he still could win.

Then a rod snapped on lap 361 and his run for the money was over.

But when he strolled into the press box after the race, the 37- year-old driver was all smiles and laughter.

Results –

  1. Jim Paschal
  2. Paul Goldsmith
  3. Richard Petty
  4. Elmo Langley
  5. G.C. Spencer
  6. Paul Lewis
  7. Bobby Allison
  8. James Hylton
  9. David Pearson
  10. Buddy Baker
  11. Buck Baker
  12. Jack Lawrence
  13. Joel Davis
  14. Roy Tyner
  15. Henley Gray
  16. Sam McQuagg
  17. Worth McMillion
  18. Wendell Scott
  19. Bobby Johns
  20. Wayne Smith
  21. J.T. Putney
  22. Tom Pistone
  23. Bill Champion
  24. Doug Cooper
  25. J.D. McDuffie
  26. Gene Cline
  27. Jimmy Helms
  28. Hank Thomas
  29. Jabe Thomas
  30. Clyde Lynn

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

1961 – Mazon Opener to Ritchie

Mazon, Ill. (April 23, 1961) – Miserable weather, including heavy rains and leap-frogging tornados, held down the crowd this afternoon at Wayne Carter’s Mazon Speedbowl opener.

Newt White gunned his Dick Herman V8 from his sixth starting position into the lead within four laps while Dick Ritchie jammed his way through traffic in his Jim Patton V8 to settle into second. Bob Hauck pushed his McDowell Motor Volvo past Johnny Riva in the Turner Offy to make it a three-way battle.
This trio drove within inches apart for the full 20 laps until Hauck fouled his engine and dropped far off the pace. Ritchie shit high on the backstretch and took the lead from White on lap 26 and continued a torrid pace to win by just a few car lengths.
White would settle for second with Riva six lengths back. Buzz Rose of Gardena, Calif., took fourth in the Langton Offy, Bob Hanson of Madison, Wis., was fifth and Henry Pens of Joliet, Ill., a converted stock car pilot, finished sixth.

Results –
Fast Time: Bob Hanson (13.30)

First Heat: Newt White
Second Heat: Russ Palumbo

Third Heat: Bob Hauck

Fourth Heat: Johnny Riva
Handicap: Bob Hauck
Feature:

1.       Dick Ritchie

2.       Newt White

3.       Johnny Riva

4.       Buzz Rose

5.       Bob Hanson

6.       Henry Pens

7.       Mel Kenyon

8.       Aaron Willis

9.       Russ Palumbo

10.   Bob Hauck

11.   Ron Smiles

12.   Jigger Sirois

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.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

1976 - Former driver debuts as race promoter

Hutchinson, Kan. (April 18, 1976) - Jack Petty makes his debut as a race promoter Friday.
The popular former driver is set to open his first season as operator of the Salina Speedway, having leased the facility from owner E.P. Nichols, who promoted the races there since it opened.
Petty has been a longtime favorite on central Kansas tracks, and was the Salina Speedway champion in 1974 - with help. That was the year he was severely burned in a multi-car pileup at the National Super-Modified Championships at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.
He was leading the Salina points standings at the time, and while recuperating he turned his red Ford over to Salinan Mel Potts, who kept the car atop the points to the end of the season.
Last year was his final season behind the wheel. He has spent a long, cold winter waiting to get to work on his new career. Since warm weather arrived - and not too long ago at that - Petty has been hard at work getting the three-eighths mile dirt oval ready for the 1979 season. Shelves, which had formed in the turns at both ends of the racetrack have been bulldozed away. The past two weekends area drivers have been running test sessions - testing both cars and the new surface.
“The drivers all say it was really smooth and they really liked it,” Petty said Monday. “They thought it would be a real good track to run on.”
The shelves, built up over several years of use, had turned the oval into a one-groove track, reducing the excitement of cars broad sliding wheel-to-wheel around the turns. But in the test sessions, Petty said, “Some were running high and some were running low (through the turns). They could run just about where they wanted to.”
Friday will be the first of two preseason events in which the drivers will draw numbers for their starting positions in the heats. The heat finishes will determine the starts of the features. No points are on the line.
Petty hopes the races here will draw drivers from as far as Oklahoma and Nebraska, some of whom have indicated they will come for the warm-up events. Then, on May 4, things get serious with the first championship points race.
Three different classes of cars will be racing at the speedway this year, but only two have defending champions. Salinan Dave Oltman won the late model championship last year in his #777 Camaro. Ad Mortimer, Gypsum, took the junior stock title in his #54 Mustang.
The late models are for 1960-1979 cars running V-8 or V-6 engines. The juniors are for 1949-1979 cars running 6-cylinder inline engines. Both are for American-made sedans with a minimum wheelbase of 108 inches.
New this year will be a third class for street stock cars. Permitted are 1950-1969 models with minimum modifications allowed. They must remove window glass and seats, install a roll cage, safety harness, bucket seat and fuel cell (or GI can). The engines must be factory stock, no headers, no trick stuff, no nothing. Only the muffler gets removed. Tires are street rubber on stock (reinforced) wheels. Petty said the street stockers would also be racing at Great Bend's Sunday night shows.
Petty said he expected “a real good turnout of cars” for the opening events. Several new cars, he noted, were being built in Wichita, and others are expected from Hutchinson, Great Bend, Dodge City, Concordia and other Western Kansas points.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

This Week in Racing History - 1985

April 14 - Joe Kosiski, the oldest of the Kosiski brothers from Omaha, Neb., took command of the late model division on Sunday afternoon at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo., as he took home the best part of the $13,000 Winston/NASCAR Inaugural 100. Kosiski started on the inside of the fourth row and immediately started chasing early leader Gene Claxton. By the second lap he moved into second and on lap 7 moved to the high side of turn four to take the lead for good. Rick Egersdorf of St. Paul, Minn., moved into the second spot but was unable to catch Kosiski and settled for runner-up honors. Bob Hill of Story City, Iowa, took third, Vic Bentlage of Jefferson City, Mo., was fourth and Claxton dropped back to finish fifth.

April 14 - Doug Wolfgang of Sioux Falls, S.D., made a daring move thru traffic with a lap and a half remaining to capture the 30-lap World of Outlaws/Copenhagen-Skoal Shootout sprint car feature at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, on Sunday afternoon. Wolfgang pushed the Weikert Livestock #29 around Sammy Swindell of Bartlett, Tenn., coming off the second turn on lap 29 and held the top spot the rest of the way to notch the $7,250 victory. It was Wolfgang's 52nd career WoO win and his sixth Eldora triumph. Swindell crossed the line right on Wolfgang's tail to collect the $4,450 runner-up prize. Swindell had taken the lead on lap 14 after Wolfgang had headed the pack for the initial 13 circuits. Steve Kinser of Bloomington, Ind., tried a last-lap move around the lead pair but had to settle for third. Brad Doty of Fredricksburg, Ohio, earned fourth and Jack Hewitt of Troy, Ohio, rounded out the top five.

April 14 - Roger Long, the veteran chauffeur from Oakwood, Ill., chalked up his first late model victory of the season at East Moline, (Ill.) Speedway on Sunday evening. Driving a 1985 Firebird, Long inherited the lead on lap 7 when early leader Ray Guss Jr. of Milan, Ill., had the misfortune of right rear tire go down during a caution. The real battle in the 30-lap main was for positions second thru fourth with Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, Gary Webb of Davenport, Iowa, and Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, swapping positions back and forth. When the dust cleared, Webb would grab second with Weedon in third, Dolan taking fourth and Ray Guss Jr. coming back from the flat tire to score fifth. East Moline's Gary Reinhart would lead all 20 laps in winning the IMCA modified feature ahead of 1984 IMCA national point champion Mike Cothron.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

1972 - Chuck Amati: An Ambitious Race Car Driver


 
Freeman Spur, Ill. (April 13, 1972) - If ever there was a guy with a burning desire to make it big in the world of professional auto racing, it's Chuck Amati.

The short, stocky built guy, who calls Freeman Spur, Ill., and Greenfield, Tenn., home, is a 24-hour a day auto racing buff. He loves racing and he can hardly wait until each race day rolls around. Those days away from the track arc a reminder.

Without a doubt, Chuck Amati is one of the best and most popular drivers at the small tracks in the tri-stale area. He’s been a consistent winner at Illinois tracks such as Benton, Marion and Granite City as well as at tracks in Missouri and Indiana.

Like most guys serious about their business - and racing is his business - Amati has ambition. He’s not satisfied with racing at the local tracks, he wants to race at Indianapolis, at Trenton, at Langhorne, at Phoenix, at Du Quoin and all of the other places, on the United States Auto Club schedule.

“I think I'm ready, that I've got the ability of a majority of the guys in big lime auto racing,” said Amati “I won't say that I can outrun A. J. Foyt and Al Unser and Bobby Unser and all those guys, but I think when the ability comes down to car to car and driver to driver, I think I can hold my own.”

So what’s holding the little guy up? Why doesn’t he tackle the big timers?

“Money,” says Chuck. “It takes money to race the USAC circuit. I need a sponsor. I can’t make it on my own. Find me a sponsor and I'll make it.”

Amati, and guys like him, seldom race against the USAC drivers unless they're prepared to give up a year of racing at the non-USAC sanctioned tracks.

“If I race in one USAC race I'm through for the rest of the year at the tracks around here,” said Amati. “Once a driver competes in a USAC race, he can't race in anything except USAC races for the remainder of the year. And right now. I can't afford to do that. I can make a living driving at the small tracks because the expenses are considerably smaller.”

Amati currently has three sponsors who pick up the bills for his racing in the area - an Alabama auto dealer, a Marion, Ill., motel owner and a Marion truck stop owner.

He and mechanic Kay Fletcher, who worked the wrenches for the late Don Branson, will hit over 30 tracks in several Midwestern and southern states this season.

The season for Amati begins in Florida in February and ends in the Midwest in October.

“We traveled about 64,000 miles to races last year but that's nothing compared to what the USAC guys travel,” said Amati. “And we weren’t living high off the hog either. It takes money to race and that's why I need more sponsors or just one or two who could afford the greater expense of the USAC circuit.”

Amati has set two goals for himself this season - winning the Little 500 at Anderson, Ind., in May and winning the "Blockbuster 50" at Du Quoin, Ill., in July. Chuck finished third in the Du Quoin race last year after experiencing car trouble and did the same in the Little 500.

“If I can win these two races maybe some of the bigger name car owners will pay attention to me,” said Amati. “Maybe then I can get a ride on the USAC circuit.”

Chuck has no trouble drawing attention from the fans at the tracks where he competes and he'll be even more noticeable this season. When he opens the local season at Benton on Saturday night, he’ll be decked out in a bright yellow racing suit covered with peace signs driving a red, blue, white, orange and yellow super-modified racer.

“I want to be different,” said Amati. “I’m tired of being an ordinary race driver. When I win I want everyone to know who won. When I lose, I want people to know who it was that lost.”

Whenever Amati gets a response from the crowd, it really turns him on. “I’m a funny racer,” he said. “I don’t really race for all that much money, though I know that it takes money. But I like to race for people. I love the fans and I love kids and I want the people to be my fans. I want them to know that having fans is what keeps me going.”

Amati, winner of the Hoosier Auto Racing Club Sportsmanship Award last year for pulling a driver from a burning car, has been racing since 1958 and full time since 1969.

“It’s a tough living racing, but I just love it,” he said. “If you love something and that’s what you want to do, then that’s the best thing to do.”

And Chuck Amati plans to continue following his own advice. “I'll never give up on my dream of driving in the Indianapolis 500,” he said. "I've never seen the 500 because I made a promise to myself that I'd never go to the race until the day I drove. The day I see the race, I intend to be driving there.”

And the guy sincerely believes he'll be at Indianapolis someday.

“I know I can compete against the best,” he said, “All I need is the chance.”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

1993 - Eddy captures ASA season opener at Odessa


 
Odessa, Mo. (April 11, 1993) – Defending American Speed Association (ASA) champion Mike Eddy took advantage of a late race crash by leader Jay Sauter to capture the Missouri 250 at I-70 Speedway.

Sauter led 196 of the first 239 laps in the opening event of the 18-race AC-Delco Challenge Series when misfortune struck.

Coming off of turn four Sauter slipped and Eddy tapped the rear of Sauter’s car. Both cars spun with Sauter hitting the barrier in front of the pit wall. Eddy was able to continue and held onto the lead over a hard-charging Johnny Benson Jr.

Sauter grabbed the lead from Tony Raines on lap 20 and maintained the top spot over Eddy and Benson until the three leaders pitted on lap 154. Benson got around Eddy got around Eddy on lap 162 for the second spot with Jeff Neal settled in the fourth spot.

On lap 163, coming off of turn four, Eddy got underneath Benson and the two touched coming down the front straight. Benson spun and on the restart was posted in sixth position.

Benson then set sail for the leaders passing Larry Phillips, Steve Holzhausen and NASCAR star Kenny Schrader. The leader board didn’t change until Sauter’s accident.

“I was getting off the corner a little better than Jay,” Eddy said. “He spun, we both spun – it was a bad deal. I don’t think I’d ever do that on purpose.”

Sauter said Eddy hit hard coming off of turn four, but shrugged it off as racing luck.

“Racing seems to be a contact sport,” he said. “A little more than it should be. I don’t think that’s quite right.”

Benson was a little more vocal in his criticism of Eddy’s driving style.

“I guess if you have to do that to win, I guess that’s fine,” he remarked. “You’ll never see me do that.”

The race was run in two hours at an average speed of 61.694 miles per hour and was slowed by seven caution flags for a total of 82 laps.

Results –

  1. Mike Eddy
  2. Johnny Benson Jr.
  3. Ken Schrader
  4. Steve Carlson
  5. Tony Raines
  6. Steve Holzhausen
  7. Tom Harrington
  8. Jeff Neal
  9. Larry Phillips
  10. Rick Beebe
  11. Kent Stauffer
  12. John Lemke
  13. Scott Hansen
  14. A.J. Cooper
  15. Dennis Lampman
  16. Tony Roper
  17. Russ Gamester
  18. Brad Loney
  19. Mike Miller
  20. Jay Sauter
  21. Terry Wente
  22. Garry St. Amant
  23. Todd Forbes
  24. Bruce Lee
  25. Joe Nott
  26. David Anspaugh
  27. Alec Pinsonneault
  28. Jim Cooper
  29. Roger Avantis
  30. Dennis Vogel
  31. Bob Senneker
  32. Pat Bourdow
  33. Glenn Allen Jr.
  34. Joe Bush
  35. Randy MacDonald
  36. Harold Fair
  37. Dave Watson
  38. Jerry Churchill

Monday, April 8, 2013

1960 – Derr sets record in Pelican 300

Shreveport, La. (April 8, 1960) - The IMCA late model stock cars kicked off the 1960 season at Shreveport with a whopping crowd of 9,638 fans watching Ernie Derr romp into the winner’s circle. Derr finished 59 seconds ahead of Ramo Stott.

Derr established a new IMCA World’s record for the 250-lapper of 2 hours, 2 minutes to erase the old mark set by Johnny Beauchamp in 1956 at the Minnesota State Fair.
The Pelican 300 was a heartbreaker for early leaders Sonny Morgan, Ramo Stott, Darrell Dake and Dick Hutcherson as the hard pace was evident with breakdowns and multiple pit stops.
Dake, who led at 100 laps, was the victim of fan belt trouble, while Sonny Morgan, who blew an engine in his own ’59 Chevrolet in preliminaries, was forced out of action at the wheel of Jerry McDonald’s ride with a blown engine.
The Shreveport opener crowd was the second largest in history exceeded only by the 1959 crowd of 10,000 plus.
Results –
1.      Ernie Derr
2.      Ramo Stott
3.      Newt Bartholomew
4.      Royce Whitlock
5.      Art Brady
6.      Dick Hutcherson
7.      Bill Worthy
8.      Dub Rollins
9.      Darrell Dake
10.  Eddie Harrow
11.  Gerry Harrison
12.  Wayne Lee
13.  Phil Cronin
14.  Herb Shannon
15.  Red Dowdy
16.  Sonny Morgan