Friday, December 27, 2013

Looking Back in Racing History – 1983

By Kyle Ealy
Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Before we start the New Year, let’s take a look back – 30 years ago to be exact, and recall some of the special highlights that shaped the 1983 season.
Howard Tiedt, promoter of Santa Fe Speedway in Hinsdale, Ill., was named RPM Promoter of the Year during the 10th edition of the Race Promoter’s Workshop in Daytona, Fla., during Speed Weeks festivities on February 16.
Mark Malcuit of Strasburg, Ohio, was the overall late model winner of the World Series of Asphalt Racing at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway in February. The 17th annual event had nine nights of racing showcasing the best short-track drivers in the nation. Malcuit, known as “Captain Sizzle”, claimed the overall title by only 12 markers (1,602 – 1,590) over Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. Mike Eddy of Midland, Mich., was third with 1,390 points.
Steve Kinser of Bloomington, Ind., broke a four-year Florida victory jinx by winning the 50-lap World of Outlaws National Challenge Series sprint car feature at East Bay Raceway in Gibsonton, Fla., on February 15, putting him in the early lead in the World of Outlaws point standings. Kinser’s win came in the finale of the four-night Southern Sprint Nationals. Doug Wolfgang won the opener on February 9, Danny Smith took honors on February 11, and Keith Kauffman notched the victory on February 14.
Four-time Knoxville National champion Kenny Weld and two other people were arrested and $5 million in cocaine was seized by federal agents during a raid in Blue Springs, Mo., on March 19. Weld was charged with possession of marijuana and cocaine with intent to sell. The 29 pounds of cocaine found in the house was the largest amount ever seized in Western Missouri, federal authorities said.  Weld was the Knoxville Nationals champion in 1964, ’65, ’72, and ’73. 
Hector Honore of Pana, Ill., whose “Black Deuce” was the winningest sprint car in racing history, passed away on March 3. As a car owner and mechanic, Honore won seven consecutive IMCA big car national titles (1955 – 1961) with two different drivers, Bobby Grim and Pete Folse. He won 434 features, 704 heat races, and 216 track records. He was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1991.
Larry Phillips of Springfield, Mo., put away a mid-race challenge from Billy Moyer of Des Moines, Iowa, to win his third consecutive “Miller Beer Kegger” at Tri-City Speedway in Fort Smith, Ark., on March 26. Phillips paced the 16-car field in his blue and white #75 around the high-banked half-mile for the entire 40 laps and collected $1,500 for his efforts. Despite faster lap times, Moyer could not get around the crafty Phillips and would settle for second. Dhon Hauserman of Wichita, Kan., took third, Vic Bentlage of Jefferson City, Mo., earned fourth and Ken Essary of Galena, Mo., rounded out the top five.
Butch Miller recorded a wire-to-wire victory in the ASA Circuit of Champions season-opening “Budweiser 100” at the Pontiac Silverdome on March 27. With a reported crowd of 17,212 looking on, Miller, who earned the pole position by winning his qualifying race, finished one car-length in front of Tom Jones to cash in the $6,000 winner’s check. Dick Trickle, Bob Strait, and Bobby Dotter rounded out the top five.
Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., captured the sixth annual “Spring Classic” at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway on April 10. Several thousand fans, braving northerly winds and temperatures in the 30’s, watched Trickle pilot his Superamerica #99 to victory in the 83-lap feature, which marked the kickoff of ARTGO’s ninth season. Dave Weltmeyer of Harvey, Ill., Tom Musgrave Glenview, Ill., Conrad Morgan of Dousman, Wis., and Steve Burgess of Eau Claire, Wis., followed Trickle across the finish line to round out the top five.
Sammy Swindell of Bartlett, Tenn., was a double winner on the World of Outlaws circuit as he scored victories at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City on April 15 and the very next night at the Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway season opener. Driving the Old Milwaukee #1, Swindell would battle a determined Keith Kauffman of Mifflintown, Pa., on both nights and bank $6,000 for his efforts. Despite the chilly spring weather, attendance was good at both tracks with Lakeside reporting 6,000 fans in attendance for Friday night’s show and Knoxville with 7,000 cheering.
Joe Wallace of Kansas City played the waiting game and it paid off with a $3,500 paycheck after winning the RC Cola/7 Up “Western World Late Model Championships” at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz., on April 16. Wallace started third and patiently waited behind Larry Phillips before making his move for the lead halfway through the 40-lapper. Once out in front, Wallace was able to maintain his lead and finish ahead of Red Dralle of Evansdale, Iowa and Don Hoffman of Des Moines.
Dave Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, topped a sparkling field of late models by capturing the annual “Spring Championship” at West Liberty Raceway on April 23. Fifty-six late models lined the pit area looking at winning the $1,000 top prize. Birkhofer passed Rick Wendling of Hazelton, Iowa, on lap 12 of the 30-lap main event and opened up a wide margin to win comfortably. Dick Schiltz of Waterloo, Iowa, Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, Rick Wages of Moline, Ill., and Rollie Frink of Davenport, Iowa, followed. Mike Schulte of Norway, Iowa, won the IMCA modified feature and Steve Watts of Danville, Iowa, took street stock honors.
Sam Jacobs of Columbus, Neb., topped a field of more than 30 late models at Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa, to claim the $800 top prize in the fourth annual “Gold Cup” on April 23. Jacobs grabbed the lead early in the feature and then had to hold off Don Weyenrich of Norfolk, Neb., in the late stages to secure the victory. Glenn Robey of Omaha took third, Bob Hill of Randall, Iowa, fourth, and Bruce Mark of Williams, Iowa, fifth.
Joe Kosiski won both Saturday and Sunday night features in the “Spring Spectacular” at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City in April 23 and 24. The newly-wed from Omaha won his heat and then scored the win after battling his brother Steve in the 20-lap feature on Saturday night and then followed that up with a dominant performance in the 30-lap finale on Sunday evening, leading green to checker.
Al Schill and Dick Trickle each captured 50-lap feature races with Schill taking the overall championship in the ARTGO-sanctioned late model special at Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill., in April 24. Schill, a 38-year-old speedster from Franklin, Wis., captured his first ARTGO win of the season in the opening feature. Joe Shear of Beloit, Wis., Jim and Jay Sauter of Necedah, Wis., and Trickle trailed Schill at the finish.  Trickle would show his stuff in the second 50-lapper, powering past Jim Sauter on lap 19 and wasting no time in building a comfortable margin, winning by a quarter of a lap. Schill would finish second, clinching the overall title with Jim Weber of Roseville, Minn., taking third, Tom Musgrave of Glenview, Ill., in fourth, and Marl Malcuit of Strasburg, Ohio, taking fifth.
Dick Schiltz of Waterloo, Iowa, scored his first NASCAR Grand American late model victory of the year as he topped the field in the “Pepsi Spring Championships” at the Iowa State Speedway in Des Moines on April 30.  Schiltz held off Bob Hill of Randall, Iowa, for the victory, while Ed Sanger of Waterloo was third, Scott Sells of Waverly, Iowa, fourth and Denny Osborn of Cedar Falls, Iowa, took fifth.  Jack Mitchell of Cedar Falls debuted a new IMCA modified and captured the feature over Dean Schroeder of Iowa Falls, Iowa, and Mike Schulte of Norway, Iowa.
Sammy Swindell led but 50 feet of the World of Outlaws National Challenge Series 30-lap feature at Huset’s Speedway in Sioux Falls, S.D., on April 30. However, it was the last 50 feet. Swindell overtook Ron Shuman of Mesa, Ariz., on the front stretch for the checkered flag when Shuman got held back by lapped traffic. Shuman would claim the bridesmaid spot after leading the race for 19 laps and heading for his first career World of Outlaws’ victory. 
Joe Kosiski powered his way to the front early and held on to capture his second consecutive “Spring Invitational at Sunset Speedway in Omaha on April 30.  Joe’s brother Steve would finish second in the 50-lap feature, giving the Kosiski brothers 30 percent of the $16,000 purse. Joe would cash in $3,000 for the victory while Steve took home $1,500. The 25-lap sportsman feature saw Lavern Lehman of Waterloo, Iowa; take home the $800 first prize.
Dick Trickle outran Rusty Wallace of Valley Park, Mo., to record his second ASA Circuit of Champions victory of the campaign in the “Badgerland 150” at Wisconsin State Fair Park Speedway in West Allis on May 1. Trickle took home $8,050 from a purse of $$5,350 contributed from a crowd of 14,220 fans who turned out despite high winds and temperatures in the 40’s. Trickle and Wallace swapped the lead back and forth early on in the contest before Trickle gained control at the halfway point. He would spend the second half of the race fending off Wallace’s advances and win by a little over a second at the finish. Jim Sauter would come home in third, Bob Senneker of Dorr, Mich., took fourth, and Bob Strait of Flossmoor, Ill., grabbed fifth.
Bad weather continued to plague tracks across six Midwest states early on in the season. Cold temperatures, heavy rains and high winds forced cancellations of special events and postponed numerous season openers at many tracks.
The racing world would mourn the loss of two young racers. Dana Carter (30 years old) of Huntington Beach, Calif., the younger brother of Duane “Pancho” Carter, would suffer a heart attack after a race in Indianapolis on May 5 while Jim Dunn (34 years old) of Roseville, Ohio, would lose his life in a racing mishap at Paducah, Ky., on May 8.
Jack Hewitt of Troy, Ohio, became the 12th different winner in the 13-year history of the Tony Hulman Classic USAC sprint car race at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track on May 8. Hewitt, who started seventh in the 20-car field, guided his sprinter into second place behind Larry Dickson after the first lap. Making his first USAC sprint car appearance in over two years, Hewitt passed Dickson on lap six and led the remainder of the 30-lap main event, finishing several car-lengths ahead of runner-up Ken Schrader.   
Terry Baldry of Omro, Wis., scored the biggest win of his career at the Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, when he outraced Joe Shear of Beloit, Wis., to capture the “Budweiser Spring Classic” 50-lap late model feature on Sunday afternoon, May 15. With a crowd of 6,718 looking on, Baldry came from deep in the starting field to pass Shear on lap 36. The defending Fox River Racing Club champion would not be challenged after that, winning handily.  Shear would settle for second with Bob Iverson of Hyde, Mich., third, Tom Musgrave of Glenview, Ill., fourth and Tom Reffner of Rudolph, Wis., fifth.
Steve Kinser easily won the USAC sprint car race at Santa Fe Speedway in Willow Springs, Ill., on May 20. Kinser passed Steve Long on lap nine of the 30-lapper and was never challenged afterwards. Kinser was followed by Danny Milburn, Ken Schrader, Sheldon Kinser and Long
Rookie Teo Fabi, an Italian road racer and rookie at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, shocked the racing world by breaking both the one-lap and four-lap qualifying records to become only the second rookie ever to win the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 on May 21. Fabi, 27, drove his Cosworth-powered March to an average speed of 207.395 miles per hour with a fast lap of 208.049 mph.
After a frustrating start to the ASA Circuit of Champions’ season, Bob Senneker left no doubt that the “Michigan Bluebird” was back to form, winning the 300-lap feature at Queen City Speedway in West Chester, Ohio, on May 22. Senneker had resisted the trend among ASA pilots to switch to the shorter wheelbase 1982-83 Camaro/Firebird models for the season, keeping his trusty 1981 version. After qualifying third, Senneker would stay with the frontrunners for most of the race, slipping by Rusty Wallace for the top spot on lap 238. He would hold off a hard-charging Dick Trickle at the end and win by less than a second. Senneker collected $5,715 from $42,100 in posted awards to notch ASA career victory number 43.
Marvin Carman of Union City, Mich., won the 35th annual “Little 500” at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway on May 28. It was Carman’s second consecutive win in the long-endurance event and it was run in the relatively slow time of 2 hours, 24 minutes, and 29 seconds. Carman had a six-lap edge at the checkered over runner-up Sonny Hartley of Orlando, Fla., who was driving relief for Ronnie Smith of Lutz, Fla. Jim Moulis, who finished second the year before, lost five laps when he pitted for a tire change on lap 488. He finished third nine laps off the pace. A rash of caution flags, 15 in all, caused the field to slow their pace for a total of 131 laps.
Frank Gawlinski nailed down first and second place finishes in twin 50-lap features to take the overall championship in A RTGO Racing’s fourth annual “Chicagoland Showdown” at Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Ind., on May 28. Gawlinski, a two-time Illiana track champ, claimed his first ATRGO win of the year, sharing 50-lap victory honors with three-time circuit champion Dick Trickle.
Dick Trickle and Joe Shear each recorded first and second place finishes in twin 50-lap features, which highlighted ARTGO Racing’s “Spring Nationals” at Capital Super Speedway in Oregon, Wis., on May 29. By virtue of his fast time qualifying run during time trials, Trickle was crowned overall winner of the event, which was delayed a week by rain. 
His car beaten and battered, Rusty Wallace won the “Silver Creek 300” for the ASA Racing Series late models at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway on June 4. Wallace tangled with two cars early in the contest, causing severe sheet metal damage but he took advantage of extended caution periods to make repairs and managed to lead the last 124 circuits of the 300-lap grind.
Rich Vogler breezed to an easy victory in the 30-lap sprint feature and Ken Schrader nabbed the 30-lap midget headliner to highlight the Don Branson-Jud Larson Memorial USAC doubleheader at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, on June 4. 
Dean Roper passed Bobby Jacks on lap 59 and went on to win the ARCA/USAC-sanctioned “American 100” at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield on June 5. Jacks, an ARCA regular, placed second and were followed by Rick O’Brien, Terry Pearson and Jerry Churchill.
Not even a touch of the flu could stop Dick Trickle from scoring a clean sweep of ARTGO-sanctioned late model action to highlight the ninth annual “Dr. Pepper 100” at La Crosse Interstate Speedway in West Salem, Wis., on June 5. The 41-year-old legend from Wisconsin Rapids opened the event by setting fast time with a 19.278 second tour of the .514-mile oval in qualifications and then won both of the division’s 50-lap main events.
Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, played a waiting game as he won the 11th annual “Miller 100” at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids on June 7. Dolan started on the outside of the second row and stayed near the front the whole race, but used a lap 93 pass of Ken Walton of Viola, Iowa, to annex the victory. It was Dolan’s first win in the charity event. Walton held on to finish second while polesitter Bill Rice of Des Moines took third. Ed Sanger of Waterloo and Jim Burbridge of Delhi rounded out the top five. NASCAR star Bobby Allison of Hueytown, Ala., finished 20th after being involved in an early race crash.
Defending USAC midget champion Kevin Olson of Machesney Park, Ill., returned to racing with style as he won the 40-lap feature in the “Badger Midget vs. USAC Shootout” at Hales Corner Speedway in Franklin, Wis., on June 10. It was Olson’s first appearance since he suffered a serious back injury at the Seattle Kingdome on March 19. Olson snared the lead from Stan Fox on lap 12 and then held off a determined Rich Vogler for the remaining laps to pick up the victory.
Former race car driver Ron Perdock of Knoxville, Iowa, was killed in a plane crash just north of Knoxville on Sunday morning, June 12. The 35-year-old car dealer was originally from Washington, Iowa, and had competed at West Liberty Raceway for many years before moving to Ames, Iowa. He was track champion at Hamilton County Speedway in Webster City, Iowa, in the early 70’s.
Dick Trickle, a five-time state champion, took the first step towards garnering a sixth title by winning the 60-lap late model feature in the Red, White, and Blue series opener at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wis., on Sunday afternoon, June 12. With a crowd of 5,831 on hand, Trickle cast aside engine problems which bothered him in qualifying and the trophy dash, to grab the lead on the 27th circuit in a wild scramble with Bob Iverson and Jim Sauter. He would win by six car lengths over Tom Reffner.
Gary Webb of Davenport, Iowa, took over the lead when Rollie Frink, also of Davenport, suffered a flat tire, and went on to post the victory in the annual “Pabst Blue Ribbon 100” at East Moline (Ill.) Speedway on June 14. Frink took the lead and was in command when he suffered the flat tire on a lap 41 restart. Webb took over at that point and led the rest of the way. Ron Gustaf of East Moline, who applied pressure to Webb over the last portion of the event, finished second. Roger Long of Fithian, Ill. Grabbed third, Frink came back to finish fourth and Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, was fifth.
Dick Trickle finished second to Mike Eddy of Midland, Mich., in the first 75-lap main event, but came back to win the second to dominate the rain-plagued opening round of the “Slinger Nationals” at Slinger (Wis.) Super Speedway on Wednesday, June 15. Eddy, in his Slinger debut took over the lead on lap five and led the remaining 70 circuits in dominating the first feature. In the second feature, Trickle would inherit the top spot on lap 44 when race leader Mark Martin of Charlotte, N.C., spun trying to avoid a lapped car. Trickle would set a fast pace for the rest of the race and win easily over NASCAR’s Bobby Allison and Alan Kulwicki of Greenfield, Wis.
Rick Wages of Moline, Ill., in his first appearance at Hawkeye Raceway in Blue Grass, Iowa, won the 50-lap Late Model special event on Thursday night, June 16. Wages won a thriller over Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley that saw the two hot shoes side-by-side and nose to tail for the second half of the feature. Roy Pestka of Davenport took third followed by Ron Gustaf of East Moline, Ill. Jack Lueth of Davenport was the IMCA Modified winner while Bob Dominacki of Bettendorf took the Bomber feature win.
After three days of rainouts, the ninth annual “Ironman Invitational” finally got off the ground on June 16 and saw veteran Leon Plank of Eau Claire, Wis., take his second straight win. Plank, who started on the fifth row, took the lead from Red Steffen, also of Eau Claire, with only a few laps remaining to take the win. Rick Egersdorf of St. Paul, Minn., took third, Rick Popovich of Duluth, Minn., fourth and Jerry Legatt of St. Cloud, Minn., fifth.  
Denny Houseman of Estherville, Iowa, led from start to finish in the 20-lap main event to win the “Joel Taylor Memorial” at VFW Speedway in Jackson, Minn., on June 18. Houseman was never threatened during the race, which netted him $1,200. Taking a solid second was Todd Mack of East Grand Forks, N.D. 
Steve Kinser pocketed over $4,000 en route to winning the ninth annual “Missouri Sprint Car Nationals” in Sedalia, Mo., on June 18. The Bloomington, Ind., driver won both Friday and Saturday night’s 25-lap features. Temporarily driving the C.K. Spurlock/Gambler #18, Kinser kept a comfortable distance over Doug Wolfgang of Sioux Falls, S.D., who claimed second ahead of Rick Hood of Memphis, Tenn., Randy Smith of Norwalk, Iowa, and John Sernett of Tulsa, Okla.
Dick Trickle combined first and second place finishes in the twin 75-lap features to take the overall title of Minnesota State Champion at Raceway Park in Shakopee, Minn., on June 21. The ARTGO-sanctioned late model event was held before a capacity crowd as the series made its first-ever stop at the paved quarter-mile. Trickle, who tallied his 25th feature win of the year in the second 75-lapper, shared the victory spotlight with NASCAR regular Mark Martin who won the opening 75-lap main. Martin would suffer a flat tire in the nightcap and settle for ninth. Despite heavy rains in the morning, the program, the first late model card there in10 years, went on as planned with NASCAR’s Buddy Baker on hand.
Dick Schiltz, a Minnesota native, who calls Waterloo, Iowa, home, returned to his native soil on June 22 and posted a convincing win in a NASCAR divisional Grand American race at Fairmont Speedway. The event marked the first time a NASCAR Grand American race had been held in Minnesota and was also the first NASCAR event staged on a dirt track in the Gopher State. Schiltz, the current NASCAR Central Region point’s leader, grabbed his eighth feature win of the season.
Rick Ferkel of Tiffin, Ohio, grabbed the first of the three-race series of the “J & L Gas-Wilmot Winged Open Sprint Series” at Wilmot (Wis.) Raceway on June 25. Ferkel was only 21st fastest of 41 in qualifying, but improved quickly, winning his 10-lap heat, 25-lap B main and the top prize of $2,000 in the 50-lap main event. Ferkel started 13th in the 20-car field but found that number not unlucky as he took the lead on lap 13. Bob Robel, Rick Lemanski, Dean Shirley and Chuck Amati rounded out the top five finishers.
Along with former announcer Doc Lemon, sprint car drivers Jerry Weld of Kansas City, 1961 Knoxville Nationals champion Roy Robbins, and Missouri’s Gary Scott were inducted into the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame on June 25.
Randy Smith took advantage of the mechanical plagued Cliff Woodward on the white flag lap to win the National Speedways Contest Association-sanctioned sprint car event at Eagle (Neb.) Raceway on June 24. The $1,000 victory also moved Smith into the NSCA point’s lead and closer to the $10,000 point’s fund. Woodward commanded the race for the first 23 laps with only one serious challenge coming from Bob Thoman. Thoman experienced a sour engine as well, but managed to limp home in third place.
After being rained out on June 28, the “Chevron 50”, a special race at Hawkeye Raceway near Bluegrass, Iowa, took place on June 28 Rollie Frink of Davenport dominated the late model competition, winning both his heat and the 50-lap feature. Although he led wire to wire, it wasn’t an easy victory for Frink. Rick Wages of Moline, Ill., challenged him in the early going and Dave Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, was hot on his heels in the late stages of the race. Bettendorf’s Bob Dominacki visited the winner’s circle in the bomber division for the fourth time of the year, Jeff Marburger of Sabula, Iowa took sportsman honors and Rick Wages won the IMCA modified main event.
Kevin Stepan of Mosinee, Wis., scored the biggest win of his young career, taking overall honors in the third annual “Larry Detjens Memorial” at State Park Speedway in Wausau, Wis., on June 30. Stepan finished the evening with 102 points, 13 better than runner-up Dick Trickle. Stepan took lead from Wausau’s Wayne Lodholz on lap 16 of the first of two 25-lap features and then held off Mike Miller of Marietta, Ga., in a 10-lap dogfight.
J.J. Smith of Appleton, Wis., wheeled his 1983 Thunderbird to a 10 car-length victory in the 20-lap late model feature on June 30 in Fox River Racing Club action before a crowd of 9,378, the largest ever to attend a race at the Kaukauna track and the largest in FRRC’s 33-year-old history.
Marvin Smith of Newark, Ohio, scored his second ARCA Supercar Series victory of the season in the “Winchester 100” at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway on July 1. After pitting for fresh tires on lap 56, Smith passed Bobby Jacks of Huber Heights, Ohio, for the lead on lap 81 and then beat Duane Pierson of Villa Park, Ill., by four seconds for the win. 
Al Johnson, running hot as a firecracker, literally ran away with the 50-lap “Stars & Stripes Classic” at Santa Fe Speedway in Willow Springs, Ill., on July 2. Johnson, of Justice, Ill., celebrated his birthday in style, taking the lead on the fifth lap then pulling away for the win. Tony Izzo of Bridgeview, Ill., used the pole position to his advantage and took the early lead, but Johnson, charging from the inside second row, blew by Izzo on the high side coming out of turn two to take the lead. Jim O’Conner of Kankakee, Ill., would take second, Bob Pohlman of Worth, Ill., third, Denny Falkos of Aurora, Ill., in fourth, and Larry Jackson of Lyons, Ill., in fifth.
Dick Trickle was crowned he overall champion of the two-day, two-track ARTGO-sanctioned “Summer Nationals” by virtue of his two victories in twin 50-lap features at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wis., on July 4. Trickle nailed down a third-place finish in the 100-lap contest the previous night at Capital Super Speedway in Oregon, Wis., on July 3. Jim Sauter of Necedah, Wis., who won the 100-lapper at Capital, swept both the 50-lap features at Kaukauna but after the second feature, Sauter’s car was found to have an oversized engine, thus giving both feature wins to runner-up Trickle. Sauter was dropped back to 12th place in the first feature and 11th in the second main.
Steve Kinser of Bloomington, Ind., showed little mercy for his fellow World of Outlaw competitors as he claimed his 11th series win of the season by topping the field in the 30-lap main at Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, S.D. on July 4. Kinser pushed his Valvoline #11 around Sammy Swindell on lap 17 and went on to post a six car-length victory on the half-mile clay oval.
Edward “Ebby” Schallau, a former Eastern Iowa racing promoter, died Wednesday, July 6, at the age of 77. Schallau was a founding member and former president of the Cedar Valley Stock Car Racing Association. Starting in the early 50’s, he promoted races in Cedar Rapids, Independence, Monticello and Vinton.
They were on their feet at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway on July 9 as the seventh annual “Twin 16’s” produced some of the finest racing all year. The popular event saw T.J. Giddings of Kansas City and Tim Green of Carmichael, Calif., split wins in the doubleheader.  Giddings won the first feature handily after Randy Smith of Norwalk and Green tangled going for the lead. After the restart, Smith and Green would work their way from the back of the pack to finish second and third. With the field reversed for the second feature, Green and Smith again made their way to the front with Green in fourth place at the end of lap one and grabbing the lead on lap six with Smith on his tail. Smith would eventually fade as Green picked up his 13th career win at the famed half-mile.
Tom Bartholomew of Waterloo, Iowa, was the winner of the NASCAR Winston Racing 50-lap late model feature at the Dubuque County (Iowa) Fairgrounds on Sunday, July 10. The 32-year-old, 15-year veteran took the lead on lap 23 when race leader Gary Tigges of Durango, Iowa, suffered a flat tire and was forced to the pit area.  Bartholomew ran untouched the rest of the way and won by a comfortable margin. Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, was second, Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, came in third, Rick Wendling of Hazelton, Iowa, fourth and Curt Martin of Independence, Iowa, who led the first 11 laps, finished fifth.
After being plagued by an abundance of bad luck in 12 previous career Wisconsin State Fair Park Speedway starts, Alan Kulwicki found 13 to be his lucky number as he edged Michigan’s Bob Senneker to score his initial win at the track in the ASA-sanctioned “Miller High Life 200” event in West Allis, Wis., on July 10. Kulwicki’s turn came as he wheeled his Firebird around Senneker to take the lead shortly after a restart on lap 179 and then held off Senneker to take the victory by a car-length.
Gary Webb of Davenport, Iowa, and Dave Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, in their first appearance at Hawkeye Raceway for 1983, kept the crowd on their feet as the two hot shoes dueled back and forth in the “Pabst Blue Ribbon Late Model Special” in Bluegrass, Iowa, on July 12. Webb and Birkhofer both started on the front row, with Webb taking the lead at the drop of the green and Birkhofer giving chase. That chase would continue for the full 50 laps as the two veterans raced side-by-side and nose to tail throughout the contest. Despite several last lap attempts from Birkhofer to unseat Webb from the top spot, Webb would hold by a car length to take the exciting win.  Jim Sandusky of Coal Valley, IL, took third while Bruce Hanford of Davenport grabbed fourth.
Joe Kosiski of Omaha won the annual “Gopher 50” outlaw late model special on Tuesday night, July 12, at the Steele County Fairgrounds in Owatonna, Minn. Kosiski led wire-to-wire in the 50-lapper, but both he and fifth place finisher Billy Moyer Jr. of Des Moines failed to make the minimum weight requirement.  Both Kosiski and Moyer ran across the scales twice more and Kosiski’s third attempt showed that he was five pounds over the minimum and he kept his first place finish. Moyer, however, was disqualified from fifth. Chasing Kosiski across the finish line was Bob Shryock of Estherville, Iowa, Pete Parker of Kaukauna, Wis., Ron Droog of Aberdeen, S.D., and Will Kraft of Lakefield, Minn. 
Surging from his inside row starting berth, Steve Kinser led wire-to-wire in notching his 13th World of Outlaws sprint car main event victory of the season at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., on July 11. Promoted by Nationals Speedways, the program drew a near capacity crowd to the first sprint car show since 1965 to be held at the northern Wisconsin speed bowl.  
Dick Trickle continued his hot streak in ARTGO late model racing as he was the victor in the sixth annual “All-Star 100” at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway on Tuesday, July 12. Trickle recorded his tenth ARTGO-sanctioned win of the ’83 season, which established a new series’ record. Taking the checkered flag after 100 circuits, Trickle had a 2.45 second lead over runner-up Mark Martin of Charlotte, N.C. Jim Sauter of Necedah, Wis., took third, Joe Shear of Beloit, Wis., fourth and Steve Burgess of Eau Claire, Wis., fifth.
Rich Vogler scored his second clean sweep of a USAC midget show at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway on July 13. Vogler set fast time with a 17 second tour of the quarter-mile, won the first heat and the 40-lap feature.
Rick Egersdorf of St. Paul, Minn., was the winner of the 21st annual “Late Model Open” at Tri-State Speedway in Superior, Wis., on July 14. Egersdorf took the lead from Ron Schreiner of Eleva, Wis., on lap 12 and led the remaining 38 circuits of the 50-lap feature. Rick Popovich of Duluth, Minn., finished in second place, Schreiner took third, Leon Plank of Eau Claire, Wis., fourth, and Steve Laursen of Comstock, Wis., fifth.
Randy Smith of Norwalk, Iowa, behind the wheel of the McCarl/Jensen #55, easily took his third National Speedways Contest Association (NSCA) feature win of the season at the Henry County Fair in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, on Friday, July 15. Smith was the third driver to lead the 25-lap finale. Galen Martin, a favorite of many of the grandstand full of fair goers, led the first three laps before relinquishing the top spot to Australian Brett Lacey. Lacey built a substantial lead in the Trostle  #20 before losing power on lap eight, allowing Smith to inherit the lead and eventually score the win. Bill Robison, T.J. Giddings, John McCoy and Galen Martin would follow Smith across the finish line.
Tom Helfrich of Haubstadt, Ind., posted his first National Dirt Racing Associations (NDRA) late model victory in more than two years as he won the “Stroh’s/Dodge National 100” at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo., on July 16. Helfrich took the lead on the 76th lap from Rodney Combs of Lost Creek, W.Va., when Combs’ car developed trouble and was never headed the rest of the way. Helfrich cashed in $20,000 out of the $100,000 plus purse for the three-day event. Morning Sun, Iowa’s Johnny Johnson ran a steady race and finished second. Pennsylvania’s Kenny Brightbill took third followed by Kevin Gundaker of St. Louis and Bill Martin of Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Dick Trickle turned in another fine driving performance in ARTGO late model competition as he made off with the “Escape to Wisconsin 100” at Dells Motor Speedway in the Wisconsin Dells on July 16. Trickle captured 11th ARTGO feature win of the season, leading all 100 laps in a dominant show. Steve Holzhausen of Bangor, Wis., turned in his best ARTGO performance ever, finishing second.
Dick Trickle survived a four-car battle with Tom Reffner, Joe Shear and Jim Sauter to win the second leg of the Red, White and Blue State Championship Series for late models at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wis., on Sunday, July 17. A crowd of 4,652 sat through a hot, humid afternoon to witness Trickle’s 34th feature win of 1983 on raceways throughout the nation. Trickle grabbed the lead on lap 52 of the 70-circuit event when Sauter slid high coming out of the fourth turn on the half-mile paved oval.  
Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, won the 50-lap late model main event during the Boone (Iowa) Speedway “Grand Nationals XVII” on July 20. Sanger inherited the lead on lap 48 when race leader Roger Dolan was forced to pit for a flat tire. Sanger was followed to the checkers by Tom Bartholomew of Waterloo, Denny Osborn of Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Dick Schiltz of Waterloo.
Not even a one-day rain delay could prevent Dick Trickle from scoring his 35th feature victory of the season in the 166-lap main event which concluded Slinger (Wis.) Super Speedway’s “Summer Nationals” on July 20. The triumph gave Trickle the overall title in the two-even series, and was the second straight “Slinger Nationals” crown for Trickle, making him the first two-time winner in the four-year history of the series. Trickle earned more than $6,000 in posted awards and contingency money.
Steve Kinser continued his winning ways as he won the big All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car finale at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, on July 23. Kinser took the lead from Jack Hewitt on lap 17 and held on from there to pocket the $22,000 winners share. Hewitt, Sammy Swindell, Bobby Davis Jr., and Dave Blaney rounded out the top five.
Racing’s lucky horseshoe fell into Frank Gawlinski’s pocket as the Lynwood, Ill., driver capitalized on race leader’s Butch Miller’s misfortune and went on to win ARTGO Racing’s “Molenaar Classic 100” at Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Ind., on July 26. Miller had led for the first 84 circuits with Gawlinski trying to keep up when the Lawton, Mich., driver’s bubble burst. Attempting to lap a slower Jay Sauter on the outside, the two would tangle, sending both cars spinning into the infield. According to ARTGO rules, Miller was sent to the back, giving Gawlinski the lead. Gawlinski, despite driving on only seven cylinders, would have a seven car-length lead over Tom Reffner of Rudolph, Wis., at the finish.
Leon Plank of Mondovi, Wis., would take the lead, lose it, and then regain it again in the outlaw late model “Thunderbird Open” at Dodge County Speedway in Kasson, Minn., on July 27. Plank would get out to a fast lead in the 50-lapper, lose it to Joe Kosiski for 13 circuits and then regain the top spot for good to take the $1,500 top prize. Plank added another $440 in lap money to bring his total earnings to close to $2,000. Les Duellman of Fountain City, Wis., would earn runner-up honors while Ron Schreiner of Eleva, Wis., Bob Shryock of Estherville, Iowa, and Denny Anderson of Dodge Center, Iowa, rounded out the top five. 
Sammy Swindell, driving the Old Milwaukee #1, picked up where he left off at the April World of Outlaws show at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway and ran away with the $3,000 to win feature on Wednesday, July 27. In what was considered a warm-up for the upcoming “Knoxville Nationals”, Swindell grabbed the lead at the drop of the green and powered away from the rest of the field in the 25-lap contest. Ron Shuman of Mesa, Ariz., took second, Steve Kinser third, Doug Wolfgang fourth, and Shane Carson of Oklahoma City fifth.
It was anything but a start to finish win for Doug Wolfgang as he won the 20-lap World of Outlaws feature at Santa Fe Speedway in Willow Springs, Ill., on July 28. Wolfgang barely qualified for the feature after finishing fifth in his heat, but because he set the fifth fastest time in time trials, he started on the outside of the front row. He would take the lead from the start and although Ron Shuman challenged him early in the contest, he would never relinquish the top spot. Steve Kinser would pass Shuman for runner-up honors while Shuman would settle for third.
Doug Wolfgang of Sioux Falls, S.D., made his first visit to Wilmot (Wis.) Speedway on July 30 and made it a memorable one, winning the top money in the second round of the “J & L Gas-Wilmot Winged Open Sprint Series”. Wolfgang’s win came after first round winner Rick Ferkel lost the steering in his sprinter after leading for the first 37 laps. Wolfgang inherited the point and led the last three laps to claim the win. Gib Wiser of Neosha, Wis., took second followed by Jimmy Sills of Sacramento, Calif.
With a $1,000 bounty on his head, Dick Trickle bested the bounty hunters and went on to win the ARTGO-sanctioned “Dixieland Challenge 100” at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wis., n July 2. A crowd of 8,145, the largest ever to witness an ARTGO Racing event in Wisconsin, saw the amazing 41-year-old driver come from last place in the 24-car starting field to score his 12th ARTGO feature win of the season. Trickle agreed to start in the rear of the field, but if he won the race, he would pick up an additional $1,000 if he won. Trickle took the lead from NASCAR star Mark Martin on lap 64 and was never headed after that.
Whitey Harris of Lake Villa, Ill., topped a field of 21 late models, including NASCAR’s Darrell Waltrip and Mark Martin, to win the “Dixieland Challenge” at Santa Fe Speedway in Willow Springs, Ill., on Thursday, August 4. Harris, the night’s second fastest qualifier, took the lead at the start and never looked back, as he led from start to finish.
Charlie Sentman, the racing auctioneer from Waveland, Ind., won the 20-lap late model feature at the Knox County Fair in Knoxville, Ill., on August 5. His win, before a sellout crowd, came after a mid-race battle with Greg Babb of Decatur, Ill. Both Sentman and Babb were heat winners on the well prepared half-mile.
Gary Lynch, who hails from Salem, Ore., got hooked up and went all the way to win the “Eldora Nationals” at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, on Saturday night, August 6. Lynch, who was the fourth fastest qualifier, took the lead from Jimmy Sills on lap four and ran untouched for the biggest win of his career. Lee Osborne, who won Friday night’s All Star Circuit of Champions feature, took second behind Lynch. Jimmy Sills, Tim Green and Jac Haudenschild rounded out the top five.
The flight of the “Bluebird” was unerring as Bob Senneker of Dorr, Mich., won the ASA-sanctioned “Redbud 400” at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway by .6 of a second over Rusty Wallace before a record crowd of 11,232 on August 6. In his patented style, Senneker measured the front-runners for the first half of the race then applied pressure late, benefitting from a break of concentration from Wallace on lap 366 to take the lead. At the finish, Senneker, Wallace and Dick Trickle would be the only drivers on the lead lap in a night of grinding attrition. 
The Busch Racing Series saw two different winners at two different tracks as Ray Guss Sr. of Milan, Ill., earned a hard-fought win at his hometown track of East Moline (Ill.) Speedway on August 9 while Gary Webb of Davenport, Iowa, won the 50-lap late model showdown at Quincy (Ill.) Raceways on August 11.
Sammy Swindell of Bartlett, Tenn., broke his Knoxville jinx to claim the 23rd annual “Knoxville Nationals” at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway on August 13. The 27-year-old assumed the lead after mechanical woes stopped Steve Kinser’s charge to his fourth consecutive title. Swindell, who pocketed $15,000 for the victory, won by a half straightaway over Doug Wolfgang and Ron Shuman.   Steve Kinser would win the Wednesday night opener while Bobby Allen of Hanover, Pa., too Thursday night’s qualifier. Swindell would win the Race of States and Rick Ungar took the Mystery feature on Friday night.
Dick Trickle chalked up his sixth State Championship late model title at the Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wis., on Sunday afternoon August 13. The crafty Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., veteran flew by Ton Reffner of Rudolph, Wis., on lap 33 and won by five car-lengths at the finish of the 80-lap feature of the third and final round of the “Red, White and Blue State Championship Series”. Trickle totaled 3,695 points to win the three-race series. He was followed by Tom Reffner with 2,695 markers and Jim Sauter with 1,670.
Omaha’s Joe Kosiski had led the 100-mile late model event on the one-mile track at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia each of the last four years, but had never won it. It was a different story this year as Kosiski breezed to an easy victory on Saturday afternoon, August 13. Billy Moyer Jr. of Des Moines led the first 32 laps before being passed by Kosiski on the inside of the front stretch. All leaders pitted on lap 36 and Shorty Acker led until lap 61 when he was overtaken by Kosiski. Acker took the lead again on lap 81 but lost it for good to Kosiski five laps later. Bo Smith of St. Charles, Mo., would finish second while Mark Keltner of Morning Sun, Iowa, took third. Acker would run out of gas on lap 97 and scramble to finish fourth.
Doug Wolfgang of Sioux Falls, S.D., passed Bobby Davis Jr. of Memphis, Tenn., with just four laps remaining to win the 30-lap National Speedways Contest Association winged sprint car feature before a near-capacity crowd at the Iowa State Fair on Sunday afternoon, August 14. Wolfgang passed Davis going into the third turn on lap 26 and then opened up a comfortable margin for the last few laps. Davis would settle for second while Cliff Woodward of Kearney, Mo., took third. Richard Lupo of Hanover, Pa., earned fourth and Tim Green of Carmichael, Calif., finished fifth.
Just as “lady luck” was not too kind to Billy Moyer Jr. in Saturday’s 100-mile race at the Missouri State Fairgrounds, she smiled on him Sunday, August 14, as he won the 25-lap feature on the half-mile track. Moyer was in front all 25 laps and never challenged as the race for second place heated up behind him. Ed Dixon of Washington, Ill. and Kevin Gundaker of Batesville, Ark., put on a bumper to bumper battle for 22 laps before Dixon was able to prevail.
Ron Shuman withstood a mid-race challenge from Steve Kinser and went on to record his second World of Outlaws win of the season at Santa Fe Speedway in Willow Springs, Ill., on August 16. Shuman pushed his sprint car around Santa Fe’s longer oval and led all 30 laps to collect $6,525 for the victory. Kinser’s chance for victory came to a halt when he spun his car on lap 17. Sammy Swindell and Doug Wolfgang followed Shuman to the finish line.
Two-time ARTGO Racing champion Tom Reffner of Rudolph, Wis., captured ARTGO’s ninth annual “Wayne Carter Classic” at Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill., on August 16. The 42-year-old speedster held off Dick Trickle at the three-quarters mark of the 100-lapper and won by a straightaway at the finish for his first ARTGO win of the season.
Pete Parker led all 50 laps in winning the 11th annual “Silver 1000” at Proctor (Minn.) Speedway on August 17. Parker grabbed the front-running position on the opening lap and never relinquished it throughout the event. Jim Bruggeman of White Bear Lake, Minn., took runner-up honors, Rick Popovich of Duluth, Minn., was third, Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, fourth and Tom Nesbitt of Thunder Bay, Ontario, fifth.
As the heat of the summer kept breaking records, so did Gary Webb. The Davenport, Iowa, driver won his record 16th straight late model feature at East Moline (Ill.) Speedway on Friday, August 19. Following in Webb’s footsteps was Jeff Marburger of Sabula, Iowa. Marburger scored his 13th win of the season in the street stock division at East Moline as well.
Gary Bettenhausen overcame 101-degree temperatures to score a wire-to-wire victory in the “Tony Bettenhausen Memorial” 100-mile USAC Sliver Crown event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill., on August 20. Bettenhausen finished three seconds ahead of runner-up Ron Shuman. Ken Schrader, Larry Rice and George Snider rounded out the top five finishers.
Rocky Hodges of Des Moines, Iowa, waited until just two laps from the end of the race then shifted into high gear to win the championship feature race of the fifth annual “Jackson Nationals” at VFW Speedway in Jackson, Minn., on August 20. Hodges trailed Danny Smith of Hendersonville, Tenn., for most of the feature race but with a lap and a half to go, made a high pass work coming out of turn four as the white flag waved. Hodges would take the checkers by two car lengths and collect $7,500 for the exciting win. 
Dean Roper scored his third straight USAC stock car victory in Sunday afternoon’s “Allen Crowe Memorial” at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill., on August 21.  Roper, driving a Pontiac Grand Prix, took the lead from Terry Pearson on lap 39 and went on to beat runner-up Bob Brevak to the finish by three seconds.  Joe Wallace finished third, Butch Garner fourth and Tom Meinberg fifth. 
Mike Schulte of Norway, Iowa, posted the biggest win of his career, winning the IMCA “Modified Nationals” at the Benton County Fairgrounds in Vinton, Iowa, on August 21. The victory in the 100-lapper was worth $1,000 of the estimated $10,000 purse. Jack Mitchell of Cedar Falls, Iowa, paced the 38-car field for the first 27 laps of the race until Mike Krall of Waterloo took over the top spot. Krall would start slowing on lap 42 and Schulte would make the winning pass a lap later. He was chased by Mitchell the rest of the way. Merv Chandler of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, would finish third.
Kenny Schrader won the 75-lap USAC midget auto race at Godfrey (Ill.) Speedway on August 26. Schrader, who started 15th, took advantage of other driver’s mechanical issues and accidents to snare the lead on lap 26 and win by a comfortable margin. Arnie Knepper, Warren Mockler, Rich Vogler, and Mel Kenyon would all have the lead at the beginning of the race only to drop out.
Two-time USAC sprint car national champion Sheldon Kinser reentered the world of winged sprint car racing and enjoyed a $2,300 victory in the final leg of the “J & L Gas-Wilmot Winged Open Sprint Series” at Wilmot (Wis.) Speedway on August 27. It was the first time in 10 years that Kinser had wheeled a winged sprint car. Kinser would start on the outside front row and lead wire to wire in the 40-lapper, but spent the final 19 laps fighting off fast qualifier (15.09) Jim Moulis on the 1/3-mile oval. Rick Ferkel, despite being absent from the final series race, wound up the overall points winner.
Despite having to drive the final 134 laps in fourth gear, Dave Weltmeyer scored the biggest win of his career in the USAC/ARCA-sanctioned “Milwaukee Sentinel 200” at Wisconsin State Fair Park Speedway in West Allis on Sunday, August 28. Weltmeyer took the lead from Bill Venturini on the 163rd trip around the famous paved mile then survived a pair of restarts to cross the finish line 5.6 seconds ahead of Venturini to pick up the victory. Bobby Dotter came in third and was followed by Davey Allison and Ken Kotowicz.
Despite not winning one of the 10 feature races, Herb Shannon of Peoria, Ill., won the overall championship in the “Busch Late Model Series”, taking the title by 32 markers over Denny Falkos of Chicago, Ill. Shannon had consistently high finishes and never finished worse than fifth, averaging 21.6 out of a possible 30 points each night of racing. Racing took place in Granite City, Ill., Charleston, Ill., Peoria, Ill., Princeton, Ill., Mendota, Ill., East Moline, Ill., Quincy, Ill., and Willow Springs, Ill., 
“Injun” Joe Merryfield came out of retirement briefly to take the 40-lap “Grand Finale” invitational at Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa, on September 3. Merryfield, who hadn’t race for nearly two years, was behind the wheel of a car prepared by his friend Jim Wilson of Des Moines. Tony Stewart of Washington, Iowa, led he first 27 laps before lapped traffic allowed Merryfield to pass him on lap 28. He would run untouched the remaining 12 circuits. Stewart would settle for second, Kenny Walton of Viola, Iowa, would take third, Glenn Robey of Omaha, would grab fourth and Kenny Fenn of Washington, Iowa, would earn fifth. 
Ken Schrader overpowered Rich Vogler to claim the 100-lap USAC national midget feature at Belleville, Ill., on September 3. Vogler took command of the feature at the halfway point with Schrader close behind. Schrader squeezed into the lead on lap 61 and fought off Vogler the final 39 laps to take the win. Vogler would drop out on lap 97 with driveline issues. Ken Nichols, Tom Bigelow, Mel Kenyon, and Kevin Doty would follow Schrader across the finish line. 
Rick Hood led all the way to capture the USAC sprint car 30-lap feature at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind., on September 4. Hood, starting on the pole, took the lead at the drop of the green and raced to a relatively easy victory. Larry Rice, Mike Johnson, Ken Schrader, and Rich Vogler followed behind Hood.
Dean Roper cashed in on an early race misfortune and went on to win the 100-mile USAC/ARCA sanctioned stock car race at the Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds on September 4. The win was Roper’s fourth of the year and clinched the club’s stock car championship. Waiting patiently while other drivers either crashed or overheated in the 100-degree temperatures, Roper took the lead on lap 68 when most of the frontrunners made their mandatory pit stop. He would cruise the last 32 miles to score the win. Butch Garner, Tom Meinberg, Joe Wallace, and Rick O’Brien rounded out the top five.
Kevin Olson beat Don Tyler by a scant two feet to win the 50-lap feature at the second annual “Pepsi Midget Nationals” during the season-ending Badger Midge Racing Association program at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wis., on September 4. Olson, who collected $2,000 from the purse of $10,000, led only four laps of the contest as the capacity crowd was treated to a close, exciting race.
Tony Izzo of Bridgeview, Ill., notched his fifth victory of the season as he topped the 100-lap Prairie State Stock Car Classic” at Santa Fe Speedway in Willow Springs, Ill., on September 4. Izzo, the fastest qualifier, jumped into the lead on the opening lap and never relinquished it, although he was challenged early on by Jim O’Conner and Arnie Gardner. By lap38, both O’Conner and Gardner had dropped out and Izzo opened up a big cushion on his way to victory. Ken Pohlman of Worth, Ill., took runner-up honors and Errol Van Allen of LaGrange, Ill., grabbed third.
Sammy Swindell outran Steve Kinser to win the World of Outlaws’ “Skoal Bandits Shootout” at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo., on September 4. Kinser would lead the opening 22 circuits of the 30-lapper on the half-mile, high-banked clay oval, but a red flag period on lap 23 allowed Swindell to make some adjustments on his sprint car and on the restart he took command and charged to the $10,550 triumph. Kinser would hang on for second followed by Ron Shuman, Danny Smith, and Scott Ritchhart.
Bob Pierce led all the way to claim the 100-lap”Northern Illinois Clay Track Championship” at Kankakee (Ill.) Fairgrounds Speedway on September 5. Pierce raced ahead of season champion Cloyce Friend at the drop of the green and threaded his way through slower traffic on the quarter-mile track. Pierce eventually lapped every car except second place finisher Dick Potts. Friend, John Provenzano and Tom Rients rounded out the top five.
Jim Sauter led the entire 300 laps to win the ASA-sanctioned 300-lapper at the Minnesota State Fair Speedway in Falcon Heights on Monday, September 5. Despite his awesome display of power in the race, Sauter barely finished two car lengths ahead of runner-up Mike Eddy in the 300-lap contest. Eddy kept a similar margin over third place finisher Dick Trickle. Sauter earned $12,050 out of a posted $92,000 purse for the three-day program, also winning a 125-lap qualifying feature on Saturday and a 75-lap contest on Sunday afternoon.
An exciting side-by-side finish wasn’t the end of it at the “Hawkeyeland Street Stock Championships” at the Muscatine County Fairgrounds in West Liberty, Iowa, on September 5. Gus Hughes of Monticello, Iowa, won the A-main but gave up his victory to Rod Smith of Monmouth, Ill. Fifty-eight cars vied for 24 starting positions with Hughes taking the early lead. Smith would take over several laps later and open up a comfortable lead. With only a few circuits left in the 25-lapper, Smith found himself with a 10-car length lead but that shrunk dramatically as he encountered heavy lapped traffic, allowing Hughes to shorten the gap. On the final lap, Hughes sling-shot his way around Smith coming through the final turns and won by half a car length at the finish. After the race, though, Hughes refused to sell his engine for the $750 claim, thus forfeiting the $500 top prize to Smith.
Gary Bettenhausen won the 100-lap USAC Silver Crown Series event at the Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds on Monday, September 5. Ron Shuman would lead the first 13 laps on the mile dirt oval before Bettenhausen took command. Sheldon Kinser, who started 19th, took over the top spot on lap 43 but that would only last until the 51st circuit when Bettenhausen regained the top spot for good. Bettenhausen would set the pace to the checkers with Chuck Gurney taking second, Ken Schrader third, George Snider fourth and Bill Engelhart fifth.
Vern Weber and Dr. Jack Hunt, co-promoters of Greater Iowa Racing, Inc., announced they had sold the corporation to Jerry Blue of West Union, Iowa, on September 8. The sale ended their 19-year affiliation at the Buchanan County Fairgrounds in Independence, Iowa. Weber stated the high cost of racing had turned him off the sport. Weber had been connected with racing for 34 years; first as a driver and then on the promotional end.
Chuck Gurney outdistanced Sheldon Kinser to top the USAC Sliver Crown Series’ “Hoosier Hundred” at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis on September 10. Gurney would duck under Ken Schrader on lap 10 of the 100-mile event and then build up a half-lap lead to win the event for the second straight year. Kinser, Larry Rice, Kramer Williamson and Johnny Parsons followed.
Jim Back of Vesper, Wis., beat Dick Trickle by two-car lengths in the 75-lap feature to close out the “Budweiser 500” weekend at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wis., on September 11. Trickle, who had won five times in five attempts at WIR for the season, sliced into Back’s big lead late in the race, but Back held off the late charge before a crowd of 4,488.  Terry Baldry, Ted Musgrave and Alan Kulwicki followed Back and Trickle to the finish line.
Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, edged around Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, on the very last lap to win the 50-lap NASCAR Grand American late model feature during the “Winston Fall Special” at Boone (Iowa) Speedway on September 11. Greg Roorda of Mitchellville, Iowa, won the sportsman main, Terry Hirst of Rock Island, Ill., took IMCA modified honors and Lloyd Henderson of Granger, Iowa, score the thunder car victory.
Exhibiting the brute force of his C.J. Rayburn outlaw late model, 24-year-old Jeff Purvis of Clarksville, Tenn., flashed into the lead on lap 86 and cruised to an easy victory over Pat Patrick to win the 13th annual “World 100” at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, on September 11. Purvis, the sentimental favorite, dogged Patrick for the event’s initial 85 laps on Earl Baltes’ half-mile, clay oval before pulling off the winning move worth $16,000. Patrick would settle for second while Jack Boggs, Freddie Smith and Donnie Moran rounded out the top five.
Rich Vogler became the first three-time winner in the 31-year history of the “Hut Hundred” USAC midget event at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track on September 11. Vogler, who had won previously in 1978 and 1980, finished 10-car lengths ahead of runner-up Stan Fox, but had to fight off challenges from both Fox and Larry Rice in the late stages of the race.
Before 5,000 race fans, Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, passed Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, on the 89th lap an posted an impressive victory in the sixth annual “Yankee Dirt Track Classic” at Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on September 17. It was Sanger’s first victory at the half-mile since 1979 and bought him$3,500 of the record $27,000 purse. Leon Plank of Mondovi, Wis., would lead for the first 34 laps before Sanger took over. Dolan would slip by Sanger on lap 69, but Sanger would return the favor on lap 89 and hold steady for the last 11 laps to take the win. Plank, Tom Bartholomew of Waterloo, and Ken Walton of Viola, Iowa, rounded out the top five finishers.
Paul Shafer of Highland, Ind., tangled with Dick Potts on the last turn of the last lap but slid backwards across the finish line to score a one-foot victory in the “Hoosier Clay Championships” at Rensselaer (Ind.) Speedway on September 18.
Jim Back nailed down two firsts and a fifth place finish in 50-lap features to capture the overall title in the two-day, ARTGO-sanctioned, 12th annual “Midwest Championships” at Dell Motor Speedway in Wisconsin Dells on September 18.  Back, looking for his first-ever ARTGO Racing win, ended the wait in Saturday’s 50-lapper, grabbing the lead on lap three and going on to take the checkered flag. In Sunday night’s 50-lap finale, Back would pass Al Schill on the high side of the track on lap 35 and maintain a half straightaway lead from there. 
Joe Kosiski of Omaha, Neb., would cash in $1,200 for winning the “Tri-State Spectacular” at Tri-State Speedway in Fort Smith, Ark., on September 24. Kosiski would pass Rick Beebe of Overland, Kan., on lap eight of the 30-lap feature and win handily. The race was for second place as Beebe, Billy Moyer Jr. Des Moines, Iowa, and Doug Ingalls of Tyler, Tex., dueled for 20 laps. Ingalls would get the best of the battle with Moyer finishing third, Skip Thompson of Mountain Grove, Mo., in fourth and Beebe in fifth.
Racing vagabond Kenny Schrader captured his first career USAC Silver Crown feature to highlight the third annual “Four-Crown Nationals” at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, on September 24. In companion feature events, Jack Hewitt led from start to finish to take the 30-lap USAC sprint car main; Johnny Parsons took the 20-lap USAC midget finale and Bobby Jacks claimed the 30-lap USAC stock car headliner.
Willy Kraft of Lakefield, Minn., remained the hottest driver in north central Iowa and southern Minnesota as he captured the outlaw late model feature during the eighth annual “All Star Spectacular” at Fairmont (Minn.) Speedway on September 24. Kraft and Bob Shryock of Estherville, Iowa, would battle side-by-side and bumper to bumper before Kraft was finally able to prevail and collect the $1,500 first prize. Shryock would settle for second followed by Jerry Holtkamp of Williams, Iowa, Bruce Busho of Owatonna, Minn., and Mike Smith of Ellsworth, Iowa.
Joe Shear of Beloit, Wis., grabbed the lead on the 40th circuit and outran Tom Reffner and Dick Trickle to capture the “National Short Track Championship” 200-lap super late model feature on September 25. It was Shear’s record fifth win in the 18th running of the event.  Shear, who started sixth in the event, moved past Steve Murgic of Rosemount, Minn., on lap 40 and then for the remainder of the race, fought off Reffner and Trickle. The three cars raced in a tight formation until the checkered fell with Shear maintaining a slight edge over Reffner. Trickle too third ahead of Ted Musgrave, Alan Kulwicki and Murgic.
Don Hoffman and Randy Smith of Des Moines, Iowa, Gene Claxton of Kansas City, and Steve Knepper of Belleville, Ill., were winners at the “4-Crown Nationals” at I-70 National Speedway in Odessa, Mo., on October 1. Hoffman would run away from the field in late model 30-lapper, leading the entire distance and lapping the field. Smith would take over the lead on lap nine from T.J. Giddings of Kansas City to win the 30-lap sprint car main event. Claxton took the lead from A.R. Wilkenson of Kansas City on the 13th circuit of the sportsman 30-lapper and win handily. The 20-lap midget feature was the most contested race of the evening as a father and son battle ensued between Arnie and Steve Knepper of Belleville, Ill. Son finally overtook dad on lap 15 and held him off by a nose at the finish. 
Ed Hoffman of Bensenville, Ill., took the lead from John Hollifield on the fourth circuit and led the rest of the way to win the 22nd annual “Tony Bettenhausen Memorial 100” at Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Ind., on Sunday afternoon, October 2. Hoffman thus joined Frank Gawlinski as the only driver to won both the Illiana point title and Bettenhausen in the same year. Duane Pierson of Villa Park, Ill., took second, with Dave Weltmeyer of Harvey, Ill., in third, Tom Cellini of Chicago Heights, Ill., fourth and Burt Weitemeyer of Lansing, Ill., fifth.   
Tom Reffner of Rudolph, Wis., won Sunday afternoon’s 100-lap late model championship to wrap up his third “Oktoberfest 200” title in the 14th running of the event at La Crosse Interstate Speedway in West Salem, Wis., on October 2. In addition to capturing the 100-lap main, Reffner won the first 50-lap qualifier and set fast time on Saturday afternoon and added a 10-lap dash Saturday evening. Only a second place finish behind Jim Back in Saturday night’s 25-lap Race of Champions feature prevented Reffner from a clean sweep.
Ever the master of the high-banked oval, Mike Eddy won the ASA-sanctioned “Winchester 400” at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway on Sunday afternoon, October 2. Eddy crossed the finish line four seconds ahead of runner-up Butch Miller. Although the race featured 11 different lead changes, Eddy dominated the bulk of the chase, leading 297 circuits. Eddy would pass Miller on lap 386 to take the final lead of the day and go on to claim the winner’s $10,000 share of the event’s $58,000 plus purse. Miller, Jim Sauter, Terry Senneker, and Tom Jones would round out the top five.
Pete Parker of Kaukauna, Wis. (outlaw late model), Ken Walton of Viola, Iowa (limited late model), Ron Jones of Zimmerman, Minn. (sportsman) and Mike Schulte of Norway, Iowa (IMCA modified), were feature winners at the annual “Fall Festival of Racing” at Mason City (Iowa) Speedway on October 2. Parker got around Willy Kraft of Lakefield, Minn., on the last lap to win the outlaw late model feature while Walton outraced Lynn Idler of Ionia, Iowa, in the 25-lap limited late model main event. Ron Jones made it look easy in capturing sportsman feature honors while Mike Schulte topped Jack Mitchell of Cedar Falls, Iowa, not only for feature honors but the 1983 IMCA modified national point’s title as well. There were a total of 207 cars competing in four divisions during the weekend.
Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, moved past Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, on lap 68 of the 100-lap NASCAR Grand American feature to win the “Missouri Nationals” at Capital Speedway in Holts Summit, Mo., on October 1. Sanger constantly pressure Dolan throughout the race before finally making the winning pass. After getting the top spot, he would lap almost the whole field except Dolan, Joe Merryfield of Des Moines and Tom Bartholomew of Waterloo. Steve Fraise of Montrose, Iowa, wound up fifth, one lap down.
The 55-year reign of Wisconsin Auto Racing, Inc., as the promotional body of Wisconsin State Fair Park Speedway in West Allis came to an end on October 6 when the State Fair Board selected a group headed by Frank and Dominic Giuffrie, operators of a crane business in nearby Oak Creek, Wis., to conduct racing events at the paved mile for five years beginning in 1984.
Joe Kosiski demonstrated his mastery of the half-mile clay oval, winning the “Fall Festival” at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City on October 8. Starting in the back of the field after blowing a head gasket in qualifying, Kosiski began his assault on the field and by lap six was in third place behind Iowans’ Don Hoffman and Johnny Johnson. Those three dueled back and forth for 13 laps before Kosiski overtook them both for the lead on lap 19. He was never headed for the remainder of the 40-lap event. Hoffman, Steve Kosiski, Johnson and Doug Wiggs rounded out the top five. In other action, Bob Kutzke captured the street stock feature and Gene Claxton was the limited late model winner. 
Aided by a win in the first of two 50-lap features, Rusty Wallace emerged the overall winner of the two-day ARTGO Racing “Fall Nationals” at Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill., on October 9.  Wallace combined a first, second and fourth place finish to clinch the crown. Dick Trickle captured the event’s opening 50-lap headliner and Frank Gawlinski took top honors in Sunday’s concluding 50-lapper.
Jim O’Conner of Kankakee, Ill., battled with Tony Izzo of Bridgeview, Ill. and John Provenzano of Glen Ellyn, Ill., throughout most of the race and emerged the winner of the rain-postponed “Old Style National 200” at Santa Fe Speedway in Willow Springs, Ill., on Sunday, October 9. On the start of the final 100 laps, all-out racing resumed between the three veterans, going door to door with each other until their were 23 laps remaining and O’Conner was finally able to break free to take possession of the top spot for good. Provenzano, Izzo, Bob Pohlman of Oak Lawn, Ill., and Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, rounded out the top five finishers.
Tom Reffner won the 83-lap late model feature and Marvin Carmen of Union City, Ind., topped the 30-lap sprint car finale on Sunday, October 9, to highlight the two-day “October Nationals” at Capital Super Speedway in Oregon, Wis., on October 9. Jim McClean won the 25-lap Badger Midget Auto Racing Association 25-lapper on Saturday.
With a crowd of 10,000 looking on, Bob Senneker crossed the finish line five seconds ahead of Junior Hanley to win the ASA-sanctioned “Fall Classic” at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind., on October 16. With no one driver dominating the race, it was anyone’s race to win. Senneker’s crew put him in a good position as he beat all contenders out of the pits to take the lead for good on lap 226. Senneker earned $5,865 from a purse of $43,650. Hanley, Dick Trickle, Rusty Wallace and NASCAR’s Bobby Allison were the top five finishers.
Sammy Swindell would capture his fourth sprint car feature win of the year at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway in the World of Outlaws’ 25-lap “Skoal Bandits Shootout” on Sunday afternoon, October 16. Swindell’s $13,375 victory in the $82,500 series’ finale was sprint car racing’s third richest purse. It was also Swindell’s 17th World of Outlaws feature win of the season and 82nd of his career. Ralph Capitani, Knoxville Raceway promoter remarked afterwards that Swindell won over $39,000 at the track alone in 1983
John Mason of Millersburg, Ohio, and Doug Wolfgang of Sioux Falls, S.D., were the big winners at the “U.S. Dirt Invitational Challenge” at I-70 National Speedway in Odessa, Mo, on October 23. Mason would pass Charlie Swartz of Ashland, Ky., with two laps left in the 40-lap main event to score the $10,000 win. Larry Moore of Seneca, S.C., would also get by Swartz on the same lap and applied pressure to Mason on the final lap with Mason winning by a car-length at the checkers. Swartz, Noel Witcher of Greenwood, Ind., and Joe Kosiski of Omaha would round out the top five. Wolfgang won the championship sprint car feature after a spirited battle with Keith Kauffman of Mifflintown, Pa., for the full 40 laps. After swapping the lead several times, Wolfgang got past Kauffman on lap 37 and held on to collect the $10,000 first prize. Kauffman, Jeff Swindell of Memphis, Tenn., Danny Smith of Des Moines and T.J. Giddings of Kansas City were the top five finishers. Thirty-eight of the best late model drivers and 40 of the best sprint car pilots were invited to the $110,000 one-day event.

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 Schefler, also of Keokuk, moved into the front spot. Derr was still nearly a lap behind the leader.

Bob Kosiske of Omaha, driving a1959 Thunderbird, was challenging for the lead when his car ran out of gas on the lap 124. Then, on the 126th lap, Schefler'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 Malacek of Marshalltown, Iowa, rounded out the top five.
 
 

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 Downs 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 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 in victory lane after winning the 1971 Hawkeye 200


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 35.5seconds.

“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.