Thursday, June 26, 2014

1968 - Axle breaks and big race is lost

Knoxville, Iowa (July 26, 1968) – “The game is never over until the last batter is out.”
That expression was recalled Saturday night at the Marion County Fairgrounds racetrack in Knoxville.
Many of the more than 4,000 onlookers were starting to leave as current point’s leader Dick Sutcliffe of Kansas City was breezing along with a comfortable lead in the 25-lap feature event.
He had taken that position on the 14th lap when Russ Hibbard of Slater, Mo., was forced to the pits with a blown engine. Hibbard had been roaring along with a big lead when the bad break came. Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill. and Joe Saldana were trying vainly to close the gap on Sutcliffe.
Approaching the third run with the white flag waiting for him, Sutcliffe lost a rear axle. He watched helplessly as Blundy and Saldana went by on the inside. Sutcliffe finally came to a stop almost a full lap after the axle gave out and Blundy and Saldana sailed by the checkered flag with Ray Lee Goodwin third.
Joe Saldana turned in fast time of the night with a 21:64. Sutcliffe was second with 21:75 and Earl Wagner of Pleasantville third with 21:85.

Results –
Trophy Dash: Roy Hibbard, Marshall, Mo.
First Heat: Lee Kunzman, Guttenberg, Iowa
Second Heat: Dick Sutcliffe, Kansas City, Mo.
Third Heat: Ray Lee Goodwin, Kansas City
Consolation: Jay Woodside, Kansas City
1. Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
2. Joe Saldana, Lincoln, Neb.
3. Ray Lee Goodwin, Kansas City
4. Jay Woodside, Kansas City
5. Roger Rager, Mound, Minn.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

1973 - Winged cars to be allowed at Knoxville for Spring Nationals

Knoxville, Iowa (June 24, 1973) - Wings are making a comeback on sprint and super-modified racecars and they will be allowed in the “Spring National” super-modified races at the Marion County Fairgrounds at Knoxville next Saturday night.
“Wings are the going thing in the East,” race promoter Marion Robinson said Saturday. “And, USAC (United States Auto Club) will have a winged sprint division next year.”
“They were popular on super-modifieds back in the early 60s; in fact Roy Robbins had one on his car when he won the first National championship here in 1962.”
Big aluminum wings are placed over the top of the car and, according to Robinson help stabilize the car on the track. There are smaller ones on the sides.
“They hold down the back wheels and the cars can go into the corners better,” he said. “They take the bumps out of the track.”
“And the cars can go faster. Cars should go around the track a full second faster than they normally do.”
Wings may help a car go faster and smoother, but Robinson does not like them. “I think they take the skill out of driving,” he said. “Any race driver can race great with them.”
The “Spring National” feature will be for 30 laps and the winner will receive $1,000.
After this race, the wings will probably be outlawed for the rest of the season.
“I don’t know yet," Robinson said. “This is an experiment.”

Saturday, June 21, 2014

1970 – MVSC Mid-Season Winner is John Moss

John Moss

Columbus Junction, Iowa (June 21, 1970) - John Moss of Iowa City took the lead in the Mississippi Valley Speed Club 50-lap mid-season championship races here Sunday night after the point leader, Mark Mosier of Washington, pulled into the pit. Moss hung onto the lead the rest of the way. When he crossed the finish line he had Mel Morris of West Liberty on his rear bumper.

The feature event was stopped several times for minor accidents. In one accident, Ron Perdock of Washington climbed up on the trunk of Ron Jackson of Burlington. Jackson’s car had he left rear heavily damaged, but neither driver was injured.

In a field of 41 cars, Mosier turned in the fastest time of 26:32 seconds. Moss turned the half-mile oval in 27:07 seconds and Ron Hemsted had the third fastest time of 27:48 seconds.

In the five car five-lap trophy dash, Jackson took the lead right away and picked up the checkered flag and his trophy for the year.

The first heat race was won by Mosier. Bud Darting of Wilton Junction held on to first position in the second heat race to pick up the checkers while Morris copped the third heat race. Larry Jenkins of Wilton Junction took the honors for the fourth heat race.

In the consolation race, it was Gary Redlinger of Wellman, and Benny Hofer of Rock Island, Ill., picked up the checkered flag for the semi-main event.

Results –

Trophy Dash: Ron Jackson, Burlington, Iowa
First Heat: Mark Mosier, Washington, Iowa
Second Heat: Bud Darting, Wilton Junction, Iowa
Third Heat: Mel Morris, West Liberty, Iowa
Fourth Heat: Larry Jenkins, Wilton Junction, Iowa
Consolation: Gary Redlinger, Wellman, Iowa
Semi-Main: Benny Hofer, Rock Island, Ill.


  1. John Moss, Iowa City
  2. Mel Morris
  3. Pokey West, West Chester, Iowa
  4. Ron Perdock, Washington, Iowa
  5. Benny Hofer
  6. Bud Darting
  7. Dan Robertson, Muscatine, Iowa
  8. Del Abney, Muscatine, Iowa
  9. Mark Mosier
  10. Gary Redlinger

Friday, June 20, 2014

1976 – Draime owned car wins Bluegrass 300


Louisville, Ky. (June 20, 1976) Jerry Makara of Westland, Mich., driving a 1976 Camaro owned by Draime Enterprises of Massillon and sponsored by Thrush Muffler, won the Bluegrass 300 at the Fairgrounds Motor Speedway in Louisville, Ky. on Sunday.

He nosed out a Michigan rival, Mike Eddy of Kawkawlin, when race officials had to go to qualifying times to break a tie. The overall winner is determined by each man's finishes. Each had six points but Makara had set a track one-lap qualifying record of 81.906 miles per hour and was given the victory.

It was the second consecutive year in which the Bluegrass 300 was won on qualifying times. Eddy had tied with Charlie Glotzbach in 1975 and lost the title.

Glotzbach didn't enter a car this time but qualified one for speed king Bobby Allison who was late in arriving because he elected to qualify for a Grand National race in Brooklyn, Mich., on the same day and fly into Louisville.

Makara and Eddy, who started on the front row in the first 100-lap heat, waged a heated "duel" for first place. Eddy led first then Makara took over on lap 35.

Eddy got the lead back on the next lap when a slower car blocked Makara, but Eddy got boxed in on the following go-around and Makara took the lead for good. Allison finished in 13th place.

The field was inverted for the second 100-lapper, based upon the first-race finish. Allison started 12th and Makara and Eddy in the last row.

Allison went into the lead on lap 20 and Makara and Eddy were swapping second spot. After avoiding a 94th-lap collision between two other cars, Makara and Eddy themselves collided moments later on the second turn.

Allison won, Makara finished second and Eddy third. Makara charged Allison, tried to spin him by planting his bumper into Makara's car but Allison shrugged off the whole thing.

Allison and Makara started in the front row in the final 100 and Eddy came out of the third spot. Eddy passed Allison on the first turn and the order was Allison, Eddy, Makara until lap 30.

Eddy and Makara collided in the fourth turn and came to a stop. Eddy got restarted almost at once but Makara was down by one lap by the time he could get going.

Allison was knocked out by mechanical trouble on the 58th lap and Eddy went ahead to stay. Makara worked his way into third - behind Eddy and Ellis Herbert - with the help of a 76th-lap collision between Ray Young and Dave Sorg.

Makara caught up with Young when Eddy knocked Robin Schildknecht into the wall on the same lap and passed Young with 15 laps to go.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

1966 - 'Tiger' Shows Tail to 200 Field

Tom Pistone

Cumberland, Maryland (June 19, 1966) - Thomas (Tiger Tom) Pistone, father of eight and at 5-3, 120 pounds the smallest driver in NASCAR, celebrated "Dad's Day" yesterday by win in the kickoff feature of the new Cumberland Raceway before a crowd estimated at 5,000.

Pistone made it look easy, grabbing the lead in the third lap and holding it the rest of the way except for a brief period in which he was forced to refuel.

Little Tiger Tom, a native of Norridge, Ill., now residing in Charlotte, N. C., would have made it a "Sunday ride" in his battle-worn 1964 Ford hadn't it been for a determined "Dodge boy" by the name of Iggy Katona from Willis, Mich.

Katona, point leader in ARCA who came here fresh from a 125-lap victory Saturday night in Cleveland, Ohio, dogged Pistone at every turn and at one stage, late in the 200-lap race, was running only five seconds behind. Iggy dropped off after it became apparent with only three laps to go that he wasn't going to catch the Tiger by the tail and wound up second by 17 seconds

It's been a long time between victories for the piston-packin' Pistone - five years, in fact. His last win came in the Virginia 500 at Martinsville in 1961.

Asked when he thought he had Cumberland's 200-lap event in the bag, Pistone replied, "When I got the checkered. Too many things can happen in a race and here lately they've all been happening to me."

Pistone almost didn't make it into the Cumberland 200, blowing a head gasket in practice, which prevented him from running in either one of the two heat events. Radiator stop-leak sealed the crack and held throughout the 1 hour, 35 minute, 26 second, race although shortly after the victory the radiator fell off. For much of the afternoon it was held into place by only one bolt.

Wearing a Batman T-shirt which was soaked with perspiration as he was hoisted to the roof of his No. 59 Ford in the winner's circle, the 37-year-old Pistone wore a smile from ear to ear upon receiving plaudits from six of his fellow NASCAR associates taking part in the ARCA show.

"This is one victory I'll long remember," stated the Tiger, himself a former ARCA pilot, upon accepting the five-foot high Pepsi Cola trophy.

Pistone lost the cap to the gas tank on the very first lap, but he didn't have to refuel until the 102nd lap. The pit stop took 34 seconds. Katona, who pitted later on, got out in 31 seconds.

Mechanical difficulties took their toll of drivers in the 85-degree heat, only nine cars out of 21 starters being on the new hard-packed clay course when the 100-mile race ended. Four of the first six places went to NASCAR pilots, with Neil (Soapy) Castles of Charlotte, N. C. finishing behind Katona in a '64 Dodge for third place.

Wendell Scott of Danville, Va., the only Negro driver in NASCAR, was fourth in a 1965 Ford; Dick Freeman (ARCA) of Dayton Ohio, in a '64 Ford, was fifth, and Buck Baker, three-time Southern 500 winner from Charlotte, finished sixth in a 66 Olds

Pistone averaged 66.666 miles per hour on the four-turned, flat half-mile track, he and the determined Katona being the only drivers to complete the full 200-laps. Katona, incidentally, rode the pole position as the result of establishing the best time – 26.65 seconds, which set a new track record.

The race was run under the caution flag for 13 laps due to a spinout by Tiny Lund on the clubhouse turn a quarter of the way through the race. One of the favorites in the "200," the Cross, S. C. NASCAR star was running fifth in his 1964 red Ford when the engine blew.

There were no injuries as a result of the spin but starter Hans Abbott of Tiffin, Ohio was given some anxious moments by the field, several of the drivers ignoring the yellow flag in attempting to improve their positions. Order wasn't restored until John Marcum, president of ARCA, took the course and led the drivers around for several laps in the safety car.

The victory was worth almost $1,000 to "Papa Pistone”. Katona collected $650 for second and Castles, the movie stunt driver, earned $275 for third.

The first of two eight lap races was won by Baker. Dick Dunlevy of Dayton, Ohio, was second and Leon Van Atta, Bluffton, Ohio, was third. Eight of the nine starters finished.

In another four-miler; Dick Freeman, Dayton, Ohio, was across the finish line first in a Ford. Ralph Latham. Cincinnati, Ohio, trailed the victor, and Kenny Brenner, Akron, Ohio, came in third.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

1977 – Merryfield, Rice dynamite in wins at State Fairgrounds

Des Moines, Iowa (June 18, 1977) - Orval (The Daredevil Clown) Kisselburg paid a visit to the State Fairgrounds Saturday night, performing a few unbelievable feats to the delight of 6,800 fans between breaks of the regular racing program.

Kisselburg, from Salt Lake City, Utah, said he's lost about 50 per cent of his hearing in doing the dynamite suitcase act the past 16 years. "You can't make any mistakes because you only get one crack," said Kisselburg. Kisselburg, who said he has had 43 different bones broken, set a world record for a ramp jump in an automobile, clearing 127 feet 2 inches last year in Salt Lake City.

He certainly wasn't clowning around when he matched his 55-year-old body against four sticks of dynamite in a suitcase.

And Rick Merryfield and Bill Rice weren't clowning around either, making their presence known in dramatic ways.

First, it was Merryfield, younger brother of late-model driver Joe, knocking off the two top season point leaders in the sportsman feature. He challenged Bill Davis, season point leader, for six laps before passing him on the fourth turn of the tenth lap to move into second.

Then Merryfield, driving a 1971 Camaro, stayed with leader Dave Farren until the thirteenth lap where he took a gamble and went high into turn two and came out a car length in front of Farren.

Merryfield led a contingent of local drivers to the checkered flag. In fact, the next four drivers — Farren, Glenn Woodard, Davis and Rocky Hodges — were all from Des Moines.

Things were a little less hectic for Rice, also of Des Moines. He drove a 1977 Camaro and led from start to finish in the 25-lap late-model program.

Don Hoffman of Des Moines, wheeling a 1977 Nova, gave a little scare, moving from fifth place to second, 20 yards behind Rice.

Two accidents marred the program but none of the drivers were injured.

George Waits of Des Moines totaled his 1966 Chevelle when he was clipped by Bill Carter of Des Moines in the fourth heat of the sportsman division. Waits hit the guard rail and spun completely around with the back of his car hitting the concrete stage.

Greg Augspurger of Van Meter lost control of his car in the second turn during the first lap of the sportsman feature. Carter, in a 1970 Camaro, barreled into Augspurger's 1968 Chevelle with both cars landing at the wall.

Results - 

Sportsman –

  1. Rick Merryfield
  2. Dave Farren
  3. Glen Woodward
  4. Bill Davis
  5. Rocky Hodges
  6. Chuck Anderson
  7. Dave Allison
  8. Bob Thompson
  9. Del McDowell
  10. Leonard Woodward

Late Model –

  1. Bill Rice
  2. Don Hoffman
  3. Karl Sanger
  4. Curt Hansen
  5. Joe Merryfield
  6. Verlin Eaker
  7. Arnie Braland
  8. Ed Sanger
  9. Dave Chase
  10. Stan Stover

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

1964 - Did IMCA pilots use fake names at Knoxville?

Des Moines, Iowa (June 17, 1964) – The International Motor Contest Association may have a sticky situation on their hands as a result of charges that some of its registered drivers competed under fictitious names in a super modified program last Saturday night at the Marion County Fairgrounds in Knoxville, Iowa.

One driver, a “Bill Brower” of St. Paul, Minn., who finished third in the main event, was identified as Jerry Richert of Forest Lake, Minn., the International Motor Contest Association sprint car point leader who was to have competed in the canceled Hawkeye Futurity on Sunday. 

A second was Jerry “Scratch” Daniels, who raced under the name of “Don Daniels” which happens to be the name of his brother. Jerry (or Don) won the second heat race.

Richert and Daniels have competed at Knoxville for several seasons. Richert won the National Super Modified Championship there in 1962.

“We didn’t know a lot of the boys that signed in Saturday,” said Mrs. Marion Robinson wife of the promoter who supervises the signing in of drivers and also handles the scoring duties.

A total of 37 cars were on hand for the program – one of the largest entries for the season according to Larry Scarpino publicity man for Robinson, who also handles race meets at the Bloomfield and Newton tracks.

The puzzle is why some drivers were permitted to be falsely indentified over the public address system when track officials and many patrons were aware of their true identity and after they had signed their correct names on the insurance waivers.

“They were told by Al Sweeney, IMCA race supervisor, they could race, providing they didn’t use their names,” asserted Mrs. Robinson. “Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., who won the Saturday night feature, said he wasn’t going to use a phony name,” she added.

“It’s not true,” snapped Sweeney. “In the first place, none of the drivers were barred from competing since it didn’t conflict with any other IMCA contests.”

“So why should I tell them not to use their real name? It was like that other time at Pioneer, when I was accused of the same thing,” said Sweeney.

Sweeney referred to a 1958 incident when six IMCA licensed stock car drivers were fined for using false names when racing at the Des Moines that was operated by Robinson. They were Johnny Beauchamp of Atlantic, Iowa, Bob Burdick of Omaha, Lloyd Jorgenson of Anita, Iowa, Bob Short of Des Moines, Kenneth Schultz of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., and Newt Bartholomew of Carlisle, Iowa.

“It’s nothing else but a publicity stunt by Robinson,” said the irked Sweeney. “I have never talked to any of the drivers about racing there.”

The 1958 ruling of IMCA was based on “use of false names while racing at non-sanctioned race track in the direct vicinity if IMCA-sanctioned race tracks”.

However, since IMCA sanctioned a 200-lap stock car race there earlier this spring, the Knoxville track might be presumed to be a sanctioned track and not in violation of the 75-mile rule.

This rule prohibits drivers from competing at a non-sanctioned track within 75 miles of an IMCA-sanctioned race track. The Knoxville program on Saturday night was not a sanctioned event by IMCA. 

However, IMCA does have broad general rules covering conduct of drivers. The use of false names might be construed as “not keeping with the best interest of IMCA” clause contained in the 1958 ruling.

Meanwhile, Blundy, a refrigeration engineer, who races on weekends, reportedly has his sprint car up for sale and will race in super modified programs because “I can make more money”.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

1964 – Stacy Captures Detroit Century

Detroit, Mich. (June 14, 1964) - Nelson Stacy and his 1964 for were in top form, Sunday afternoon, when he and the 100-mile ARCA-sanctioned new car race at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in a close finish over defending champion Jack Bowsher in another 1964 Ford.

The Daytona Beach, Florida, MARC and NASCAR veteran started in the number two position and first grabbed the lead on the seventh lap from Bowsher who regained it at lap 30 when Stacy pitted for gas.

Bowsher then led until the halfway mark when Dick Freeman got by in 1962 Pontiac, leading until the 59th circuit when Bowsher again took over. Stacy got by Bowsher on the 98 go-round, holding on to finish the century in 1 hour and 21 minutes.

Finishing third and fourth, half a lap behind the leaders, were Iggy Katona in 1964 Ford and Freeman, not far apart.

A crowd estimated at 6,000 viewed the fine card that also included three heats and a helmet dash on the one-mile dirt track. Bowsher erased Iggy Katona’s 43.22 second one-lap record with a 42.75 second time trial.

Jim Cushman, who won the helmet dash, took a spectacular flip on the backstretch during the first tee and, although his 1964 Plymouth was demolished, was unhurt. Heat winners were Katona, Don Arnold (1962 Chevrolet), and Bill Douglas (1963 Ford).

A field of 34 cars and drivers were on hand for the Pete Spencer promotion.

Results –

1.     Nelson Stacy
2.     Jack Bowsher
3.     Iggy Katona
4.     Dick Freeman
5.     Wimpy May
6.     Elmer Musgrave
7.     Homer Newland
8.     Clyde Parker
     9.     Cleo Ashley
10.   Les Snow
11.   Ralph Baker
12.   Don Arnold
13.   Don Sawyer
14.  Dick Mitchell
15.  Tom Dill

Friday, June 13, 2014

1970 - John Marcum: The Backbone of Auto Racing

John Marcum (left) with Keokuk, Iowa native Ramo Stott

Talladega, Ala. (June 13, 1970) - John Marcum, the amicable president of the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA), is known on sight to just about very race fan who's clicked a turnstile t watch the new model stock cars of ARCA to battle on a track in the Midwest.

Big John's been praised, cursed, swindled, done a little swindling himself, answered a promoter's dream, created, a few nightmares, been a Godsend to struggling young drivers, a demon to a few hot dogs, and a boot to the sport of speed in general.

Marcum's been called every name in the book, made money, lost money and somehow does it all with a smile on his face and an outstretched hand.

When it comes to putting on a show for the fans, Marcum puts P.T. Barnum to shame. He's spent the last 42 of his 56 years involved with racing. He knows what racing's all about, and he learned the hard way.

"I'll never forget a race I drove back in '35," said Marcum. "I lived in New Castle, Ind., then, and there was this guy racing at the local track I wanted to beat so bad I could taste it. Well, somebody told me to put a half-dozen mothballs in the gas tank of the car. Said that son of a gun would just fly. So what the heck, I dumped a whole pound of mothballs in the tank. It didn't take long. I blew the head gasket on the engine so bad it knocked the floorboards out of the car and I ran the darn thing into a tree."

Benny Parson with John Marcum

A lot of stories have floated around over the years as to the relationship between Marcum and Bill France Sr., president of NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing).

"I first met France at Daytona Beach back in 1936," said Marcum. "I was driving a '34 Ford roadster and I can't remember what Bill was in. Those were the days; we wore a cloth helmet then. I remember I wasn't scared of getting hurt in the race as much as I was of getting bit by a rattlesnake. They were all over the place. They had signs up everywhere warning people to watch out for the snakes. I just knew if I got out of that car I was gonna be eaten alive.”

Marcum worked with the All Star Racing Association, until 1948. In 1949, John went south once again to work for, not race against, Bill France and his new NASCAR organization.

Iggy Katona with John Marcum

In 1951, Marcum left NASCAR and came back to his home in Toledo and formed the Midwest Association for Race Cars (MARC). Frank Canale, who was the All Star champ in '49, came with Marcum as chief scorer and vice president, and he's been with John ever since.

"Boy, that MARC name got us in a lot of trouble," said John. "Everywhere we would go people would say, ‘There's that Toledo bunch again.’ We really had drivers from all over the Midwest, but it didn't mean a thing because of our name.”

"We raced new model stock cars back then just like we do now," continued Marcum. "Then we just made the drivers tape up their headlights. There weren't any big racing tires back then either and roll bars weren't mandatory at all."

One of the oldest stock car racing events in the country is the annual Dayton 500 held at the Dayton, Ohio Speedway.

"Everybody said we couldn't race for 500 laps," said John. "People thought we were nuts, but we held the race anyway and had one of the largest crowds for a stock car show in the country. We had a $71,000 gate. That was in 1953 and Iggy (Katona) won it without changing a tire.”

"Now look at what we're doing. This Sunday (June 14) we're running the Vulcan 500 here at the Alabama International Speedway. That's 500 miles instead of 500 laps and the purse is almost what we had back then for a gate. Iggy's driving in this one too, but he'll be going about 100 miles per hour faster than he did back in '53 and he'll use several dozen tires. It sure is a change from the old days."
John Marcum with Jack Bowsher

John Marcum is as colorful as the sport and organization he represents. He gives himself to the sport 24 hours of every day. Few people work as hard for racing's participants; none work harder.

They threw away the mold of John Marcum. He's one of a kind.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

1949 – Hinnershitz Speeds to Victory at Heidelberg

Tommy Hinnershitz

Carnegie, Penn. (June 12, 1949) – Tommy Hinnershitz, speed demon from Reading, Penn., stole the show at Heidelberg Raceway on Sunday afternoon when he led the entire distance to capture the 30-lap (15-miles) feature in only 9 minutes and 55 seconds.

Hinnershitz lapped the entire field in the process with the exception of second place finisher Johnny Mantz of Van Nuys, Calif. Hank Rogers of Trenton, N.J., took home third place money while Mark Light of Lebanon, Penn., finished fourth.

The sunbaked crowd of 17,582, the largest crowd of the season and second best in the two-year history of the track, were disappointed when two of the top notchers were forced out of action in the early stages of the headliner.

Bill Holland, another Reading resident, who was making his second start since capturing the 500-mile classic at Indianapolis on Memorial Day, broke a drive shaft before completing the third lap.

Then, Mack Hellings of Van Nuys, Calif., who was waging a terrific duel with Mantz for second place, went into a skid on the south turn on lap 6. He managed to pilot his car to the inner rail, leap out and wave warnings to the rest of the field as they turned on the juice coming out of the bend.

Hinnershitz provided a thrill on the north turn on the first lap when he brushed a pole and his Offenhauser bounced high off the dusty track. However, he quickly got it straightened out and was safely on his way in the long grind to victory.

Still sporting a partially discolored left eye as a result of a crackup he suffered while trying to qualify at Indy, Tommy missed making it a sweep of the program by losing a 3-lap match race to Mack Hellings.

“Hinny” started off the first AAA program of the season by winning the initial qualifying race of 10 laps. His tortoise like time of 6 minutes and 19 seconds was due to a slow drying track.

Promoter Sam Nunis stated that the time of 4 minutes and 21 seconds in the second 10-lap qualifying race won by Johnny Mantz was a record for a semi-banked, half-mile track.

Results –

  1. Tommy Hinnershitz, Reading, Penn.
  2. Johnny Mantz, Van Nuys, Calif.
  3. Hank Rogers, Trenton, N.J.
  4. Mark Light, Lebanon, Penn.
  5. Hal Coles, Los Angeles, Calif.
  6. Bill Gause, Bolling Springs, Penn.
  7. Fred Bailes, Charlotte, N.C.
  8. Carl Ott, Louisville, Ky.
  9. Bill Holland, Reading, Penn.
  10. Mack Hellings, Van Nuys, Calif

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

1966 - Old Bodies on Run at New Race Track

Dick Stoneking
Burlington, Iowa (June 11, 1966) - What is a modified racing vehicle?

It is a $1,000 Model-A Ford body with a 301-cubic inch Chevrolet V-8 engine which will run over 100 miles per hour on a dirt track.

Modified autos are something new in Southeast Iowa this year.

The modifieds run, along with cadets (jalopies of a sort), at 34 Raceways Park near Middletown once a week.

Races are held each Saturday night at the three-eighths mile track. Tonight fans will get a bonus as the modifieds and cadets will run at the Hawkeye Fairgrounds track as part of the Steamboat Days Celebration.

Duane “Stoney” Stoneking of Oquawka, Ill., who raced about everything but boats in his 16-year career, is the leading point getter at 34 Raceways.

In contention for the 1966 point title are Ron Jackson and Dick McClure of Burlington.

The three men outlined the modified program. All run Model-A’s with 1957 Chevrolet engines. This isn’t the only type car on the track, however.

“Some race ‘32 Plymouths with a slant six motor,” Stoneking said.

Stoneking said older bodies are preferred because they have less weight. Track rules permit bodies from 1928 to 1948.

“Old bodies are getting harder to find,” Jackson said, “With more guys getting into racing.”

The bodies are found in junk yards and behind barns. So far the new operation has 18 modifieds running, but two or three new cars are being added each week.

Stoneking said it costs about $1,000 to build a modified car. The racers have larger radiators, revamped rear ends, and special tires.

Each is required to have a clutch, but most have only one gear. “A car is either in gear or its out,” Jackson said.

Stoneking estimates his auto turns up about 90 miles per hour on the 3/8-mile track. He expects it to run faster when he changes the gear set up. All three drivers assume they can bit over 100 miles per hour on the fairgrounds straightaways tonight.

The pilot’s race for fun and profit, purses so far have paid $100 to the feature race winner, and $35 to each heat victor. Purses have been paid on a $1,000 guarantee basis for the first four weeks. Soon they will be paid on the basis of 40 percent of the gate receipts.

So far there have been no serious accidents involving the modifieds. “You have a lot more horsepower to keep out of trouble,” McClure said.

“There isn’t so much banging like in the jalopy races,” Jackson said. “You drive with your right foot and not the steering wheel.”

Stoneking pointed out that “drivers have so much money invested in their cars that they back off before causing a wreck.”

Stoneking, who started driving jalopies at the local fairgrounds shortly after World War 2, said modifieds are more fun to drive. He has also driven late model stock cars, sprint cars and midgets.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

1980 - West Virginian Combs wins Miller 100

Race winner Rodney Combs receive congratulations from Keith Fleck after winning the Miller 100.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (June 10, 1980) - With a near capacity crowd on hand, Rodney Combs, from Lost Creek, W.Va., sailed past Wilton's Tom Hearst on the 19th lap and paced himself the last 81 laps to capture the Eighth Annual Miller 100 Stock Car Classic Tuesday night at Hawkeye Downs Speedway.

Combs, a 12-year veteran out of Loveland, Ohio, had virtually no trouble after passing Hearst, becoming only the second out-of-state driver to win the annual Fleck Sales Co. sponsored charity race.

“It felt good to win, especially up here,” said the 30-year-old mustachioed driver with a southern drawl after out dueling twenty-eight other drivers for the $2,000 winner’s purse.

“A lot of people said we couldn't win on a flat track with a Howe chassis,” said Combs, who pilots a red and white, all fiberglass body Camaro. “Because it's built more for a high banked track but I guess we proved ‘em wrong.”

He sure did…

After passing Hearst, the Downs NASCAR point leader, Combs cruised to a sizable lead and later admitted that he was just trying to pace himself the rest of the race.

“We had gotten a fairly big lead and my pit crew told me to take it easy so I more or less just paced myself the rest of the way.”

It seemed as though Combs and the feature race would never get started.

After several restarts, the race finally got going before Kalona's Mike Niffenegger and Waterloo's Tom Bartholomew collided on the first turn of lap number two. The wreck, which forced both drivers from the feature, had its effect on Combs, who was accidentally sent to the back of the pack by Downs’ officials.

Combs and his pit crew protested the move while the pileup was getting untangled by wreckers and officials awarded him back his number three position in the lineup where he went on to overtake Hearst for the win.

Hearst, a Downs favorite, finished second in the feature race and Des Moines veteran, Don Hoffman was third. Waterloo’s Dick Schiltz was fourth followed by Cedar Fall's Denny Osborn and Waterloo’s s Ed Sanger.

Curt Hansen, another Downs’ favorite from Dike and winner of the 1976 and 1978 Miller 100, skillfully rallied from the rear of the pack for a seventh place finish.

Cedar Rapids’ Mike Frieden was tenth and Lisbon's Roger Dolan twelfth while West Liberty's Mel Morris and Cedar Rapids’ Darrell Dake finished thirteenth and fifteenth respectively.

Osborn captured the 8-lap trophy dash, which featured the top eight lap time qualifiers. Winona, Minnesota's, Lance Matthees had the fastest qualifying lap as he turned in a 23.475-qualifying run in time trials.

Heat winners included Iowa City's Dave Sidwell, Hansen, Hoffman, and Niffenegger and Viola's Ken Walton led from start to finish in winning the 12-lap B-Main.

This year’s proceeds of the Miller 100, which has donated over $42,000 to various charities in the past seven years, will go to the Iowa Special Olympics program.

Results -

1. Rodney Combs, Lost Creek, West Virginia
2. Tom Hearst, Wilton
3. Don Hoffman, Des Moines
4. Dick Schiltz, Waterloo
5. Denny Osborn, Cedar Falls
6. Ed Sanger, Waterloo
7. Curt Hansen, Dike
8. Lance Matthees, Winona, Minn.
9. Leon Plank, Mondovi, Wis.
10. Mike Frieden, Cedar Rapids
11. Gary Webb, East Moline, Ill.
12. Roger Dolan, Lisbon
13. Mel Morris, West Liberty
14. Tom Bartholomew, Waterloo
15. Darrell Dake, Cedar Rapids

Friday, June 6, 2014

1976 – Arnold wins Salem ‘ARCA 100’

Salem, Ind. (June 6, 1976) – A rousing, three-car battle for the lead throughout the entire 100 laps of racing around Salem Speedway’s high-banked half-mile gave veteran A. Arnold of Brooks, Ky., a hard-earned victory in the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) national championship late model program on Sunday afternoon.

Although starting on the inside of the fifth row of the 23-car field, Arnold wasted no time fighting his way to third place behind front row starters Moose Myers of Fort Wayne, Ind., and LaMarr Marshall of Louisville, Ky., who had fought a heated duel since the drop of the green flag.

Early caution flags to clean up blown engine remains allowed Arnold to close on the leaders by lap 15 when Bobby Dotter’s engine expired and again on lap 23 when Bill Noel experienced the same issue.

By the halfway mark in the race, the Chevelle’s of Myers, Marshall and Arnold formed a three-car draft, often running side by side and performing hair-raising maneuvers to work through slower traffic.

After 15 laps of abortive attempts, Arnold finally squeezed by a determined Marshall and seemed to gain momentum by it, setting himself up for Myers, and making a clean pass on lap 78 when track immediately ahead cleared of slower cars.

Arnold then put a five-second advantage on the battling Myers and Marshall, who both suffered from late race tire problems, causing obvious handling problems. Myers bested Marshall by a car length to finalize second and third positions, while Dave Dayton drove his Chevelle to a fourth place finish, the only other car on the same lap as the leaders.

Kenny Black of Indianapolis, Ind., was taken to a local area hospital and held for observation after his car cleared the turn four guardrail in the first heat and rolled end over end down a 35-foot embankment. Although the car was destroyed, Black was thought not to have sustained any serious injuries.

Results –

  1. A. Arnold
  2. Moose Myers
  3. LaMarr Marshall
  4. Dave Dayton
  5. Tom Meinberg
  6. Ralph Jones
  7. Larry Scott
  8. Gary Sharp
  9. Darrell Basham
  10. N.D. Copley

Thursday, June 5, 2014

1970 – Wild and Woolly Sprint to Bettenhausen at I-70

Odessa, Mo. (June 5, 1970) - Gary Bettenhausen outdistanced a determined Todd Gibson to win his third United States Auto Club sprint car feature Friday night at I-70 Speedway.

Gibson paced the field for the first 33 laps of the 40 lapper but slipped out of the groove momentarily in the fourth turn on lap 34, leaving the door open for Bettenhausen.

Driving though Willie Davis-owned City of Syracuse Chevy, Bettenhausen had charged from his 12 starting position. Gibson, in the Forberg Chevy, held on for second place money. Rollie Beale finished third in the Rodeo Bar Chevy, followed by point leader Larry Dickson in the Lay Chevy and Jerry Poland in the Smith Speed Shop No. 5.

Rounding out the field in order of finish were Don Nordhorn, Al Smith, Dick Sutcliffe, Sam Sessions, Johnnie Parsons Jr., Cy Fairchild, Jon Backlund, Karl Busson, Gordie Lee and Greg Weld.

Action was fast and wild. The one-lap track record was broken 20 times by 11 drivers during qualifying with Sessions the new record holder with a time of 17.19 seconds. The old record was 18.15 set earlier this year by Jerry Blundy.

Young Lee Kunzman was hospitalized with third-degree burns on his face, second-degree burns on his stomach, a broken left wrist and possible broken back. The throttle stuck on his Smith Speed Shop Chevy No. 8 and the car climbed the wall and when into the wheel fencing. The car rolled over through the fencing, wrapping fencing around the cage. One fence pole pierced the fuel tank started the fire. The car was ablaze as it left the track.

Kunzman crawled free from the burning car. He was listed in serious condition by the intensive care unit at Research Hospital in Kansas City.

On the seventh lap of the second heat, Bill Puterbaugh made a bid to take the lead from Charlie Masters on the back straightaway and the pair locked wheels, flipping over the fence. Master’s car landed atop Puterbaugh’s mount. Both cars were tangled in the wire fencing. Both drivers were taken to nearby Lexington Hospital but neither was seriously injured.

Officials blame the angle of the outer wall for the seriousness of the accidents.

Results –

  1. Gary Bettenhausen
  2. Todd Gibson
  3. Rollie Beale
  4. Larry Dickson
  5. Jerry Poland
  6. Don Nordhorn
  7. Al Smith
  8. Dick Sutcliffe
  9. Sam Sessions
  10. Johnnie Parsons Jr.
  11. Cy Fairchild
  12. Jon Backlund
  13. Karl Busson
  14. Gordie Lee
  15. Greg Weld