2017 Silver Dollar Nationals

Thursday, July 31, 2014

1955 - Tiny Lund scores first career IMCA victory

Grand Forks, N.D. (July 31, 1955) – Tiny Lund, a stock car driver who won his share of races several years ago before going into the Air Force, is now starting to climb the ladder of success in late model stock car racing.

Piloting a 1955 Chevrolet, which had been driven with widely varying success earlier this season by Marvin Copple of Lincoln, Neb., Lund of Harlan, Iowa, won the 200-lap IMCA stock car finale at the fairgrounds track in Grand Forks, N.D., on Sunday afternoon.

The win was Lund's first under the IMCA banner. A crowd of 3,500 watched the Auto Racing, Inc., promotion.

 Lund trailed Herschel Buchanan of Shreveport, La., throughout the first 99 laps, but took over the lead with his 1955 Chevrolet on the 100th lap and continued on to victory.

The huge Hawkeye drove most of the way without a hood on his car. He literally "blew his bonnet" on the 30th lap of the only 100 miler to be staged in North Dakota this season.

Apparently this had little effect, however, because Lund wound up more than a lap ahead of the pack at the checkered flag.

Lund finished second in an IMCA stock car feature race in Minot, N.D., on Thursday, July 28th. Friday, July 29th, at the same track, Lund was fourth fastest in time trials but could only manage a 12th place finish.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

1988 - Separate disputes broiling at 34 Raceway, Donnellson

Burlington, Iowa (July 29, 1988) - A rift has developed between the International Motor Contest Association and Clinton driver Duke Jackson. Unfortunately, 34 Raceway, owner/promoter Larry Kemp and the state’s other late model pilots are also being devoured by the chasm.

At issue is an IMCA late model Summer Series race in Vinton July 14, won by Darrel DeFrance. Upon completion, Red Dralle indicated he wanted to claim Jackson’s engine for the $1,525 fee. Jackson refused the claim, and all hell broke loose. Kemp, co-promoter of the race, told Jackson he would lose his Summer Series points but retain his points at 34 Raceway, where he led a season-long battle with Burlington’s Ron Jackson.

Several days later, IMCA office manager Rick Haefner informed Duke Jackson he was suspended from racing at IMCA tracks for 21 days (his eligibility will return next weekend) and would lose both his Summer Series and local track points.

Kemp chose to stick to his original edict, and let Jackson compete at 34 Raceway the following week. The IMCA then sent letters to all late model drivers, telling them they would be penalized for competing in any race with Duke Jackson.

When Jackson once again participated at 34 Raceway last Saturday, six others - Lem Blankenship, Kevin Cale, Ron Jackson, Jeff Johnson, Frank Springsteen and Dave Warth - all left their late models on the trailers and did not compete.

On Sunday, promoters from the IMCA’s five sanctioned late model tracks - Kemp, Eldon’s Dale Gegner, Independence’s Jerry Blue, Marshalltown’s Barry Nuese and Steve Priske, and Webster City’s Bill Rice – met with the IMCA in Amana. There, they were told the original ruling stands.

“All we’re doing is enforcing the rule as it is written,” said IMCA executive secretary Bill Haglund. “Those rules were mailed to all 1987 members before the season began. Jackson was a member in 1987 and was aware of the penalty.”

Kemp and the other promoters maintain they were told, when the IMCA added the late model class last year, they would be allowed to determine the rules.

“I’m going to resign from IMCA because I'm just burned out on the late model thing,” he said.

One final note: All may not yet be resolved. It appears several technicalities in the IMCA rules were not followed when Dralle made the claim.

“I got a call from the guy that owns Duke Jackson’s car, and they have retained an attorney,” said Kemp. “They’re pursuing their rights.”

There won’t be racing in Donnellson, and nobody really realizes just how close the Lee County Speedway came to shutting down for the season.

This past week has been truly hectic for promoter Deo Loney and the Lee County Fair board – currently at odds over the operation of the 3/8-mile clay oval.

The two no longer have a contract for the completion of this season. That was dissolved last Tuesday, July 19 - prior to the opening of the Lee County Fair. Loney and the fair board are scheduled to meet Wednesday to try and come to terms for the rest of the summer.

Right now, racing is in limbo at Donnellson - on that, both Loney and fair board president Wayne Hennies agree. When or if it will resume remains up in the air.

“We’ll take a breather this week, but we will have races starting August 5 and then every Friday at least through August,” said Loney. “We’ll make a big show out of our season championship.”

‘There’ll be no races this week,” said Hennies. “It is anticipated agreements will be negotiated to continue for the remainder of the season. Right now, we’ve got nothing."

Friday, July 25, 2014

1959 - Barton a winner at Grand Forks

Grand Forks, N.D. (July 25, 1959) – Two dozen eager big car drivers were on hand for Frank Winkley’s North Dakota Big Car Opener at Grand Forks, and the field reeked of power as the big Offenhauser dominated the entry list.

A rather heavy track with long chutes and tight turns presented just about every problem in the book for the field as they rode wide, low, and in the middle, looking for that groove that would give them their money’s worth.

Canny Buzz Barton grabbed the lead on the second lap as he dove below Pete Folse in turn one and then stood off the challenges by Folse, Jack Rounds and Arnie Knepper to romp in the big winner.

Veteran IMCA drivers found a new threat in Parnelli Jones of Torrance, Calif., with this Chevrolet sprinter. Though the track was heavy, Jones managed to stay with the front-runners until a spinout on the 10th lap of the feature.

Promoter Frank Winkley stated that it was as sharp a field of big car drivers that he had ever seen in action on one track. “The large number of Californians in the lineup added color and speed,” Winkley was quoted.

Results –

1. Buzz Barton
2. Jack Rounds
3. Arnie Knepper
4. Pete Folse
5. Jim Hurtubise
6. Colby Scroggins
7. Bill Horstmeyer
8. Parnelli Jones

Thursday, July 24, 2014

1979 – Sanger wins “Cheater” special at Aberdeen

Aberdeen, S.D. (July 24, 1979) – Drawn into the Dakotas by some high-purse specials, Iowans ran strong in the special “Cheater’s” race at the Brown County Fairgrounds track in Aberdeen.

The pay off was something else in itself, with heat wins worth $55.55 and the feature winner taking home $999.99 – and so on and so forth throughout the card.

Fastest of the Iowans was veteran Ed Sanger of Waterloo, who went home $1,000 richer by taking the feature race and one of the heats - $1,055.54 richer to be more precise.

Don Hoffman of Des Moines was second and Dick Schiltz of Waterloo was third, making it a clean sweep for the Iowans.

Results -
 
First Heat: Don Hoffman, Des Moines, Iowa
Second Heat: Ron Anderson, Webster, S.D.
Third Heat: Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
Consolation: Bill Wilson, Jamestown, N.D.
Feature:
  1. Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
  2. Don Hoffman, Des Moines, Iowa
  3. Dick Schiltz, Waterloo, Iowa
  4. Bill Wilson, Jamestown, N.D.
  5. Al Nordstrom, Aberdeen, S.D.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

1965 – Larson Drives to First Place

Jud Larson
 

Kansas City, Mo. (July 23, 1965) – Jud Larson, a former Kansas Citian now living in Indianapolis, Indiana, took the lead on the third lap and won going away in the 30-lap feature of the United States Auto Club sprint car races last night at Lakeside Stadium in Kansas City.

Larson moved in front after Greg Weld of Kansas City and Johnny Rutherford of Fort Worth, Texas, locked wheels and both spun out. Carl Williams of Kansas City made an early challenge, but Larson refused to give up the lead spot.

A. J. Foyt of Houston, Texas, and Mario Andretti of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, did not appear for the races.

A crowd of about 7,500 saw 17 cars compete for purse of $6,350 and in the process rewrite the record list.

Weld, the point leader in USAC competition, set a lap record of 22.88 seconds in time trials and a heat race record of 3 minutes and 5 seconds in the first heat. He bettered times of 23.44 by Don Branson in 1963 and 3 minutes and 8 seconds by Jim Hurtubise the same year.

Larson eclipsed another Don Branson mark with his feature time of 12 minutes and 40 seconds. The old standard was 12 minutes and 49 seconds. Johnny White's semi-main mark of 4 minutes and 11 seconds in 1963 fell to Ronnie Duman of Dearborn, Michigan, who timed in at 4 minutes and 4 seconds.

Ray Lee Goodwin, Kansas City’s super modified race champion, got a chance to drive because of the shortage of drivers. Goodwin placed second in his heat race after leading for four laps. He finished a very creditable ninth in the feature.

Results –

First Heat: Greg Weld
Second Heat: Johnny Rutherford
Third Heat: Jerry Daniels
Semi-Main: Ronnie Duman
Feature:

  1. Jud Larson
  2. Jerry Daniels
  3. Carl Williams
  4. Roger McCluskey
  5. Don Branson
  6. Bobby Unser
  7. Red Riegel
  8. Ronnie Duman
  9. Ray Lee Goodwin
  10. Bobby Black

 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

1969 – Renshaw Robbed by Tattersall

Davenport, Iowa (July 22, 1969) – Bob Tattersall won the opening night of a six-night swing for the USAC midgets as he took the lead from Bill Renshaw on lap 22 and soared home to victory. Renshaw, driving the best race of his career, was the early leader and enjoyed a three-car length lead for awhile.

The night was full of action as the super midgets appeared 36 strong. Feature action started on the second lap as Chuck Amati went of the bank and Sonny Ates and Les Scott were locked bumper to bumper in a scramble of cars.

Bill Renshaw was leading the event and really moving with Merle Bettenhausen following and Tattersall along with Bill Englehart beginning a great battle. Chuck Weyant was on the move along with Mel Kenyon from the back of the pack.

The real battle for the first 20 laps was between Renshaw, Tattersall, Bettenhausen and Englehart. Tattersall was in second on lap 15 after a great battle with Merle. Englehart was always pressing throughout.

Lee Kunzman sailed off the embankment early in the race as Clark Templeman headed to the pits. At the halfway mark it was Renshaw with Tattersall pressing. Bettenhausen and Englehart fought for third and Weyant was up to fourth with Dave Strickland right behind. Don Vogler and Mel Kenyon had a good battle going behind Strickland as Larry Rice, Bruce Moore and Mel Cornett trailed.

Steve Troxell retired as did Templeman and they were followed to the pits by Rice, Cornett, and Vogler.

Tattersall took the lead and sailed to victory, never getting far from Renshaw. Bill Englehart caught and overtook Merle Bettenhausen for third and Weyant finished fifth. Mel Kenyon got by Strickland with only a few laps to go to take sixth and Dick Jones and Bruce Moore rounded out the running field.

Chuck Weyant won the first heat in grand style as he set a new 8-lap record of 2 minutes and 5.77 seconds. Les Scott, driving the Turner Offy, led every lap in winning the second heat. Sonny Ates took the lead from Bill Englehart on lap three to win the third heat. Bill Renshaw sailed by Dave Strickland for the lead to take the fourth heat.

Results –

Fast Time: Dave Strickland (15.21)
Trophy Dash: Bob Tattersall
Heat One: Chuck Weyant
Heat Two: Les Scott
Heat Three Sonny Ates
Heat Four: Bill Renshaw
Semi: Les Scott

Feature:

  1. Bob Tattersall
  2. Bill Renshaw
  3. Bill Englehart
  4. Merle Bettenhausen
  5. Chuck Weyant
  6. Mel Kenyon
  7. Dave Strickland
  8. Dick Jones
  9. Bruce Moore
  10. Don Vogler
  11. Mel Cornett
  12. Larry Rice
  13. Steve Troxell
  14. Clark Templeman
  15. Lee Kunzman
  16. Sonny Ates
  17. Les Scott
  18. Chuck Amati

Sunday, July 20, 2014

1975 – Reffner continues record pace with White win at Kaukauna

Kaukauna, Wis. (July 20, 1975) - Tom Reffner expertly guided his 1974 AMC Javelin to victory in the second race of the “Red, White and Blue” state championship series at the Wisconsin International' Raceway Sunday before a crowd of 6,846 sundrenched fans.

Reffner smoothly worked his way through the 25-car starting field and powered past Dave Watson of Beloit on the 20th lap. From that point on Reffner continued to increase his lead and won the 75-Iap feature on the ½-mile paved oval with a quarter of a lap to spare over Watson.

The Rudolph racer, known as one of the nation's leading race car drivers, compiled his 47th win of the year, far ahead of the record setting pace of 67 wins in a year established by Dick Trickle in 1972. Reffner gave a warning of things to come during qualifications when he flew around the track in 20.82 seconds, breaking a year old record held by Joe Shear of 21.12.

Bloomington, Minn., driver Bill Oars broke into an early lead from his pole position and held on for four laps before Rich Somers of Stevens Point passed him in the third turn.

Dick Trickle moved past Somers on the 11th  round only to be passed by Watson two laps later. Meanwhile, Reffner slipped past Trickle on the 18th lap and two laps later motored past Watson with John Ziegler, the winner of the first race of the series glued to his rear bumper. Ziegler remained in the picture until the 69th lap when he dropped out with mechanical problems while running second, about six car lengths behind Reffner.

Watson finished second with Larry Detjens of Wausau making a late charge to earn himself third place money. Detjens wheeled his hemi-powered Dodge Challenger past Somers, Shear and Trickle during the final five laps of the race.

The 20-lap semi-feature was an exciting duel as Kaukauna's Pete Parker set the early pace with his 1973 Cameron. However, Whitey Harris of Lake Villa, Ill., got past Parker in the eighth lap and was later passed by teammate Al Schill of Franklin. Harris placed second with Parker third and Alan Kulwicki fourth.

Parker scored the most popular heat race win of the afternoon when he stubbornly held off John Speer and Kulwicki in the second preliminary race. Parker led from start to finish.

Other heat race wins went to Darrell Swartwout, Don Leach and Ziegler. Darrell Paasch won the 10-Iap, consolation besting Tom Steuding, one of the state's leading dirt trackers.

Feature results –

1. Tom Reffner. Rudolph
2. Dave Watson, Beloit
3. Larry Detjens, Wausau
4 Rich Somers, Stevens Point
5. Joe Shear, South Beloit, Ill.
6. Dick Trickle. Wisconsin Rapids
7. John Reimer. Caledonia
8. Tom Musgrave. Mundelein, Ill.
9. Fred Bender, Sun Prairie
10. Bob Gunn, Madison
11. Tony Strupp, Slinger
12. Jim Back, Vesper
13. Jerry Eckhardt, Lake Mills
14. Gary Hemmerllng, Beloit
15.  Doug Strasburg, Johnson

Saturday, July 19, 2014

1969 - Williams wins at Knoxville

Knoxville, Iowa (July 19, 1969) - Bob Williams came back to Knoxville Saturday night for another super modified feature win to add to his existing list. The Independence, Mo., chauffeur grabbed the lead coming out of the chute to lead the first five laps of the 25-lap race.

Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., took the lead from Williams on the sixth lap and managed to hold off Williams until the last lap. It was a real battle with both drivers giving their all and lead footing the supers all the way.

Bob slipped passed Blundy on the white flag lap to come past the checkers first for the $500 first place money. Blundy finished in a very close second.

Earl Wagner of Pleasantville tried unsuccessfully to catch the leaders and had to settle for third spot.

The 4,168 attending race fans saw an accident-free program with 38 super modifieds competing. Eddie Leavitt of Kansas City started the evening off by setting fast time of 21.80 seconds around the half-mile track.

The evening of racing was designated as "Earl Wagner Night" and Earl lived up to the title in the trophy dash as he won the event ahead of Joe Saldana, Dale McCarty of Kansas City, and Bob Williams. Earl took the lead at the start and was never headed.

Wagner also won the second 10-lap heat race. Earl took the lead from Jon Backland at the beginning of the seventh lap to come home number one. Following Backland in third was Bob Williams, fourth; Burt Sonner of Des Moines and fifth, Jay Woodside.

John Johnson of Independence, Mo., copped the first 10-lap heat race. Johnson led all the way followed by four Lincoln, Neb., drivers; Joe Saldana, Roger Rager, Kenny Gritz and Jan Opperman.

The very tight battle for the third heat ended in a tie for first place for Ron Larson and Dick Sutcliffe. Larson led every lap but Sutcliffe got the edge on him and they came across the finish line side by side in a dead heat. Following were Jerry Blundy, Curt Houge and Lloyd Beckman.

Dale McCarty was the victor of the 10-lap consolation. McCarty led all the way with Eddie Leavitt, Jay Woodside, Jan Opperman and Lloyd Beckman following.

During intermission the "Pleasantville Plumber", Earl Wagner was honored for his racing career at Knoxville. Ray Lee Goodwin of Kansas City, the 1968 National Super Modified Champion presented Earl's wife, Harriet, with a bouquet of red roses and a corsage to his mother. Earl was presented with a plaque from Marion and Nadine Robinson and all the help and fans by Pleasantville's mayor, who incidentally happens to be Earl's step-father. Wagner and his wife were also given a Rogers Sterling Silver Service set and a clock radio.

Results –
Fast Time: Eddie Leavitt, Kearney, Mo. (21.80)
Trophy Dash, Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa
Heat One: John Johnson, Independence, Mo.
Heat Two: Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa
Heat Three: (Tie) Ron Larson, White Bear Lake, Minn./Dick Sutcliffe, Kansas City
Consolation: Dale McCarty, Kansas City
Feature:
1.      Bob Williams, Independence, Mo.
2.      Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
3.      Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa
4.      Kenny Gritz, Lincoln, Neb.
5.      Joe Saldana, Lincoln, Neb.
6.      Jon Backlund, Kansas City
7.      Dick Sutcliffe, Kansas City
8.      Jay Woodside, Kansas City
9.      Jan Opperman, Lincoln, Neb.
10.  John Johnson, Independence, Mo.
11.  Ron Larson, White Bear Lake, Minn.
12.  Curt Houge, Boone, Iowa

     


Friday, July 18, 2014

2001 - An awful lot of wrenching; Hughes hits milestone

Monticello, Iowa (July 18, 2001) - Gus Hughes is a typical race car driver in a lot of ways. He’s friendly, easy to talk to, eager to get people involved in the sport he loves, and tends to discuss his race endeavors in terms of “we” instead of “I.”

There is nothing typical about Hughes’ race record, which includes a remarkable 101 feature victories (through July 14), in the Modified car division alone. Hughes recorded Modified feature win No. 100 on Thursday, July 5 in Davenport. Two nights later, in West Liberty, he picked up No. 101.

“It was great,” Hughes said. “Not a lot of guys get 100 feature wins.”

Hughes is quick to deflect the credit. “Mike Stoneking deserves to be mentioned. Without him we would not have known how many feature wins I had.”

Stoneking, who like Hughes is a Monticello native, best summarized the 100-win achievement. “He said, ‘That’s an awful lot of wrenching.’ A lot of work went into those feature wins,” Hughes said.
 
Hughes is the son of two race car drivers. Tom Hughes raced for more than 25 years. His mother, Aletha, still gets behind the wheel on occasion, and last year won the Powderpuff race at the Great Jones County Fair. He has six brothers and six sisters, many of whom are involved in racing. Gary and Russ Hughes are regular members of Gus’ crew, along with pit crew members Jeff and Jerry Hinrichs. Odis Hughes, Gus' sister, works for Simmons Promotions, Inc., which promotes racing at West Liberty and Farley, two of Gus’ regular haunts.

Hughes’ racing career dates back to the late 1960s. In 1967 he won his first trophy, in bike racing. His first race car was a ’68 Pontiac, which also brought him his first win.

“We demo’ed the same car the next day in Vinton,” Hughes recalled.

Hughes drove a Rambler, then a Mustang, then a Camaro, racing in the Pro Stock division until 1985. That year, he switched to Modified.

His first Modified feature win was May 17, 1985 at Hawkeye Downs. He went on to win 11 more Modified features that year, and the march toward 100 was under way.

Hughes has won 44 Modified features in West Liberty alone, 19 in Farley and 15 at Hawkeye Downs. He has won at tracks as near as the Great Jones County Fairgrounds, and as far away as New Smyrna, Fla. and Muskogee, Okla. He has also won them in Davenport, Dubuque, Tipton and at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

Hughes has 67 additional wins in the Pro Stock division, giving him 168 in all.

Many race car drivers say they do it because of the speed. Hughes looks at it a different way.

“The thrill for me is starting toward the back, going through and passing all the cars. Sometimes you'll be going three or four laps against the same guy before you can pass him. That’s when it’s great.”

“A lot of it is the people you meet at the racetrack. I’ve got friends at all the racetracks, and I can stay at their places.”

Hughes also takes pride in building. His current WallyBilt machine was constructed mostly from scratch, starting with only a frame and a roll cage. He had some help, but did most of it himself. “It took us all season last year to build this car.”

Hughes said, standing next to the red and white No. 30 vehicle. “We started on Valentine's Day and didn't get done until August. It’s the satisfaction of building stuff and then going out and winning with it.”

This will probably be the last year of Hughes driving the car, as he has bigger plans for next year. Dan Burbridge, originally from Delhi and now living in High Point, N.C., is planning to work with Hughes on moving up to the Late Model division.

“Next year will be a good test for us,” Hughes said. “That will probably tell us how far we can go.”

Hughes is currently sponsored by H&H Homecrafters, along with Bard Concrete, Hughes Auto Restoration, D&S Sheet Metal of Cedar Rapids, Mi-T-M Corporation of Peosta, and Storm Steel of Cedar Rapids.

Next year, he said, “We’re going to have to get more sponsorship.”

He has another goal. Hughes is currently fourth in points in the Modified division at West Liberty. If he can take over the lead there, and accumulate enough victories, he can become the champion of the NASCAR Short Track Division Midwest Region, which would earn him $7,000 and some national recognition.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

1981 - History repeats itself for Walton at Oskaloosa

Oskaloosa, Iowa (July 15, 1981) – History repeated itself in the Pepsi-Mountain Dew Special stock car event on July 15, when Ken Walton of Viola, Iowa won the late model feature, nipping Kenny Fenn of Washington, Iowa by six inches at the finish line.

It was Walton’s first win of the season, although the worse he has done this season was finish fifth, “This happened to me to me three years ago, too,” said the happy Walton. “I won my first feature of the season in this event and then won the World 100 later that fall. I hope history repeats itself again.”

Walton, who earned $1,000 for taking the 35-lap feature at the half-mile Southern Iowa Raceway, also regained the point lead in the National Speedway Contest Associations' late model standings.

Fenn, the point leader at Des Moines, started the race on the pole position and quickly took a commanding lead in his 1981 Corvette. By the seventh circuit, he had a straightaway lead over second place Jerry Pilcher of Ottumwa, Iowa.

On the 11th lap, Curt Houge of Ames, Iowa, spun out on the muddy track and he was hit by Johnny Johnson of Morning Sun, Iowa. During the caution, Fenn replaced a right rear tire.

He lost his stagger and some speed. However, Walton was unable to do much except keep pace with Fenn and Pilcher after the restart. Walton did manage to slip by Pilcher on lap 18 and proceeded to zero in on Fenn.

On lap 30, Fenn and Walton encountered lap traffic and Walton made numerous attempts to get by. On the white flag lap, Walton tried to get inside of Fenn for the top spot going through turns three and four but wasn’t able to complete the pass. But as they both exited the final turn, Fenn’s Corvette got a little too high and Walton ducked low, with Walton winning by the narrowest of margins.

Pilcher would finish third followed by Ron Jackson of Burlington in fourth, Houge in fifth and Curt Hansen of Dike, Iowa in sixth.

 

Results –

First Heat: Kenny Fenn, Washington, Iowa
Second Heat: Jerry Pilcher, Ottumwa, Iowa
Third Heat: Tom Hearst, Wilton, Iowa
Challenge Race: Tom Hearst
Feature:

  1. Ken Walton, Viola, Iowa
  2. Kenny Fenn
  3. Jerry Pilcher
  4. Ron Jackson, Burlington
  5. Curt Houge, Ames, Iowa
  6. Curt Hansen, Dike, Iowa
  7. Jerry Roberts, Prairie City, Iowa
  8. Craig Jacobs, Des Moines
  9. Tony Stewart, Washington, Iowa
  10. Bill Moyer Jr., Des Moines    

Friday, July 11, 2014

1995 - For Miller, second best is a winner

Slinger, Wis. (July 11, 1995) - Gary St. Amant was so jubilant following Tuesday night’s Miller Genuine Draft Nationals finale at Slinger Super Speedway, he nearly put his fist through the roof of his car as he was celebrating.

The Columbus, Ohio, driver - a regular on the ASA circuit - looked like he had just accomplished the improbable in his first Nationals.

After recording a second-place finish in the last-chance race which he needed to even qualify for Tuesday’s 250-lap feature, St. Amant turned it on over the final 125 laps and held off Butch Miller of Vermillion, Ohio, to take the checkered flag.

Looks, however, can be deceiving. St. Amant’s car failed post-race inspection, giving Miller his second overall Nationals title. Miller, one of the top drivers on the NASCAR Super Truck circuit, also won the Nationals in 1988.

“When you win it’s a lot better to be the first one across the finish line,” said a happy but reserved Miller after the technical ruling and St. Amant disqualification was announced long after most of the fans had gone home.

“I feel bad for the (St. Amant) team because they raced hard and Gary’s a good racer,” said Miller, who won with 7,020 points and took home more than $8,000 in prize money. “But, on the other hand, you never turn down a win.”

After the ruling St. Amant was nowhere to be found. But his car owner and crew chief, Rich Wauters, admitted the tire tread width was found to be an inch too wide.

“Usually they don’t check anything after the race,” Wauters said. “This is one of them deals where they did, and we got caught.”

“There’s nothing you can do about it ... You’ve got to do what you can do to be competitive. It happens. That's why it’s called racing.”

ASA regular Scott Hansen’s second-place finish helped him to a fourth-place overall finish, and Lowell Bennett of Neenah was third to take fifth overall. St. Amant’s disqualification capped an entertaining race which featured additional controversy and more than its share of tough luck stories.

Only eight of the 24 cars which started the race finished, though there were no major incidents.

Shortly after the mandatory pit stop halfway through the race, Edgerton native Rich Bickle moved to the front and held the lead until lap 204, when he was black-flagged for spilling fuel on the track.

Bickle said a problem with the muffler caused the overflow hose from the fuel cell to melt, leading to a small fuel leak. Bickle came back to finish fourth in the race and second overall (5,400 points), but the penalty which took him out of title contention left him hot afterwards.

“(It) was just a little bit of fuel, it doesn’t make a difference,” Bickle said, adding his car didn’t handle well early. “We made adjustments to the car (and) it showed. I got in front and I was just cruising.”

First-round leader Bryan Reffner of Wisconsin Rapids ran in the top four most of the way until a tire went flat and he dropped out on lap 211. Reffner, who placed 11th, still managed to finish third overall (5,020 points).

“It was real disappointing," Reffner said. “When that stuff happens early in the race it doesn’t bother you as much. If we’d have finished second we had the (overall) thing won.”

Then there was Clinton veteran Joe Shear, who entered Tuesday night’s finale in third place. On Monday, Shear’s car developed engine problems. Cambridge’s Jason Schuler let Shear, drive his car, but Shear’s hopes of a fifth Nationals title ended midway through the race because of brake problems.

Winston Cup driver Dick Trickle put on a strong showing, finishing fifth, but had to battle back from tire problems.

And defending Nationals champion Matt Kenseth of Cambridge was never a factor, falling out on lap 118 with a drive train problem. Kenseth loaned the car he runs regularly at Madison International Speedway to Winston Cup and Busch Grand National driver Kenny Wallace and the two battled side by side during much of the first half of the race.

At one point they even bumped fenders hard enough for Wallace to be flagged into the pits to have his car fixed. Wallace later dropped out with transmission problems and finished 15th.

Even Miller, who consistently ran in the top three all night, didn’t go unscathed. Late in the race he and St. Amant got together coming off turn two.

“When we caught him it bent something on the front end and we were never as quick after that,” he said. “We were pretty fortunate just to finish second."

Make that first, Butch.


Results -

1. Butch Miller (Vermillion, Ohio)
2. Scott Hansen (Franklin)
3. Lowell Bennett (Neenah)
4. Rich Bickle (Concord, N.C.)
5. Dick Trickle (Iron Station, N.C)
6. Tony Strupp (West Bend)
7. Rich Loly (Oregon)
8. Scott Wimmer (Wausau)
9. Conrad Morgan (Mukwonago)
10. Jim Lynch (Milwaukee)
11. Bryan Reffner (Franklin)
12. Brad Mueller (Random Lake)
13. Rich Loch (Holes Comers)
14. Al Schill Sr. (Franklin)
15. Kenny Wallace (Concord, N.C)
16. Ken Schrader (Fenton, Mo.)
17. Joe Shear (Clinton)
18. Fran Prestay (Twin Lakes)
19. Joel Laufer (Slinger)
20. Matt Kenseth (Cambridge)
21. Jim Weber (Roseville, Minn.)
22. Al Schill Jr. (Franklin)
23. Dennis Lampman (Oak Creek)
24. Gary St. Amant (Columbus, Ohio).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

1971 - Dake Overcomes Collision; Finishes First Before 8,407

Des Moines, Iowa (July 10, 1971) - Wild! That's the way to describe the late-model stock car feature won by Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids at the State Fairgrounds Saturday night before 8,407 fans.

Dake, who won the 25-lap event for the first time, survived a head-on collision with Dave Chase of Council Bluffs and also had the advantage of early leader Butch Householder of Algona falling out.

The Dake-Chase encounter came during the sixteenth lap as they raced down the backstretch.

Chase, running second at the time, got crossed up in front of Dake's 1970 Ford Torino - third then - and he had no place to go.

“There wasn’t anything I could do,” Dake said. “I just hung onto the steering wheel and hoped I wouldn’t start spinning.”

He didn’t and the episode didn't even slow down the race. Stan Stover of Reinbeck finished second in a 1970 Nova and point leader John Connolly of Delhi was third in a ‘69 Mercury.

Householder took the initial lead in the race and led through lap 18, when he was sidelined with mechanical problems. At one point he had nearly one-third lap edge.

There were several other heartbreaks during the night and Don Davidson of Des Moines was a victim of some wild driving by Dan Dickey of Packwood.

Davidson had been runner-up to Householder for the first eight laps and Dickey was running third. On the ninth lap, Davidson spun - his crew claimed Dickey was the cause and he appeared to be – and Dickey slammed into him.

Both cars were able to continue the race, but they had to take positions back in the pack.

Bob Hilmer of Dysart also was involved in a scrape in the feature and he was sidelined for a couple of laps, long enough to keep him out of the money.

Don Hoffman of Des Moines, who had won last week's feature, was involved in a collision with Bill Green of Des Moines in the semi-main and did not compete in the main.

Dick Gustin of Des Moines was back in the winner's circle for the second consecutive week in the 15-lap sportsman feature.

He had been sidelined twice in preliminary events but won the main by nearly one-half lap over Billy Geil, also of Des Moines. Gustin was in a 1965 Chevelle and Geil drove a 1957 Chevy.

Joe Merryfield of Des Moines, victim of a first-heat crash when he was leading coming out of the fourth turn on the last lap and some mechanical problems in the semi-main, was third.

George Barton of Ankeny drove Matt Moro’s 1957 Chevy - Moro was out of town – and finished fourth.

Results –

Late Model:

1.      Darrell Dake, Cedar Rapids
2.      Stan Stover, Reinbeck
3.      John Connolly, Delhi
4.      Ed Sanger, Waterloo
5.      Larry Embrey, Grimes
6.      Dan Dickey, Packwood
7.      Bob Helm, Andalusia, Ill.
8.      Ken Davidson, Des Moines
9.      John Meyers, Brooklyn
10.   Don Davidson, Des Moines

Sportsman:

1.      Dick Gustin, Des Moines
2.      Billy Geil, Des Moines
3.      Joe Merryfield, Des Moines
4.      George Barton, Ankeny
5.      Phil Reece, Des Moines
6.      Chuck Berg, Des Moines
7.      Bill Holder, Ames
8.      John Hutchinson, Des Moines