Hansen, who replaced his totaled, familiar No. "9" blue Olds body with a white Camaro body, shook off a torn shoulder muscle, a tender right hand and a pesky Mike Frieden to gain his first Hawkeye Speedway feature win of 1980.
"All of a sudden, I feel a little bit better," said a smiling Hansen after acknowledging a host of "glad to see you back" well-wishers.
"I still feel very sore and I'm still having trouble sleeping comfortably at night," added the 35-year-old Dike resident while signing autographs for some of his younger fans. "But this (the win) sure helps dull the pain a bit. I had my arm in a sling for about two weeks to hold it (the injured shoulder) in place and it wore some of the skin down on my right hand so my left hand was doing most of the steering."
One hand or two, the 12-year Downs vet, now in his 17th year of auto racing, had set the pace through the first 20 laps, opening up a very comfortable lead. It was at this point that Cedar Rapids' Gary Duggan, a little farther back in the pack, went sailing into the raceway's back wall, carrying 18 feet of upper fence with him. Duggan escaped serious injury and while his car was less fortunate, Downs’ officials restarted the race.
Hansen then fought off a continuous challenge by Frieden of Cedar Rapids on the last five laps to take home the Lou Shepard trophy.
Viola's Kenny Walton took third, followed by Kalona's Ron Boyse, Wilton's Tom Hearst (the Downs season point leader) and Cedar Falls veteran Larry Wasserfort. Marion's Steve Keppler came home in seventh place and West Liberty's Mel Morris finished eighth.
Scotch Grove's Jerry Naylor, hot on the comeback trail, took the five-lap Street Stock heat, while Cedar Rapids' Jim Stodola and Monticello's Jay Iben each won six-lap Sportsman heats.
Hansen, Frieden, and Boyse all won eight-lap Late Model heats before Naylor fought off a strong challenge from Chopper Safley of Cedar Rapids to win the Street Stock main in what proved to be the most exciting race of the evening.
Naylor and Safley ran neck-and-neck through the first five laps of the 12-lap race before the two of them tangled on the first turn of lap six. Safley was sent to the rear by Downs’ officials for causing the mishap but even that ruling didn't stop him.
The Sunday races were named in honor of the late Lou Shepard, the outstanding past-president of the All-Iowa Fair and longtime chairman of the race committee.
1. Curt Hansen, Dike
2. Mike Frieden, Cedar Rapids
3. Ken Walton, Viola
4. Ron Boyse, Kalona
5. Tom Hearst, Wilton
6. Larry Wasserfort, Cedar Falls
7. Steve Keppler, Marion
8. Mel Morris, West Liberty
9. Ed Sanger, Waterloo
10. Red Dralle, Waterloo