Thursday, October 23, 2014

1987 - Kemp quite a racer in his own right

Burlington, Iowa (October 23, 1987) - Larry Kemp has proven to be a successful racing entrepreneur, winning awards while wearing the hats of both owner and promoter at 34 Raceway and the Donnellson Dirt Track.

What many local racers don't realize is that their weekly competitions are being conducted by a man who once used to win races — as a driver in the Cedar Rapids area.

“I think some of them think I’m just some guy that came along,” Kemp laughed.

Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Keith Knaack. Knaack currently serves as team manager for the Helen Rae Special, car # 73 driven by Phil Barkdoll on the Winston Cup circuit. Prior to that, he managed the team of NASCAR standout Dave Marcis.

Nearly 30 years ago, Knaack and Kemp campaigned stock cars together at tracks in central Iowa.

“We were more or less doing it for fun,” Knaack explained. “We would fall into the eighth to 12th place cars on the average, without even trying very hard. And if anybody fouled up ahead of us, we’d sneak up a few spots.

That became our lifetime work then. Now, we both are in business to help racing become fun for everybody else,” said Knaack, who also serves as publisher for the Hawkeye Racing News as well as race director for the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA).

Upon his graduation from Linton High School in 1959, Kemp and his 1933 Ford coupe went racing. It was a time he fondly remembers.

“It was pretty tough back then with 60 or so cars there all in one class,” he recalled. “We (Kemp and Knaack) started out sharing the car. I drove it Saturday at Cedar Rapids and he drove it Sunday at Waterloo.”

“It was all late models back then so we had to run against the top racers in the state of Iowa,” Knaack acknowledged.

By 1964, Kemp had graduated to a 1955 Chevrolet. That same year, however, he also added a wife, Kathleen, and his racing career was destined to become short-lived.

“I got married and then I just stopped driving,” Kemp explained. “I got upside down one night when she was pregnant and that bothered her a little bit, so then I got started in the officiating.”

Kemp’s new duties included acting as flagman, scorer, track official and nearly everything else at various racing venues throughout Iowa.

“I worked at a bunch of different tracks,” he stated. Kemp soon got into track promotion, a match made in heaven for both Larry Kemp and the sport of racing. In 1981, Kemp came to 34 Raceway as promoter for then-owner Johnny Johnson. In 1985, he purchased the track from Johnson.

The rewards have been many - some on a national scale. During the past three years, Kemp has received three major awards from Racing Promoters Monthly magazine during its February banquet in Daytona, Fla.

In 1984, 34 Raceway was honored for the nation’s Outstanding Weekly Promotion. In both 1984 and 1986, Kemp was named one of eight regional Promoters of the Year nationwide, and was a finalist for national Promoter of the Year honors on both occasions.

“Since we got into the promoting thing, we’ve been thoroughly successful,” Kemp said. “It’s something I like to do and something I plan to keep on doing for a while.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

1968 –Wathen and Norris Team Up To Capture First Salem 500

Roy Wathen, shown here at Fairgrounds Motor Speedway in Louisville Ky., won the inaugural Salem 500 with the help of Jerry Norris. - John Potts Photo
Salem, Ind. (October 20, 1968) – Roy Wathen of Louisville, Ky., didn’t have any idea he could do it, but he did.

Wathen, with some help from relief driver Jerry Norris, also of Louisville, won the $2,000 first prize in the initial running of the Salem 500 for the Automobile Racing Club of America late model stock cars.

“I had no intentions of winning when I got here,” said a smiling Wathen after the 250-mile event on the high banks of the half-mile Salem Speedway. “But everything seemed to break right.”

What broke right for the Wathen-Norris team was most of the other cars in the $12,500 race. Only 12 of the 37 starters finished, with one of them, Paul Wensink’s 1968 Ford, completing only 313 laps. He wound up at 187 laps – or 93.5 miles – back.

When Norris got behind the wheel in relief of Wathen’s 1966 Chevrolet, there were about 150 laps to go and he was some 12 laps behind.

“It wasn’t that I was fatigued,” Wathen said. “But I had driven some 350 laps and my neck was sort of stiff and Jerry was there, so I let him take over.”

And through a series of misfortunes to the leaders, Norris wound up winning the race by a whopping seven laps over Clyde Parker of Farmington, Michigan.

First, Benny Parsons, the 1968 ARCA national champion, blew a tire, which ultimately knocked the oil pan off of his 1968 Ford and sent him to the sidelines on lap 419. Parsons was 5 laps ahead at the time.

Then Iggy Katona of Willis, Mich., moved into the lead. But the six-time ARCA champion, who had a 6-lap lead, developed engine woes and had to make an unscheduled pit stop.

And when Katona’s car wouldn’t start, Bill Lemon of Markleville, Ind., in a sportsman-like gesture, gave him a friendly push in his ’68 Ford. By the time Katona got his car fired up, Cleo Ashley of Warren, Mich., driving a ‘67 Mercury, had taken over the top spot on lap 439.

Katona, however, regained the lead on lap 468 and four laps later, Ashley tagged the fence on the north turn with a mighty wallop. “The car simply fell apart, Ashley said afterwards. “The gear shift came off in my hand, the clutch was out and my cotton-pickin crew kept signaling for me to come to the pits. Hell, I couldn’t have if I’d wanted to."

On lap 487, Katona’s engine up and died. Although the gallant Lemon tried twice more – for a total of 8 laps – to get him started, the effort was to no avail as Norris swept into first place and stayed there.

“Boy,” said Norris. “Was I surprised – and glad – when the pit crew told me I was ahead.”

Les Snow of Bloomington, Ill., the second fastest qualifier behind Parsons, led the first 180 laps before he and Parsons made scheduled pit stops. Jesse Baird of Louisville, Ky., inherited the lead briefly before pitting his ’66 Dodge and Snow regained the advantage on lap 216 when a blowout sent him back to the pits. The rear suspension failed on his ’67 Plymouth a few laps later and he was finished for the day.

Baird, who was sidelined until lap 323 with clutch problems, actually spun on his first stop into the pits, accidently hitting a bystander and sending the poor fellow flying through the air. Somehow – the man wasn’t hurt – and that was as close to an injury all afternoon long.

Jim Robinson of Albany, Ind., finished third; Katona amazingly got the engine fired up and back on the track to finished fourth; and Ashley, after “falling apart”, got his car pieced back together well enough to scrounge up a top five finish.

The race, which drew an estimated 7,500 fans, was the largest crowd in quite some time.

Results –

  1. Roy Wathen/Jerry Norris, Louisville, Ky.
  2. Clyde Parker, Farmington, Mich.
  3. Jim Robinson – Albany, Ind.
  4. Iggy Katona, Willis, Mich.
  5. Cleo Ashley, Warren, Mich.
  6. Bill Kimmel, Clarksville, Ind.
  7. Don Violet, Urbana, Ohio
  8. Namon Martin, Cleveland, Ohio
  9. Wayne Trinkle, Jeffersonville, Ind.
  10. Bob Thomas, Louisville, Ky.
  11. Benny Parsons, Detroit, Mich.
  12. Doc Kinsey, New Philadelphia, Ohio
  13. Dave Dayton, Indianapolis, Ind.
  14. Tom King, Anderson, Ind.
  15. Andy Hampton, Louisville, Ky.
  16. Bill Lemon, Markleville, Ind.
  17. Curtis Turner, Roanoke, Va.
  18. Ron Kudek, Westland, Mich.
  19. Jesse Baird, Louisville, Ky.
  20. Paul Wensink, Deshler, Ohio

Saturday, October 18, 2014

1964 - Hutcherson wins late model feature at Downs’

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (October 18, 1964) - Dick Hutcherson, current IMCA late model stock car champion, drove his 1964 “fastback” factory Ford to victory in the 35-lap late model feature Sunday afternoon at Hawkeye Downs.
He turned in the fastest time trial (25.69) and started on the pole position. On the first lap, Jerry Reinhart, East Moline, crashed through the fence on the backstretch, but was not injured.
On the restart, Mert Williams, Rochester, Minn., jumped off to an early lead, and by the third lap, was a half-lap in front of Hutcherson. But luck was not with the Rochester driver, as he left the track with a flat rear tire going into the fourth lap.
Hutcherson then took the lead, but Darrell Dake, Cedar Rapids, handicapped by a badly sprained right hand, moved alongside and the two drove side-by-side in a dead heat for 10 laps.
Results –
  1. Dick Hutcherson, Keokuk, Iowa
  2. Darrell Dake, Cedar Rapids
  3. Jim Gerber, Long Grove
  4. Red Droste, Waterloo
  5. Bill Zwanziger, Waterloo
  6. Del Williams, East Moline, Ill.
  7. Stan Stover, Reinbeck
  8. Jerry Draper, Rock Island, Ill.
  9. Ron Prymek, Iowa City
  10. Al Iben, Monticello

Thursday, October 16, 2014

1950 - Kokomo Pioneered Auto Racing, Too

Kokomo, Ind. (October 16, 1950) - Just as Kokomo was one of the pioneers in the automobile field, this city also was one of the early cities to play host to automobile races.

The first big organized auto race was held here August 18, 1903, at the old Kokomo Driving park, the local all-sports center at the turn of the century.

The feature race, run over the half-mile dirt track that had been installed in 1890 for horse racing, brought together Barney Oldfield and Tom Cooper, even then headliners in the still new sport of auto racing.
The two former stars of the bicycle-racing world were on an exhibition were giving thrilling speed exhibitions in their new-fangled, high-powered racing machines.
The city of Kokomo “closed up shop’ on the day of the big race and went out to the driving park, where it saw part of the show stolen from Oldfield and Cooper.
Drivers gave a number of special events with cars from the Haynes and Apperson factories. Their performances were only a little less spectacular than that offered by the professionals.
That was six years before the now-famous Indianapolis Speedway track was built in 1903 there were no tracks built especially for auto racing. A year after the big race at the Driving Park, Indianapolis got into the racing picture with events at the State Fairgrounds. Three Apperson cars were entered in the events run on June 13, 1904. Elmer Apperson won the handicap race while Nelson McLain took runner-up honors in the touring car division with another Apperson car.
Thanks to the Haynes and Apperson influence, auto racing continued to hold interest here. But many events were road races instead of regular track events. During the years, a number of tracks have been constructed in various parts of the county but few of them gained an established reputation.
The present Kokomo speedway, scene of some of the Midwest's best midget auto racing, is not the first by that name. In the mid-1928, Earl Richardson was manager of the Kokomo Speedway, the name given to a track on a 40-acre plot 2.5 miles north and west of Kokomo.
One of the big events of that era was held July 4, 1925, when Dutch Bauman of Indianapolis set three new records for the Kokomo Speedway track. He made the one-lap qualification run in 32.2 seconds and then set records for 15 miles, averaging 58.79 miles an hour, and for 20 miles, averaging 58.51 miles, an hour.
The current auto-racing period started in 1947, when Albert R. Miller and John Rose formed the Kokomo Speedway Corporation and built the quarter-mile track and stands north of Kokomo on U.S. 35.
The undertaking was a success practically from the start. The second year the present big grandstand was constructed and on June 21, 1948, the attendance record was boosted to 12,856 spectators.
Now well known in the midget auto-racing world, the Kokomo Speedway attracts some of the finest drivers in the country, including many of the “big name” drivers who take part in the famous 500-mile Memorial Day race in Indianapolis.
Among the better known drivers that local fans have had the opportunity to watch are Johnny Parson, winner of the abbreviated ‘500’ this year and 1949 AAA champion, Tony Bettenhausen, the late Rex Mays, Mel Hanson, Troy Ruttman, Jimmy Davies, Johnny McDowell, Duke Dinsmore and Sam Hanks.

Friday, October 10, 2014

1970 - Blundy takes IMCA sprint title

Des Moines, Iowa (October 10, 1970) - Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., a 21-year racing veteran, won the 1970 IMCA National Sprint Car Championship with a total of 2,900 points.

Blundy, 42, driving a Chevy-powered sprinter, won seven of the 25 IMCA features entered.

Jerry Richert of Forest Lake, Minn., claimed second place while third went to Jay Woodside of Kansas City, Mo. Fourth place was claimed by another Kansas City driver, Dick Sutcliffe.

Final point standings:

1. Jerry Blundy - 2,900
2. Jerry Richert - 2,275
3. Jay Woodside - 1,795
4. Dick Sutcliffe - 1,745
5. Eddie Leavitt - 1,665
6. Darl Harrison -1,580
7. Jan Opperman -1,330
9. Chuck Lynch -1,080
10. Ron Perkins -1,020

Friday, October 3, 2014

1976 – Detjens takes win in Oktoberfest 200

La Crosse Interstate Speedway promoter Larry Wehrs presents Oktoberfest champion Larry Detjens with his trophy. 

West Salem, Wis. (October 3, 1976) – Larry Detjens came home the big winner on Sunday as he captured the 100-lap main for late models at La Crosse Interstate Speedway’s Oktoberfest.

Detjens grabbed the lead from pole-sitter Dave Watson on the 24th circuit around the half-mile paved oval and was never headed the rest of the way.

Joe Shear got around Watson, the Rockford National Short Track champion, on lap 57 to take over second after a spirited duel that went on for 30 laps. By this time, however, Detjens had increased his margin to a half a lap, which Shear could not make up.

Trailing Watson, who wound up finishing third, was Dick Trickle, John Ziegler, Tom Reffner, Doug Strasburg, Jerry Eckhardt, Mark Lamoreaux, and Jim Back.

Shear captured the afternoon’s first 50-lap qualifying race over Watson, Reffner, Bob Carnes and Bob Gunn, who turned his car over to Dick Trickle for the 100-lapper.

The second 50-lap qualifier was won by Detjens who beat Ziegler, Bill Oas, Strasburg and Mike Miller.

Steve Arndt won the semi-main with Don Turner taking the consolation.

Reffner set a new track record 20.292 seconds during Saturday night’s action. Reffner also won the 20-lap Race of Champions over Watson, Detjens, Shear and Ziegler. The fast heats went to Reffner and Ziegler with the qualifying heats going to Bob Jusola, Arndt, and Pat Griffin. Dick Partington won the hobby stock main event.

Pete Mahlum won the La Crosse area late model feature on Friday night while Hub Schulenberg grabbed hobby stock honors.

Feature Results –

  1. Larry Detjens
  2. Joe Shear
  3. Dave Watson
  4. Dick Trickle
  5. John Ziegler
  6. Tom Reffner
  7. Doug Strasburg
  8. Jerry Eckhardt
  9. Mark Lamoreaux
  10. Jim Back
  11. Pat Griffin
  12. John Reimer
  13. John Boegeman
  14. Bruce Sparrman
  15. Jim Bohmsach
  16. Don Grant
  17. Ted Kitzman
  18. Jim Sauter
  19. Bob Carnes
  20. Dick Stang
  21. Marv Marzofka
  22. Fred Bender
  23. Mike Miller
  24. Rich Somers
  25. Kevin Lang
  26. Jerry Makara
  27. Bob Jusola
  28. Steve Burgess
  29. Bill Oas
  30. Larry Nipple

Thursday, October 2, 2014

1971 - Hansen Wins Three at Boone

Dike, Iowa's Curt Hansen grabbed the checkered flag in three events at Boone.

Boone, Iowa (October 2, 1971) - Curt Hansen, Dike, went home Saturday night loaded with trophies as he swept to victory in three events, including the 100-lap feature at the Boone Speedway's "Tri-State 100" Saturday night.

The youthful driver picked up not only the trophy for the feature win, but also took the "Race of Champions" - the event which pitted point champions from various tracks against each other.

A field of 52 entries crowded the Boone track making the final race of the season the biggest held this year.

Ramo Stott, the heralded point champion of the ARCA circuit from Keokuk, ran away from the field in the second heat, but couldn't stay with Hansen in the feature or the "Race of Champions."

In the feature Stott was set back by a spinout, but steadily gained ground to finish a fairly distant second.

Both Hansen and Denny Hovinga, Laurens ran ahead of Stott in the clash between the point champions.

Hansen was the season point leader at the Marshalltown track and Hovinga topped the field at the Boone Speedway and the Kossuth Speedway in Algona.

Running fourth in that event was a sportsman car chauffeured by Glenn Woodard, Des Moines, who was the point champion in his class at the Boone Speedway this season. Woodard was scheduled to start on the pole, but was late in coming out and had to start at the back.

Some of the point champions scheduled to run the special event were hindered by car trouble. Mike Chapman, the Alta point champion from Whiting, had his car give out and was going to run the Champions race with the car of Darreld Bunkofske, Algona, but that car also wasn't well, so he sat out the event.

Del McDowall, an Ames driver and point champion at the Stuart oval this year had his car on the sidelines and drove the car normally wheeled by Mike Keen, Marshalltown.

In the third heat, Arlo Dorenbush, Boone, got tangled up in the number two turn and his car was out for the night. To run the "Race of Champions”, he climbed behind the wheel of Wes Smith's Ford from Story City. Dorenbush finished fifth and McDowall was sixth in the race.

For a while the battle for first was a three-way bunch of Stott, Hansen and Hovinga, but then Hansen and Hovinga got by the Keokuk driver on the front straightaway and Hansen pulled away for an easy win.

Stott went to a different rear end gear ration for the feature after spinning his wheels through most of the early events, but still didn't come up with a combination that could keep up with Hansen.

To make it a full night of winning, Hansen also captured the third heat, taking the lead with five laps to go.

Hovinga came within two hundredths of a second of the track record in the time trials as he flashed around the quarter-mile oval in 17.35 seconds.

Bill Pruissman, Webster City, won the other heat race. Joel Rasmussen, Ames, captured the semi-main, driving a car owned by Sam Post, Boone, and the third place car in season points at the Boone track.

That event saw 26 cars take the track, but one dropped out on the parade lap, leaving 25 to take the green flag. It took four restarts and 30 minutes to get the race completed.

Results –

Fast time: Denny Hovinga, Laurens, Iowa (17.35)
First heat: 1. Bill Pruissman, Webster City, Iowa
Second heat: 1. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
Third heat: Curt Hansen, Dike, Iowa
Semi-Main: Joe Rasmussen, Ames, Iowa
Race of Champions: Curt Hansen
1. Curt Hansen
2. Ramo Stott
3. Denny Hovinga, Laurens, Iowa
4. Karl Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
5. Kenny Farrell, New Hampton, Iowa
6. Bill Pruissman
7. Del McDowall, Ames, Iowa
8. Darreld Bunkofske, Algona, Iowa
9. Arnie Braland, Boone, Iowa
10.John Carlson, Ankeny Iowa