Saturday, May 30, 2015

1960 - Jim Rathmann Wins '500' Classic

Jim Rathmann waves to his admirers after his victory in the 1960 Indianapolis 500. Rathmann was the first winner to wear the wreath around his neck. 

Indianapolis, Ind. (May 30, 1960) - Jim Rathmann of Miami won a record-breaking 500-mile auto race Monday on his 11th attempt, passing defending champion Rodger Ward only 7.5 miles from the finish.

Ward, of Indianapolis, finished second, reversing their finish in 1959, but Mondays was much closer.

Paul Goldsmith, St. Clair Shores, Mich., finished third. Rathmann's winning speed was 138.767 mile per hour beating Ward's 1959 record of 135.457, set last year.

Goldsmith's third-place finish came in a battle with Don Branson, Champaign, Ill., who finished fourth, and Johnny Thompson, Boyertown, Penn., fifth.

Running behind Thompson were Eddie Johnson, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, sixth; rookie Lloyd Ruby, Houston, Tex., seventh; Bob Veith, Oakland, Cal., eighth; Shorty Templeman, Seattle, ninth, and Bud Tingelstad, Dayton, Ohio, tenth.

Ward in second place averaged 138.632 miles per hour. Goldsmith's average speed was 136.798 miles per hour. Rathmann beat Ward by 12.67 seconds as Ward slowed with a weakening tire.

Sixteen other cars out of the starting 33 were chasing Rathmann and Ward in at the finish. Ward said a bad pit stop when he killed his engine may have cost him the race because he had to punish his tires so hard to get back into contention. He and Rathmann were nearly hub to hub for the last half of the race, until Ward slackened to avoid a tire failure.

Only one driver was seriously injured. Eddie Russo crashed on the southeast turn.

The track toll, however, reached 52 since 1909 with the deaths of two spectators, killed when a homemade infield stand toppled.

Speed records fell at virtually every mile post along the way. The high-speed grind knocked out the cars of Troy Ruttman, 1952 winner; Jimmy Bryan, who won in 1958, and Eddie Sachs, a front row, starter in three of his four 500-mile races. Ruttman and Sachs were among the lap leaders in the first 350 miles.

Ward was the only former winner left after Ruttman and Bryan dropped out. Ward and Rathmann shared the front row with Sachs in the starting lineup.

Ed Russo, driving his fourth 500, suffered a possible concussion when his car crashed into the retaining wall at the southeast turn in the only serious crash.

Tony Bettenhausen, a veteran of 14 races here, escaped burns in a fire-resistant uniform when he came into the pits with his car afire and out of the race.

Jim Hurtubise, the sensational 500 rookie who broke time trial records, had pulled up to fifth place before mechanical trouble took his car out after 473 miles.

Rathmann, 31, finished second in 1952, 1957 and 1959, and his 500 miles Monday gave him a total of 4,870 miles driven on the racetrack in 11 events, Rathmann's prizes probably would reach $110,000.

Results –

1. Jim Rathmann
2. Rodger Ward
3. Pal Goldsmith
4. Don Branson
5. Johnny Thomson
6. Eddie Johnson
7. Lloyd Ruby
8. Bob Veith
9. Bud Tingelstad
10. Bob Christie
11. Red Amick
12. Duane Carter
13. Bill Homeier
14. Gene Hartley
15. Chuck Stevenson
16. Bobby Grim
17. Shorty Templeman
18. Jim Hurtubise
19. Jimmy Bryan
20. Troy Ruttman
21. Eddie Sachs
22. Don Freeland
23. Tony Bettenhausen
24. Wayne Weiler
25. A.J. Foyt
26. Eddie Russo
27. Johnny Boyd
28. Gene Force
29. Jim McWhitney
30. Len Sutton
31. Dick Rathmann
32. Al Herman
33. Dempsey Wilson

Friday, May 29, 2015

1976 - Gaines Earns 2nd Little 500 Crown

Dick Gaines enjoys the spoils of victory.

Anderson, Ind. (May 29, 1976) - Dick Gaines walked out of Sun Valley Speedway Saturday night a little bit tired, awful happy and nearly $5,000 richer after leading the field home for the 1976 edition of the Little 500.

The Floyds Knob, Ind., resident crossed the finish line two hours, seven minutes, 14.49 seconds after starting from the pole position to earn his second win in this premier sprint car event.

"It got awful rough during the last part of the race," said Gaines who previously won in 1973. "Something went wrong during the last 100 laps or so. The car felt like it was going to shake me to pieces. I knew where I stood, though, and I wasn't about to let up any."

Gaines finished the grind over four laps ahead of Martinsville's Mike Johnson. But all was not as easy as it appeared.

Gaines jumped into the lead from the start with Columbus' Butch Wilkerson in close pursuit from his outside front row position. By the 50-lap mark, Wilkerson had overtaken Gaines with Ed Angle running a close third.

By the 60th lap, Gaines fell to fourth, trailing Wilkerson, Angle and Bob Luscomb.

The first major incident of the evening occurred on the 62nd lap when Ron Dorsett spun his Dennie Weatherford Chevy into the path of Danny Smith's ride. Both cars ended up against the retaining wall along the first turn and were done for the evening.

Angle had taken the lead by the 75-lap mark, but was unable to gain any substantial advantage over Wilkerson or Gaines. Gaines overtook Wilkerson, setting the stage for some close racing between himself and Angle until he took the lead on lap 170. Gaines was never headed again, building a gradual lead over the remainder of the competition.

Three-time winner Darl Harrison, although never applying any real pressure on the front-runners, remained in the top 10 until his engine ceased on the 300th lap. Angle was having some handling problems but held on to finish third behind Johnson.

Wilkerson eliminated himself on lap 409 when he lost control of his car near the end of the backstretch and smacked the wall, taking Bobby Adkins and Danny Milburn with him. Adkins was forced out of the running due to the mishap, but Milburn was able to continue.

Perhaps the biggest thrill during the evening (and nearly the most costly for Gaines) occurred on the 497th lap when Chuck Mosley, driving his own Chevy-powered machine, lost it coming onto the main stretch directly in the path of the oncoming Gaines. The eventual winner found room, however, to guide his Kinser Brothers Chevy between the broad sliding Mosley machine and the outside wall with less than a foot to spare. Gaines then coasted under the checkered flag, and then announced he would be back next year to try for number three.

With his Saturday night victory, Gaines collected $4,910 out of a purse in excess of $19,000. More than 14,000 fans were on hand for the 28th annual event.

Results –

  1. Dick Gaines
  2. Mike Johnson
  3. Ed Angle
  4. Galen Short
  5. Robert Smith
  6. Bill Roynan
  7. Tony Solomito
  8. Ron Larson
  9. Chuck Mosley
  10. Bob Luscomb
  11. Billy Joe Havens
  12. Danny Johnson
  13. Danny Milburn
  14. Butch Wilkerson
  15. Bucky Boughan
  16. Bobby Adkins
  17. Allen Barr
  18. Bill Ludington
  19. Casey Jones
  20. Bernie Graybeal
  21. Leon Thickstun
  22. Bob McDaniel
  23. Darl Harrison
  24. Danny Landis
  25. Mike Blake
  26. Tim Boyd
  27. Curt Kelley
  28. Ron Semelka
  29. Kenny Simpson
  30. John Batts
  31. Ron Dorsett
  32. Danny Smith
  33. Charlie Wilmot

Thursday, May 28, 2015

1972 - Bad luck continues to plague Shryock team at Fairmont track

Fairmont, Minn. (May 28, 1972) - Dave Bjorge of Austin won the accident-marred feature race of the late model stock car races here at the Fairmont Speedways on Friday night. Bjorge started in the pole position with his '69 Plymouth and then outlasted Mert Williams of Rochester.
Involved in the 4-car were Ole Brua of Albert Lea, Mike Enter of St. Peter, Joe Salner of St. Cloud and Bob Shryock of Estherville. Brua hit the back wall during the backstretch of the fourth lap, rolled with the other three cars piling in. Brua somehow got out of his safety harness, escaped through the car’s safety cage and got off the track. He suffered second and third degree burns on his hands and arms with burns also on his legs. The other drivers escaped with minor injuries. Brua’s car was totally burned up.
Only two drivers cracked the 27-second mark over the half-mile track. Bob Weber of Lone Rock, Iowa, driving a ‘64 Chevelle was the pacesetter in 26.22 seconds. Joe Salner of St. Cloud, driving a ‘65 Studebaker with a 350 Chevrolet engine was clocked in 26.97 during the time trials.
Mert Williams, point leader at the start of the race program of the late model division, won the first heat while Ole Brua of Albert Lea took top honors in the second heat. Williams, of Rochester, starting the night’s program with 500 points in two nights of racing, took the lead on the second lap after starting on the second row inside. Williams was driving a ‘70 Monte Carlo. Brua, in a ‘69 Torino, started on the third row inside, fought his way through heavy traffic during the first four laps but then won by a comfortable margin over Bob Weber of Lone Rock, Iowa. Al Jackson set the early pace in the second heat but fell to the back of the pack after spinning out during the fourth lap.
Joe Salner of St. Cloud outlasted Brua in the late model dash event. Salner, starting on the pole position took the lead on the second lap and then held off Brua. Brua nosed past Salner briefly on the back stretch of the final lap but then Slaner regained the lead when Brua went high on the number three corner. Salner then stayed low on the track and won by less than two feet.
Jim Calverley of Albert Lea took advantage of the pole position in the late model consolation race to outrace five other drivers for top money. Jack Piver of Mason City was second. Calverley was driving a ‘69 Camaro while Piver was in a ‘65 Chevelle.
Top honors in the street model class went to Bill Hawker of Alden and Bob Wohlford of Fairmont. Hawker, driving a Dodge won the first heat after starting on the first row outside. Wolford, in a Ford, started on fourth row inside and took the lead on the sixth lap when Gary Saathoff, the pace setter since the second lap, blew a tire and was forced out of the race.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

1974 - Don White Wins 100-Lap USAC Tilt at Sedalia

Don White
Sedalia, Mo. (May 27, 1974) - Don White of Keokuk, Iowa, a two-time United States Auto Club (USAC) stock-car champion, won the 50th feature of his career Monday by capturing the 100-lap main event on the half-mile track at the Missouri State Fairgrounds.

A crowd of 4,500 was on hand to see the races that were postponed from Sunday by rain.

White, driving a 1972 Dodge, and Ernie Derr, also of Keokuk, who finished second in 1972 Dodge, were the only leaders. White led the first four laps, Derr from lap 5 to 35 and then White, who will be 48 years old next month, the remaining distance.

The first four finishers were from the Hawkeye state as Irv Janey, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1973 Plymouth, and Ramo Stott, Keokuk, in 1974 Plymouth, were third and fourth, respectively.

It turned out to be two races on the track. Derr, who finished second Friday night in Knoxville, Iowa to Butch Hartman, the current USAC champion, chased White to the limit. Janey, who was third in the Knoxville teacher, two, had to hold off Stott in a tremendous duel for third place.

Hartman was never a factor in this one as he was credited with 14th place after going out with transmission troubles after 80 laps.

In taking the lead for good on the 36th lap White drove underneath Derr going around turns one and two.

“I wanted Derr in front for a while just to see where he would run,” White said of his strategy of giving up the lead briefly.

“The original plan was to change the right rear tire at about 50 laps,” commented the winner, “but the track conditions didn't change that much and the tires weren't wearing as much as anticipated.”

White collected $1,660 of the nearly $10,000 purse.

Another great driving feat was turned in by Bill Utz of Sedalia in the companion sprint car feature. The invited field of 22 drivers competed in back to back 25 – lap races in Utz won them both.

By winning the first race Utz was the last-place starter in the second race as the entire field was inverted.

Gene Gennetten of Gladstone, Mo., was second in both races. Gennetten appeared to have victory in sight in the second race when he was passed by Utz with one lap remaining.

Jay Lyle of Warrensburg, Mo., was third in both features and Gary Scott of Holt Summit, Mo., was fourth in each sprint race.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

1964 - Good's Chevy Cops Little 500

Anderson, Ind. (May 23, 1964) - The largest crowd in Sun Valley Speedway history, 13,641, saw ever-charging Dick Good return the driving championship of the “Little 500” national championship sprint car classic to the Hoosier state when he wheeled the #41 Wood Chevy, owned by G.E. Wood to first place honors in the 16th renewal of the 500-lap endurance run here on Saturday night.

Despite the appearance of the yellow flag six different times, totaling 72 laps, Good toured the 125-mile distance in 2 hours, 13 minutes, and 42.88 seconds as he finished with an eight-lap advantage over the W.J. W. Chevy from St. Paul, Minnesota, which was co-driven by Jerry Richert and Jerry Daniels.

In the best position battle in the race, Richert-Daniels driving team salvaged second place money by a six-second margin over Shady McWhorter who was driving his own #72 McWhorter Chevy.

Only two different cars led the race, which was sanctioned by the International Motor Contest Association and run under the direction of Al Sweeney and National Speedways, Inc., for the third straight year.

Good set the pace for a grand total of 400 laps, picking up one block in prize money for each time he went across the finish line first, in this swelled his earnings to $2,175 for the race.

Al Smith, who put the #0 Bob Trimble Buick in the coveted pole position, was the only other driver to lead the race. He led for 100 laps, picked up $500 as fast qualifier for the race and made a grand total of $1,225 for his fourth place finish.

The six separate accidents which brought out the yellow flag did not bring about injury to any driver although it did for several cars out of the race.

Even at that, 27 machines were still on the track and running when Good received the checkered flag.

At the 100-lap mark it was Good, Al Smith, Norman Brown in the #51 Doug Lang Chevy; Dean Mast, and the #75 W.C. Griffth Chevy, and Claire Lawicki, at the wheel of the #71 Diz Wilson Chevy, running in that order.

Smith finally caught up with good and passed it right at the starting line at the end of 154 laps to regain the top spot. His lead didn't last long, however, as good went back in front entering turn number one on the 163rd lap.

Good was the leader for even shorter. It time as he spun in the home stretch on the hundred and 163rd turn of the track and Smith once more became the pacemaker.

At 200 laps it was Smith, Richert, Tommy York, Good and McWhorter in that order.

Smith went into the pits for fuel and attire change after completing 241 circuits and good, who passed you work on lap 203 and Richert on lap 228, became the race leader for the last time. New paragraph after 300 laps it was good, McWhorter, Richert, Lawicki, York, Smith, Duckworth, and McCune.

Results –

  1. Dick Good
  2. Jerry Richert
  3. Shady McWhorter
  4. Al Smith
  5. Tom York
  6. Jim McCune
  7. Darl Harrison
  8. Charley Masters
  9. Dick Carter
  10. Claire Lawicki
  11. Leon Wieske
  12. Bob Leever
  13. Wib Spaulding
  14. Duke Cook
  15. Bob Davis
  16. Jay Woodside
  17. Wilbur Robinson
  18. Jack Thomas
  19. Doc Shaeffer
  20. Jerry Daniels
  21. Ken Clifton
  22. Norman Brown
  23. Dean Mast
  24. Rollie Beale
  25. Don Brunch
  26. Buzz Gregory
  27. Sam Sessions
  28. Al Simko
  29. Serg Tesolin
  30. Harold Smith
  31. Don Daniels
  32. Greg Weld
  33. Bob Pratt

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

1974 – Larry Detjens wins Spring 50 season opener at WIR

Larry Detjens of Wausau won the Spring Opener 50 at Wisconsin International Raceway. He's show accepting the trophy from Debby Steegy, Miss Calumet. - Pete Vercauteren Collection

Kaukauna, Wis. (May 19, 1974) - Wisconsin International Raceway's four-race state championship series was launched in spectacular fashion here Sunday afternoon as Wausau's Larry Detjens wheeled his hemi-powered Dodge Challenger to victory before 4,253 persons. Detjens, who operates an auto body repair shop, passed two other racers on the final lap of the "Spring Opener 50".

Detjens had to work his way through the 23-car starting field and it wasn't until the 48th lap when he moved into the top three positions. He slipped into third spot on the 48th lap, passing Rich Somers of Stevens Point.

He then made his bid for the top spot but couldn't find enough room to get past Jim Sauter of Necedah and Mike Miller of New Prague, Minn., who had battled door-to-door for the lead for much of the distance.

As the white flag was waved, signaling one lap remaining, the three racers zoomed past the standing crowd, three abreast, with Detjens on the outside. Detjens entered the first turn with a slight lead and pulled away down the back stretch.

He won the event by one car length over Miller with Sauter placing third. Miller, last year's National Short Track Champion at Rockford, drove a 1970 Mustang while Sauter was behind the wheel of a 1973 Chevy Nova. Somers finished fourth in a 1973 Mustang followed by Dave Watson of Beloit, winner of the "Red White and Blue State Championship at WIR last year, in a 1973 Joe Shear Camaro and Jim Pierson of Milton in a 1974 Camaro.

Al Schill of Franklin, the race leader for the first 10 laps, finished eighth.

Sauter set the pace for two laps after gaining the lead from Schill. Miller took over the top spot for one lap before being re-passed by Sauter. Miller regained the lead on the 28th lap and remained in the front position until being passed by Detjens on the final lap.

The race was yellow flagged by start Bill Krueger twice. The first caution flag was waved when top qualifier, John Reimer of Caledonia, blew the engine of his 1973 Camaro on the fourth lap. He was the leading qualifier among the 63 entries on hand to participate in the $55,000 racing program.

Another caution period was required on the 17th lap when Beloit's Dan Bellard spun in the first turn and was hit head-on by Don James of Bloomington, Minn. James was unable to continue.

Results –

1. Larry Detjens, Wausau
2. Mike Miller, New Prague, Minn.
3. Jim Sauter, Necedah
4. Rich Somers, Stevens Point
5. Dave Watson, Beloit
6. Jim Pierson, Milton
7. Neil Callahan, Merrill
8. Al Schill, Franklin
9. Jim Olson, Mazomanie
10. Jim Derhagg, Hoskins, Minn.
11. Dave Conger, Oshkosh
12. Don Bellard, Beloit
13. Boyce Sparkman, Rockford, Ill.
14. Jerry Eckhardt, Lake Mills
15. John Knaus, Rockford, Ill.
16. Fred Bender, Sun Prairie
17. Jim Back, Vesper
18. Dave Field, Port Edwards
19. Paul Smith, Marquette, Mich.
20. Don James, Bloomington, Minn.
21. Bob Gunn, Madison
22. Ed Hume, Madison
23. John Reimer, Caledonia



Friday, May 15, 2015

1970 – A Plymouth wins again at Knoxville

by Ida May Van Genderen
Knoxville, Iowa (May 15, 1970) - Gordy Blankenship of Keokuk captured the 15-lap stock car feature Friday night at the Knoxville Raceway.

Last week it was Lem Blankenship. This week brother Gordon decided to give Knoxville a try and he took home the first place money. So now it has been Plymouth winning two weeks in a row.

The stock cars looked like they were hooked together going around the track in a bumper to bumper line when trouble struck on the fifth lap.

The result was a massive pileup on the backstretch, knocking out the first and second place cars; Bill McDonough and Carl Vander Wal. Rich Montgomery rolled a few times and was out as were the cars of Ron Perdock and Larry Housby. Nearly every car in the 14-car field received some kind of damage or new dents. All were uninjured in the mishap.

Bob Bonzer of Liscomb started the cool evening off hot by setting fast time of the night with a 24.24 second lap around the tacky one-half mile oval.

Dick Oldham of Des Moines jumped into the lead from his front row starting position to lead all the way to win the five-lap trophy dash. Bob Bonzer edged out Phil Reese of Des Moines to place second.

Oldham then took to the track for his second win of the evening by copping the first eight-lap heat race. On the third lap, Joel Rasmussen of Ames spun his Camaro around in the second turn. He was dodged by two cars, but the third car, driven by Steve Genevasee of Ankeny rammed Rasmussen head-on with his Chevelle. Both cars were out of commission for the rest of the night.

Taking the checkers for the second eight lap heat was Mike Brooks of Hartford. It was nip and tuck race for first spot between Brooks and Bob Bonzer until Bonzer’s engine let go on the fifth lap and he was forced to the pit. Mike then won by a wide margin over Carl Vander Wal of Ames.

Phil Reese of Des Moines won the third heat event. It looked like Oskaloosa’s Rich Montgomery had the race in the bag. He led for the first six laps only to slip a bit in the fourth turn on the white flag lap. Rich lost two spots when Reese and second place finisher Bill McDonough of Cedar Rapids took advantage and plunged ahead.

Don Hoffman took the lead from the start and was never headed, to win the seven lap consolation. George Barton of Ankeny was second.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

1985 - Al Schill Repeats in ARTGO Stocks

Al Schill won the prestigious Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway.

Rockford, Ill. (April 12, 1985) - Making it two in a row on the ARTGO Challenge Series circuits, Al Schill won the eighth annual Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

The rain delayed, 85-lap feature saw Schill, point leader of the Midwestern stock-car circuit, wheel his Pontiac Firebird to his second challenge series win of the new season. The 40-year-old speedster, winner in last year’s National Short Track Championships at the Rockford oval, now has four career victories on the ARTGO late-model tour.

Taking over the lead from Steve Holzhausen on the 59th circuit, Schill went on to win with a commanding margin over Holzhausen. Trailing on the high banked quarter-mile paved oval were John Ziegler, Larry Schuler, Rich Bickle Jr. and the afternoon’s fastest qualifier, Joe Shear.

“That yellow flag helped,” said Schill after the when. “The tires cooled, and I was ready to go for it (the lead),” he added. “He (Holzhausen) was having a little handling trouble coming off the corner, and I just got alongside him enough to take the lead,” Schill said.

Holzhausen led from the start with Schuler giving chase. Schill, with Ziegler in pursuit, got by Schuler for second and moved in on Holzhausen first shot at the lead.

After a lap 58 yellow flag, Schill wasted little time going for first place, charging under Holzhausen on lap 59. She'll quickly pulled away building a commanding lead.

Steve Seligman captured the 20 lap semi-feature advanced to the main event. The semi-feature was red flagged when 1984 rookie of the year, Scott Hansen, and Doug Herbst crashed into the wall the first lap. Hansen's Pontiac Firebird did a slow rollover. Hansen escaped injury in his crew was able to repair the car for the feature.

Results –

1. Al Schill
2. Steve Holzhausen
3. John Ziegler
4. Larry Schuler
5. Rich Bickle Jr.
6. Joe Shear
7. Tom Musgrave
8. Fred Campbell
9. Steve Burgess
10. Mike Van Sparrentak
11. Don Leach
12. Terry Baldry
13. Ted Musgrave
14. Axel Dahlberg
15. Steve Carlson
16. Frank Gawlinski
17. Steve Seligman
18. Scott Hansen
19. Roger Lund
20. Jim Holland

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

1963 - Ernie Derr Reverts to Old Set-Up

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (May 6, 1963) - The biggest news in Midwest stock car racing circles is that Ernie Derr, five-time International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) champion, has gone back to his old system of preparing his car for races.

In case you have missed a few chapters in stock car history, Ernie is one of the racing breed from Keokuk. That city probably produces more stock car drivers per capita than any middlesex, village or farm in the U.S.

Let’s see, theirs Derr and his brother-in-law, Don White. The latter used to run neck-and-neck with Ernie in the IMCA, but now he's making money like a mint while racing with USAC (U.S. Auto Club) on Eastern tracks.

Then there's Dick Hutcherson. He’s the hottest of the Keokuk Clique this spring, as he topped the IMCA field at both Shreveport, La., and Freeport, Ill., the last two weekends.

Hutcherson and Ramo Stott, another Keokuker, will be racing with Derr in the May 19 Hawkeye 250-lap race at Hawkeye Downs. So will two other Keokuk drivers, Jim Washburn and Mickey McMahan.

Derr has been the most successful of all. He has won five IMCA season championships - the last four in succession. Last year he drove in 51 races. He won 28 of them, finished second in 10 others.

You'd think a record like that would let ol’ Ernie sit back and enjoy his weekly drives to the bank. But he got restless during the winter lay-off and finally decided to invest $6,000 with the hope of winning them all in 1963.

He hired a company of experts to “set up” his 1963 Pontiac for greater racing performance. We don't know much more about a car than the gas pedal, brakes, steering wheel and luggage trunk, but the guys who do tell us this includes strengthening the wheels, hubs, suspension and other parts that take punishment in long races.

The company altered his radiator to keep it cooler on race days. They changed the car’s rear end. We understand mechanics are permitted to do this under the IMCA stock car rules provided they don't replace the original gear housing.

Well, you can imagine how fearful the other drivers were two weeks ago when he entered his newly “set up” Pontiac at Shreveport. Beating Ernie was tough enough when he and his own crew did the motor surgery.

But when the dust cleared at Shreveport, Ernie was limping-home fifth. Last Sunday he was entered at Freeport, Ill. This time he managed to finish second behind Hutcherson, but he still was far from satisfied with the car's performance.

Ernie has raced his new mount in two other races - in the MARC circuit in Texas. He finished far down in the money list there.

So this week he reached a decision; to heck with the six thousand clams. From now on he'll go back to his old way of setting up a car. He and his mechanics went back to work.

Actually, the firm he hired is a good one. But Ernie believes their system works best on the Eastern tracks, most of which are longer (1 mile or more) and paved. In this circuit he runs mostly on half-mile dirt ovals.

So if you watch Ernie Derr race at Hawkeye Downs May 19, you'll be seeing the "old Ernie" - or, rather, Ernie with his successful old system. He'll need that old touch if he hopes to repeat as Hawkeye 250-lap champion ahead of all those other Keokuk speed demons.

Monday, May 4, 2015

1974 – West Liberty victory for Weedon


West Liberty, Iowa (May 4, 1974) – Things were different this week as it was Ron Weedon holding off the challenge of Darrell Dake to take the checkered flag at the super stock races here Saturday night.

A week ago, Dake of Cedar Rapids held off Weedon of Pleasant Valley for the victory, but this time it was Weedon who started in the fourth row. The winner wormed his way through the pack to get the lead on lap 7 and maintain it in a neck and neck battle the rest of the way.

Heat winners were Larry Jenkins of Wilton, Tom Hearst of Wilton and Ray Guss of Milan. Ken Walton of Cedar Rapids took the Australian pursuit and John Connolly of Delhi won the semi-main. The fastest time of the night was by Weedon with a 25.11.

Results -

Heat #1 - Larry Jenkins, Wilton
Heat #2 - Tom Hearst, Wilton
Heat #3 - Ray Guss, Milan, Ill.
Australian pursuit – Ken Walton, Cedar Rapids
Semi-main - John Connolly, Delhi
1. Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley
2. Darrell Dake, Cedar Rapids
3. Mel Morris, West Liberty
4. Ken Walton
5. Curt Hansen, Dike
6. Ron Hemsted, Lone Tree
7. Tom Hearst
8. Ray Guss
9. Bill McArdle, Shullsburg, Wis.
10. Bill Hopp, Muscatine

Friday, May 1, 2015

1971 – Snider Wins Controversial Hulman Classic

Terre Haute, Ind. (May 1, 1971) - George Snider walked away with top honors as he captured the feature event of the Tony Hulman Classic on Saturday afternoon at the Terre Haute Action Track.

An estimated 14,000 race fans were on hand to view the race which was also covered live by ABC's Wide World of Sports and broadcast nationwide.

The race also I had another first in the fact that it was the richest purse ever paid for a USAC sprint car race. The purse totaled $28,538 in cash, plus extra merchandise. The official results of the feature were not obvious at the finish as Don Nordhorn, who finished second, protested for what he thought was a violation of USAC racing.

Snider was followed closely by Nordhorn and then by Sam Sessions who started sixth in the lineup. The remaining top 10 finishers in order included, Jim McElreath, Larry Cannon, Rollie Beale, Merle Bettenhausen, Butch Wilkerson, Karl Busson and Jimmy Oskie.

Nordhorn’s protest originated between the first and second turn when Johnny Parsons Jr. lost a tire with only three laps remaining in the 40-lap feature event.

The accident forced the waving of the yellow flag until the car could be removed from the track.

Under USAC rules, laps on the yellow flag do not count, so as a result the cars and their drivers circled the track awaiting the final three laps to begin.

At this point in the race, Nordhorn was in first place, a lead which he had taken from Snider only the lap before.

After circling the track for about four revolutions, the green flag was finally dropped.

It was here that George Snider shot around Nordhorn and into the lead. Nordhorn seemingly had momentary engine trouble but quickly recovered only to finish second.

On his return lap around the track, Nordhorn pulled his sprint car up in front of the control tower and jumped out. He then ran up the stairs, followed closely by his mechanic and one member of his crew.

Once in the tower, Nordhorn exclaimed, “You're not going to do that to me this time.”

After a few moments Nordhorn settle down and discussed the problem in a quiet manner with USAC officials.

At one point in the discussion Nordhorn remarked that this was not the first time of flagman had cost him prize money.

After about a 30-minute discussion USAC officials declared George Snider the winner with Nordhorn finishing second. They did state, however that Nordhorn had the right to protest the results.

Probably the loudest protesters of the afternoon where the fans, most of whom felt that Nordhorn was in the right.

The afternoon’s activities began with four heat races and a 12-lap semi-feature prior to the start of the main event. All races one off like clockwork due to the strict time schedule of ABC's Wide World of Sports.

Results –

  1. George Snider
  2. Don Nordhorn
  3. Sam Sessions
  4. Jim McElreath
  5. Larry Cannon
  6. Rollie Beale
  7. Merle Bettenhausen
  8. Butch Wilkerson
  9. Karl Busson
  10. Jimmy Oskie
  11. Duane Carter Jr.
  12. Bobby Black
  13. Jim Caruthers
  14. Jim Maloy
  15. Jerry Poland
  16. Doc Jones
  17. Johnny Parsons Jr.
  18. Lennie Waldo
  19. Jerry McClung
  20. Joe Saldana