Monday, June 8, 2015

1976 - Sanger Wins Challenge Cup VI

Ed Sanger

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (June 8, 1976) - Ed Sanger, who has been changing into his driver's suit in a phone booth recently, was smiled upon sweetly by lady luck Tuesday night.

Fate did not treat Roger Dolan so kindly, however.

Consequently, Sanger won the Cedar Rapids Jaycees' Challenge Cup VI stock car race Tuesday night at Hawkeye Downs.

Sanger won his second straight Challenge Cup and fifth feature in seven days by leading 45 of the 50 laps. But for the loss of Dolan's clutch on the 44th tour, Fast Eddy probably would have had to settle for second.

“Roger would have had to make a major tactical mistake for me to overtake him,” admitted the Waterloo driver, currently the hottest - and richest - dirt track pilot in the Upper Midwest, while accepting his Cup (sans champagne) for the second year in a row.

“After he passed me, I was looking for a spot to dip low because I couldn't get any acceleration in the high groove and when he slowed drastically and I bumped him in the second turn I thought I had put him out of the race.”

At that juncture, Dolan ambled over to offer congratulations and assurances that Ed bore no responsibility for his breakdown.

“Roger was outrunning me and I couldn't make up any ground in the turns because of the washboardy effect,” added Sanger, who added $1,000 for the win and another $925 in lap money to a bankroll that's been inflated with two $1,000 purses and two $500 payoffs in the last week.

“I can't give enough credit to my chief mechanic, Dick Schlitz,” explained Ed. “He pores over that car for hours and he had it set up perfectly for the race.”

“The track is still pretty rough, you know, but it's getting better every week and I'm going to stick with Al Miller (Downs' promoter) and the people here. You can see they're doing everything to make this track the best around.”

“We decided to put on heavier shocks and that's the only change we've made in the chassis of the car (1976 Camaro). Dick had to have the thing tight because we didn't break down.”

“I really think it helped the car on the last yellow flag (40th lap when Mike Frieden hit the back wall) because the shocks cooled down and the car straightened out.”

Dolan, always the gentleman, concealed his disappointment well. “It's the first time I've lost a clutch this year. At first, I thought the car had jumped out of gear, but then I realized I was through.”

Sanger had started on the pole, thanks to a blazing one lap time trial of 24.10 seconds, which set a Hawkeye Downs record, and led Dolan until the Lisbon hotshoe overtook him just before the start-finish line on the 38th tour. “I was running well, but every time I looked in the mirror, there was Dolan,” grinned Sanger.

Well, when Roger went around he was putting pedal to the medal and quickly opened a four to five car-length lead. The fateful break came coming out of the second turn on the 44th lap. Duane Steffe of East Moline finished second and Curt Hansen of Dike third. Bill Beckman, who won the trophy dash, was fourth and Mike Frieden fifth. The top five finishers were credited with finishing 50 laps.

Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids, who announced afterward that he was returning to the regular Friday night late model program at the Downs after a two-week hiatus, blew a tire on the 12th lap and finished 13th.

Bill Zwanziger of Waterloo, who leads the Downs point race, experienced mechanical problems and headed into the pits on the 24th tour, never to return.

Tim McDonough of Cedar Rapids was leading the 25-lap consolation when the rear end of his car broke in half going into the first turn. McDonough escaped uninjured even though his car made a spectacular roll and went end over end. Tim won the third heat.

Schlitz made it a complete sweep of the long races for Sanger's racing team by driving his #97 Camaro to victory in the consolation.

Results –

1.      Ed Sanger
2.      Duane Steffe
3.      Curt Hansen
4.      Bill Beckman
5.      Mike Frieden
6.      Bob Helm
7.      Red Dralle
8.      Jim Burbridge
9.      Verlin Eaker
10.  Jerry Wancewiez
11.  Joe Merryfield
12.  Roger Dolan
13.  Darrell Dake
14.  Jesse Lint
15.  John Connolly

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