Thursday, July 30, 2015

1961 – Louisville’s Robbins Bests Field in Iowa Super Modified Go

Knoxville promoter Marion Robinson (right) presents inaugural champion Roy Robbins with his trophy. 

Knoxville, Iowa (July 30, 1961) - Roy Robbins, a 33-year-old mechanic from Louisville, Ky., captured the first annual Super Modified Racing Championship here Saturday night and in the process collected $1,280 of the $6,000 purse.

Robbins, who the night before raced to a new track record of 23 seconds flat, drove a modified version equipped with an air scoop.

The scoop, which operates in reverse of an airplane wing by keeping the rear end of the racer on the ground, must have aided the Kentuckian as he won the 25-lap main event going away.

A turn away crowd of nearly 14,000 watched the eight event program under perfect weather conditions. Seventy-eight super modifieds competed at the Marion County Fairgrounds.

Four of the five heat races were won by drivers who compete weekly at the Knoxville track. Jim Blount of LaPaz, Ind., was the only outside winner in the heat races. Blount won the fifth heat. The other heat winners were; Earl Wagner of Pleasantville, Iowa, Gordon Woolley of Waco, Texas, Thad Dosher of Topeka, Kansas, and Gene Hockensmith of Des Moines.

Robbins finished second in the first heat race behind the local favorite, Earl Wagner. Wagner placed third in the feature race just behind another air scoop special driven by Audie Schwartz of Muncie, Indiana.

The main event was restarted three times before the field finally settled down. As a result the feature was delayed and the checkered flag didn't fall until after 1 AM.

The restarts resulted one anxious drivers became tangled in non-serious accidents in the early laps of the 25-lap feature.

Results –

First Heat: Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa
Second Heat: Gordon Woolley, Waco, Tex.
Third Heat: Thad Dosher, Topeka, Kan.
Fourth Heat: Gene Hockensmith, Des Moines
Fifth Heat: Jim Blount, LaPaz, Ind.
First Consy: Jerry Weld, Kansas City
Second Consy: Johnny Babb, Ottumwa, Iowa

1. Roy Robbins, Louisville, Ky.
2. Audie Schwartz, Muncie, Ind.
3. Earl Wagner
4. Harvey Shane, Coffeyville, Kan.
5. Bill Corwin, Topeka, Kan.
6. Red Andrew, Lawrence, Kan.
7. Gene Hockensmith
8. Johnny Babb
9. Dean Woolheather, Fort Collins, Colo.
10. Jerry Weld, Kansas City

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Today in Racing History

Dick Trickle (99) leads Larry Phillips (75) past a lapped car during the "MASCAR 100" at Rolla (Mo.) Speedway on Saturday, July 29, 1972. Trickle would beat Phillips by a nose at the finish. — Ivan Jackson Photo

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

1971 - Green wins second Boone feature

Boone, Iowa (July 28, 1971) - Race fans had just about everything Saturday night as three classes of cars filled the Boone Speedway with action.
Rich Green, Webster City, won his second super late model feature of the year to finish the night's action, with Roger Tapper, also of Webster City, taking the sportsman class feature, his first win in that event this year.

In the special show of the night, Ron Perkins, Des Moines, won the feature for the super modified cars.

Curt Houge, Ames, was the busiest man of the night, having both his super modified and super late model cars at the track for competition.

He set the fast time for the super modifieds and ran third in the heat race for that class. Mechanical problems kept his from competing in the super modified feature. In the super late model competition, he won the first race he has run on the Boone oval this year - the trophy dash, was second in his heat and third in the feature.

The two top cars in super late model point standings at the Boone Speedway had considerable trouble after the opening events.

Denny Hovinga, the point leader from Laurens, had the fast time for the night, with Gene Schattschneider, Algona, third in the time trials. Schattschneider is second in season points.

In the trophy dash, Hovinga ran fourth and Schattschneider was second, but from that point it was all downhill for the two drivers. Both ran the third heat, but neither one finished the event. Schattschneider hooked up with Del Stokke, Ames, and went over the bank in number three turn, with both cars coming to rest upright at the bottom. Hovinga pulled out on the last lap with mechanical problems.

Schattschneider came out for the B-Main, but ran into trouble on the first lap and ended up with a flat tire. Hovinga also was in the B-Main, but spun out with just over a lap to go and finished sixth. Axle trouble kept him from even coming out for the feature. Schattschneider started the feature, but stayed far back in the pack throughout the race.

Under the heavy beating from the cars, the track turned into a dirty dry slick.

In the first heat, Roger Warden, Marshall town, received a broken bone in his elbow after his car was sandwiched between Lynn Ballard, Ames, and Gail Hoist, Fort Dodge. The right side of Warden's car was driven over against the driver's seat as the three cars smashed into the bank on the back straight.

Earl Tice, Ames, held the lead for a while in the second super late model heat, fighting off challenges from Mike Chapman, Whiting, but then was sent to the back of the field after he, Wes Smith, Story City, Arnie Braland, Boone, and Arlo Dorenbush, Boone were in a mix-up.

Chapman was behind the wheel of #66, driven until last week by Braland. The car is owned by Sam Post, Boone. Braland was behind the wheel of #65, owned by Ron Efkamp, Boone, the same car he drove in the State Fair races Thursday afternoon.

After the restart caused by the four-car tangle, Bob Lewerke slipped under Chapman when the Whiting driver went high in the number two turn and went on for the win. His brother, Jerry, had won the first heat and the third heat was won by Green.

Del McDowall, Ames, took over the lead in the B-Main when Tice dropped out with a shower of sparks under his car. McDowall held on to take the win.

In the sportsman competition, Glenn Woodard, Des Moines, won his first regular trophy dash of the season. The only other trophy he has picked up at Boone this season was during the Grand National competition. He ran third in his heat, being beaten by his brother, Leonard, for second spot. That heat was won by John Swallow, Adel, who has been behind the wheel of the car driven earlier by Doug White, Redfield. Allen Martin, Madrid, took the other sportsman heat.

Mark Michaud, Ames, had some of the worst luck in the Sportsman feature. Three times a car spun out in front of him and he hit it. None of the accidents were bad enough to knock him out of the race, but it dropped him back in position each time.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

1976 - Hansen Wins Falstaff Classic

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (July 26, 1976) - Never mind that Curt Hansen had a miserable time of it driving his stock car at Hawkeye Downs last season.

That's past history because the new Hawkeye Downs track is Hansen's piece of cake.

“This track has been good to me this year,” grinned Hansen after winning the 4th annual Falstaff Classic 50-lapper Monday night at The Downs. “My motto has been if I run well, it’ll be here.”

Hansen’s record on the new half-mile dirt oval proves the point. The Dike driver is the current point leader and also won the Doc Hunter Classic 35-lapper earlier this summer.

“It's great to win here, especially when all the hot-dogs are in the field,” added Hansen while busily handing out autographs and pictures of his car after the dandy and daring feature.

“There didn't seem be any one particular groove that ran well. In fact, I ran both in the middle and down low. I’ve never seen this track better. It was beautiful.”

Any secret preparations for the race?

“None,” offered the 13-year driving veteran who has won 10 features at various tracks this year. “I did lighten the rear end of the Camaro and had only 65 pounds of weight. That's the lightest the car has ever been and it ran super. I did make some tire and gear changes, but nothing major.”

Let it be said that this was the very best of the four Falstaff races and many observers went to so far as to say the late model program was the best at Hawkeye Downs in ten years.

Keith Fleck, the local Falstaff beer distributor and race sponsor, will also be able to turn a sizable amount of proceed money to the All Iowa Fair Board to help defray the cost of the building the new track, less Hansen’s $1,300 for winning the race, though.

Over 40 cars showed up for the Classic and 5,300 fans were treated to a spectacular feature. After the Monday night performing, no more derogatory remarks need to said about the inability to pass on the Downs oval.

All you needed to do was watch the progress of Lisbon’s Roger Dolan and Duane Steffe of East Moline in the feature.

Get this…

Dolan started 19th on the grid and maneuvered his Chevelle around most of the field and finished third. Steffe started 21st and wound up sixth. Neither was able to get a bite on the track in the time trials and started well back.

Another Lisbon hot shoe, Bill Beckman led a rapid parade in the qualifying by establishing a new track one-lap record of 24.06 seconds. The old mark was 24.10 held by Ed Sanger, who finished third.

In fact, Hanson ran only 25.01 in his first trial, but came back with a 24.33 to earn a starting spot in the second row. Ken Walton, running his best race of the year at The Downs, has second fastest time. There were 25 cars qualifying under 25 seconds. The 25th fastest time was 24.96.

Mike Niffenegger of Kalona, making his first appearance at Hawkeye Downs this year, won the Trophy Dash and Steffe, Steve Keppler, Perry Beckler and Tom Stewart won heats.

Ramo Stott of Keokuk, the reigning USAC stock car champion, had entered the race but the postponement from last Tuesday's scheduled race that was washed out by rain made it unable for Stott to get a ride.

Hansen took over the lead in the feature on the 19th lap and led the rest of the way. Beckman and then Walton led through the first 17 tours.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

1965 - Ned Jarrett Captures Volunteer 500

Ned Jarrett

Bristol, Tenn. (July 25, 1965) - Ned Jarrett, always a sentimental favorite around the NASCAR circuit, took over the lead with less than 100 laps to go then roared on home to win the Volunteer 500 before 29,000 rain-drenched fans here on Sunday afternoon.

After the top qualifiers, including Richard Petty, were eliminated systematically - either through crashes on the track or equipment failure, Darel Dieringer, Jarrett and Dick Hutcherson took over as the top three.

It was just a matter of time as to who would cross the finish line first.

Dieringer was holding several car lengths lead over Jarrett when his Mercury quit running. He pulled into the pits and behind the wall and it was all Jarrett and Hutcherson, in a battle for the checkered flag and first place in the Grand National point standings.

Jarrett added 1,100 points to his season total to move 28 points ahead of Hutcherson, the rookie who finished second.

Rain and accidents look their toll as the 150-mile, 500-lap was slowed to a snail's pace. More than 100 laps were run under the caution flag and only 13 of the 36 starters finished the race.

The race was suspended once for more than an hour as of officials waited for a steady rain to let up.

Marvin Panch, Daytona Beach, driving a 1965 Ford, and David Pearson, Spartanburg, S.C., driving a 1965 Dodge, were taken out of the race early when their cars sideswiped on the fourth turn and careened into the wall in front of the grandstand.

Panch hit the fence and Pearson hit the concrete wall. Both were shaken up and taken to the field hospital where both were examined and released. Both cars were demolished. The crash, first of the day came on the 10th lap.

The early leaders, Junior Johnson of Ronda, N.C., and Fred Lorenzen, Elmhurst, Ill., were sidelined later. Johnson left the track in his badly mangled 1965 Ford as he was involved in a five-car pileup. Johnson was leading the ace at the time.

Petty, making his first start in NASCAR this season, was involved in the wreck. His 1965 Plymouth was hit in the rear, and it appeared that he was out for the day. His pit crew, headed by his father Lee, made a quick recovery and got him back into the race with the trunk of his car almost in the back seat.

Lorenzen pulled behind the pit area shortly before the race was suspended by rain because his car was not performing as it I should. The pole sitter claimed his car was losing two seconds every lap.

After Johnson went out of the race, Dieringer took over and it was a battle between him and Petty. Petty stayed with Dieringer but was several laps behind. Petty was sidelined by a defective differential in his Plymouth.

He was in seventh place, seven laps behind, when trouble struck. Petty was among the first five early leaders, but he lost his advantage when he was involved in the five-car pileup.

General Motors made a fine showing in yesterday's event.

Of the top 19, three Chevrolets placed, one fourth, one sixth and one eighth. The other seven were Fords. Sam McQuagg of Columbus, Ga., finished third in his 1965 Ford.

Paul Lewis, of Johnson City driving a 1964 Ford, put on a good showing before going out late in the race with engine trouble. Lewis started in seventh place and stayed around that spot until trouble put him out of the race.

The three Chevrolet to finish in the top 10 were driven by Jim Paschal of High Point, N.C., Buck Baker of Charlotte, and J. T. Putney of Arden, S.C.

It was the first time that Jarrett has ever won a race at the Bristol track. He has driven in every event here and has finished high in the running, but this was his first time to win.

"It was just great to win here at Bristol. 1 have tried for so long and was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen here," he said.

Jarrett's car was handling beautifully throughout the race, and it carried him to victory.

Johnson led most of the early part of the race, but Dieringer led the most, 254 laps, before his engine went out Dieringer was in the lead when more than 50 laps were run under the caution flag during the downpour.

Results –

1. Ned Jarrett
2. Dick Hutcherson
3. Sam McQuagg
4. Jim Paschal
5. Buck Baker
6. Junior Spencer
7. Wendell Scott
8. Donald Tucker
9. Bob Derrington
10. J.T. Putney
11. Gene Black
12. Buddy Arrington
13. Worth McMillion
14. Darel Dieringer
15. Reb Wickersham
16. Paul Lewis
17. Richard Petty
18. Bud Harless
19. G.C. Spencer
20. Fred Lorenzen
21. Neil Castles
22. Cale Yarborough
23. Junior Johnson
24. Tiny Lund
25. Stick Elliot
26. Buren Skeen
27. Lionel Johnson
28. E.J. Trivette
29. Jimmy Helms
30. Buddy Baker
31. Jabe Thomas
32. Bobby Allison
33. Elmo Langley
34. Raymond Carter
35. Marvin Panch
36. David Pearson

Friday, July 24, 2015

1969 - Weekend Wente wins on Thursday at Elko

Bob Wente
Elko, Minn. (July 24, 1969) – Bob Wente moved into the lead with seven laps to go in the 50-lap feature for USAC midgets at the beautiful Elko Speedway and was never headed as he chalked up his 57th career win, tying Bob Tattersall and Mel Kenyon for the honor.

Henry Pens jumped past Merle Bettenhausen on the last lap to secure a second place finish. Merle was the early leader in the race as he led the first 25 laps. He lost the lead to Mike McGreevy as the leaders were overlapping slower cars. Merle bumped into Mel Cornett and everyone was hard on the brakes except McGreevy who found an opening and took the lead. Mike led until the 43rd circuit when his magneto went sour dropping him back to sixth.

Bettenhausen, McGreevy and Wente supplied plenty of action in the early going as the trio fought for the lead. Henry Pens had several battles going as he moved from his sixth starting spot to second on the tight quarter-mile.

Bettenhausen took third place while Sonny Ates grabbed fourth. Bill Englehart held down fifth to finish where he started. McGreevy was sixth with Bob Tattersall in seventh. Lee Kunzman nailed down the eighth spot in the Linne Sesco powered midget and fast qualifier Dave Strickland took ninth. Roger Branson, driving the Lehman Chevy II, passed the most cars, rounding out the top 10 after starting sixteenth.

Branson set the track record for a 10-lap heat as he won the fourth race with a time of 2 minutes and 24.97 seconds. All distances were new records as it was the first time to the track for USAC.

Strickland set fast time with a lap 14.15 seconds and came from the last row to win the first heat.  The Linne cars were one-two in the trophy dash as Pens took the event over Kunzman. Mel Cornett won the second heat and Joe Demko took heat number three. John Deering won the semi-main.

Results –

Fast Qualifier: Dave Strickland (14.15)
Trophy Dash: Henry Pens
Heat One: Dave Strickland
Heat Two: Mel Cornett
Heat Three: Joe Demko
Heat Four: Roger Branson
Semi-Main: John Deering

  1. Bob Wente
  2. Henry Pens
  3. Merle Bettenhausen
  4. Sonny Ates
  5. Bill Englehart
  6. Mike McGreevy
  7. Bob Tattersall
  8. Lee Kunzman
  9. Dave Strickland
  10. Roger Branson
  11. Bill Renshaw
  12. Gary Irvin
  13. Dick Jones
  14. Charlie Masters
  15. Joe Demko
  16. Dick Pole
  17. Les Scott
  18. Mel Cornett

Thursday, July 23, 2015

1977 - Dave Price cops Fairbury six-cylinder mid-season title

Fairbury, Ill. (July 23, 1977) - From the drop of the green flag to the waving of the checkered flag, Dave Price of Leroy was in the lead for all 40 laps of the mid-season championship race for the six-cylinders at the Fairbury Legion Speedway.
Price sat on the pole for the feature and from there he put his Camaro into the lead for the mid-season crown. Ron Starks repeatedly challenged Price for the number one spot, but Dave stayed down and didn't give Ron any mistakes to take advantage of. Right behind Starks was Shorty Kalkwarf of Minonk to take over should either Price or Starks give up the lead. Sam Lee stayed in the number four spot pushing very hard to get his “Green Weenie” to the front to no avail.
Lee started off the night in dazzling style by being fastest qualifier with a 17:50 time. He then came back and won the trophy dash from start to finish over Ron Starks of Graymont. Larry Smith finished in the number five spot of the feature after putting his car on the backstretch wall. After a quick oil change, he was ready to run the full 40 laps. Also still running after the 40 laps were John Maubach of Gridley in sixth place, Jim Wright of Danville in seventh, Dan Mehrkans of Bloomington eighth, Gary Ricketts of Fairbury ninth, and Robin Bohm of Pontiac tenth.
Ronnie Ricketts of Fairbury did a double take by winning his heat race over Bob Walters of Dwight, then coming back and winning the consolation race over Bob Morgan of Streator. Gary Osterman of Minonk also was a heat winner over Dan Shutter of Bradley, and Jim Wright of Danville won the fast heat race over Dave Price.
They call him “Highbanks”, and it was from there that Bob Pierce of Danville won his second late model feature of the season. At the drop of the green Dave Feese got out in front with Jack Tyne close in second. After five laps as Jack was making his move to get under Dave, they both came out of turn four, hooked together and stayed that way all down the front chute. Frank Shickel whizzed by for first place and Bob Pierce was behind him for the second spot.
Snooky Dehm of Chatsworth finally finished second by getting by Frank Shickel on the last turn. Tom Myers of Pontiac finished fourth with Sam Lee fifth. Jack Tyne of Streator rounded out the top six places in the eight-cylinder feature.
Joe Williams was the fastest qualifier for the night with a 17.21 time. In the trophy dash Bob Pierce finished first with Joe Williams second. John Cox won the consolation race over Bill Wilkey of Dwight.
Fred Strube won the fast heat by edging Tom Myers of Pontiac. Dave Pleines won his heat and Bob Farley won the other heat race.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

1982 - Vogler grabs first USAC sprint victory of season

Rich Vogler
Kokomo, Ind. (July 21, 1982) - Rich Vogler celebrated his 32nd birthday five days early by grabbing his first United States Auto Club Sprint feature victory of the season before a full house at the Kokomo Speedway Wednesday night.

Vogler, driving the No. 51 Powers Welding/King's Custom Machine entry, started on the pole and led the 30-lap feature from start to finish.

Ken Schrader, who closed on Vogler as the two lead cars started lapping the field, challenged him. But on the 18th lap, Bob Brutto hit the first turn wall and spun to bring out the second yellow. "After the second yellow, I felt from the signals that I was getting from my crew in the infield that I was pulling away," a smiling Vogler said after the race. "I started to ease up a little then. I knew I was as fast as or faster than the rest, and I didn't want to make a mistake and spin out."

Vogler, the only man to win both the USAC Midget and the USAC Sprint titles in the same season (1980), picked up points on USAC defending sprint champ Sheldon Kinser. Kinser finished fourth in the race behind Vogler, Schrader and Steve Long.

Before the race, Kinser led with 378 points. Vogler was second with 239, Danny Milburn was third with 190 and Steve Long was fourth with 189. Milburn finished fifth in the race, so Long trades places with him in the point’s race.

It was a record shattering night for the "Thunder and Lightning" Division as Tom Bigelow's qualifying time of 16.640 seconds was broken by four drivers.

Kelly Kinser, winner of three features at Kokomo this season, is the new record holder with a 16.368 clocking. Also shattering Bigelow's mark was Sheldon Kinser (:16.454), Schrader (:16.449) and Jac Haudenschild (:16.630).

A USAC heat record was set in the first heat by Johnny Parsons with a time of 2:17.59. That record lasted until the next heat when Sheldon Kinser, who started last in the inverted order of fast times, roared to the front and won with a clocking of 2:16.53.

The third heat went to the hard driving Schrader who also started at the back of the pack. On lap one, Larry Martin and Gary Irvin banged together and got crossways between turn one and two. Irvin's car was damaged and did not restart. Kokomo's Tim Bookmiller made the feature by finishing fourth behind Milburn and Bimbo Atkins.

The fourth heat was won by Frankfort's Terry Pletch with Haudenschild second. Haudenschild, who won the USAC feature at Eldora Speedway Saturday, was banging wheels with Jerry Nemire throughout the hotly contested race.

Tom Bigelow won the semi-feature.

Results –

  1. Rich Vogler
  2. Ken Schrader
  3. Steve Long
  4. Sheldon Kinser
  5. Danny Milburn
  6. Mark Alderson
  7. Tom Bigelow
  8. Bill Tyler
  9. Tim Bookmiller
  10. Kelly Kinser

Heat winners: Johnny Parsons, Sheldon Kinser, Ken Schrader & Terry Pletch
Semi: Tom Bigelow
Fast Qualifier: Kelly Kinser (16.368)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

1968 - Foyt hot in Miller 200 victory at State Fair Park

Milwaukee, Wis. (July 14, 1968) - A. J. Foyt, chasing a record purse in Milwaukee's hottest weather of the year, stayed atop the U.S. Auto Club stock car standings with a victory Sunday in the Miller 200 at State Fair Park.
Foyt, of Houston, Tex., had an early duel with Butch Hartman of South Zanesville, Ohio, but took the lead on the 60th lap in his 1968 Ford Torino, and finished more than two laps ahead of runner-up Al Unser's 1968 Dodge Charger.
Hartman had been the top qualifier. The engine went out in his 1968 Plymouth on the 71st lap, and he took over Roger McCluskey's 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner on the leader's 132nd lap.
Foyt averaged 95.897 miles an hour over the mile oval, including 21 laps under a caution flag.
The purse was $51,960, a record for stock cars on a mile track. Foyt won $10,948, and Unser got $6,370.
Foyt also got 400 points toward the standings on the U.S.A.C. stock circuit, and now holds the lead with 1,200 points
The temperature was officially 91, Milwaukee's hottest day of the year to date. And humidity was estimated at 70 per cent, with estimates of the temperature on the track exceeding 100 degrees.
“I was dying,” Foyt said. “It was the hottest race of my career.”
“They threw water on me when I came into the pits,” he said, “but that was good for only four or five laps.”
McCluskey turned his car over to Hartman, and quickly sought out a tub of ice water into which to stick his feet. Hartman finished fourth, winning $2,810 for owner Norm Nelson of Racine. Nelson, in another 1968 Plymouth, had to make three pit stops and finished fifth for $2,017. Third was Jack Bowsher for $4,389.
Don White of Keokuk, Iowa, who had been challenging Foyt for the U.S.A.C. lead, was only nine seconds behind the Texan when his engine overheated on the 176th lap. White, the U.S.A.C. stock car defending champion, finished 20th.
Terry Parker of Chicago was sixth, Jack Knippel of Brookfield seventh, Lamarr Marshall of Louisville, Ky., eighth, Bob Wawak of Villa Park, Ill., ninth, and Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., finished 10th.

Results –
  1. A.J Foyt
  2. Al Unser
  3. Jack Bowsher
  4. Roger McCluskey
  5. Norm Nelson
  6. Terry Parker
  7. Jack Knippel
  8. LaMarr Marshall
  9. Bobby Wawak
  10. Dick Trickle
  11. Dave Whitcombe
  12. Roger Regeth
  13. Tom Jones
  14. Keith Ploughe
  15. Fred Zack
  16. Len Blanchard
  17. John Kennedy
  18. Tom Klippel
  19. Glen Bradley
  20. Don White
  21. Dave Marcis
  22. Jim Perry
  23. Gene Marmor
  24. Bob Haack
  25. Paul Feldner
  26. Sal Tovella
  27. Rick Kleich
  28. Bill Nelson
  29. Jim Lord
  30. Butch Hartman
  31. Jerry Kemperman
  32. Frank Freda
  33. Parnelli Jones
  34. Jerry Smith
  35. George Rondelli
  36. Arnie Gardner
  37. Gordon Gorman
  38. Art Pollard
  39. Rich Oertel
  40. Dave Hirschfield

Monday, July 13, 2015

Today in Racing History

July 13, 1985
Fred Lofgren of Bensonville, Ill., won the Pontiac Trans Am "50" Stock Car Championship at Santa Fe Speedway in Hinsdale, Ill., on July 13, 1985. Runner-up Tony Izzo (left) and third-place finisher John Provenzano (right) join Lofgren on the podium.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

1994 - Kenseth, ‘perfect car’ prevail

Matt Kenseth
Oregon, Wis. (July 12, 1994) – The nickname “Matt the Brat” has stuck with Matt Kenseth for years.
After Tuesday night, it’s probably safe to say it will stick around awhile longer.

And Rich Bickle Jr. likely thought up a few more choice names for the 22-year-old Cambridge driver after a late-race incident between the two provided a dramatic and controversial conclusion to the Miller Genuine Draft Nationals at Madison International Speedway.

Following the 250-lap feature, Bickle was fuming about what happened on lap 236 as he attempted to pass inside Kenseth in turns three and four.

Bickle, an Edgerton native who now lives in Concord, N.C., and races regularly on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, and Kenseth made contact, sending Bickle to the infield grass in turn four and knocking him out of contention for his second Miller Nationals title.

“I had him beat and he knew I had him beat,” said Bickle. “He wrecked us. That’s all there is to it…He drove over the right front and tried to run me down into the grass.”

“I should have just taken him out instead of trying to be a nice guy. Nice guys finish last. It shows again.”

Kenseth, meanwhile, said he wasn’t sure exactly what happened.

“I don't know if he got (in the corner) too hard or if I came down,” said Kenseth, who enjoyed an $8,000 payday with his winning point total of 6,975. “I don’t know. We just got together real hard and I saved it. I’m just happy we won.”

“This is the biggest win of my career,” he said. “I’m real happy for Nielsen Racing. He (Fred Nielsen) really wanted to repeat.”

Ironically, the car Kenseth drove is owned by Nielsen, the same man who fielded Joe Shear’s winning entry for the 1993 Miller Nationals.

Early in Tuesday’s race it appeared Shear (who now runs his own team) might have a strong enough car to make it two in a row. Shear led the first 29 laps before Kenseth took over on lap 30 and made it look relatively easy the rest of the way.

“Talk about a perfect race car,” said Kenseth, the late model point’s leader at MIS this season. “They’re pretty easy to drive when they run like this.”

Except for the incident with Bickle, Kenseth had only one other close call. He hit some oil in turn two of lap 165 and nearly hit the wall.

“I happened to hit that oil just right with the left front tire,” he said. “The car shot straight toward the fence and I thought we were done right there.”

Butch Miller, the current ASA point’s leader, finished 1.76 seconds back to place fifth overall (3,980 points). Winston Cup regular Ken Schrader was third in the race and second overall (4,935) and Scott Hansen, the first-round leader, finished third overall (4,275) and seventh Tuesday night.

Miller, though, could never make a solid run at Kenseth. “We ran a really, really good race,” said Miller. “We had a really strong car, but we didn't have anything for Matt.”

“Matt not only had a good car, but he knew how to drive it. The guy has really come a long way.”

Miller said Kenseth has a bright future as a driver. “He’s a lot smarter than the first time I saw him race,” Miller added.

Bickle started 21st and gradually worked his way to the front. He was helped by a yellow flag with 20 laps remaining when Robbie Reiser’s car developed ignition problems.

But after his spinout on lap 236, all Bickle could hope for was a top-five finish. He wound up fourth overall (4,175 points) after finishing sixth Tuesday night.

In other action, Al Schill won the 10-lap semi-feature, Hansen took the 10-lap dash between NASCAR and Midwest drivers and Lowell Bennett and Jay Sauter were 1-2 in the last-chance race to advance to the feature.


Results –

  1. Matt Kenseth
  2. Butch Miller
  3. Ken Schrader
  4. Bryan Reffner
  5. Joe  Shear
  6. Rich Bickle
  7. Scott Hansen
  8. Jason Schuler
  9. Brian Hoppe
  10. Rich Lory
  11. Ron Breese Jr.
  12. Tim Sauter
  13. Lowell Bennett
  14. Robbie Reiser
  15. Jay Sauter
  16. Doug Herbst
  17. Scott Wimmer
  18. Jim Weber
  19. John Olson
  20. Mark DiMaggio
  21. Conrad Morgan
  22. Dick Trickle
  23. Ken Lund
  24. Stan Fox

Saturday, July 11, 2015

1969 – Kenyon lives up to billing; sweeps Hales Corners

Mel Kenyon en route to winning at Hales Corner

Franklin, Wis. (July 11, 1969) – Mel Kenyon’s new car was ready Friday night and so was he, much to the appreciation of the race fans and to the dismay of other drivers in the United States Auto Club midget program at Hales Corner Speedway.
Kenyon, the three-time and defending champion, scored a near sweep, ending a drought of nearly a month. He demolished his old car on June 14th in Lansing, Mich., and had been shut out since.
Friday night was the Lebanon, Indiana veteran’s turn to do the shutting out and he came awful close to doing so. He finished second in time trial qualifying to Bill Engelhart of Madison, Wis., who was fast qualifier on the night, clocking in at 61.87 miles per hour. Otherwise, he won all that he could – the 50-lap feature, the 10-lap heat and the 6-lap trophy dash.  The feature victory was the 55th of his career, which increased his own USAC record.
More impressive than his victories, however, was the way he scored them. He drove a tight line, passing on the inside, which brought the desired response from the crowd of 4,452. Kenyon’s driving earned him $578 of a $3,385 purse.
Starting seventh in the feature, he escaped a pile-up on the first lap – which knocked out four cars – and passed Bob Hauck for the lead on the 23rd circuit. After that, it was smooth sailing, holding off a slight challenge by Engelhart and winning by 100 yards. Hauck was third followed by Larry Rice and USAC point’s leader Bob Tattersall.
Two cautions periods slowed Kenyon’s overall winning average speed to 53.54 miles per hour.
For the crowd favorite Engelhart, it was a bittersweet night. He was the fastest qualifier and won his heat but lost twice in combat with Kenyon. He worked his way through the pack nicely into the second spot in the feature but was quickly dusted in his attempts to catch Kenyon.
Engelhart lost the trophy dash with the finish line in sight. Kenyon swooped off the fourth turn and down the inside groove, putting the nose of the car just ahead of Engelhart’s car. Engelhart picked up $424 for his efforts on the evening.

Feature Results –

1.  Mel Kenyon, Lebanon, Ind.
2.  Bill Engelhart, Madison, Wis.
3.  Bob Hauck, Joliet, Ill.
4.  Larry Rice, Linden, Ill.
5. Bob Tattersall, Streator, Ill.

Friday, July 10, 2015

1953 - McGee wins feature at Burlington oval

Burlington, Iowa (July 10, 1953) Fibber McGee copped the feature event Friday night at the Burlington Speedway track.

The race was a battle between McGee and Les Dykes with the number one spot exchanging hands several times before McGee finally pulled across the finish line for the checkered flag. Following Dykes, who finished second, was Hal Schroeder in the third position. McGee also finished first in two other races during the evening.

The hood of Kenny Gahn’s car went up against the windshield on the third lap of the feature, but Gahn still managed to finish out the race despite the handicap.

Red Untiedt, a consistent winner on his track and winner of a 40-lap feature at Davenport on Thursday night, was unable to compete in the main event because of mechanical trouble.

In the trophy dash the four winners of the proceeding races battled it out for first place with Les Dykes leading until the eighth lap when he hit a rut and bounced into second place while Fibber McGee took over first.

Red Untiedt now leads all other drivers under NASCAR’s point system. Drivers are awarded points on the basis of the number of races in which they finished and the order in which they crossed the finish line. Under this point set-up Untiedt has 234 points compared to his closest rival, Les Dykes, who has 190 points.

These points are the determining factor in which driver is awarded the championship trophy at the end of the season.

Results –

Feature – Fibber McGee

Trophy Dash - Fibber McGee

Consolation - Al Samberg

First heat – Red Untiedt

Second heat – Fibber McGee

Third heat – Les Dykes

Thursday, July 9, 2015

1977 - Hansen wins Des Moines mid-season title

Curt Hansen is joined in victory lane by promoter George Barton.

Des Moines, Iowa (July 9, 1977) - Curt Hansen of Dike was up to his old trick of winning features Saturday night as he captured the mid-season championship at the State Fairgrounds.

Hansen, driving a 1977 Camaro, charged out of the front row and led all the way for a 50-yard victory before a crowd of 6,500.

Hansen, who earned the pole position by virtue of leading in the point standings, held leads of up to 200 yards over Ed Sanger of Waterloo.

Only a yellow flag on the eighteenth lap slowed Hansen.

So what does a driver do when he has a comfortable lead?

"Unfortunately, having such a big lead can lead to bad things," said Hansen. "A comfortable margin always makes you nervous.

"You're checking your gauges and waiting for something to go wrong. It's even worse to get too cautious in the corners.”

"But tonight everything clicked. The car has been perfect for the last week. We've made changes, such as changing the weight in the rear end and altering the tread whip and we've either finished first or second."

Hansen, who has captured four features wins here this season, pocketed $750 for his effort - $550 for the feature, $150 for lap money and $50 for a third-place finish in the second heat.

Bill Rice of Des Moines finished third and Joe Merryfield of Des Moines, still seeking his first feature triumph here this season, was fourth.

Rocky Hodges of Des Moines jolted season point leader Bill Davis to capture the sportsman mid-season championship in a race that had five caution flags.

"This is the best I've ever done on a half-mile track," said Hodges, who passed Davis on the straightaway of the sixth lap and held the lead for good.

"We put in a new intake manifold and it was also the first time the brakes have stayed on during the entire race here," added Hodges, who drove a 1971 Camaro.

Davis, in a 1972 Camaro, pulled to within 10 yards of Hodges on the seventh lap, but fell victim to a restart and edged Rick Merryfield by a bumper to claim second place.

"Rocky's car was running better than mine and it got hooked on the track," said Davis. "We got caught when they started the race again and we had two different tires on the front."

Denny Rosenberg of Grimes captured the first sportsman heat and was making a move from his sixth position on the seventh lap of the feature when he encountered car problems.

"Something in the transmission locked," said Rosenberg, "and there's no telling how good we would have finished.

"I thought it was the best we've run out here all season," added Rosenberg, who is sixth in the point standings.

Results -

Late Model –

1. Curt Hansen
2. Ed Sanger
3. Bill Rice
4. Joe Merryfield
5. Don Hoffman
6. Stan Stover
7. Arnie Brland
8. Dave Chase
9. Ron Tilley
10. Darrell Sells
11. John Jones
12. Tim McDonough
13. Don Wallace
14. Fred Knapp
15. Lefty Robinson

Sportsman Results –

1. Rocky Hodges
2. Bill Davis
3. Rick Merryfield
4. Billy Geil
5. Chuck Anderson
6. Dave Farren
7. Del McDowell
8. Don Smith
9. Steve Myers
10. Wendell Folkerts