A grimy-faced Ernie Derr gets a kiss from Miss Iowa 300, April Andrews, after his triumphant run. STP representative Everett Dixon makes the trophy presentation - Fraser & Fletcher Photo
Des Moines, Iowa (July 7, 1968) - Misfortune struck hard at Ramo Stott of Keokuk Sunday and helped fellow townsman Ernie Derr win his third consecutive Iowa 300 new-model stock car race at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in record time.
Stott, driving a 1967 Plymouth Roadrunner, led for 203 of the 300 laps and held nearly a three-lap advantage over Derr on the 95th lap. Stott’s collision with Ole Brua and later spinout were the breaks Derr needed for his victory in a 1968 Charger before 12,300 fans.
Derr’s time of 2 hours 29 minutes and 27.61 seconds was a 150-mile record for the State Fairgrounds’ one-half mile dirt track. Stott had set the old mark of 2:35:39.96 in 1965.
Derr won $1,100 for first place. Verlin Eaker of Cedar Rapids finished second in Derr's 1967 Charger, winning $900. But 60 percent of Eaker’s winnings will go to Derr.
Stott’s bad luck wasn't over after he fell back into second place on the 236th lap. He had a blowout with 10 laps remaining, which allowed Eaker to take over second. Stott finished third, winning $610 including $60 time trial money.
The lead changed hands eight times and 13 yellow flags were dropped. Three of the yellow were because of accidents. Metal had to be removed from the track six times and twice the race was delayed while push trucks attempted to start cars. Spinouts accounted for the remaining laps.
Three cars were involved in a crash on the seventeenth lap. Irv Janey of Cedar Rapids and Bill Schwader of McCausland were able to continue but Leon Bowman of Wichita, Kan., was sidelined when the front end and radiator of his car were smashed.
Lenny Funk of Otis, Kan., hit the wall on lap 54 and, on lap 264, Dick Johnson of St. Paul, Minn., smashed into the wall.
Bill Moyer of Des Moines jumped to the lead with his 1968 Corvette, but Stott moved ahead on the second lap. Derr passed Stott on lap 28, but Ramo whizzed by Derr six laps later.
Eaker grabbed his only lead - for 23 laps - when Stott went to the pits on the 71st lap. Stott breezed ahead and by the 147th lap, was two full laps ahead. He set a 150-lap record of 1 hour, 14 minutes and 25 seconds, breaking Dick Hutcherson’s record set on July 9, 1962.
Stott and Brua of Albert Lea, Minn., collided on lap 228 and Ramo spent approximately three laps in the pits while his crewmen pulled a fender away from the left-front tire. Stott zoomed past Derr on lap 236. He spun seven laps later and Derr took the lead for good.
“Man, isn't that a son of a gun,” Stott said after the race. “I don't know what happened but Brua got into my car,” he added, referring to the accident, which accounted for his big lead dwindling.
Derr, the eight-time International Motor Contest Association champion, received $100 for just appearing at the race as the titleholder. He also was paid for being second fastest qualifier.
Eaker had the fastest time, 27.40 seconds. The one-lap record is 25.83 seconds, set last year by Hutcherson.
Hector (Pappy) Honore of Pana, Ill., was honored in pre-race ceremonies for his contribution to sprint car racing during a 32-year career.
Honore, now retired, owned the Black Deuce Bardahl Special, which won 434 features and 704 heat races from 1953-1967.
1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Verlin Eaker, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
3. Ramo Stott. Keokuk, Iowa
4. Ole Brua, Albert Lea, Minn.
5. Ken Pankratz, Mosinee, Wis.
6. Fred Whisler, Independence, Mo.
7. Lennie Funk, Otis, Kan.
8. Roland Wilson, Bedford, Iowa
9. Elmer Walton, Liberty, Mo.
10. Chuck Berg, Des Moines, Iowa
11. Roger Brown, Waverly, Iowa
12. Bill Schwader, McCausland, Iowa
13. Dick Johnson, St. Paul, Minn.
14. Bill Stark, Des Moines, Iowa
15. Bill Eastman, Dallas, Tex.
16. Jerre Wichman, Kansas City, Mo.
17. Sandy Sandstrom, Kansas City, Mo.
18. Irv Janey, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
19. Lewis Taylor, Shawnee Mission, Kan.
20. Ron Larson, White Bear Lake, Minn.
21. Blaine Morrow, Joy, Ill.
22. Bob Dalsky, Wausau, Wis.
23. John Tiller, Fridleyville, Minn.
24. Hal Freeman, Fort Worth, Tex.