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.
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.