Thursday, May 5, 2016

1983 – This Week in Racing History

Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Let’s take a look back, the year is 1983, and see who the winners were in Midwest racing circles. It was a weekend where most Saturday night programs succumb to rain.

Ed Dixon of Jefferson, Mo., won the NASCAR Grand American Series for Late Models at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City. Ill., on Friday, May 6. Dixon took over the lead after pole sitter Pat Wash of Kirkwood, Mo., crashed into the #1 turn. Dixon then had to fight off chargers Terry Gallaher of Hannibal, Mo., Kenny Schrader of Fenton, Mo., and Mike Crabtree of Lebanon, Mo. The defending SLARA Mighty Midget Series champion, Bob Willig Jr., of St. Louis, Mo., easily won the 20-lap main event over Scott Weyent of Springfield, Ill., and Steve Knepper of Belleville, Ill.


In a special appearance at Hawkeye Raceway in Blue Grass, Iowa, Randy Smith of Norwalk won the Winged Sprint Car feature on Friday night over Mike Pinckney and Mike Thomas, both of Des Moines. Jim Mettlin of Cambridge, Ill., won the IMCA Modified feature, Gary Reinhart of Moline, Ill., was the Sportsman winner and Rick Hixson of Coal Valley, Ill., topped the Bomber field.

Mike Benson of Lakefield, Neb., passed Bill Kirk of Salix, Iowa on the last lap to win the Late Model feature on Friday night at Park Jefferson Speedway in Jefferson, S.D. In the Sportsman division, Brad Rowe of Sioux City won the main event while Tom Love took Street Stock honors. 

Ron Hekkema, Mike Hollifield and Tony Lampley took top honors in the Late Model, Sportsman and Street Stock features on Friday night at the Kankakee (Ill.) Fairgrounds. Hekkeman grabbed the top spot early on in the Late Model headliner and was never challenged. Cloyce Friend of Claredon Hills, Ill., would take second followed by Dick Potts of Morocco, Ind., and Roger Long of Fithian, Ill. Hollifield led 24 of 25 laps in dominating the Sportsman main.

While Ray Guss was fighting off the dust that leader Herb Shannon was stirring up in the low groove, Mike Chasteen of East Moline, Ill., was gaining ground fast on the high side of the quarter-mile at Spoon River Speedway in Canton, Ill., on Friday night. After starting at the back of the field, Chasteen snuck around both drivers on the 27th circuit to win the 30-lap Late Model feature event.

John Knaus of Rockford, Ill., won the season-opening 25-lap Late Model feature at the Freeport Raceway half-mile on Sunday afternoon, May 8. Knaus’ victory marked his return to dirt competition after seven years running on asphalt tracks.  The 31-year-old veteran took the lead midway through the contest and outdistanced the field for the win. Bob Jaeger of Dubuque, Iowa, took runner-up honors while Jim Jeffries of Freeport grabbed third.

Bill Breuer of Wapello captured the season opening Late Model feature on Sunday afternoon at Cedar County Raceway in Tipton, Iowa. Dale Fischlein of Cedar Rapids and Jim Willert of Davenport were also winners as the quarter-mile opened for the 1983 season. Breuer held off Ron Pallister, also of Wapello, in taking the Late Model main. Fishlein, the defending IMCA Modified national champion, debuted his new car and won over Monte Ohrt of Tipton and Steve Stinger of Cedar Rapids. Willert made his feature win look relatively easy, handily beating Dale Peters of Grand Mound.


Joe Shear kept his record perfect in Late Model feature competition at Slinger Super Speedway on Sunday night as he scored his second consecutive triumph at the quarter-mile. Shear was unimpressive in preliminary action, timing in ninth and failing to run among the leaders in his heat. However, the main event was a different story as the Beloit, Wis., veteran stormed from his outside second row starting berth to claim the lead on the fourth circuit and go on to win the 30-lap battle. John Ziegler of Madison, Wis., finished second, Rich Bickle Jr. of Edgerton, Wis., took third, Jim Weber of Roseville, Minn., earned fourth and Joel Laufer of Hartford, Wis., rounded out the top five.

Jack Hewitt of Troy, Ohio, became the 12th different winner in the 13-year history of the Tony Hulman Classic USAC Sprint Car event at the Terre Haute Action Track, Sunday afternoon. Hewitt, who started seventh in the 20-car field, guided his Chevy past race leader Larry Dickson on lap 6 of the 30-lap feature and then paced the remaining laps to score his second career USAC victory.


Bobby Jackson of Rock Island, Ill., became the fourth different winner in the Late Model division, leading all 30 laps in winning at East Moline (Ill.) Speedway on Sunday evening. Mike Cothron of Moline, Ill., in his second season of Late Model competition, claimed his highest finish to date with a second place run.  In preliminary action, Darrell Harmening of East Moline won the Street Stock feature and Rob Conners of Bettendorf grabbed top honors in the Open Wheel A-main.

Gary Tigges of Durango, Iowa, in his 1982 Camaro, flew to his first NASCAR Grand American Series Late Model feature win of the season at the Dubuque County Fairgrounds on Sunday night. Tigges was running the high-banked 3/8-mile oval in less than 17 seconds per lap. His closest competitor was Dick Schiltz of Waterloo who finished a half a lap behind. Jim Reidl, also of Durango, won the 15-lap Sportsman contest. Reidl started on the fourth row and took the lead on lap 10. Dave Naylor of Scotch Grove, driving a 1973 Ford Mustang, won his second Fun Class feature in a row.

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