Thursday, June 30, 2016

1957 – Funk tops field at Jayhawk 300

Lennie Funk
Hutchinson, Kan. (June 30, 1957) – A Kansan, Lennie Funk, took top money, $590, in the Jayhawk 300 new model car race at the Kansas State Fairgrounds half-mile oval on Sunday afternoon.

A battle between two top drivers was shaping up for the IMCA-sanctioned event. Among the entries in the 300-lap new car race were Johnny Beauchamp of Harlan, Iowa, the defending IMCA national champion, and Bob Burdick, the current point leader from Omaha, Neb. Burdick had whipped the national champion four times in races that year.

The race was a split feature of 300 laps. Cars ran time trials and started in regular order with the fastest cars leading the pack. After 150 laps have been covered, a first-half winner will be declared and the cars pulled into the pit area. After realignment with the slower cars to the front, the second 150 laps were run. No work could be done on the cars while they were in the pits awaiting realignment.

Funk, from Otis, drove a 1957 Chevrolet to third place in the first 75-mile grind and finished second in the second half. Prize money was awarded on the basis of the best placing in the two races. Bob Burdick, Omaha, Neb., drove a 1957 Ford to second best in the overall standings. He won $510 by placing first in the first half and fifth in the second.

Over 3,500 race fans witnessed the race; the longest ever run in Kansas and one offering the richest purse. The race was sponsored by the International Motor Contest Association.

Two minor accidents marred the day. Don White, Keokuk, Iowa, cracked into the south fence on lap 102 of the second half portion of the feature. He was not injured. Burdick broke an axle on the 120 lap of the second but still managed to finish fifth.

The big match-up between Beauchamp and Burdick never materialized. While Burdick experienced success in the marathon event, Beauchamp blew his engine in hot laps and was unable to make repairs and even compete.


Results –


Feature #1 -

  1. Bob Burdick, Omaha, Neb.
  2. Don White, Keokuk, Iowa
  3. Lennie Funk, Otis, Kan.
  4. Bob Hardy, Beaumont, Tex.
  5. Darrell Dake, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  6. Bob Dugan, Waukegan, Ill.

Feature #2 -

  1. Chub Liebe
  2. Lennie Funk
  3. George Miller, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  4. Bob Dugan
  5. Bob Burdick
  6. Red Siems, Hutchinson, Kan.

Overall Finish -

  1. Lennie Funk
  2. Bob Burdick
  3. Chub Liebe
  4. Don White
  5. George Miller
  6. Bob Dugan
  7. Bob Hardy
  8. Darrell Dake
  9. Red Siems
  10. Jerry Draper, Moline, Ill.

Monday, June 27, 2016

1994 – Young achieves perfection at USA Sprint Nationals

Danny Young - Barry Johnson Photo
Burlington, Iowa (June 27-28, 1994) - Danny Young wanted to run both classes at the USA Sprint Car Nationals at 34 Raceway.
He was turned down.
That meant he would only dominate one class.
The Des Moines driver established himself as the favorite in the limited sprints class, having the fastest time in qualifying and winning the Fast Car Dash in the first night of the two-day event Monday on the 3/8-mile dirt oval.
Young also wanted to drive in the unlimited sprints, but track officials refused his request.
"They told me I had to have two cars," he said. He took the one car he had and ran a fast time of 14.59 seconds in qualifying. That put him in the sixth position in the six-car Fast Car Dash, but he had the lead in the 10-lap race before the field came out of the second turn on the first lap.
"He is a very aggressive driver," said Bart Schneiderman of Burlington, who will start outside of Young in the first row of tonight's 25-lap feature. "I knew he would be right on me in the first lap."
"I didn't come here to finish second," Young said. Young has won 10 features this season.
"When we've raced, the car has run well," he said. "But we've had some bad luck. We broke a rear end twice last weekend."
What will it take to beat Young?
“A miracle, maybe," Schneiderman said. "The car will be ready, I'll be ready, and the crew will be ready. But (Young) is awful strong."
Randy Wagler of Danville and Jeff Haines of Oskaloosa will start in the second row. Steve Wares of Knoxville and Scott Whitworth of Worthington, Mo., will be in the third row.
The 30-lap unlimited sprints feature has several favorites.
Gary Wright o Hooks, Tex., had the fast lap of 13.49 seconds in qualifying. Johnny Herrera of Albuquerque, N.M. won the Fast Car Dash. Danny Lasoski  of Dover, Mo. - who won of the features at the World of Outlaw's Valvoline Classic at Knoxville Raceway on Saturday - had the third fastest time and finished second behind Herrera in the Fast Car Dash.
"It'll be a great show," Herrera said. "It could be between Danny and me, but Gary was strong in qualifying and other drivers could sneak in."
Herrera and Lasoski will start on the front row. Randy Smith of Mount Ayr will start with Burlington's Todd Taeger in the second row. Wright and Terry McCarl will start on the third row.
"It was like 'follow the leader' (in the Fast Car Dash) because the way the track changed,"
Herrera said. "My car ran well. If the track is the same tomorrow night, we won't change much."
On Tuesday night, Danny Young was perfect…and Gary Wright was almost perfect.
The two drivers took feature wins on the final night of the USA Sprint Car Nationals Tuesday at 34 Raceway.
Young won the $1,000 top prize for winning the limited sprints feature, while Wright won $5,000 for taking the unlimited sprints feature.
Young won all of the honors in the two-day event on the 3/8-mile dirt oval. He had the fastest car in time trials and also won the Fast Car Dash Monday, then came back to lead all 25 laps of Tuesday's feature.
Young's car was so perfect not even an incident on the seventh lap could disturb its rhythm. Young went in to the first turn too low, striking a tire marker embedded at the bottom of the turn. But the Des Moines driver kept the lead.
"I was looking for a groove with a little moisture, but I went too low," Young said. "But the car didn't even bobble. The car ran well all night."
Young started from the pole and was lapping cars by the fifth lap.
"I didn't think we would be lapping cars that fast," said Bart Schneiderman of Burlington, who finished second. "When we got into lapped cars, I think he had the advantage."
Young sailed through the slower cars by using several grooves. "It could run just about anywhere," Young said.
Schneiderman, who chased Young through the Fast Car Dash, stayed close because of four caution periods.
"I was hoping I could use the restarts to get a better jump on him," Schneiderman said. "My car was good, except it was a little loose. I was tickled to finish second."
It was Young's 11th feature of the season.
Butch Nutaut of Springfield, Ill., finished third. Jeff Haines of Oskaloosa was fourth.
Wright also had the fastest car in time trials, but a different set-up hurt him in the Fast Car Dash. He finished fifth in the six-car field.
"We tried a different set-up as kind of experiment last night and it really hurt the car," the Hooks, Tex., driver said. "We just threw everything out and went back to the original setup."
Wright started fifth in the field and trailed early as Johnny Herrera and Danny Lasoski controlled the first 20 laps. Herrera, who started from the pole, led the first 16 laps before Lasoski led laps 17 through 19. Wright then took the lead and held on for his 10th feature win of the season.
"We had the right tires and the right gear," Wright said. "It was tough getting through lapped traffic, but the car ran well."
Herrera held off Lasoski for second. Terry McCarl was fourth. Aron Berryhill was fifth.

Results -

Limited Sprints

1.     Danny Young, Des Moines, Iowa
2.     Bart Schneiderman, Burlington, Iowa
3.     Butch Nutaut, Springfield, Ill.
4.     Jeff Haines, Oskaloosa, Iowa
5.     Bobby Thompson, Des Moines
6.    Wayne Sternbaugh, El Paso, Ill.
7.     Dave Anderson, Burlington, Iowa
8.     Scotty Whitworth, Worthington, Mo
9.     Bob Ensminger, Burlington, Iowa
10. Steve Wares, Knoxville, Iowa
11. Maxie Hemibaugh, Des Moines, Iowa
12. Brett Golick, Newton, Iowa
13. Scott Newman, Burlington, Iowa
14. Mike Thomas, Des Moines, Iowa
15. Randy Plath, Stronghurst, Ill.
16. Randy Wagler, Danville, Iowa
17. Donnie Anderson, Burlington, Iowa
18. Joe Cooper, Burlington, Iowa

Unlimited Sprints

1.     Gary Wright, Hooks, Tex.
2.     Johnny Herrera, Albuquerque, N.M
3.     Danny Lasoski, Dover, Mo.
4.     Terry McCarl, Des Moines, Iowa
5.     Aaron Berryhill, Tulsa, Okla.
6.     Jimmy Carr, Maple Ridge, B.C.
7.     Brook Tatnell, Sydney, Australia
8.     Todd Taeger, Springfield, Ill.
9.     Kenny McCarl, Des Moines, Iowa
10. Donny Thoman, Burlington, Iowa
11. Ryan Jamison, Burlington, Iowa
12. Dale Peterson, Brookfield, Wis.
13. Jeff Tuttle, Des Moines, Iowa
14. Marlow Jones, Sioux Falls, S.D.
15. Leonard Lee, Milo, Iowa
16. Bob Weave, Newton, Iowa
17. Randy Smith, Mount Ayr, Iowa
18. Jamie Moyle, Bridgewater, Australia
19. Manny Rockhold, Pekin, Ill.

Friday, June 24, 2016

1973 - Small Purse, Janey Rejects IMCA

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (June 24, 1973) - You’re probably aware that Irv Janey has not raced one lap on the International Motor Contest Association stock car circuit this year.

That was not in the original plans for the Cedar Rapids driver, who last year fulfilled a dream of his and his late father Ed’s by winning the IMCA championship.

“Oh, I was encouraged in the offseason when IMCA decided to guarantee the defending champion (Janey) $200 in appearance money,” admitted Irv. “But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when IMCA announced that the season opener at Shreveport (La.) was a 200-lapper and paid only $500 to win.

“That took away all my enthusiasm. Shreveport is 500 miles from here!”

Janey added that IMCA does not “have enough races booked to make it worthwhile, either.” But he might enter the field for the Firecracker 300 at Des Moines the night of July 4. “I haven’t joined IMCA, yet, but if USAC doesn’t object I may race,” he explained.

If Janey doesn’t participate, it will mark the second time in as many years that IMCA’s defending champion has not been on hand for the annual event which was previously known as the Iowa 300. Ernie Derr didn’t compete last year. Derr, like Janey, is running the full USAC slate this year.

Irv still runs for Marty Sixt’s Advance Drainage Systems outfit out of Iowa City. While his USAC mount is a 1973 Dodge Charger, he pilots a 1970 Plymouth in the weekly show at Hawkeye Downs on Friday night. He's been less than impressive at the Downs.

“I never seem to run well at home,” he said, “but we’re starting to get it working. Actually, it is working okay – I’m just not fast enough. It’s taking me more time to get competitive.”

Janey isn’t sulking over his lack of success at the Downs. To the contrary, he points to the keen competition and other known factors that seem to plague non-Chevrolet drivers.

“If you can run with these guys here (Downs), it’s like going to batting practice when you enter races at other tracks. It's really good for you - it keeps you sharp.”

“But the Chevrolets definitely have an advantage with more cubic inches in their engines and less car weight. Even with the hemi engine (426 cubic inches), we are smaller. Fred Horn has the same problem with his hemi Plymouth. The Chevys have more cubes and they are 500-700 pounds lighter than our Plymouths.”

By local Cam-Car rules, that is permissible, but USAC doesn’t allow it, Janey explained.

“USAC holds the cubes down and every car has to weigh 3,900 pounds. Either that or you have to run a pony car with a small engine.”

“I really don’t mind the local rule, though, and I don’t think I'll ever make the switch to a Chevy. I don’t think it’s good for racing if everyone starts running the same kind of car.”

Thursday, June 23, 2016

1977 – 'Big' John Moss

West Liberty, Iowa (June 23, 1977) - Many names have come and gone over the years on the stock car racing circuit at the West Liberty Fairgrounds racetrack.

But the one name which has-stood the test of time best is that of Johnny Moss of Iowa City, who is in his 21st year behind the wheel of a stock car.

There may be other drivers around the 20-year mark, but Moss has been racing every year at West Liberty and tracks in other parts of the state.

Friends and foes alike know him as big Johnny Moss because of his 6 foot, 4-inch, 300-pound frame, which he squeezes in and out of his car.

Big John, who turned 42 on June 10, is a heavy equipment operator. His racing career started in 1956 when he started building stock car engines and became the co-owner of a car with Bob Gingerich of Iowa City.

Moss has had more than his share of mechanical problems with his car this year and currently is in 13th place in the late model division point standings with 770 points.

For success, he's possibly done his best on the Iowa State Fairgrounds track in Des Moines; but he still likes the West Liberty track even though it's narrow in spots. “Racing here (at West Liberty) is like coming home,” he says.

At one time, big John had four cars and one of his regrets was that he didn't capitalize on an opportunity to race on the late model USAC circuit in the South. “If that opportunity came along now and I was younger I'd jump at it.”

Besides lots of changes among the drivers he competes against, Moss has seen many changes from the days when the Mississippi Valley Speed Club sponsored jalopy races at the West Liberty, Columbus Junction .and Mount Pleasant tracks.

It takes much more money to build a late model stock car and John says “We've got as much money invested in tires now as we used to have in those old jalopies.” Over $25,000 is invested in three engines.

One change Moss doesn't like in the rules changes made by Super Stocks, Inc., which sanctions the races now, is that the competition is lined up, according to the point standings.

Drivers, used to compete in time trials for positions, but with his car problems this year his place in the point standings haven't given him any advantageous starting spots. “I'll take time trials any day,” he says.

While many things go into the long career of a respected racing contender like big Johnny Moss, he claims the success of any racing team is about “75% car and 25% driver.”

In looking at his own career, Moss says “I guess a guy ought to be able to race until he's 50 if he wants too.”

His own concluding testimonial of the many hundreds of races in which he's competed is “If I had it to do over again, I'd still become a race car driver.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

1986 - Breaks, brakes go Martin’s way

Mark Martin - Dan Chervenak Photo

Oregon, Wis. (June 22, 1986) - Mark Martin had just enough brakes left in his Ford Thunderbird to overtake Dick Trickle and win the Coors Light Silver Bullet 300 Sunday afternoon before an estimated 6,700 spectators at Capital Speedway. 
Martin passed Trickle, who had lost his brakes completely, in turn four on lap 294 and went on to win his first American Speed Association race of the season with an average speed of 72.825 miles per hour. He earned $8,340 of the 159,940 purse and also took over the ASA points lead.
“It was a grueling race,” said Martin, the polesitter. “Everybody had their share of misfortune but I had the least. At the end we were virtually out of brakes but Dick was completely out.”
“I was all over Dick but I didn't know if I could pass him because I was out of brakes with about 20 laps remaining. I was watching his car and noticed it was getting worse in the corners, so with about 10 laps to go I decided to make a move. 
There were two other moves that helped Martin triumph. The first came on lap 156 when Butch Miller, running second, blew an engine coming down the front straightaway. Miller spun his 1986 Chevrolet in turn one and was struck by Mike Eddy's Chevrolet. Martin also spun but was able to avoid serious contact.
“Had not Mike hit Butch, he would have hit me, so I was lucky to come away from that accident,” said Martin. “Lady Luck was on my side.”
The second move came in the pits. On lap 253 under the last of eight caution flags, all five cars on the lead lap pitted. Leader John Ziegler of Madison was first to enter the pits followed by Trickle, Bob Senneker, Martin and Tom Jones. Trickle was the first out and Martin second.
“That stop was very important because I picked up two places,” said Martin. “It’s a different race if we come out third or fourth. The crew did an excellent job.”
Ziegler wasn't as fortunate in the pits. His crew had trouble changing the right front tire and also was unable to get the jack cleared before he took off. The jack stuck with the car for several feet and then spun onto the track.
“There is a pin on the jack and it stuck in the car,” said Ziegler, who, after running over the jack, returned to the pits a lap later. “The crew thought there might have been some damage but there wasn't.”
Ziegler was out of contention when the green flag came out on lap 258, and finished fifth. Senneker, of Dorr, Mich., was third and Jones, of Northbrook, Ill., fourth.
“That was the first time we raced that car so I can’t be disappointed,” said Ziegler, who was unable to make up ground after the pit stop because he also burned his brakes down.
“Usually it takes two or three months to get the car running like it was today. I'm very satisfied with the finish.”
Rich Bickle Jr. of Edgerton didn’t even get a chance to push on the pedal. He qualified fifth Saturday but engine problems kept him from starting.

Results –
  1. Mark Martin
  2. Dick Trickle
  3. Bob Senneker
  4. Tom Jones
  5. John Ziegler
  6. Harold Fair
  7. Jay Sauter
  8. Kent Stauffer
  9. Mike Eddy
  10. Kenny Wallace
  11. Ken Lund
  12. Gary St. Amant
  13. Bill Stephenson
  14. Bobby Dotter
  15. Kent Christenson Jr.
  16. Jerry Churchill
  17. Gene Harsch
  18. Ed Cooper
  19. John Wilson
  20. Dennis Vogel

Sunday, June 19, 2016

1976 - Davis, Hoffman take Fairgrounds’ features

Des Moines, Iowa (June 19, 1976) - Bill Davis won his second straight sportsman feature and defending late model point champion Don Hoffman finally got one under his belt Saturday night in the stock car races at the State Fairgrounds.

Davis of Des Moines led all but one lap of the 14-lap feature, shortened one circuit because of a spin by point leader Rick Merryfield in the first turn of the fifteenth and final lap. Merryfield was awarded fourth place.

Larry Embrey of Grimes challenged Davis the entire race, leading the fourth lap, but eventually finished second with Dave Farren of Des Moines third.

Merryfield’s spin proved beneficial to Davis, whose 1970 Camaro’s radiator was boiling over as he received the first-place trophy to the cheers of the 8,425 fans.

“I lost the fan belt on the last restart (on the eleventh lap),” explained Davis, who won $305 for the feature and first heat triumphs. “I don’t know how much farther it might have run.”

The final restart was the result of Jerry Campbell’s collision with the front straightaway wall when he tried to pass Farren. “I guess there just wasn’t enough room to pass,” said Campbell of the accident which badly damaged the front end of his 1970 Camaro.

Davis has had little success in his new Camaro this season but that has changed the last few weeks.

“We changed the car around a little,’ Davis said, “And it just keeps getting better and better every race.”

Hoffman is another driver with a new car, and he’s also made several changes on his 1970 Pizza Hut Nova before finding the winning combination for the first time this season at the Fairgrounds’ one-half-mile dirt oval.

“We’ve had our problems,” Hoffman said, “We’ve been experimenting with different stuff so we knew it would be slow coming along.”
Hoffman’s crew apparently has found a near-perfect setup because he led all 25 laps and had a full straightaway lead at the finish ahead of second-place George Barton of Ankeny. Ken Davidson of Indianola was third, followed by Dave Chase of Council Bluffs and Karl Sanger of Waterloo.

It was Hoffman’s fourth feature victory this year and second this week - he won at Oskaloosa Wednesday night.

“The car is just now starting to come around,” Hoffman added. “We figured if we got the engine working, everything else would work itself out.”

The feature and first heat victories were worth $610 to the Des Moines driver.

It took six restarts before the sportsman 12-lap consolation race got underway. Half of the 16-car starting field was eliminated by spins and collisions in the dry, slick turns.

But Rex Carter of Adel outlasted them all to take the victory with Cal Swanson of Reinbeck second and Steve Osborn of Des Moines third.

The 6-lap late-model consolation went to Lefty Robinson, who was followed by Jim Wilson and Fred Knapp, all of Des Moines.

Results -

Sportman –

1.      Bill Davis
2.      Larry Embrey
3.      Dave Farren
4.      Rick Merryfield
5.      Glen Woodard
6.      Del McDowall
7.      Virgil Webb
8.      Cal Swanson
9.      Denny Rosenberg
10.    Howard Smidt

Late Model -

1.      Don Hoffman
2.      George Barton
3.      Ken Davidson
4.      Dave Chase
5.      Ed Sanger
6.      Bill Rice
7.      Joe Merryfield
8.      Galen Schaefer
9.      Bill Beckman
10.    Mike Dibben

Thursday, June 16, 2016

1977 - Who came first? Koehler a part of Raceway

Bud Koehler - Photo courtesy of Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame

By Tony Baranek
Blue Island, Ill. (June 16, 1977) - Literally hundreds of drivers have done battle on the Raceway Park oval since the track was opened in 1949. Many have won track titles. 
But no one in the history of the Blue Island motordrome has even come close to achieving what Bud Koehler has done - and it's highly unlikely that anyone will ever match him. 
First, however, the 11-time track champ will have to give them a final number to shoot at. That (retirement) in itself may take a great deal of time.
Back in 1949, when stock car racing was begun at Raceway on an experimental basis, Koehler was a midget driver. He made the switch to stocks, however, and walked on with the first Raceway late model trophy.
Today, Koehler is still a winner, perhaps even more so than in his younger days. He has won four out of the last five season titles and may very well cop another one if he can recover from an early season slump which still sees him without a victory.
But aside from the 11 track championships, 482 career feature wins (the next closest competitor, now retired has 148), numerous trophy dash titles and more checkered flags than anyone could ever hope to have, the most amazing thing about Bud Koehler is the fact that he can come back every week and look for that next victory. 
Has he lost his enjoyment in the sport? Not really, although he admits that it's a little harder to work himself into shape each time opening day rolls around.
“It’s a young man’s sport, I guess,” said Koehler, “but I still enjoy it, although it isn’t what is used to be when I was a youngster. And it isn't so much winning that provides the enjoyment, it's going over and competing.”
Still after almost 30 years of racing, one would think that Koehler feels that the track is part of his workweek. And in a sense, it is, but not in a negative way.
Bud Koehler at Raceway Park in 1966
“If you consider work an enjoyment, then I guess I look at it as work,” he explained. “But of course there are times when you don’t want to go to the race track every weekend. Everything has to fit into place when you go.”
That being the case, things must have fit into place many times for the 56-year-old interior decorator, who has become more than a legend at the Blue Island plant, in addition to making his mark at many other tracks in the Midwest.
But Koehler has never strayed very far from Raceway, and has competed regularly there each and every season since that fateful 1949 campaign. That’s unlike many other drivers, who can’t resist the basic urge to travel and find themselves on the road throughout the country.
“I used to run other tracks and even managed to win a few championships,” he said, “but I just don’t care to go traveling around the country. Also, I don’t really like to go that fast. This way, you don’t have the potential for driving accidents. At my age, I hurt easy and hurt a long time.”
That was evidenced earlier this season when Koehler and his late model Camaro wound up on the first turn wall in a spectacular accident. The front of the car was practically destroyed, with the driver incurring injuries. Although he returned to action two weeks later, Koehler is still feeling the effects of the crash.
For that matter, so is the car, which hasn't been up to par lately, and Koehler is beginning to slip way behind point leader Jerry Kemperman and some of the other top runners.
However, the poor start is very reminiscent of last season, when he failed to win a feature for the entire first month, but came storming back at the end to win the title going away.
There is one big difference between now and then, however. The level of competition at Raceway has improved with more than 30 drivers a night taking qualifying runs in the late model division.
Included in the sudden increase in drivers is a flock of young talent that has come over from both the hobby stock division and the now defunct six-cylinder class. At the moment, that talent is unpolished, but eagerness to learn prods the younger set to seek advice from the veterans.
“The younger drivers are constantly asking how to pass,” said Koehler, “but that’s like asking someone how to swim. You have to get into predicaments and see what happens at the time. That's the rough part of racing.” 
And that’s just how Koehler worked his way into the world of racing - by getting himself into a predicament. In the late 1930’s, Koehler did some racing of his own, starting with motorcycles and advancing into midget cars. He then became associated with Raceway in 1940, as a mechanic in the pits for another driver.
"Because of the war, there wasn’t any racing then until 1946,” recalled Koehler “At that time, I owned a car, but had someone else drive it.”
“One day I got into an argument with him,” he continued, “and he said if I thought I could do a better job, try it myself. So I did “
That one decision led to the disappointment of many drivers over the years, who have come to Raceway, occasionally found success, but could never knock Koehler down. At least not for long.
And if he doesn’t rebound from his shaky start in 1977, Koehler will almost certainly be back to go after his unprecedented 12th title next year
Retirement? That’s one word that Koehler uses once m awhile but never too seriously Many times, September and the end of another season prompts him to consider pulling into the garage for the last time. But come the month of May, he’s usually the first one on the track to qualify
Judging from his recent performance at Raceway, Koehler may very well be in the prime of his racing life.