Friday, September 16, 2016

1967 –Derr near eighth IMCA crown; wins Kansas State Fair

A familiar sight; Ernie Derr in victory lane - Photo courtesy of Ernie Derr Collection
Hutchinson, Kan. (September 16, 1967) – Ernie Derr, 46-year-old racing king from Keokuk, Iowa, virtually clinched his eighth national IMCA stock car championship when he roared to victory in the 25-lap feature at the Kansas State Fair, Tuesday.

Winner of more feature car races than my other driver in the field of stock car racing, Derr ran his record of victories to 206 out of 530 features since 1955. He is the defending champ on dirt and paved ovals in over a dozen states. He won stock car features here both Monday and Tuesday.

What may have been more important is he increased his point lead over Ramo Stott, another speed merchant from Keokuk, Iowa. Stott would have to win every race on the remaining IMCA schedule and Derr would have to finish out of the money in order for Stott to have any chance of catching him.

Odds appeared about 100 to 1 that Derr will win an unprecedented eighth IMCA stock car championship. He and his Dodge stock cars have won previous titles in 1953, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1965 and 1966. He was runner-up in 1963 and 1964.

Only the late Gus Schrader, a big car driver with six national records, has had anything like a comparable record. Derr said he liked the Kansas fair oval, and he proved it with a driving performance that seemed letter perfect. Although Lenny Funk, the flying Kansas farmer from Otis, had earned the pole position, Derr shot around him to take the lead before cars had moved 130 yards from the starting line.

Ramo Stott passed Funk on the fifth lap, but neither ever mounted a serious challenge to Derr. The "Champ" caught slower cars in the race within a lap and a half. Then he rode high on the straight-aways, passing cars on the outside. He hugged the infield at the turns, passing cars on the inside.

Derr is his own race strategist, and he had his car set up perfectly for the well-soaked dirt speedway that he never skidded on curves even while taking them at greater speed than other cars, which frequently skidded high or spun out.

Derr broke his own record in the feature, despite a one lap run under the caution flag. He clocked the 25 laps in 11 minutes and 38.8 seconds as compared with the old record of 11 minutes and 42.65 seconds he set in 1963.

Approximately 4,000 fans saw the race program.


Results –

  1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
  2. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
  3. Lenny Funk, Otis, Kan.
  4. Ole Brua, Albert Lea, Minn.
  5. Leon Bowman, Wichita, Kan.
  6. Butch Hall, Russell, Mich.
  7. Dick Johnson, St. Paul, Minn.
  8. Roland Wilson, Bedford, Iowa
  9. Willie Crane, Springfield, Mo.
  10. Jim Thomas, Springfield, Mo.
  11. Bill Stark, Des Moines, Iowa
  12. Tom Roller, Independence, Iowa

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