Thursday, December 21, 2017

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

We wish our Midwest Racing Archives readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
- Kyle Ealy and Lee Ackerman





Monday, November 27, 2017

The 1988 Iowa Firecracker Jamboree

By Kyle Ealy
Cedar Rapids, Iowa – With its once-stellar stock car series now but a distant memory, the United States Auto Club decided it still needed a full-bodied racing division to complement its highly successful open wheel program.
Getting away from the traditional full-sized stock car that had been a staple of that division for over 30 years, USAC officials went down a different path and capitalized on one of the most dynamic forms of racing; late models.
From 1985 to 1988, the United States Auto Club would sanction dirt late model racing and some of the biggest stars in the sport would compete under their banner.
In 1987, the USAC Dirt Late Model Series came to Iowa during the July 4th weekend for a three-race sked (Cedar Rapids, Burlington and Marshalltown). It was appropriately named, “The Iowa Firecracker Jamboree”.
Due to the success of the promotion, USAC officials and Iowa promoters decided to give it another try for the 1988 season.
Burlington, Davenport, Marshalltown and Oskaloosa would be the sites for the for the four-day weekend of racing.
On Friday, July 1, the USAC cars and stars rolled into Marshalltown, Iowa, and before a capacity crowd, Larry Phillips won the hard-fought 40-lap feature. The Springfield, Mo., veteran outdistanced Billy Moyer Jr. and Willy Kraft to the finish line for the victory.
Phillips’ win was hard-fought as he and Moyer Jr. often raced side-by-side as they dueled through lapped traffic. On several occasions, Moyer Jr. actually took the lead but Phillips decision to run the low groove paid off in the long run. Moyer hung on for second while Kraft took third. Ken Essary of Galena, Mo., who earlier had set a new track record in qualifying (15.173 seconds), grabbed fourth while Dick Potts of Morocco, Ind., rounded out the top five. The highest finishing Iowan was Johnny Johnson of Wapello who finished ninth.
Late model heats were won by Essary, Phillips, and Moyer Jr. while Jim Rarick of Taylorville, Ill., took the last chance race.
The series would head to Burlington, Iowa, and 34 Raceway, on Saturday, July 2. Once again, race fans came from near and far as a standing room only crowd was on hand to witness the action.
Willy Kraft of Lakefield, Minn., would jet to a straightaway advantage early in the 40-lap contest and lead from start to finish in winning his fourth series race of the year. But it was anything but easy...
Larry Phillips, who had made an engine change and had to qualify out of the last chance race, cleared himself from the field and slowly began to reel in the leader and by lap 21 had caught up with Kraft. Phillips was able to stick the nose of his car to the inside of Kraft on numerous occasions in the corners, but Kraft would maintain the lead in the straightaways. By lap 30 Phillips would stay close until he over-compensated his car and dropped off the topside of turn 2 on lap 30.
Billy Moyer Jr. would take up chase after Phillips’ mistake and he too, would give Kraft fits until the very end. When Kraft fish-tailed on the last lap, Moyer Jr. made a last-ditch charge for the checkered, but Kraft was able to straighten his car out and hold on for the win. Moyer Jr. would settle for second, Phillips recouped to take third, followed by Ken Esssary and Ray Guss Jr. of Milan, Ill.
Once again, Johnny Johnson would be the highest finishing Iowan with an eighth place showing. Heat winners were Esssary, Dick Potts, Kraft, and Guss Jr. Phillips won the last chance race. Moyer Jr, set fast time on the evening, touring the 3/8-mile high-banked clay surface in 15.539 seconds.
Kraft would follow up his Saturday night performance with another stellar showing at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa. The current USAC point leader would score his second consecutive late model victory as he topped the 40-lap headliner on Sunday, July 3.
Rick Egersdorf of St. Paul, Minn., would lead the opening lap of the contest but Kraft would take command as the field came to the start/finish for lap 2. Unlike the night before, Kraft would have an easy time of it, leading the race by a straightaway at times. Dick Potts would be a distant second followed by Larry Phillips, Tom Hearst of Wilton, Iowa, was the highest finishing Iowan in fourth and Jeff Hinkemeyer of St. Cloud, Minn., in fifth.
Ken Essary, Kraft, and Larry Phillips were heat race winners and Jim Rarick won the last chance race.  Billy Moyer Jr., was fast qualifier for the evening, cruising the big half-mile in the time of 20.364 seconds.
The fourth and final race would take place at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa, on Monday, July 4.
With fireworks crackling in the background, Larry Phillips would return to victory lane, leading wire to wire on the third-mile dirt oval. Phillips was never challenged as he built a huge lead in the early going and cruised to an easy win. Willy Kraft would finish a distant second, Ken Schrader of Fenton, Mo., grabbed third, Ken Essary took fourth and Ray Guss Jr., rounded out the top five. Johnny Johnson was the top finishing Iowan in seventh. The main event started on a sour note as fast qualifier (15.598 seconds) Billy Moyer Jr. blew a motor at the wave of the green flag.
Heat winners were Moyer Jr., Ray Guss Jr., and Willy Kraft. The last chance winner was “The Racing Auctioneer” Charlie Sentman of Waveland, Ind.
The Davenport race was coined “The Final Conflict” and maybe it was pure coincidence but it would be the final appearance in Iowa for the USAC late model division. Despite the popularity of dirt late models, it just didn’t fit the mold for the United States Auto Club.
Making a decision to showcase their open wheel divisions (sprints and silver crown), long the calling card of the United States Auto Club, they decided to shut down the late model series after the 88’ season.
However, with the World of Outlaws and the American Late Model Association co-sanctioning, there would be another Iowa Firecracker Jamboree in 1989.
But that’s another story….

Sunday, November 5, 2017

1964: The Keokuk Connection and a Perfect Season in IMCA Stock Car Racing

by Lee Ackerman
Keokuk, Iowa - By the start of the 1964 season, it was becoming very obvious that drivers from Keokuk, Iowa were a major factor in IMCA Stock Car Racing. Don White had won three IMCA Stock Car Championships and had moved on to run with the United States Auto Club, where he would win two USAC Stock Car Championships and become the all-time winningest driver in USAC Stock Car history with 53 wins.

The remaining three giants of Keokuk racing, Dick Hutcherson, Ernie Derr and Ramo Stott had finished the 1963 IMCA racing finishing first, second and third in the points, (Hutcherson, Stott and Derr) and had managed to win 51 of the 56 features contested along the way. But no one could imagine what the three were going to accomplish in 1964.

The 1964 IMCA Late Model Stock Car season turned out to be one of the most remarkable accomplished in sports.  At the end of that season, the series had contested 56 races and ALL 56 were won by one of three drivers hailing from an unassuming Iowa river town on the Mississippi River called Keokuk.
Dick Hutcherson
A record crowd of 10,000 fans welcomed the series to the annual season opener at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds in Shreveport. Dick Hutcherson in his new 1964 Ford broke Ernie Derr’s track qualifying record with a lap of 26.08 and appeared to have things under control until a faulty distributor condenser forced him to cut down his speed and he ended up finishing third. Ernie Derr took control of the race on lap 56 and go on to win the race with Ramo Stott finishing second. Derr was driving a 1964 Dodge as his new 1964 Plymouth had not yet arrived.

Hutcherson countered with a win on May 2 at Knoxville, Iowa, winning the 200-lap feature with pressure from Stott throughout most of the race. Hutcherson set a new IMCA qualifying record as well as new marks at 50, 75 and 100 miles. Ernie Derr countered by winning a 250-lap affair at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids, but Hutcherson slipped by Stott early in the Memorial Day Classic at Topeka and went on to best Stott for the win. Derr appeared to have third nailed down until an axle went out.

The next day, Derr and Stott each scored a 50-lap win back at Hawkeye Downs. Hutcherson countered again with wins at Memphis, Mo., and Donnellson, Iowa. The trio swapped wins back and forth over the next several races with Stott winning the annual 200-lap Kansas International at Topeka, on the 4th of July holding off Hutcherson by a nose. Ernie Derr was six seconds back in third. At this point in the season, Hutcherson held a 213 point lead over Derr with Stott just 13 points further back.

The drivers were greeted by a wet and heavy track at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines on July 12 for the annual running of the Iowa International 300. Stott led most of the first 150 laps, but for safety reasons, the race was halted and regarded. After the restart, Hutcherson took to the heavy and wet track like a duck to water and drove away to the win before 15,000 fans. Bob Reynolds of Edmonds, Okla., got by Stott for second, with Derr, finishing fourth.
Ernie Derr

Not only did the win increase Dick Hutcherson’s point lead, but he then set off and proceeded to win eight more races in a row, with two wins each at Minot, N.D., Fargo, N.D., Cresco, Iowa and Hibbing, Minn., in a run that put the championship pretty much out of reach. The second Fargo show saw Hutcherson wage a tremendous dogfight with both Stott and Derr in the 100-lap affair before Derr retired with a blown rear end and Stott with a broken distributor wire.

Finally, at the Southern Iowa Fair in Oskaloosa on August 5, Ernie Derr broke Hutcherson’s streak by winning the 100 lap race with Hutcherson and Stott following in second and third. The victory started a bit of a winning streak for Derr as starting with the win at Oskaloosa he would win seven of the next eight, with Stott winning at La Crosse, Wis.

August 22nd brought the series back to Des Moines for the Iowa State Fair and Hutcherson regained his momentum by winning their and then followed by with two wins at the Missouri State Fair, one on the half-mile and one on the mile. Stott then won back at Des Moines in a 250-lap affair.

It was then off to the annual trek to the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul. But in 1964 something had changed. The track had been paved. Some IMCA driver had trouble with the unfamiliar racing surface, Dick Hutcherson wasn’t one of them. He set fast time all three days they were held and then went on to win three of the four features, with Stott winning the other.  The final of these races was the North Star 400, scheduled for 400 laps it was cut short by rain at the 375 lap mark, with who else, but Hutcherson at the front of the field.

Back on the dirt the trio swapped wins again, with Stott winning five times, Hutcherson 4 times and Derr twice leading up to the last four races of the season to be held back at Shreveport.
Ramo Stott

The four events held at Shreveport can be summed up in one name; Dick Hutcherson. Hutcherson won all four features. The last race of the season proved to be an exciting one as Derr, Stott, Hutcherson and Lenny Funk all held the lead at one time or another. Hutcherson took over the lead for good with 10 laps remaining when Stott had to pit for refueling in the 150-lap race.

This ended, one of the most amazing seasons in auto racing history.  Dick Hutcherson won 29 times on his way to winning his second straight IMCA championship. Ramo Stott won 12 times and finished second in the points with Ernie Derr recording 15 wins and third place in the championship race.

Dick Hutcherson left IMCA following the 1964 season and headed south to NASCAR country.  In 1965, he won nine races in the Holman-Moody Ford and finished second to Ned Jarrett it what is now the Nextel Cup series. Dick would win 22 poles and score 14 wins before retiring at the end of the 1968 season. Later he would be a successful crew chief and then go on to co-found Hutcherson-Pagan Racing. If you ever attend a race of one of NASCAR’s three major series you can count on seeing the Brown and Orange Hutcherson-Pagan hauler somewhere in the pits.

Ramo Stott stayed in IMCA four more years finishing second each of those years to Ernie Derr. In 1965 and 1966 the two combined to win 72 of the 74 IMCA Stock Car races held. Stott would leave IMCA after the 1968 season and go on to race in ARCA and USAC. Stott would win the ARCA Championship back-to-back in 1970 and 1971 and then win the USAC Stock Car Championship in 1975. He would also claim the pole position for the 1976 Daytona 500.

Ernie Derr remained a regular in the IMCA series through the 1971 season. While he did race a few times in other series, he is remembered mostly for his accomplishments in IMCA. Those accomplishments include a staggering 328 career wins and 12 championships. When you mention IMCA stock car racing, the first name that has to come to mind is; Ernie Derr.

In the 29 year history of the IMCA Stock Car Series (1949-1977), Keokuk drivers won 18 championships. From 1953 thru Ernie Derr’s retirement following the 1971 season, only with Johnny Beauchamp’s championships in 1956 and 1957 did the championship go to a driver who did not hail from Keokuk.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Memphis Mid-America Nationals

By Kyle Ealy
Memphis, Mo – For seven years, it was one of the most popular year-end racing events in the Midwest. The Mid-America Nationals, held at the Scotland County Fairgrounds in Memphis, Mo., lured drivers and race fans from all over.
The first annual Mid-America ¼-Mile Nationals took place on September 17 and 18, 1976, offering a $6,500 purse. New Models, Sportsman and Hobby Stocks competed in heat races on Friday with semi-mains and championship features on Saturday night’s card.
Three out-of-staters would take home championship hardware.
The Late Models would time trial and a familiar racing name, Russ Derr of Keokuk, Iowa, was the fastest around the track with an 18.04 second timing.
Late Model heat winners were Jim Gerber of McCausland, Iowa, Lem Blankenship of Keokuk, Iowa, Steve Keppler of Marion, Iowa, and Larry Pipes of Kirkville, Mo. Sportsman heat wins went to Dan Lake of Washburn, Iowa, Larry Larson of Keokuk, Mike Benjamin of Keokuk, and Steve Becker of Norway, Iowa. Hobby Stock winners were James Cannon of Randolph, Ill., Dean Lindsay of Jacksonville, Ill., Steve Schneider of Keokuk and Kay Pierce of Hamilton, Ill.
Saturday saw semi-mains claimed by Larry Rummelhart of Riverside, Iowa (Late Models), Gary Trump of Kahoka, Mo. (Sportsman) and L.Z. Coleman of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa (Hobby Stocks).
Dave Lindsay would grab the lead at the drop of the green of the Hobby Stock feature and never look back in winning the 15-lapper. Kay Pierce would take second while Tom Long of Payson, Ill., would finish third. Lyle Chancellor of Keokuk and Earl Pruitt of Marshalltown, Iowa, would round out the top five finishers.
The 25-lap Sportsman main event would see Larry Larson follow suit and lead from start to finish as well, holding off a stubborn Steve Becker to score the victory. Bob Marriott of Chillicothe, Mo., finished a strong third, followed by Mike Inman of Keokuk and Dan Lake.
The Late Model headliner saw Russ Derr, who started on the pole by virtue of his quick time, jump out front quickly and lead all 35 circuits in securing the win. Larry Pipes would slip by Lem Blankenship early in the contest and put pressure on Derr for the remainder of the race but “Pee Vine” would settle for runner-up honors. Blankenship would finish third followed closely by Jim Gerber and Steve Keppler fifth.
With 90 cars in attendance and fans filling the seats, the first annual Mid-America ¼-Mile Nationals was hailed a success and plans were being made for next year.
The second annual Mid-America ¼-Mile Nationals would take two weekends to complete. Originally slated for September 16 and 17, 1977, over 100 cars would compete in Friday’s qualifying heats, only to have early morning thunderstorms wipe out Saturday’s festivities. Officials postpone the semi-main and championships until the following Saturday, September 24.
Friday’s heat races saw some close-order racing in all three divisions. Darrel DeFrance of Marshalltown, Iowa, Jerry Meyers of Quincy, Ill., Jim Powell of New London, Iowa, Chopper Safely of Marion, Iowa, and Jim McClure of Cincinnati, Iowa, would score heat wins in Hobby Stock action. Sonny Findling of Kirksville, Mo., Kenny Fenn of Washington, Iowa, Joe Churchill, Harley Harrelson of Brashear, Mo., and Tim Swope of Waterloo, Iowa, earned Sportsman heat wins. Late Model heat wins went to Johnny Babb, Rex Stottlemyre of Chillicothe, Mo., Steve Becker, and Larry Pipes.
A week later, semi-main and championship features were run. Jack Evans of Keokuk (Hobby Stock), George Koontz of Memphis, Mo. (Sportsman) and Jim Gerber of LeClaire, Iowa (Late Model) started the evening off by winning their respective semi-mains.
Joe Churchill would make his long trip from Peosta, Iowa, pay off when the checkers flew in the Sportsman feature. Churchill would divide his time among three positions en route to the feature win. He spent the first 10 laps in third place, the second 12 circuits in second place and then made his move on lap 22, slipping past Kenny Fenn for the lead and the eventual win. Charlie Milligan of Keokuk tailed Churchill throughout the race and finished second followed by George Koontz of Memphis, Sonny Findling and Bob Findling of Kirksville, Mo.
Marshalltown, Iowa, pilot Dennis Stewart took the lead on lap 14 to capture the Hobby Stock title. Chopper Safely towed from Waubeek, Iowa, to finish a close second, just ahead of Terry Lyons of Virginia, Ill. Early leader Jim Powell took fourth and Rich McClure grabbed fifth.
In the Late Model main event, Johnny Babb, no stranger to the Memphis track, jumped into the lead from his pole position and put on a driving clinic, leading all 40 laps to take the win. Larry Pipes would apply pressure throughout the race until his engine let go with 12 laps left. Waterloo, Iowa’s Joe Schaefer, who started near the rear of the 22-car field, would work his way steadily through the pack and finish second. John Miller of Keokuk, Jerry Pilcher of Bloomfield, Iowa, and Bob Widmar of Ottumwa, Iowa, would round out the top five.

Once again, wet weather would come into play, this time for the third annual Mid-America ¼-Mile Nationals, September 15-17, 1978. Friday’s qualifying heats went uninterrupted but rain midway through Saturday’s program would push features to Sunday afternoon.

Pokey West of West Chester, Iowa, was anything but slow over the weekend, winning his heat and taking home the top prize in the Late Model feature on Sunday afternoon. West started third in the main event and was running third behind early leader Mike Benjamin and Larry Pipes for the first 16 laps. After a restart, West passed Pipes for second and three laps later, slipped past Benjamin for the lead. West was in command when heavy skies let go and rain stopped the race on lap 37, which officials declared complete. Steve Fraise of Montrose, Iowa, who started 12th, made a spirited drive through the pack to overtake Benjamin for second place on lap 28 and finished a strong second. Pipes settled for third place, Jerry Pilcher, who started 18th, took fourth and Joe Churchill of Peosta, Iowa, who won the Sportsman title the year before, grabbed fifth.
Late Model heat wins went to Pipes, Benjamin, West and Jim Brown of Ottumwa, Iowa. Bill Early of Edina, Mo., won the rain-shortened semi-main on Saturday.
Kenny Fenn of Washington, Iowa, took the lead on lap 4 and roared to the Sportsman championship. Mike Inman of Keokuk took second while Dick Crane of Palmyra, Mo., ran third. Bob Marriott of Chillicothe, Mo., finished fourth and Leonard Hamlin of LaPlata, Mo., took fifth.
Hamlin, George Koontz of Memphis, Gary Tigges of Dubuque, Iowa, Fenn and Inman were heat winners. Larry Asher of Kirksville, Mo., won the rain-interrupted semi-main.
The Hobby Stock feature, after being rained out Saturday night, would be washed out again on Sunday, so the finish was given according to the line-up. Rod Uppinghouse of Payson, Ill., winner of the first heat, was awarded the win. Heat #2 winner Bob Hawks of Virginia, Ill., was second, heat #3 winner Jim Powell of New London, Iowa, third, heat #4 winner Rich McClure of Cincinnati, Iowa, fourth and defending champion Dennis Stewart of Marshalltown, Iowa, was fifth. Norwalk, Iowa, driver Rex Bonnett won the 8-lap semi-main.
The fourth annual event, held September 14-15, 1979, would bring a slight name change to the race. The ¼-Mile Nationals had now become the ½-Mile Nationals.
After extensive research, I found no reason given for the name change, except for the fact, according to Allan Brown’s America’s Speedways, Scotland County Speedway had always been half-mile track since 1950 until 1999 when it was shortened to its present size of a 3/8-mile.
Dan Nesteby of Waterloo, Iowa, would tow nearly 200 miles and it would pay off handsomely as he won the 40-lap Late Model headliner. Nesteby and defending winner Johnny Babb dueled early on in the race until Ron Jackson of Burlington, Iowa, got involved into the mix. Jackson would get past Babb and the battle between Nesteby and Jackson was on. The two would swap the lead several times until Jackson grabbed the lead on lap 38. Jackson could practically taste victory until a careless spinout on the backstretch let Nesteby slip by for the lead and the win. Jackson would recover to finish second while Babb hung on to third. Bob McCall of Ottumwa, Iowa, took fourth and inaugural winner Russ Derr finished fifth.
Jerry Pilcher, Nesteby, Babb, Jackson and Paul Carr of Ottumwa, Iowa, were heat winners while Randy Harrison of Memphis, took the 15-lap semi-main.
In a near-photo finish, Fred Knapp of Des Moines, Iowa, came out on top in the 25-lap Sportsman feature. Knapp had passed Jack Dunn of Keokuk for the lead on lap 11, only to exit the race with mechanical issues during a lap 14 caution period.
However, Knapp re-entered the race at the rear of the field as the green flag waved and started making his way through the pack. Meanwhile, George Koontz of Memphis had started to challenge Dunn for the race lead. By lap 20, Knapp had made his way back up front to make it a three-car battle. Knapp would get by Koontz for second, but as the white flag waved, Dunn, Knapp and Koontz were virtually side-by-side. As the trio reached the backstretch, Knapp edged ahead of Dunn and Koontz and as they came out of turn four, Knapp was slightly ahead of Dunn as they could see the checkered flag waving. Knapp would beat Dunn by less than a foot at the finish line with Koontz right on their bumper. Sonny Kindling of Kirksville, Mo., would finish fourth followed by Mike Klinkhammer of West Branch, Iowa. 
Heat winners in the Sportsman class were Dunn, Kenny Fenn, Knapp, and Corrie Stott of Keokuk. Carl Storms of Montrose, Iowa, won the semi-main.
The Hobby Stock would be anti-climactic as Darrel DeFrance of Marshalltown, Iowa, was an easy winner, leading all 15 circuits. Challenging hard but not changing positions were Earl Pruitt of Marshalltown, Dino Rodish of West Des Moines, Smoke Wilson of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Steve McCartney of Kirksville, Mo.
Hobby Stock heat winners were DeFrance, Pruitt, Rodish, and Wilson, while Rick McClure of Cincinnati, Iowa, won the semi-main.
The fifth annual Mid-America ½-Mile Nationals saw two new winners and one repeat performance on September 19-20, 1980. Ron Jackson of Burlington, Iowa (Late Models) and Chopper Safely of Marion, Iowa, won titles at Memphis for the first time while Kenny Fenn of Washington, Iowa, scored his second Sportman championship.
Jackson, driving his #11 Camaro, started on the pole position via his heat win and jumped into the lead at the drop of Chuck Downing’s green flag and never let off the gas pedal, leading all 40 laps. Jackson was so dominant, in fact, he lapped nearly the entire field, except for second through fifth place. Chasing Jackson every lap of the way and finishing runner-up was Johnny Johnson of Morning Sun, Iowa. Tony Stewart of Washington, Iowa, last year’s winner Dan Nesteby of Waterloo, Iowa and Jim Brown of Ottumwa, Iowa, rounded out the finishers still on the lead lap.
Friday night heat winners were Jackson, Sonny Findling of Kirksville, Mo., Johnson and Mike Klinkhammer of West Branch, Iowa. Gordy Blankenship won Saturday’s semi-main.
The Sportsman main event saw two Iowa drivers fighting it out for the win. Kenny Fenn grabbed the lead at the onset but Jim Hollenbeck of Burlington, Iowa, tried his best to keep up with the wily veteran. Despite several caution flags that bunched up the field, Fenn had too much horses under the hood and pulled away every time on his way to the 30-lap victory. Hollenbeck would hang on for second, followed by semi-main winner Ronnie Armstrong of Kahoka, Mo., Lynn Richards of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and Keith Allen of Donnellson, Iowa.
Sportsman heat winners were Rick Germar of Red Oak, Iowa, Fenn, Hollenbeck, and Carl Storms of Keokuk.
Chopper Safely would win the Hobby Stock feature rather handily, leading all 20 laps, although Henry DeLonjay of Quincy, Ill., kept it close in taking second. Dale DeFrance of Marshalltown, Iowa, was third, Daryl O’Haver of Kirksville, Mo., grabbed fourth and Russ Hamilton of Eldon, Iowa, rounded out the top five.
Over 90 cars from five states took to the Scotland County Fairgrounds’ half-mile for the sixth annual Mid-America ½-Mile Nationals on September 18-19, 1981, and Iowans took home hardware in all four divisions.
An intense duel in the Saturday night Late Model finale saw Rocky Hodges of Des Moines and Andy Claiborne of Shawnee Mission, Kan., battle throughout the 25-lapper. By lap 8, both drivers were lapping slower cars in the 18-car field. A lap 15 caution cooled the two hot shoes only momentarily, as when Gene Holt’s green flag waved again, Claiborne shot to the lead with Hodges hot on his tail. On lap 21, Hodges would power by Claiborne for the lead and despite some bumping and banging, would hold on for the win. A disappointed Claiborne would settle for second. Jerry Pilcher of Bloomfield, Iowa, would sneak by David Hammond of Camanche, Iowa, on lap 19 for third-place honors. Hammond and Sonny Findling would round out the top five.
Late Model heat winners were Hammond, Claiborne and Hodges. Mike Klinkhammer of West Branch, Iowa, won the 15-lap semi-main.
Darrel DeFrance made the long haul from Marshalltown, Iowa, worthwhile, as he captured his heat and the 20-lap Sportsman main. DeFrance grabbed the lead from Tim Swope of Waterloo, Iowa, on lap 4 and continued to pull away for the win. Denny Banks of Washington, Iowa, would get past Swope to take second while Swope settled for third. Dick Crane of Palmyra, Ill., and Bruce Hanford of Davenport, Iowa, took fifth.
Friday night Sportsman heat winners were DeFrance, Banks, Swope, and Crane. George Koontz of Memphis won the semi-main.
Rick Gustin of Des Moines led flag to flag in the Hobby Stock finale. Steve McCartney of Kirksville, Mo., passed Larry DeFrance of Albion, Iowa, midway through the 15-lapper to claim second while DeFrance held on for third. A pair of Quincy, Ill., drivers, Henry DeLonjay and Rich DeWeese, finished fourth and fifth respectively. 
DeWeese, Gustin, and DeFrance were Friday night heat winners and Dean Franks of LaBelle, Mo., was the semi-main winner.
A fourth division was added to the Mid-America Nationals with Compact Modifieds also on the card. Wendell Folkerts of Albia, Iowa, dominated the class, steering his AMC Gremlin to an easy feature win.
The seventh annual Mid-America ½-Mile Nationals would see three new winners in victory lane as once again, rain shifted the program towards an extra day of competition.
Two inches of rain on Friday evening postponed preliminary heat races to Saturday night and Sunday afternoon featured championship main events. Despite that, the event drew over 75 cars from four states.
Hobby Stocks took to the track first on Saturday and heat winners were Henry DeLonjay of Quincy, Ill., Charley Baker of LaBelle, Mo., and Randy Uppinghouse of Payson, Ill.
Andy Claiborne of Shawnee Mission, Kan., would come from his last row starting position to claim the first Late Model heat and hometown driver Lynn Monroe roared home to victory in the second. In the third late model heat, Ron Pallister of Wapello, Iowa, put his Corvette into victory lane.
Dick Crane of Palmyra, Ill., won the first Sportsman heat race while Tim Swope of Elk Run Heights, Iowa and Jeff Aikey of Cedar Falls, Iowa, scored wins in the second and third heats respectively.
Semi-main winners on Sunday afternoon were Danny Foxall of Colchester, Ill. (Hobby Stock), Jim Hollenbeck of Burlington, Iowa (Sportsman) and Corky Roach of St. Louis, Mo. (Late Model).
After a see-saw battle to begin the Hobby Stock feature, Randy Uppinghouse would finally get by Danny Bowen of Hurdland, Mo., on lap 13 and go on to claim the top prize in that division. Bowen would hang on for second while John Crear of Middleton, Iowa, would grab third. Rod Smith of Monmouth, Ill., was fourth and Bruce McCartney of Kirksville, Mo., was fifth.
After numerous years of running successfully at the ½-Mile Nationals but no trophy to show for it, Dick Crane left no doubt that the 15-lap Sportsman championship feature was his for the taking. Crane led wire-to-wire in a dominating performance. Tim Swope would give chase but settle for second while Tom Long of Payson, Ill., finished third. Jim Hollenbeck came from the rear of the field to grab fourth and Lonnie Heap of Macomb, Ill., took fifth.
Ron Pallister would take home the lion’s share of the Late Model purse by capturing the 40-lap feature. Pallister, who started inside of the second row, battled Lynn Monroe early on for the top spot before finally securing the lead and sailing to victory. Bob Lekander of Burlington, Iowa, would get by Monroe and take runner-up honors. Bill Beuer of Wapello, Iowa, would also get by Monroe as the laps were winding down and finish third. Monroe would hold on to fourth place while Darrel DeFrance of Marshalltown, Iowa, rounded out the top five.
Mike Whaley of Carlisle, Iowa, put his AMC Gremlin out front on the first lap of the Compact Modifie feature and never looked back in winning handily. Terry Peterson of Agency, Iowa, was second and defending winner Tim Folkerts of Albia, Iowa, was third.
Information and results were hard to obtain for the eighth and final Mid-America ½-Mile Nationals, held on September 16-17, 1982. While no recap was found, Ida May Van Genderen, who penned a column for Hawkeye Racing News named “Racing Ramblings” reported that 75 cars were entered in three divisions of racing.
Ida May reported that Friday night was definitely a “heavy coat” night while Saturday evening was a “shirt sleeve” type of evening. She also reported that the program moved along quite well on both nights and drivers obeyed starter George Koontz’s flags.
Andy Claiborne of Shawnee Mission, Kan. (Late Model), Dave Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa (Limited Late Model), and Bill Schubert of Burlington, Iowa (Street Stock), were winners on Saturday night.
In 2004, Scotland County Speedway, under the direction of promoter Todd Staley, revived the event, dubbing it "The Mid-America Nationals”, featuring the United States Modified Touring Series and USRA B-Modifieds, Stock Cars and Hobby Stocks.

Friday, October 6, 2017

1968 – Eaker Cops Sterling 100-Lapper

Sterling, Ill. (October 6, 1968) – Verlin Eaker of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, set fast time in qualifying at the sixth annual Sterling Midwest Invitational, then went on to win the 100-lap feature running the last 25 laps on a flat tire.
The safety inner boot, used on many race cars today, prevented Eaker’s tire from going completely flat and permitted him to pull away in the closing laps of the marathon race.
Eaker led all but one of the 100 laps when Don Bohlander of Glasford, Ill., briefly led one circuit. He collected $1,000 for his victory.
USAC star Herb Shannon of Peoria, Ill., finished second while Bohlander took third. Jim Gerber of Long Grove, Iowa, finished fourth, the last competitor to complete the entire 100-lap distance. Only 18 of the original 30 starters finished the event that was run without a single caution flag being thrown.
Young Lem Blankenship of Keokuk, Iowa, came from his 28th starting position to grab fifth place in an outstanding display of driving on the dry, slick clay oval. Bill McDonough of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was equally impressive as he moved from his 26th starting spot to finish sixth.
A total of 66 cars were entered for the Speedbowl Park season finale with 16 drivers timing in under the 19-second mark on the third-mile oval.
Don Davidson of Des Moines won the 30-lap semi-main while B.J. Higley of Sterling, Ill., won the 20-lap consolation.

Feature results –

1.    Verlin Eaker, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
2.    Herb Shannon, Peoria, Ill.
3.    Don Bohlander, Glasford, Ill.
4.    Jim Gerber, Long Grove, Iowa
5.    Lem Blankenship, Keokuk, Iowa
6.    Bill McDonough, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
7.    Roger Dolan, Lisbon, Iowa
8.    Dean Montgomery, Milan, Ill.
9.    John Connolly, Delhi, Iowa
10.   Red Droste, Waterloo, Iowa
11.   Cal Swanson, Reinbeck, Iowa
12.   Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
13.   Tom Hughes, Monticello, Iowa
14.   Don Dane, Peoria, Ill.
15.   Allan May, Peoria, Ill.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

1980 – Dri-Powr 400 to Terry Senneker

Dri-Powr 400 winner Terry Senneker is joined by Miss Dri-Powr Rickee Farrell in victory lane. - Brian Norton Collection

Winchester, Ind. (October 5, 1980) – Terry Senneker of Wayland, Mich., claimed his first-ever American Speed Association victory, winning the Dri-Powr 400 at the historic high-banked Winchester Speedway.
It was perhaps the wildest of the eleven previous Dri-Power 400 events staged at the half-mile asphalt speedway.
Although Senneker finished seven laps ahead of runner-up Ray Young of Dolton, Ill., Senneker was in third place with just eight laps left remaining – behind race leader Mike Eddy and second place Mark Martin. However, as the pair entered the first turn on lap 393, Martin was on the inside, but drifted up into the side of Eddy, sending both into the wall between turns one and two, sidelining both cars.
That allowed Senneker to coast home to an easy win with Young completing 393 circuits for second. Eddy was third and Martin fourth with 392 laps completed.
Wrecks also eliminated the likes of Bob Senneker, the brother of the winner, Doug Klein, Jerry Sisco, Dave Brandenburg, Jeff Pflum, Ken Harrison, Dave Jensen, Chuck Roumell, Bob Strait, Ron Hayes, Randy Sweet and Harold Scott.
In all, there were 15 caution flags for 122 of the 400 laps run.
Martin set a new record in qualifying with a lap of 15.741 seconds for an average speed of 114.351 mile per hour.

Results –

1.   Terry Senneker, Wayland, Mich.
2.   Ray Young, Dolton, Ill.
3.   Mike Eddy, Midland, Mich.
4.   Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark.
5.   Carl Smith, West Jefferson, Ohio
6.   Lonnie Breedlove, Indianapolis
7.   John Jutila, Grand Rapids, Mich.
8.   Dave Sorg, Fort Wayne, Ind.
9.   Gary Williams, Orient, Ohio
10.  Don Gregory, Columbus, Ohio
11.  Bob Sensiba, Middleville, Mich.
12.  Ryl Magoon, Grand Rapids, Mich.
13.  Don Wilbur, West Carrollton, Ohio
14.  Bob Senneker, Dorr, Mich.
15.  Buddy Cole, Indianapolis

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

1970 – Denver Driver is Tops at Rockford Nationals

Rockford, Ill. (October 4, 1970) – A crowd of 3,852 watched Wayne Stallsworth of Denver Colo., win the fifth annual National Short Track Championship 200-lapper on Sunday afternoon at Rockford Speedway.
Stallsworth inherited the lead from Bud Helm of Brainerd, Minn., on lap 141 when Helm’s car developed an ignition problem. Helm had been the dominant car up to that point, with a 2-lap lead over his nearest competitor.
Stallsworth would lead the remaining 59 circuits and win by a couple of car lengths over Don James of Bloomington, Minn. Ramo Stott of Keokuk, Iowa, the defending race winner, would claim the final podium spot with a third-place finish.
The outcome of the race may have been very different if many things hadn’t happened…
Joe Shear, the Rockford point’s champion from Beloit, Wis., pushed Helm for the first 110 laps of the event before he dropped from the race with a broken fuel pump.
Both Stott and Dick Stang of Prior Lake, Minn., spun out early in the race only to recover and finish third and fifth respectively. Bob Jusola, the Elko, Minn., champion, blew a motor as he began moving his way to the front to challenge the leaders. Marlin Walbeck, the 1967 champion, crashed when he spun out in the oil that spewed from Jusola’s car.
Jon Chrest of Minneapolis set the event’s fast time at 14.58 seconds but the youthful driver had trouble in the feature when his drive shaft gave out on lap 20.
Results –

1.  Wayne Stallsworth, Denver, Colo.
2.  Don James, Bloomington, Minn.
3.  Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
4.  Denny Burgan, Waukegan, Ill.
5.  Dick Stang, Prior Lake, Minn.
6.  Dan Prizborowski, Savage, Minn.
7.  Dick Collins, St. Louis Park, Minn.
8.  Larry Smith, Shakopee, Minn.
9.  Greg Arenson, Minneapolis
10. Roger Schuur, Friedly, Minn.
11. Darrell Swartout, Janesville, Wis.
12. Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
13. Duane Walch, Madison, Wis.
14. Harvey Dunbar, Rockford, Ill.
15. Rich Schuyler, Jefferson, Wis.
16. Fred Bender, Madison, Wis.
17. Les Ferris, Northfield, Minn.
18. Gene Marmor, Stevens Point, Wis.
19. Rich Bickle, Beloit, Wis.
20. Bud Helm, Brainerd, Minn.