Wednesday, May 31, 2017

1970 – Derr Doesn’t Disappoint City Race Fans

Ernie Derr receives the spoils of victory after his win in Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City, Okla. (May 31, 1970) – Well on his way to his sixth straight International Motor Contest Association national title, ageless Ernie Derr shaved 18 seconds off the world 12-lap record in his heat race and went on to capture the 100-lap feature in the IMCA Stock Car race at Fairgrounds Speedway on Sunday night.
The 48-year-old Derr, winner of 10 IMCA national championships and over 275 feature wins, was unchallenged in his heat and lapped but two drivers in the feature event while setting an unbelievable pace in the day’s activities.
He finished his 12-lap heat race in 5 minute and 11 seconds, considerably less than the world record set by Bob Kosiskie in Minneapolis in 1960.
 He also set a track qualifying record on the half-mile oval with a clocking of 24.89 seconds. The old mark was 25.03 set by Ramo Stott in 1968.
Only 14 drivers competed in Sunday’s show but the performance of Derr was enough to satisfy the more than 3,000 race fans.
Derr’s only disappointment was in the 10-lap trophy dash. After sliding out on the last turn on lap 6, Derr lost his hold on second place and finished last. The trophy dash was won by Irv Janey of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who finished second to Derr in the feature.
Janey led during the first five laps of the main event but on the sixth lap Derr caught Janey on the first turn and led the rest of the way.
Midway through the race, Janey was challenged for second by Fred Horn of Marion, Iowa, and the two drivers went bumper to bumper for the next 10 circuits.
Janey finally pulled safely in front of Horn but couldn’t catch Derr, who by then, was leading by almost half a lap.
With about 20 laps to go Derr threatened to overtake Horn, which would have made Janey the only driver he had not lapped. At the finish, Derr trailed Horn by only a few feet.
It was the 16th feature win in the last 17 races for Derr, who had a streak of 15 broken by Horn Saturday night in Topeka. Derr finished fourth in that race but wasn’t even challenged by Horn on Sunday.

Results –

1.    Ernie Derr
2.    Irv Janey
3.    Fred Horn
4.    Ron Hutcherson
5.    Tom Wichman
6.    Vernie Covert
7.    Butch Hall
8.    Sandy Sandstrom
9.    Lewis Taylor
10. Bill Stark

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

1963 - Two new IMCA world records set at Belleville

Belleville, Kan. (May 30, 1963) - Two new world's records for new-car stock cars was established at the Jayhawk 100 races held in Belleville Sunday afternoon before a capacity crowd.

Ernie Derr, 1962 IMCA stock car champion, set a new world mark for a half-mile track in the time trials with a one-lap speed of 24.50. This erased the old world mark established in 1954 by Bob Peterson at Salem, Ind. Derr knocked .33-one-hundredths of a second off the world record, which had been :24.83, Derr, of Keokuk, Iowa, was driving a 1963 Pontiac.

The world record is for dirt and asphalt half-mile tracks.

Dick Hutcherson, Keokuk, Iowa also set a new world record for 100 laps on a half-mile track, as he won the feature event in 42:18.25

This record also had stood since 1954 and had been set at Salem, Ind., by Bob Peterson. Hutcherson, currently in third place in the IMCA stock car standings in a 1963 Ford, and Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa, driving a 1963 Plymouth and the current IMCA point leader, fought a duel for the 100-lap championship here Sunday.

After the inverted start Stott jumped into the lead and held that position to the 38th lap with Hutcherson right on his tail. On the 38th lap Hutcherson jumped into the lead for two laps, then Stott pulled back in front.

On the 42nd lap Hutcherson grabbed the lead for good to go on and win the race, with his and Stott's car never more than a car length apart.

Lennie Funk, Otis, Kan., driving a 1963 Ford held third place all through the race. Fourth place finisher was John Mickey, Columbus Junction in a 1963 Pontiac and Ernie Derr, 1963 Pontiac finished fifth.

Hutcherson and Stott lapped ever one in the field one-lap with the exception of Funk, the third-place finisher.

The race was exceptionally trouble free, as only two cars failed to finish out of the 13 starters.

Ramo Stott, driving a 1963 Plymouth, won the first 10-lap heat race following the time trials and Hutcherson won the second. Newt Bartholomew, Carlisle, Iowa driving a 1963 Plymouth, won the six-lap consolation race.

Eight of the top 10-stock car drivers in the standings were present for the event here Sunday for non-money winners, which preceded the 100-lap feature event.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

1984 – An Indy 500 Veteran Remembers Days of Speed and Daring

Cliff Woodbury at Indianapolis in 1927

By Gary Sharp
Alton, Ill. (May 28, 1984) – Life is a bit slower now, but Memorial Day still ha special memories of speed for 89-year-old Cliff Woodbury who got a taste of both victory and near-disaster in four years of racing in the 1920-era brick track of the Indianapolis 500.

Woodbury placed third a “The Brickyard: - as Indianapolis Speedway was known – in 1926, the first year he entered the legendary Indianapolis 500. In 1929 – his last Indy 500 and his last year of competitive racing – he won the pole position with the best qualifying speed, 120.599 miles per hour, but crashed on the third lap, “creating a wonderful big pile of wreckage for ‘em”.

Until about a year ago, when he came to Godfrey, Ill., to live the youngest of his four daughters, Theresa, and her husband, Edmund Morrissey, Woodbury lived in LaGrange Park. For some 53 years, until retiring in 1973, he operated Woodbury Brothers Garage in Chicago with his brother, Elmer.

Woodbury’s fascination with autos started early. He paid $50 in cash earned by cutting grass for driving lessons and in 1915, even before he married his late wife, Sarah, he bought his first car and won first place in a race on a dirt track in Davenport, Iowa. In 1927, when dirt track racing was recognized by the American Automobile Association (AAA), he became the National Dirt Track Champion.

Woodbury retired from competitive racing after a second accident in 1929 on the banked board speedway at Altoona, Pa. A car in front of him hit the guard rail, scattering steel on the track. “I came along and ran into the debris,” Woodbury remembers. “The car was in a fair way to disintegrate.”

Woodbury’s car hit the debris, flipping end over end. First radio reports said he had been killed along with another driver; though he survived the crash, he was hospitalized for some two months and full recovery took several years.

Cliff Woodbury in his Boyle Valve Special in 1927.

Accounts of Woodbury’s career in the reckless daredevil days of racing note his “skill and daring” on all sorts of tracks, including dirt, board and brick, and his penchant for record setting. On one afternoon in 1924 he set a new world’s record at Crown Point, Ind., completing a half-mile lap in 27.2 seconds, then went on to win a 10-mile race in the world record time of 9 minutes and 38 seconds. In 1926, driving a banked board track in Culver City, Calif., he averaged 138 miles per hour during warm-up, setting a track record and was flagged off the track by over-cautious officials.

The tales off his racing exploits are the stuff of legend – from his 1924 defeat of racing great Stan Nowicki at the State Fairgrounds in Milwaukee to his 1926 loss in Detroit to Frank Lockhart in a 100-mile race.

“Lockhart ran the entire distance without a pit stop,” Illustrated Speedway News observed in 1948,” while Woodbury made SIX STOPS with a leaky radiator, lost at least seven laps and still only lost the race by one lap.”

While some of his Indy memories are dimmed by the passage of almost 60 years, Woodbury’s eyes still shine when he talks about his glory days of racing and he still has a sense of humor about that “wonderful big pile of wreckage.”

The brick Indy track was “quite rough,” Woodbury says, probably with some understatement. “We had to put up with it, because that was it.”

Dirt tracks weren’t much better, “That’s all there was when I got my first pair of goggles,” he says. “You learn to do the best you can with what you’ve got.”

Leafing through photo of himself in cars, surrounded by assistants and spectators, Woodbury picks out the faces of his mechanics. “He made $50 a week plus 10% of my winnings. That’s a precarious way to make a living, but he did it.”

Woodbury always remembers his small scale start as a mechanic. “I had a box of tools so I kind of developed a little shop of my own to work on automobiles. After a few years of that kind of work, I got a few of these race cars. I made enough money chasing these things around that I was able to get into it myself.”

Cliff Woodbury's business card

While he financed his first cars and earlier races himself, Woodbury later obtained the sponsorship of Mike Boyle’s Boyle Valve Company in Chicago. It was a Boyle Valve Special – a Miller Straight 8 – that Woodbury roared to a third-place finish in the 1926 Indy 500.

Woodbury modified one of his cars, a Frontenac, rebuilding it without the transmission and differential. As a result, the car ran in only one gear – fast forward. Such adaptations later became common, but were innovative in the days when Woodbury’s Frontenac had to be pushed to get it started but finished far ahead of its competitors. “On the dirt tracks, it was a bear,” Woodbury recalled.

Cliff Woodbury returned to Indy in 1975 to race one of those ancient cars in an Old Timers race. According to reports of that race, Woodbury whizzed around the track at some 90 miles per hour with son-in-law Tom Culligan hanging on for dear life – the old cars weren’t equipped with seat belts. Thankfully for the passenger, it finally quit running.

According to Bob Laycock, the Indianapolis Speedway historian, there are some veterans of Indy, including Colonel Edward Towers, who was in the 1911 race. But Towers was a “riding mechanic” and Woodbury, Laycock says, is probably the oldest living driver who started an Indy race.

Woodbury still watches the Indy 500 on television, but he’s sure the sport was “more exciting back then. You didn’t have a load of safety built into them.” And he notes, “After I left the brick track, they turned it into a modern track.”

The Woodbury legend still fascinates his family of five children, three daughters besides Mrs. Morrissey and a son, Cliff Jr; 38 grandchildren, including 11 Morrissey’s; and 42 great-grandchildren.

One grandson, Patrick Culligan, turned his grandfather’s saga into an English term paper titled One Man’s Indy 500. “The Memorial Day classic still attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and amateurs still dream of the big time,” the grandson wrote. “Only those who experienced the excitement and the danger of the Indy 500 really know what it’s all about.”

Editor’s Note: Cliff Woodbury would pass away 6 months later, on November 13, 1984 at the age of 90.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

1970 - West Liberty’s Morris captures feature event

Mel Morris proudly holds the checkers after his win at Oskaloosa.
by Ida May Van Gendren
Oskaloosa, Iowa (May 27, 1970) - Mel Morris edged out last week's winner, Pokey West, to capture the 15-lap super stock feature event Wednesday night at the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds.
The first six cars were so close during the main you could put a blanket over them as the cars were averaging around 84 miles per hour around the fast half-mile oval.

With Morris of West Liberty and West of West Chester finishing in the first and second places, it was John Moss of Riverside in third spot. Following them across the finish line were Ron Hemsted of Lone Tree, George Barton of Ankeny, Stan Stover of Reinbeck, Dan Hoffman of Des Moines and Phil Reese of Des Moines.

Bob Helm of Atalissa took home the five-lap trophy dash. George Barton and Ron Perdock were second and third.

The super stocks registered an average of over 84 miles per hour in the first eight-lap heat. It was a bumper to bumper finish with Pokey West, the victor. Next came George Barton, John Moss and Bill Martin of Council Bluffs.

Mel Morris also won the second eight-lap heat. In a race for second place Mark Mosier of Washington edged out fellow townsman, Ron Perdock, and Don Hoffman of Des Moines.

Joel Rasmussen of Ames took starter Jack Thompson’s checkered flag to win the third and final heat race of the evening. Pokey West passed Larry Embrey on the last lap to finish second. Bob Helm was third and Embrey from Grimes was fourth.

The race fans were treated to some fast and furious racing during the six-lap Australian Pursuit. George Barton and Mel Morris were side by side so often it looked as though they were hooked together. Barton managed to hold Morris off until the last lap when Morris sped by him, thereby eliminating Barton to win the race. Ron Hemsted was second and Pokey West third.

Ron Perdock won the 10-lap semi-main by a comfortable margin over Phil Reese. Alan Jones of Ainsworth placed third in his first time on the Oskaloosa track this season.

Results –

Trophy Dash: Bob Helm, Atalissa
First Heat: Pokey West, West Chester
Second Heat: Mel Morris, West Liberty
Third Heat: Joel Rasmussen, Ames
Australian Pursuit: Mel Morris
Consolation: Ron Perdock, Washington
1. Mel Morris
2. Pokey West
3. John Moss, Iowa City
4. Rom Hemsted, Lone Tree
5. George Barton, Ankeny
6. Stan Stover, Reinbeck
7. Don Hoffman, Des Moines
8. Phil Reece, Des Moines

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

1992 - Veteran Jackson Opens with Deery Brothers Win

Marshalltown, Iowa (May 24, 1992) – Veteran late model driver Ron Jackson led 23 of 35 laps en route to capturing the first round of the 1992 Deery Brothers Summer Series for IMCA late models Sunday night at Marshalltown Speedway.
Jackson, from Danville, Iowa, hovered in second place behind hometown favorite Darrel DeFrance through the early stages of the race. However, DeFrance broke an axle on lap 12 and was forced to the pits. Jackson then separated himself from the field by as many as 10 car lengths on the high-banked quarter-mile and looked like an easy winner.
But, a caution on lap 20 tightened the field up again, and allowed another veteran, Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, to battle Jackson at the front. Sanger grabbed the lead once, but was unable to maintain it, and had to settle for second place in the 35-lapper.
A fourth-place finisher in the series’ point standings a year ago, Jackson found the good luck that had eluded him through the first month of the ’92 season.
“We have broken nine of the 14 nights so far this year, so this (win) is a big deal,” Jackson said. About halfway through, I lost a cylinder and was down to seven. I think it was the best thing that could happen.”

Results –

1. Ron Jackson, Danville, Iowa
2. Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
3. Mike Smith, Jewell, Iowa
4. Craig Jacobs, Des Moines
5. Jeff Aikey, Cedar Falls, Iowa
6. Kevin Cale, Donnellson, Iowa
7. Terry Ryan, Davenport, Iowa
8. Kelly Shryock, Story City, Iowa
9. Darin Burco, Independence, Iowa
10. Ray Lundry, Maynard, Iowa
11. Tim Cooney, Corning, Iowa
12. Les Verly, Grundy Center, Iowa
13. Greg Kastli, Waterloo, Iowa
14. Kevin Pittman, Waterloo, Iowa
15. Ron Cochran, Des Moines
16. Lon Mincks, Ottumwa, Iowa
17. Lynn Idler, Ionia, Iowa
18. Gary Pedersen, Rolfe, Iowa
19. Pat Graham, Forest City, Iowa
20. Todd Johnson, Des Moines
21. Darrel DeFrance, Marshalltown, Iowa

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

1984 - Flip Doesn't Stop Amati at Lincoln Park

Putnamville, Ind. (May 23, 1984) - Chuck Amati recovered from a second heat flip to earn a main event starting berth in the same preliminary event and went on to capture the 30-lap feature to highlight Wednesday night's USAC Pre-Indy sprint car show at Lincoln Park Speedway.

Amati tumbled his mount on the backstretch during the second heat, but was able to restart the contest and finish third, behind Buck Boughan and Rick Hood. The performance was god enough to give Amati a feature starting assignment, since the top four in each of the evening's heats automatically transferred into the main event.

Since the feature starting line-up is based on time trial performances, with the six fastest participants inverted at the start, Amati found himself on the pole as the 20-car field was gridded for the 30-lapper.

Greg Staab, who started on the outside, got the jump on Amati as the main began and led the opening circuit, but Amati moved into first place the next time around. Sheldon Kinser and Hood both got around Staab later on the same lap to gain second and third.

Amati then maintained a 10-car length advantage over Kinser and Hood until the 22nd lap when Amati collided with a car he was attempting to lap. Amati got clear of the incident without any damage to his mount but the yellow came out for the first time in the event.

When the green returned, Amati grabbed the lead followed closely by Kinser and Hood. Hood overtook Kinser to gain second on lap 24 and began to challenge the leader. Amati was able to hold off the heat applied by Hood and took the checkered by one-car length. Kinser finished third ahead of Staab, Randy Kinser and Kelly Kinser.

Results -

1. Chuck Amati
2. Rick Hood
3. Sheldon Kinser
4. Greg Staab
5. Randy Kinser
6. Kelly Kinser
7. Tim Bookmiller
8. Leon Thickstun
9. Jack Hewitt
10. Denny Donaldson
11. Leon Gentry
12. Tony Elliot
13. Rodney Ritter
14. Keith Campbell
15. Dave Feese
16. Jerry Russell
17. Buck Boughan
18. Larry Martin
19. Frank Weiss
20. Mike Helm

Monday, May 22, 2017

RIP - Mike Niffenegger 1940 - 2017

Michael Larry Niffenegger was born March 12, 1940 at the Washington County Hospital, the son of Arlis and Muriel I. (Michel) Niffenegger.  He graduated from Kalona High School and on June 17, 1961 he was united in marriage to Joyce Altenhofen at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Richmond. 

Mike was the best husband and dad anyone could ever ask for.  Mike "The Flying Dutchman" was best known for his career as a late model race car driver, and is in the Hall of Fame at Hawkeye Downs, Farley and West Liberty.

Mike sold cars, worked at Slabach Construction and grew 200 acres of tomatos for Heinz.  He was a member of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, and many auto racing associations.  Mike loved to fish, play cards, play pool and visit and entertain his many friends.  In his younger years he was an excellent swimmer and enjoyed playing golf. Spending time with his wife and daughter was very important to Mike.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

1961 - Ramo Stott Wins; Set 3 Stock Marks

Ramo Stott
Cedar Rapids, Iowa (May 21, 1961) - Ramo Stott of Keokuk piloted his 1961 Ford to an International Motor Contest Association world record breaking first place Sunday afternoon in the 200-lap late model stock car race at Hawkeye Downs.
Stott erased 100-mile mark Don White’s of 1 hour and 33 minutes set in 1958 with a time of 1 hour 31 minutes on the fast Downs half-mile dirt oval.
The near capacity crowd saw two other marks shattered during the afternoon. Another Keokuk driver, Dick Hutcherson, also driving a ’61 Ford, set a time trial record of 25.96 seconds to break the 1957 mark of 26.48 held by Johnny Beauchamp. During the time trials, 6 drivers bettered the record 9 different times.
Hutcherson also set a record for 50 miles. He toured the oval in 45 minutes and 20 seconds to better Ernie Derr's 1960 mark of 45 minutes and 41 seconds.
The race was probably the closest ever witnessed on the Hawkeye Downs track with the first 3 drivers - Stott, Hutcherson and Chub Liebe of Oelwein - finishing bumper to bumper.
Hutcherson jumped to a quick lead and was never headed until a pit stop on the 140th lap gave the lead to Stott. He never lost that lead. "Hutch" was turning lap times of between 26 and 26.05 seconds during his lead.
Derr, the defending IMCA champion and current point leader, moved all the way from 5th place at the start of the race up to 2nd at the three-quarter mark, but slipped to 4th again after a pit stop on the 170th lap.
After grabbing the lead at 140 laps, Stott stopped to refuel during the 143rd lap but was still in the lead after returning to the track.
Even though the race was slowed down for 7 laps by the caution flag, Hutcherson and Stott wheeled their cars to record breaking times.

Results -

1. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Dick Hutcherson, Keokuk, Iowa
3. Chub Liebe, Oelwein, Iowa
4. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
5. Johnny Jones, Russell, Minn.
6. Newt Bartholomew, Carlisle, Iowa
7. Bill Moyer, Des Moines
8. Ron Snow, Red Wing, Minn.
9. Roland Wilson, Omaha, Neb.
10. Vern Carmen, Madrid, Iowa
11. Dick Johnson, St. Paul, Minn.
12. Gerry Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
13. Buzz McCann, St. Paul, Minn.
14. Cal Swanson, Reinbeck, Iowa
15. Jerry Draper, East Moline, Ill.
16. Bob Reynolds, Oklahoma City, Okla.
17. Darrell Bradley, Keokuk, Iowa
18. Milo Van Oudenhoven, Kenosha, Wis.
19. Duane Telle, Minneapolis, Minn.
20. Lenny Funk, Otis, Kan.
21. Don Harvey, Rockford, Ill.
22. Jerry McCredie, Keokuk, Iowa
23. Ole Brua, Albert Lea, Minn.
24. Don Bitner, Peoria, Ill.
25. Paul Burrow, Sycamore, Ill.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

1972 - Sanger wins with a Chevy

Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa, accepts the trophy from Darby Orange (left) and Judi Becker (right) after winning the late model feature at the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds in Oskaloosa, Iowa, on Wednesday night, May 17, 1972. — Beetle Bailey Photo
Oskaloosa, Iowa (May 17, 1972) - Ed Sanger of Waterloo was the big winner of the super stock feature Wednesday night at the Southern Iowa Speedway here in Oskaloosa.
Sanger, driving a Chevy, took the lead from Bill Martin on the tenth lap of the 20-lap race; Martin of Council Bluffs managed to hold off a hard-changing John Moss and Sanger thru the first half of the face.

Moss, of Iowa City, was right on Sanger’s bumper when the two cars crossed the finish line. Martin came home a good third ahead of Bill Zwanziger of Waterloo. Ramo Stott of Keokuk and Ron Hemsted of Lone Tree were fifth and sixth respectively.

The drivers were so anxious that the red flag came twice before one lap was even completed. The first when several cars bunched up in the second turn and second when Ramo Stott went off the backstretch.

George Barton of Ankeny, in his first appearance here this year, captured the 15-lap semi-main. Barton took the lead on the sixth lap from Jerry Roberts of Prairie City, who had led the first five laps. Roberts then held the second spot in a three-car bottle with Roger Kruse and Phil Reece. After a mix-up on the last lap that involved a little fender bending, Karl Sanger took second followed by Reece, Kruse, Tim McDonough and Larry Wasserfort.

 Bill Martin led all the way to win the first heat ahead of John Moss. Chris Maurer of Colfax won the second heat with Bill Newman a very close second. Mel Morris led for seven laps before a blown head gasket forced him out of the race.

Bill Beckman took the third heat with a good-sized lead over second place Stott. Ron Hemsted managed to win the fourth heat by holding off Ed Sanger and Dave Chase of Council Bluffs. Sanger and Chase were breathing down Hemsted’s tail pipe all the way.

The race was halted on the seventh lap when Mike Niffenegger, Don Hoffman and Chase tangled in the fourth turn. As they were coming out of the turn, Niffenegger became airborne and flipped wildly down the front straight landing upside down just past the flagman. On his first twisting flip in the air Niffenegger hit the top of the fence post in front of the grandstand, breaking it, but luckily, he didn't go over or thru the fence.

Even those fans that come to see wrecks applauded enthusiastically and heaved a huge sigh of relief when Mike crawled out of the demolished car. Mike received leg and neck injuries, not believed to be serious.

Ed Baker of Norwalk repeated his win of last week when he took the checkered flag for the Sportsman feature victory. Ed Osborn was second followed by Skip Gray of Ottumwa. Tom Johnson of Eldon brought out the red flag when he went sailing thru the third turn outside guard rails. Those steel rails just flew as Johnson plowed thru. He was uninjured in the mishap.

John Moss took over the point lead with 1,010 points. Ed Sanger has 985 and Don Hoffman, 880.


Results –

FIRST HEAT: 1. Bill Martin, Council Bluffs; 2. John Moss, Iowa City; 3. Bill Zwanziger, Waterloo; 4. Curt Hansen, Dike.

SECOND HEAT: 1. Chris Maurer, Colfax; 2. Bill Newman, Burlington; 3. Ron Prymek, Iowa City; 4. Red Droste, Waterloo.

THIRD HEAT: 1. Bill Beckman, Lisbon; 2. Ramo Stott, Keokuk; 3. Ron Perdock, Washington; 4. Randy Sterner, Blair, Nebr.

FOURTH HEAT: 1. Ron Hemsted, Lone Tree; 2. Ed Sanger, Waterloo; 3. Dave Chase, Council Bluffs; 4. Joe Merryfield, Des Moines.

SEMI-MAIN (15 laps): l. George Barton, Ankeny; 2. Karl Sanger, Waterloo; 3. Phil Reece, Des Moines; 4. Roger Kruse, Waterloo; 5. Tim McDonough, Cedar Rapids; 6. Larry Wasserfort, Cedar Falls; 7. Bill McDonough, Cedar Rapids; 8. Joe Schaefer, Waterloo; 9. Ed Mellecker, Iowa City; 10. John Wolf, Toledo.

FEATURE (20 laps): 1. Ed Sanger, 2. John Moss, 3. Bill Martin, 4. Bill Zwanziger, 5. Ramo Stott, 6. Ron Hemsted, 7. Bill Newman, 8. Dave Chase, 9. Red Droste, 10. Curt Hansen.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

1976 – Wolfgang Sweeps Fairmont Sprints

Doug Wolfgang is joined by car owner Bob Trostle after his win at Fairmont Speedway. - Photo courtesy of Todd Kaltved

Fairmont, Minn. (May 14, 1976) – Doug Wolfgang of Des Moines, Iowa, won everything but a lucky number during the sprint car program at Fairmont Speedway on Friday night.

Had the 23-year-old pilot purchased a race program, he probably would have won that also as he scored a clean sweep, winning the trophy dash, heat and 25-lap feature.

Wolfgang’s evening started in the second heat when he put the Trostle-built sprinter into the lead at the start and never looked back, outdistancing Butch Bahr of Grand Island, Neb., by a full straightaway.

The trophy dash was the closest finish of the evening. Bill Mellenberndt of Sioux Falls, S.D. put the “Nashville Club” #97 out front on the first lap and held it until the final turn on the last lap. Coming out of turn four and with the checkered flag in sight, the magneto failed on Mellenberndt’s car and he went abruptly powerless. Wolfgang, who had been running a strong second, dipped low on the inside and sped past for the lead and the win.

In the main event Wolfgang would start 13th, survive a first-lap tangle with Bob Hansen, grabbed the lead on lap 10, and then proceeded to smoke off the competition.

By lap 22, he had built a half lap lead on the rest of the field when the yellow came out for an accident.

On the restart, he put the Van’s Mobile Homes #18 car to work on the high side of the track and three lap later had an eight-car margin on second-place Barry Kettering of Minneapolis.

Bob Hop of Mendota, Minn., would finish third followed by Dick Morris of Sioux City, Iowa, and Dennis Olson of Braham, Minn.

Results –

Heat #1 – Roger Larson, Madison, S.D.
Heat #2 – Doug Wolfgang, Des Moines
Heat #3 – Dick Morris, Sioux City, Iowa
Trophy dash – Doug Wolfgang
Feature –
1. Doug Wolfgang
2. Barry Kettering, Minneapolis
3. Bob Hop, Mendota, Minn.
4. Dick Morris
5. Dennis Olson, Braham, Minn.
6. Roger Larson
7. John Stevenson, St. Paul, Minn.
8. Mike Thomas, Des Moines
9. Daryl Dawley, Sioux Falls, S.D.
10. Butch Bahr, Grand Island, Neb.

Friday, May 12, 2017

1973 – Sutcliffe Sprints to Knoxville Victory

Knoxville, Iowa (May 14, 1973) – Cool weather greeted the Midwest’s top super sprints as they made their second appearance of the ’73 season at the Marion County Fairgrounds on Saturday.
A head-to-head battle was in store for the fans in attendance between Dick Sutcliffe of Greenwood, Mo., and last week’s winner Eddie Leavitt of Kearney, Mo.
Leavitt would jump out to the early lead and it appeared he was well on his way to his second consecutive victory. However, two caution flags for spinouts allowed Sutcliffe to get the jump on Leavitt on the second restart.
Once in the lead, Sutcliffe would run and hide from the rest of the field, lapping all but the top four finishers.
The feature’s two caution flags were brought out first for Roger Larson of Solomon, Kan., who spun in the second turn and clipped the fence. He was uninjured but done for the evening. The second yellow was for Lonnie Jensen of Lincoln, Neb., who spun in the second turn as well and was sidelined for the remainder of the event.
Roger Larson would be fast qualifier in time trials, touring the half-mile in 21.21 seconds. Larson, Sutcliffe and Darry Dawley of Sioux Falls, S.D., were heat winners. Lonnie Jensen won the trophy dash and Bob Fisher of Mount Vernon, Ill., was the consolation winner.

Feature results –
1.     Dick Sutcliffe, Greenwood, Mo.
2.     Eddie Leavitt, Kearney, Mo.
3.     Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
4.     Thad Dosher, Topeka, Kan.
5.     Darryl Dawley, Sioux Falls, S.D.
6.     Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
7.     Larry Kirkpatrick, Wood River, Ill.
8.     Junior Parkinson, Kansas City
9.     Ray Lee Goodwin, Kansas City
10.   Bill Cohee, Topeka, Kan.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

1977 – Sanger tops Tunis season opener

Waterloo, Iowa (May 7, 1977) – Ed Sanger’s initial late model feature win came in the season opener at Tunis Speedway on Sunday night.
Sanger held off a late charge by new teammate Curt Hansen of Dike, Iowa, to take the checkered flag and the top prize of $575. The late model feature usually pays $525 but Aikey Salvage of Cedar Falls, Iowa, kicked in an extra $50.
Four restarts during the course of the 25-lap main event kept cutting the size of Sanger’s lead, and the defending track champion couldn’t shake Hansen.
A red flag on lap 19 allowed the field to catch up with Sanger for a final restart, but the Waterloo, Iowa, veteran pulled away in the final circuits to seal the win.
Hansen, despite a last-ditch effort to pass Sanger, settled for runner-up honors, Red Dralle of Evansdale, Iowa, placed third, with Stan Stover of Reinbeck, Iowa, fourth and Emory Fretheim of Decorah, Iowa, in fifth.
Usually, Tunis Speedway’s feature order is determined by an inverted point standings format, but since this was the season opener, drivers drew for heat positions.
Sanger's victory in the third heat gave him a starting position in the second row for the feature. Gary Crawford of Independence and Stan Stover also won heat races, thus, putting those drivers on the front row for the 25-lapper. Tom Bartholomew of Waterloo, Iowa, won the 15-lap semi-main.
Dan Lake of Washburn, Iowa, was the sportsman feature winner. Lake passed John Weers of Readlyn, Iowa, with only two laps to go to take the victory.
Dick See of Independence, Iowa, won the 10-lap roadrunner race which featured only eight cars.

Results –
Heat #1 – Gary Crawford, Independence
Heat #2 – Stan Stover, Reinbeck
Heat #3 – Ed Sanger, Waterloo
Semi-main – Tom Bartholomew, Waterloo
Feature –
1.     Ed Sanger
2.     Curt Hansen, Dike
3.     Red Dralle, Evansdale
4.     Stan Stover
5.     Em Fretheim, Decorah
6.     Gary Crawford
7.     Dan Nesteby, Waterloo
8.     Denny Osborn, Cedar Falls
9.     Jack Mitchell, Cedar Falls
10.   Karl Sanger, Waterloo

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

1957 – White Takes Night Stock Car Race at Belleville

Don White
Belleville, Kan. (May 3, 1957) - Don White, the 1954 IMCA national stock car champion, set a new track and world record for 200 laps of one hour and 37 minutes for the Belleville half-mile in winning the first nighttime stock-car race ever held here on Saturday. White, driving in 1957 Ford, eclipsed the old track record of one hour and 42 minutes set by Bob McKim in a 1950 Oldsmobile in 1950.

A crowd estimated at more than 4,500 was present for the race. Threatening rain and severe weather forecast a few hours prior to the race were credited with holding the crowd below a full house.

The previous track record for a single lap, set by Ernie Derr at 26.41 seconds in a 1954 Oldsmobile in 1954, was broken three times here Saturday. Bob Burdick in 1957 Ford holds the new single lap record of 25.96 seconds. Derr and Jules “Chub” Liebe both topped the old record with times of 26.22 seconds.

Finishing behind White was Lenny Funk inning 1957 Chevrolet, who finished 197 laps. In third place was Bob Burdick who nudged Bill Chennault. Chennault was writing in third place in his 1957 Chevrolet when he developed engine trouble on the 190th lap and was able to get within a half lap of the finish line when the race ended as White completed 200 laps. Chennault’s engine trouble enabled Burdick to make up enough laps to finish a half-lap ahead for third.

The only accident of the race occurred about one fourth the way through the race as Ernie Derr in his 1957 Pontiac went through the fence as he was coming out of the south turn. Derr was not injured and was leading the race with 44 laps when he went out.

Most observers felt the night races worked out very well as with the race more than three fourths completed only four cars had dropped out.