Thad Dosher is joined by Nebraska State Fair secretary Henry Brandt (far left), country star Jimmy Dean (left) and IMCA official Woody Brinkman (right) after winning the 30-lap IMCA sprint car feature. - Nebraska Racing Hall of Fame photo
Lincoln, Neb. (September 9, 1972) – Thad Dosher, behind the vocal support of country music star Jimmy Dean, won his first International Motor Contest Association sprint car feature Saturday at the Nebraska State Fairgrounds before 5,000 fans.
The 36-year-old Topeka, Kan., driver a friend of Dean’s for 10 years, survived a gallant rally by Kansas City’s Dick Sutcliffe to win the 30-lap main event.
“Jimmy didn’t make the difference in the race,” Dosher said of Dean, “but it sure doesn’t hurt having someone like that in your corner.”
Dean, who first met Dosher at a sprint car race in Hutchinson, Kan., in 1962, was behind his Kansas friend the whole way. Dosher also captured the first heat and the STP trophy dash in record fashion. He had the day’s fifth fastest qualifying time.
Before the feature started, Dean, who performed Saturday night, yelled down to Dosher from the infield press box.
“I don’t want to put any pressure on you, but if you don’t win the feature, I lose my wife, the house, and kids.”
Dosher, who was never lower than second place, responded with his first IMCA-sanctioned win after what he says has been more than a hundred tries.
He almost didn’t get the first one the way thee hard-charging Sutcliffe was driving. Dosher started on the pole and trailed Kansas City’s Jay Woodside from laps 2 through 8 before taking the lead for good.
Sutcliffe, meanwhile, worked his way from his 13th starting position at the start of the race to challenge Dosher three times on the last two laps.
“He came from nowhere,” Dosher allowed, “but there was nothing I could do. I had my foot on the gas as hard as I could all the way.” Sutcliffe lost by one car length. He was, at the midway point of the race, a half a lap behind.
“I needed another caution flag,” said Sutcliffe.
“Woodside was blowing oil,” he noted, “and I couldn’t see. Another caution flag and I’m sure I could have more than made up the difference.”
Sutcliffe followed Woodside for six laps midway in the race before moving up to second after he pulled into the pits with a blown engine.
Two cars which figured prominently in the early going failed to finish. Eddie Leavitt of Kearney, Mo., the day’s fourth fastest qualifier and winner of the consolation, left on lap 10 after running third for the first nine laps and Ray Lee Goodwin of Kansas City, winner of two Nebraska State Fair races, also left on lap 10 after his engine seized up on him.
Dosher was behind the wheel of a car he had only driven once before.
“I drove it last Sunday in the 100-lapper at Sedalia and finished third behind David James and Woodside, he said of the R&H Farms car out of Williams, Iowa.
1. Thad Dosher, Topeka, Kan.
2. Dick Sutcliffe, Greenwood, Mo.
3. Gene Gennetten, Gladstone, Mo.
4. Chuck Amati, Greenfield, Tenn.
5. Steve Schultz, Chillicothe, Mo.
6. Tom Corbin, Carrollton, Mo.
7. Dick Forbrook, Morgan, Minn.
8. Buzz Rose, Compton, Calif.
9. Stan Borofsky, Raytown, Mo.
10. Bill Burks, Marion, Ill.