Iowa - In 1982 the legendary Knoxville Raceway known for sprint car racing
hosted two big dirt late model races, one in the spring and one at the end of
first of these events was held on April 24 & 25, with the running of the
Casey’s General Store sponsored event that was labeled “Super Race I”. The
purse of over $50,000 paid $12,500 to win the late model feature and $5,000 to
win the limited late model show. Freddy
Smith of Kings Mountain, North Carolina got things started on the first night
by setting a new track record in qualifying of 20.051 seconds. Limited late
model heats went to Larry Moore of Dayton, Ohio, Ron Schreiner of Eleva,
Wisconsin and Jerry Holtkamp of Williams, Iowa. The
preliminary feature in the limited late models saw Moore take home the win with
Don Hoffman of Des Moines, Iowa second followed by Schreiner, Holtkamp and Mike
Smith of Ellsworth, Iowa. Bill
Rice of Des Moines, Tom Nesbitt of Thunder Bay, Ontario and Kevin Gundaker of
St. Louis picked up late model heat wins. Tom Nesbitt came home the winner in
the preliminary late model feature with Dhon Hauserman of Wichita, Kansas,
Larry Moore, Rodney Combs of Lost Creek, West Virginia and Freddy Smith
rounding out the top five. Boggs would finish seventh. On
Sunday night, Mike Smith beat Don Hoffman in the 5-lap limited late model
trophy dash. In the 40-lap, $5,000 to win limited late model feature it was
once again Larry Moore taking the win followed by Hoffman, Bob Shryock of
Estherville, Iowa, Holtkamp and Gundaker. Black
Jack Boggs of Grayson, Kentucky held off Rodney Combs to win the late model
trophy dash and then came back and once again bested Combs in the 50-lap
feature to take home a $12,500 paycheck. Following Boggs and Combs were Kenny
Walton of Viola, Iowa, Tom Hearst of Wilton, Iowa, Ray Guss Sr. of Coal Valley,
Illinois and Freddy Smith. On
Saturday, September 4, the late models returned to Knoxville for the Autumn
Spectacular. Also, racing were limited late models and street stocks. Billy
Moyer, Jr. of Des Moines blistered the famous half-mile as he set a new late
model qualifying time of 19.718 second just two seconds off the track record
for 410 sprint cars. Rich
Beebe of Overland Park, Kansas won the first heat over Moyer and Tom
Bartholomew of Waterloo. Fred Strube of Peoria, Illinois won the second heat
followed by Roger Chambers of Yates City, Kansas and Joe Kosiski of Omaha. Sunday’s
program was washed out and these races were rescheduled for Sunday, September
field of 27 late models, 21 limited late models and 21 street stocks returned
to Knoxville for the rescheduled final night of racing. For most of the 50-lap
feature it looked like a run away for Moyer as he built up a quarter lap lead
over second place Steve Kosiski of Omaha, but with three laps to go Des Moines’
Don Hoffman ran out of gas bringing out the yellow and allowing Kosiski to
close to the back bumper of Moyer. Kosiski
made the most of his new-found fortune and passed Moyer on the last lap to win
the event and take home the $4,000 first prize. Following Kosiski and Moyer to
the line were Kosiski’s brother Joe Kosiski in third and Rick Beebe finished
Dralle of Evansdale was the apparent winner in the limited late model feature
but was found to be 70 pounds light and the win was awarded to Dave Farren of
Des Moines with Denny Rosenberg of Grimes getting second and Martin Bennett of
Des Moines third. The Street Stock feature found the first three finishers
disqualified for having to wide of tires and the win went to fourth place
finisher Ted Swartslander of Des Moines. A
crowd of approximately 1,500 fans attended the Sunday event.
By Kyle Ealy Waterloo, Iowa – On June 22, 1964, Ira “Speed” Chumley died after suffering a heart attack while driving on old Highway 218 just north of Washburn, Iowa. Chumley was 59 years of age.
For the northern Iowa auto racing community, it was a tough blow. Chumley not only raced and owned cars, but along with Judd Tunis, was instrumental in getting Tunis Speedway started in 1948. It was Chumley who convinced Tunis that Waterloo needed a quarter-mile race track.
Chumley was so well respected in racing circles he was twice elected president of local racing clubs. In the mid 50’s, Chumley was elected president of the Hawkeye Racing Association and in the early 60’s, he was head of the Cedar-Loo Racing Association, a position he held until his death.
To honor Chumley’s memory, Judd Tunis decided that the mid-season championship at Tunis Speedway would carry a new name.
“The Speed Chumley Memorial” was born…
On Sunday, July 12, 1964, the first annual Speed Chumley Memorial took place at Tunis Speedway. A capacity crowd of 6,649 watched Lu Vern “Red” Droste of Waterloo, dominate the evening’s program.
Droste, the current point leader, started on the pole and led all 50 laps, winning in record time. In winning his seventh feature of the year, Droste lowered the quarter-mile record for 50 laps from 15 minutes and 50 seconds to 15 minutes and 24 seconds.
Mert Williams of Rochester, Minn., finished a distant second to Droste and Verlin Eaker of Blooming Prairie, Minn., took third. Lee Kunzman of Guttenberg, Iowa, grabbed fourth and Bill Zwanziger of Waterloo, rounded out the top five.
John Connolly of Delhi, Iowa, set a new 10-lap heat record, winning in 3 minutes and 2 seconds, besting the old mark of 3 minute and 4 seconds.
John Connolly would win the second annual Speed Chumley Memorial on July 11, 1965. Like Droste the year before, Connolly, the current point leader, started on the pole and led all 50 circuits. Droste, who started alongside Connolly, held second place for the first 35 laps before developing mechanical issues and dropping back, where he finished in fourth place.
Verlin Eaker slipped in when Droste fell back and took runner-up honors. Mert Williams, Droste and Charlie Moffitt rounded out the top five.
Joe Wurst of Blooming Prairie, Minn., was a double winner, copping the first heat and the consolation. Charlie Moffitt may have been second in the point standings behind Red Droste, but that didn’t deter the Stanwood, Iowa, driver when the green flag dropped on the third annual Speed Chumley Memorial on July 17, 1966.
Moffitt roared to the lead and never looked back in winning the 50-lap mid-season championship. The victory was a popular one with the 5,300 in attendance.
Droste would settle for second (but still maintain his point’s lead) while Mert Williams would grab third place. Roger Klingfus and Gale Card, both of Waterloo, won heat races as did Verlin Eaker. Ty Barger of Cedar Falls, Iowa, won the 35-lap consolation.
The fourth annual Speed Chumley Memorial produced its fourth different winner as Cal Swanson of Reinbeck, Iowa, copped the 50-lap mid-season title on July 16, 1967. Bob Hilmer of Dysart, Iowa, finished second after dueling with Swanson for the top spot.
Point leader Red Droste led the first 35 laps of the race and appeared certain of victory when his engine overheated and he was forced to the sidelines.
Chub Liebe of Oelwein, Iowa, took third behind Swanson and Hilmer with Mert Williams in fourth and “Big” Tom Hughes of Monticello, Iowa, finishing fifth.
You never counted Red Droste out…no matter what.
That proved to be the case at the fifth annual Speed Chumley Memorial on July 28, 1968. A crowd of 6,000, the largest at Tunis in nearly five years, watched Droste survive an early-race accident to win the 50-lap mid-season championship.
Droste, the point’s leader at Tunis, was involved in a collision with Mert Williams on the second lap of the 50-lap race, momentarily halting the race. According to the rules, any driver involved in an accident, goes to the rear of the field. So, Droste restarted at the rear of the 17-car field.
Droste would rally, steadily working his way through the field and eventually getting by Dr. Al Mayner of Winthrop, Iowa, for the lead with 10 laps to go. He would have a half lap lead when the checkers waved. Mayner grabbed second while defending champion Cal Swanson took third.
Another new winner graced victory lane for the sixth annual Speed Chumley Memorial on July 27, 1969. A young driver who was quickly making a name for himself, would take the win as 2,446 fans looked on.
Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, won the 50-lap mid-season title, his fifth feature win of the season, ahead of his brother Karl, who earned second-place money. Paul Fitzgerald of Rochester, Minn., would claim third place. Both Sangers were also heat winners as was Dave Maxson of Cedar Falls.
While Red Droste had been the dominant driver at Tunis Speedway in the 60’s, Ed Sanger was quickly cementing his reputation as the man to beat as the 70’s was getting underway.
The season-long point’s leader at Tunis, Sanger would successfully defend his Speed Chumley Memorial title, winning the 50-lapper on July 19, 1970.
Sanger would have to earn the win, however, as Glen Martin would grab the lead at the start and hold on to it for the first 21 circuits. Sanger, who was playing bumper tag with Martin the whole time, finally got around the Independence, Iowa, veteran and then storm away from the rest of the field en route to a $400 payday.
Sanger, driving a 1970 yellow Monte Carlo, virtually ran away with the race after Martin fell out of contention, lapping every car in the 18-car field except runner-up Jerry LeCroy of Des Moines. Waterloo's Bill Zwanziger, who fought off Sanger's lapping effort until the 49th circuit, finished third with Dave Bedard of LaPorte City, Iowa crossing the line in fourth.
Karl Sanger of Waterloo and Bill McDonough of Cedar Rapids put on the best show of the feature event, battling side-by-side and bumper-to-bumper for nearly 40 rounds before Sanger finally edged away for the fifth-place spot, leaving McDonough in sixth.
If all the other drivers at Tunis Speedway thought “Fast Eddie” Sanger was tough to beat coming from the rear of the field, imagine their disappointment when they saw Sanger sitting on the pole position for the 50-lap feature event of the seventh annual Speed Chumley Memorial on July 11, 1971.
Sanger, on the pole for the first time that season, charged away at the opening green flag and was never seriously challenged through the 40 laps as he picked up the $550 first prize.
Sanger, the point’s leader at the season’s midway point, inherited the pole because the mid-season championship featured a regular start opposed to the inverted start Sanger was accustomed to during weekly races.
The Waterloo ace, who had won five of the eight features, shot into the lead and won going away, prevailing by a quarter lap margin over Stan Stover of Reinbeck, Iowa. Curt Hansen of Dike, Iowa, finished third and Red Dralle of Evansdale, Iowa, took fourth. Roger Kruse of Independence finished fifth – the rest of the 19-car field was lapped by Sanger.
A Sanger would win the eighth annual Speed Chumley Memorial, but it was Karl, not Ed, who was in victory lane after winning the 50-lap mid-season title. The only driver to win more than one late model feature at Tunis that season, Karl wasted little time in moving from his front row outside starting position to the lead on the first lap.
He would never surrender the top spot, leading all 50 laps, en route to $650 payday - $400 for the win and $250 in lap money. Sanger would win by five car-lengths ahead of Glen Martin – but the distance was deceiving.
Twice during the contest, Karl had built up sizeable leads only to have restarts tighten the pack. Early in the race, he was leading by six car lengths when his brother blew a tire, bringing out the caution flag. On lap 34, D. Arthur Nesteby and Dave Bedard tangled, forcing another restart.
Curt Hansen of Dike had run second on most of the laps between the two restarts, but on the second restart, Martin slipped by into the spot behind Sanger and Hansen never caught up, settling for third. Stan Stover and Jim Burger of Cedar Falls completed the top five.
Curt Hansen had been paying his dues over the last few years and the Dike, Iowa, youngster was starting to see dividends. The hot shoe had won the mid-season title on Saturday at Independence, Iowa, and his good fortune continued on Sunday, July 15, 1973, winning the Speed Chumley Memorial.
Driving a new Chevrolet, Hansen started on the outside of the front row alongside point leader Stan Stover. Stover jumped out to the lead and led for the first 45 circuits of the scheduled 50-lapper. Hansen would patiently wait for Stover to slip up and with five laps to go, Stover drifted high in between turns three and four, allowing Hansen to slip into first place and eventually claiming the mid-season championship.
Stover would recover to take runner-up honors while Karl Sanger, Tom Bartholomew and Bob Hesse, all of Waterloo, rounded out the top five finishers.
The 1974 Speed Chumley Memorial, held on July 14, would be marred by a serious accident that left one driver in critical condition and the program cut short for the evening.
On lap 38 of the 50-lap late model mid-season championship, the accelerator on Roger Klingfus’ car stuck, causing his car to go off the first turn, through a fence and straight into the pit area.
Klingfus’ car collided with Dennis Peters’ parked roadrunner machine, which was parked 100 yards beyond the retaining wall, critically injuring the 20-year-old Peters who was pinned between two race cars.
The race was called at that point and race leader Tom Bartholomew of Waterloo, Iowa, was declared the winner.
Peters would spend nine hours in surgery at Allen Memorial Hospital. The Denver, Iowa, resident sustained multiple fractures of both legs and severe injuries to the lower body. Klingfus, himself, was treated for shock at Scholtz Memorial Hospital and released.
After he and other track officials were able to clear out a throng of curious on-lookers from the roadrunner pits and get the crash victims on ambulances, promoter Claus Stricker met with the 12 drivers still left in the Chumley Memorial, who agreed to call it a race after 38 laps instead of continuing it next Sunday. The roadrunner feature, which was to be run after the 50-lapper, was postponed until the following Sunday.
The tragedy-marred victory was one of the biggest wins of Bartholomew's career. The crowd of 2,700 witnessed Bartholomew lead the entire race after electing to start on the pole position. Bartholomew, the point-leader going into the race, had the option of starting at the back of an inverted top 10 order (outside of the fifth row) and gun for a $250 bonus to win or start on the inside of the front row.
The 1974 mid-season championship would be the last one billed as the Speed Chumley Memorial. Tunis Speedway would stop weekly racing in 1979.
Neb. - In the last few years, considerable effort has been given to documenting
the early years of NASCAR. What many fans are unaware of is that before IMCA
became a grass roots racing series famous for its sanctioning of over 100
weekly racing tracks across the country, it had a stock car series that for
many years rivaled its southern counterpart, NASCAR.
International Motor Contest Association (IMCA), organized in 1915, is the
oldest active automobile racing sanctioning body in the United States.J. Alex Sloan, a native of Pittsburgh, Pa.,
was instrumental in establishing the IMCA, and for years ran more races than
all other promoters in the United States combined, all under IMCA sanction.
After Sloan’s death in 1937, his son John
continued the IMCA tradition.Under his
leadership, IMCA continued to grow and reports suggest that IMCA held its first
late model stock car race on November 9, 1947 in Lubbock, Tex. Certainly, the
first recorded season of IMCA stock cars was 1949.
late models are all specially constructed frames, mass produced on a jig at a
chassis companies such as Rocket, MastersBilt, GRT or whomever. In 1949, when
IMCA conducted its first year of stock car racing, many of the cars were
ordinary passenger cars were driven to the track with license plates remaining
on the car during the race.
As you will see in this story, many car
companies were represented, some of which have been all but forgotten. What’s a
Kaiser-Frasier you ask, how about a Willy’s? A Nash won several stock car races,
you have to be kidding!
about that first IMCA stock car season is certainly not complete, but while no
points were kept, we do know that it is well documented that Eddie Anderson of
Grinnell, Iowa was declared the first IMCA stock car champion.
first race of the season was held at the Mid-America Fairgrounds on May 30,
which became the traditional Topeka Memorial Day Race.Bob McKim of Salina, Kan., won the 200-lap
feature in an Oldsmobile 88 owned by Ron Rice. Ray Rutman finished second,
Eldon Burkeholder took third and Frank Winkley was fourth.
and his wife Verna would later form Auto Racing, Inc. (ARI) and for many years
promoted IMCA events. The other group that promoted IMCA sanctioned events for
years was National Speedways, Inc. led by Al Sweeney.
Herschel Buchanan receive congratulations from IMCA promoter Al Sweeney.
is also reported that Hershel Buchanan of Shreveport, Louisiana won a race at
the Louisiana State Fairgrounds in a Nash on the same day that may have been an
IMCA sanctioned event. Buchanan had spent a number of years racing in the IMCA big
car (sprint car) division prior to racing stock cars. In 1950 and 1951 Buchanan
won the IMCA stock car championship.
July 4, the IMCA stock cars ran a 200-lap race at the Kansas State Fairgrounds
at Hutchinson with McKim leading 96 laps in his 1940 Oldsmobile 88 (which
carried the number 88), prevailing again before 8,000 fans. Norm Horn finished
second, Jim Roper third, Herschel Buchanan fourth and Don Smith fifth.
in the field was Nick Nachicas. Nachicas would later work for Winkley and ARI
serving as an announcer of IMCA events for many years.
for Jim Roper, that’s the same Jim Roper from Halstead, Kan., that won the
first ever NASCAR strictly stock car race on June 19, 1949 at the three
quarter-mile Charlotte Speedway. Roper pulled a Lincoln all the way to
Charlotte, N.C., and ran second to Glenn Dunaway. Roper was awarded the win
when Dunaway was disqualified for illegal use of rear springs.
The first National
Speedways, Inc., sanctioned stock car race took place on August 20, 1949 at
Cedar Rapids, Iowa with Glen Dunaway of North Carolina winning in an
Oldsmobile. Yes, the same Glenn Dunaway that was disqualified at Charlotte.
A tremendous crowd of 14,000 jam-packed the All-Iowa Fair grandstand and watched Dunaway push his black 1949 Oldsmobile coupe around the half-mile 200 times in 2 hours and 22 minutes. He finished two laps ahead of Herschel Buchanan.
"Wild" Bill Harrison of Topeka, Kan. - Photo courtesy of Troy Harrison
August 21, Wild Bill Harrison of Topeka, Kansas drove his Lincoln to the 200-lap
feature win at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa, before
7,052 curious fans. Glen Dunaway followed in an Oldsmobile with Buchanan third
in his 46’ Nash. The race took 2 hours, 9 minutes and 30
seconds to complete.
23 saw the series back at Topeka, Jim Roper of Great Bend, Kansas winning a 200-lap
feature in a Lincoln.Three days later,
on August 26, Herschel Buchanan drove his Nash to victory at the Sioux Empire
Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls.
September 1, 1949, Anderson came alive and drove his 1949 Mercury to a 200-lap
victory at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines defeating highly touted
Herschel Buchanan.The car Anderson
drove had been wrecked in a highway accident near Grinnell, and Anderson took
possession of the car from the insurance company only five days before the
September 2, at the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, Tom Adelman of
Minneapolis drove his 1948 Kaiser-Fraiser to a win in the 200-lap event. Bill
Harrison in a Lincoln and Wally Dahl in a Ford finished second and third.
Anderson scored another win on September 4, at the All-Iowa Fair in Cedar
Rapids, Jack Morgan of Duenwig, Mo., ran second driving a 1941 Mercury with
Dick Hobel of Cedar Rapids third in a Buick and Harlan Young of Anamosa, Iowa
fourth in a 1940 Willys.
Buchanan, who set fast time by blistering the half-mile in 34.765 seconds, finished
fifth after making a couple of pit stops. Anderson’s winning time was 2 hours, 10
minutes and 35 seconds.
IMCA Stock Cars roll down the front stretch at the Nebraska State Fair. A standing room only crowd eagerly awaits the action.
September 9, at the Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln, Eddie Anderson continued
his winning ways once again taking a 200-lap win pocketing $500 for his
efforts. Herschel Buchanan brought his Nash home second, Wayne Selzer of Omaha
was third in a Ford and open-wheel ace Frank Luptow ran fourth.
kept his streak going by winning the 200-lap race at Topeka, Kansas on October
2. He then added yet another win on October 9 back at Hawkeye Downs where he completed
the 200-lap affair in 2 hours and 20 minutes with Don Fischer in a '46 Ford
finishing second and Sonny Ebsen in a '41 Mercury third.
final event of the season was run on October 26 at the Louisiana State
Fairgrounds in Shreveport with Buddy Keith winning in a 1939 Lincoln. For a
good part of the 29 years that the IMCA stock car series raced, the series
started the season and ended the season in Shreveport.
were several other IMCA events that were reported ran in 1949, but no reliable
information is available on those events. In the end, we know that Eddie
Anderson in his wrecked '49 Mercury was the class of the field and usually had
to battle Herschel Buchanan in his Nash for the win.
IMCA stock car series grew to be the leading series in the Midwest for many
years and in the beginning rivaled NASCAR. IMCA races at the various state
fairs routinely drew 20,000 or more fans. Ernie Derr became a legend in the
series, winning 12 IMCA national stock car championships, but in the end the
series faded into history with 1977 being its last year of competition.
Tenn. (October 18, 1981) – Bob Schacht of Lombard, Ill., grabbed the victory in
the Nashville ARCA 100 at Nashville International Raceway.
was moved to Sunday afternoon after the rain washed out the program on Saturday
night. Only the time trials got in under the threatening skies.
also played havoc for Billie Harvey, the current world record holder in a stock
car. He would set a new track record on Saturday evening with a time of 20.54
seconds, erasing Marvin Smith’s 1979 record of 20.79 seconds.
Harvey had a
commitment to compete in an All-Pro event on Sunday and wasn’t able to race
against the ARCA stars.
Schacht on the pole by virtue second fastest time in qualifying. Schacht led
until lap 51 when he pitted under caution to replace a flat rear right tire.
Chicago’s Bob Dotter, the 1980 ARCA champion, then inherited the lead when the
green flag reappeared.
Smith and 1981 ARCA champ Larry Moyer ran nose to tail for the next 40
circuits, with Schacht slowly making his way back to the front of the field.
On lap 77,
Bobby Jacks blew an engine and took 19-year-old Jerry Bowman with him into the
turn one wall. The red flag was displayed, putting Schacht five cars behind the
made his move to get by the next three cars shortly after the red flag period,
moved up on Dotter’s bumper on lap 92. He then moved into the lead when
Dotter’s throttle linkage broke and went on to victory.
Summit, Mo. (October 11, 1980) – The 1980 racing season came to an
action-packed end at Capital Speedway when over 65 late models competed in the
Goodyear Missouri Nationals.
qualifying heats, and a handicap race were held on Friday night. On Saturday
night, two consolation races were followed by twin 50-lap features.
of Viola, Iowa, set a new track record, turning the 3/8-mile in 20 seconds
fastest qualifiers, Ken Walton, Kevin Gundaker of St. Louis, Dick Schiltz of
Waterloo, Iowa, Leon Plank of Eau Claire, Wis., Ron Jackson of Burlington,
Iowa, and Mike Niffenegger of Kalona, Iowa, competed in a six-lap handicap race
with Niffenegger posting a flag-to-flag victory.
of Centuria, Ill., and Dalton Walker of Curryville, Mo., won their respective
consolation races on Saturday night, enabling them to enter the field for the
twin 50-lap features.
In the first
feature race, Ken Walton jumped to an early lead when the green flag dropped
with Kevin Gundaker right behind. Gundaker would take the lead on lap 4 and
maintained it for the next 15 circuits until bowing again to Walton. Gundaker,
charging hard, got together with Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, between
turns three and four and had to be towed to the pit area with front end damage.
continued to lead the field for the next 25 laps but the victory wasn’t to be
his. A broken spring would slow Walton with only five laps to go allowing Mike
Niffenegger to inherit the top spot and go home with the $1,000 paycheck and
trophy. Walton would settle for second with Billy Moyer Jr. of Des Moines in
third, Ron Jackson in fourth and Ken Schrader of Fenton, Mo., in fifth.
feature saw the top six finishers of the first 50-lapper inverted in the front
of the field with the other late model competitors filling in according to
their finish in the first feature.
took the lead at the green with Ron Jackson a close second. Jackson would
charge ahead on lap 4 only to lose the top spot to Bill Martin of Council
Bluffs, Iowa, for one lap. Jackson would get by Martin on lap 6 and hold it for
the final 44 tours to take home the other $1,000 check and trophy.
For the second
time that evening, Ken Walton found himself finishing second with Niffenegger,
Schrader, and Larry Phillips of Springfield, Mo., rounding out the top five.
So much racing history has been made through the years right here in the Midwest.
From the rich dirt ovals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska to the paved short tracks in Minnesota and Wisconsin, some of the best drivers ever to get behind the wheel of a race car competed right here in the heartland.
We all have our own story to share about our favorite driver who thrilled us everytime they rolled onto the track or that one particular race that still stands out as the greatest they ever saw.
We'll go back in history, 10, 20, 30, 40, even 50 years ago (even more) and reminisce about what has made racing in the Midwest so special for us.