Cedar Rapids, Iowa (September 11, 1980) – Don Hobbs of Whiteland, Ind., took the lead on the 90th lap Sunday night and went on to win the $30,000 National Dirt Racing Association feature race at Hawkeye Downs Speedway.
Hobbs, who Friday lowered the qualifying record with a one-lap time of 23.19 seconds, took the lead from Rodney Combs of Loveland, Ohio, and sailed home the victor in the first-ever NDRA show in the upper Midwest.
Hobbs started on the pole of the 24-car field but fell back quickly to third near the beginning of the race and stayed there until the final 10 laps of the race.
Tom Helfrich of Haubstadt, Ind., led the first 86 circuits before he pulled into the pits with mechanical issues on the 87th lap. Helfrich set a blistering pace, continually padding his lead over the second-place Combs to more than 10 seconds before he was forced out of competition.
Combs would inherited the top spot, however, he would be unable to fend of the hard-charging Hobbs. Hobbs won the event despite the fact that a spark plug wire came off on the first lap of the race and he drove the entire race on only seven cylinders.
Two drivers who started at the tail-end of the 24-car field came out the fans’ favorites – and one of them was local, Curt Hansen of Dike, Iowa. The other was David Speer of Campbellsville, Kent.
Hansen qualified for the feature race by finishing third in the fourth of six 20-lap heats on Friday night. He thus earned the 19th spot in the starting field.
Speer’s qualification was perhaps the most spectacular off the two-day show, the second day of which was pushed back to Sunday because of a Saturday rain that left the Hawkeye Downs’ half-mile a muddy quagmire.
Speer finished fourth behind Hansen in the heat race and was force to start the 50-lap consolation event which proceeded the feature. Only the top three cars qualified for the feature.
After starting the consolation in second behind Johnny Johnson of Morning Sun, Iowa, Speers would blow a tire on lap 29, leaving everyone to believe his day was finished. After changing the tire, Speers, starting at the rear, would mount a charge to the front. By lap 32 he was in ninth, passed three cars to take over sixth by lap 35, took fourth two laps later and moved into the final qualifying spot on lap 44. He would hold that position until the checkers, earning a solid round of applause from the Hawkeye Downs’ fans.
Hansen and Speers advanced steadily through the pack with Speers getting around Hansen in the final few laps to take third while Hansen settled for fourth. Jim Curry of Norman, Ind., would round out the top five.
Ten states and Canada were represented in the feature field. Iowa led with seven cars, Indiana and Ohio each had three, and Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Nebraska each had one. Tom Nesbitt of Thunder Bay, Ontario, was the Canadian representative.
Time Trials – Don Hobbs, Whiteland, Ind. (23.19)
First Heat – Rodney Combs, Loveland, Ohio
Second Heat – Pete Parker, Kaukauna, Wis.
Third Heat – Fulmer Lance, Washington, Ga.
Fourth Heat – Leon Plank, Mondovi, Wis.
Fifth Heat – Larry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
Sixth Heat – Larry Moore, Dayton, Ohio
Consolation – Johnny Johnson, Morning Sun, Iowa
1. Don Hobbs
2. Rodney Combs
3. David Speer, Campbellsville, Ky.
4. Curt Hansen, Dike, Iowa
5. Jim Curry, Norman, Ind.
6. Leon Plank
7. Tom Hearst, Wilton, Iowa
8. Larry Phillips
9. Denny Osborn, Cedar Falls, Iowa
10. Dick Taylor, Springfield, Ill.
11.J erry Inmon, Bruce, Miss.
12. Fulmer Lance
13. Mike Wallace, Valley Park, Mo
14. Tom Nesbitt, Thunder Bay, Ontario
15. Johnny Johnson
16. Joe Kosiski, Omaha, Neb.
17. Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
18. Tom Helfrich, Haubstadt, Ind.
19. Russ Lyman, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
20. Larry Moore
21. Brad Malcuit, Strasbourg, Ohio
22. Don Hoffman, Des Moines
23. Pete Parker
24. Leon Archer, Griffin, Ga.