Friday, February 22, 2019

The 1962 IMCA Winter National Sprints

By Kyle Ealy

Tampa, Fla. – Four days of racing would be in store at the Florida State Fairgrounds’ half-mile, Plant Field, February 7-17.

A split-decision in the pits and the absence of a cigar-chewing veteran would play a key role in the season opener on February 7 as the IMCA sprint cars kicked off the 1962 campaign before a chilly crowd of 5,200.

The wrong selection of tires by Pete Folse, a Tampa resident, allowed the hard-charging Jerry Richert of Forest Lake, Minn., to cop the main event. Richert would win the 20-lap feature on the white flag lap, nosing out Johnny White of Warren, Mich. Johnny Rutherford of Fort Worth, Tex., driving the Beatson Special, took third and Folse, driving the legendary Honore Deuce, finished fourth.

Despite the finish, Folse was still able to crack a “wait until next time” grin afterwards. “I couldn’t get enough bite on the track,” was his explanation.

Folse had won his heat and the trophy dash that afternoon, both in high fashion, using knobby tires. He had found a cushion on the high side of the track and had been riding the groove the whole way in both races. “And that’s the way I had planned to run the feature,” he said.

Richert had other plans, though…

“I was using I.V. slicks and decided to keep to the inside groove the whole way,” he said. I sort of felt Pete couldn’t keep to the cushion the whole time, the track changes too much after every race.”

Richert proved to be correct as early on Folse stayed with the lead pack but at the halfway point, the groove on the high side disappeared and Folse was forced to move to the low side of the track and spend the remainder of the race blocking cars just so he could maintain his fourth position.

“Well, we ran the right race for half the distance,” he remarked. Only problem was, it was the wrong half.”

Despite the fact that the majority of drivers agreed that it was one of the strongest fields in recent Winter Nationals memory, there was definitely something missing. Emmett “Buzz” Barton of Tampa, had decided to retire from racing at the end of 1961 and his absence was felt. Barton and Folse had put on some memorable races at the fairgrounds the last three seasons.

The crowd was brought to their feet twice with nerve-shattering flips.

Ernie Borelli, a 23-year-old driver from Brooklyn, N.Y., climbed his Chevy up the north wall, knocking out several panels. He was pulled from the wreckage undaunted, unfazed and unhurt.

The second flip involved a special four-wheel drive engine piloted by none other than the oldest active driver in the field, “The Kentucky Colonel”, 53-year-old Bert Hellmueller of Louisville.

Hellmueller also wowed the fans with his own version of wall climbing, this time on the south wall. His Ranger Special #48 slammed the retaining wall, flipped twice, and coughed up the veteran, spilling him on the center of the track. His safety harness had snapped, and he was in danger of getting hit by traffic.

It was then that oncoming Ed Terry of Plainfield, N.J., spared Hellmueller’s life. “I saw a body flipping in the air, so I intentionally spun my car, so everyone would avoid hitting him…and I’d do it again.”

Thirty-five cars timed in with Herschel Wagner fastest at 26.35 seconds. Heat winners were Mickey Shaw of Berea, Ohio, Peete Folse, and Dick Hope of Tampa. Folse won the match race while Richert won the consolation.


A 42-year-old grandfather would be the class of the field on Saturday, February 10. Herschel Wagner combined the skill of a veteran with the spirit of a rookie to win the 25-lap feature in record time.

A record crowd of 10,664 watched the Hickman Hills, Mo., driver break a five-year-old track record with his new time of 11 minutes and 45 seconds. The previous record had been held by Bobby Grim, who set the record in February of 1957, a time of 11 minutes and 50 seconds.

Wagner found the groove high on the outside and proceeded to paint the concrete retaining wall and top board fence with hundreds of pounds of dirt thrown from his digging tires. He passed all but two of the 16 drivers in the field before starter Johnny Hicks gave him the checkered flag.

After the race, Wagner commented that the deep digging knobbies made all the difference. “I decided to stick with the knobbies no matter what. The last time (Wednesday) I did it, I lost out.”

While Wagner was way out front, two Midwestern drivers staged another wheel-to-wheel battle. Much like Wednesday’s show, Jerry Richert, and runner-up Johnny White, were bumping and grinding on each other. This time, however, White, driving the Chet Wilson #71 Offy, would get the best of Richert, piloting the McDonald #63 Offy.

Pete Folse was dogged again by mis-fortune. He burned a piston in the second heat and never fully recovered, missing the main event.

Heat races were won by Mickey Shaw, Arnie Knepper of Belleville, Ill., and Al Logan of Los Angeles, Calif. Bud Sterrett of Los Angeles, driving the other Chet Wilson Offy, won not only the 5-lap match race but the 10-lap consolation as well.

You can’t keep a good man down and everyone knew, sooner or later, that Pete Folse would get his licks in.

Before a crowd of 5,500, the three-time IMCA national champ took Johnny Hick’s green flag and ran away from the field, leading all 20 laps on Wednesday, February 14. Saturday’s winner, Herschel Wagner, lined up behind Folse and followed in the winner’s shadow the whole distance. The time of the race was 9 minutes and 27 seconds.

Folse had several things going for him after two dreadful showings the previous outings. He geared low for a quicker getaway and he had a pair of dragster tires with a special tread on the rear wheels.

The wide tires provided enough traction in the turns and straightaways to keep Wagner from mounting a challenge. For his part, Wagner seemed satisfied to hang back and keep his second-place position on the track.

The battle of the feature was behind the two frontrunners, Johnny White and Dick Hope. Hope started 12th and had dodged, slipped and slid his way to the fourth spot. He pulled up on White and for the final three circuits, and then waged a nerve-wracking wheel-to-wheel duel right down to the checkered flag.  At the end, White was in front by mere inches.

Arnie Knepper, Folse, and Ed Terry won heat races on Wednesday. Bud Sterrett won the 5-lap match race and Wagner took the 10-lap consolation.

Folse would close out the ’62 Winter Nationals with another feature victory on February 17. The win would clinch the Florida State Championship and send Folse north with the point’s lead in his quest for a fourth IMCA national title.

Folse would win despite some anxious moments in the closing laps as Johnny Rutherford was gaining on the leader. According to Folse after the race, he heard a car behind him, but thought it was a lapped car. When Rutherford got close enough for Folse to see who it was, “Pistol” Pete stomped the gas pedal to the floor and took the Honore Offy to the cushion to widen his margin.

Folse would win comfortably with Rutherford, Art Knepper, Herschel Wagner and Dick Hope following.

Knepper, Hope and Wagner won heat races, Richert won the 5-lap match race and Johnny White won the 10-lap consolation.

Despite the point lead, Folse would not successfully defend his title. In a see-saw battle that would come down the last race of the season, Johnny White would be crowned the new IMCA sprint car king at the end of the 1962 season.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

1969 - Benny Parsons Wins Daytona ARCA 300

Benny Parsons waves from victory lane after winning the ARCA 300-mile race at Daytona.

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 16, 1969) - Benny Parsons, who operates a taxi service in Detroit with his father, said his 1969 Ford ran “just beautifully” in winning the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) 300 stock car race on Sunday.

Parsons led from pole to finish, but four caution flags kept him from breaking Andy Hampton’s 1968 record speed of 148.372 miles an hour. Parsons averaged 147.985 miles per hour.

In second place, but nearly a lap behind, was Iggy Katona of Willis, Mich., driving a 1969 Dodge. Katona grabbed the second spot when Hampton ran out of gas in his 1969 Dodge and coasted to a third-place finish.

During a 35-lap duel with Katona for runner – up honors, Hampton once spun wildly on the grandstand straight, slid nearly 300 yards through the infield and back onto the track on the west bank, to get back in the race against Katona.

Ramo Stott of Keokuk, Iowa, finished fourth in a 1967 Plymouth and Sal Tovella of Chicago was fifth in a 1969 Dodge.

Les Snow’s 1969 Plymouth blew its engine with five laps go and Snow, who had been running with, the leaders all day, watched the checkered flag from the pits. The Bloomington, Ill., driver placed sixth.

Others in the order they finished were Chuck McWilliams of Union, Ky., in 1967 Dodge, Bill Kimmel of Clarksville, Ind., in a 1969 Chevelle, George Bauer of Covington, Ky., in a 1967 Dodge, and Paul Wensink of Deshler, Ohio, in a 1968 Ford.

On lap 21, Jack Shanklin of Indianapolis rolled four times when the engine in his 1967 Dodge blew entering the first turn. Shanklin was not seriously injured but was treated for shock. Shanklin’s was the only bad crash of the day, but only 13 of the 35 starters finished the race.


Results –
1. Benny Parsons
2. Iggy Katona
3. Andy Hampton
4. Ramo Stott
5. Sal Tovella
6. Les Snow
7. Chuck McWilliams
8. Bill Kimmel
9. George Bauer
10. Paul Wensink
11. Clifford Hamm
12. Bill Clemons
13. Pete Tingue
14. Dick Trickle
15. Jim Clarke
16. Francis Harden
18. Jim Scott
19. Delmar Clark
20. Red Farmer
21. Todd Gibson
22. Dave Dayton
23. Jack Shanklin
24. Dave Marcis
25. Paul Feldner
26. Ben Arnold
27. Bill Seifert
28. Bobby Watson

Saturday, February 9, 2019

1964 - Nelson Stacy at Home, $5,000 Richer in ARCA

Nelson Stacy

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 9, 1964) - Nelson Stacy of Daytona Beach is right at home in the Auto Racing Club of America (ARCA) - and $5,000 richer as a result of winning its 250-mile championship Sunday.

It is less expensive to compete in ARCA than NASCAR, where Stacy has been since 1960, because the cars must be closer to stock models in engine specifications.

They may not go as fast as NASCAR’s best-proved Saturday when Richard Petty of Randleman, N.C., set a 50-mile NASCAR mark of 171.919 miles an hour in a 1964 Plymouth. But Stacy’s 154.103 miles per hour in the ARCA 250-miler was just short of the track record and came despite seven laps under the caution flag.

The yellow flag was out for a pair of spectacular spins that provided some heart stopping moments but ended without injury to Ramo Stott of Keokuk, Iowa; Jack Bowsher of Springfield, Ohio; Jim Cushman of Columbus, Ohio, and Mike Klapak of Warren, Ohio, who were in the middle of them.

Stacy, a 42-year-old grandfather who drove tanks in World War II and taxicabs just afterward, broke into racing with ARCA, then known as Midwest Auto Racing Club and won its championship three times.

“I ran pretty well the way it was planned,” Stacy said.

His strategy was to keep his 1964 Ford off the pace, within catching distance of the 1964 Plymouths of Stott and Earl Balmer of Floyds Knobs, Ind., who set the early place.

Stott’s engine blew and spun him out on the 27th lap of the 2.5-mile track. Balmer went out with an oil leak on the 67th.

Stacy finished one lap ahead of Ernie Derr of Keokuk, Iowa. Derr earned $3,000 by inches over Iggy Katona of Willis, Mich., who got $2,000 for third. Dick Mitchell of Trenton, Mich., collected $1,100 for fourth and Cushman $800 for fifth.

Derr had a 1963 Dodge Katona a 1964 Ford, Mitchell a 1963 Ford and Cushman a 1964 Plymouth.


Results –

  1. Nelson Stacy
  2. Ernie Derr
  3. Iggy Katona
  4. Dick Mitchell
  5. Jim Cushman
  6. Danny Byrd
  7. H.B. Bailey
  8. Mike Klapak
  9. Jack Bowsher
  10. Virgil Barbe
  11. Eddie Meyer
  12. Jack Shanklin
  13. Paul Parks
  14. Les Snow
  15. Bay Darnell
  16. Jerry Norris
  17. Bob Derrington
  18. Clyde Parker
  19. Earl Balmer
  20. Paul Clark
  21. Homer Newland
  22. Ramo Stott
  23. Henley Gray
  24. Elmer Davis

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Kosiski Brothers dominate Deery Brothers at Audubon

by Lee Ackerman
Omaha, Neb. - The IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series went west for three years back in the early 90's with stops each year at the Audubon (Iowa) Speedway. By going that far west and that close to Omaha, they drew the attention of the Kosiski racing clan and that would lead to three wins in three years for the Omaha racing family.

The first Deery Brothers visit to Audubon came on June 3, 1992 with 36 participants signing in for the action. Heat race wins went to Jeff French of Adel, Darin Burco of Independence, Darrel DeFrance to Marshalltown and Joe Kosiski of Omaha, Nebraska. B feature wins were registered by Terry Ryan of Davenport and Frank Jorgensen of Carroll. The field was then filed out with the Speedway Motors Hard Charger, Tim Cooney of Corning and Grundy Center's Les Verly on a provisional. That set the 24-car field for the feature event.

When the green flew Mike Smith of Jewell grabbed the lead and Smith built up a sizable advantage before being brought back to the field with a caution flag on lap 18. Joe Kosiski had started sixth and by the time the caution waved, had moved into second. When the green was waved again Kosiski powered by Smith to take the lead, a position he would never surrender.

1991 IMCA national champion Jeff French also got by Smith and pressured Kosiski throughout the last third of the race but was unable to make a pass and settled for second. Following Kosiski and French to the checkers were Mark Wyman of Papillion, Nebraska, Ed Kosiski of Omaha and Darrel DeFrance.

Veteran Ed Sanger of Waterloo finished 10th at Audubon and combined with a second-place finish at the Deery Brothers season opener at Marshalltown took the early Deery Brothers points lead. Ron Jackson, who captured the season opener at Marshalltown suffered mechanical problems and failed to qualify for the feature at Audubon.

The Deery Brothers returned to the Audubon Speedway on June 21, 1993 and the results were the same as the year before. This time however, Joe Kosiski did it the hard way. He qualified for the 40-lap feature by winning the second B feature which gave him the 18th starting position.
When the green waved for the feature, Cedar Falls’ Jeff Aikey went to the front but by lap nine it was Marshalltown’s Darrel DeFrance taking the top spot. Soon DeFrance started distancing himself from the field, but Kosiski was on the move. By lap 14, he was in seventh and on lap 23 he took the lead from DeFrance never to surrender it for the duration of the event.

Actually, on lap 19, Jeff French had taken the lead from DeFrance but had a right rear tire go flat which sent him to the pit area. French was moving up again through the field again but was involved in an accident which ended his night. By leading lap 20, he received the Mac Tools Challenge jacket.

After taking the lead Joe Kosiski was about to receive a real challenge from his brother Ed. Ed had picked off cars in the same fashion as his brother Joe had and by lap 36, he was in a position to challenge. The two battled it out side-by-side for four laps with Joe barely nipping Ed at the wire. Joe Kosiski received $1,000 for the win plus $100 product certificates from both Isky Racing Cams and Tilton Engineering.

Greg Kastli of Waterloo put on a run that was equally impressive to the Kosiski Brother’s run. Kastli started in 26th and last position and passed 23 cars to finish third. Kastli earned the $100 Speedway Motors Hard Charger Award for his efforts. Kastli also received a $100 certificate from FRC/Featherlite for finishing third, which was the number drawn in the nightly Deery Brothers draw. Rounding out the top five were DeFrance and Terry Ryan of Davenport.

Heat races went Lynn Richard of Mt. Pleasant, Jeff French of Adel and Ryan. Dwight Wrich of Omaha won the first B feature. Kosiski’s win snapped a 14-race streak of different winners in the Deery Brothers dating back to the 1992 season when he won at Audubon.

The Deery Brothers Summer Series made its third and final stop at Audubon on June 14, 1994 with another Kosiski victory being registered, but this time it was brother Steve going to victory lane. Once again, a number of cars had a shot at the win, but Steve Kosiski was able to hold off all challengers.

Craig Jacobs of Urbandale grabbed the lead as the race started, but Steve Kosiski was glued to his rear bumper and on lap four he took over the point. The pair ran one-two until Rich Wendling brought out the caution on lap nine. After the restart, the man on the move was (you guessed it, brother Joe Kosiski). He moved by Jeff Aikey and headed for the front.

On lap 17, Joe took third from Mark Wyman and brought Darrel DeFrance with him. This was about the time that Summer Series point leader Gary Webb of Davenport was starting to make his charge, which brought him to fifth just behind DeFrance. Then on lap 24 just as he appeared to challenge his brother for the lead, Joe Kosiski went pit side with mechanical issues.

This made it a battle between Steve Kosiski, Jacobs, DeFrance and Webb. The four stayed the same until lap 29 when Webb passed DeFrance and moved into fourth and started to challenge Jacobs. Having gone relatively unnoticed because of the battles upfront, Ed Kosiski was making his move and on lap 34 he took fourth from DeFrance.

About the same time, Webb got by an ailing Jacobs, who dropped from the race. The top three Steve Kosiski, Webb and Ed Kosiski would remain that way to the end with Donnellson’s Kevin Cale grabbing fourth from DeFrance with three laps to go. The top five at the checkers were; Steve Kosiski, Gary Webb, Ed Kosiski, Kevin Cale and Darrel DeFrance.

In addition to a big check, Steve Kosiski received $100 certificates from Tilton Engineering and Isky Racing Cams, along with the Walker Dynomax 20 lap leader jacket. Greg Hunter of Independence was the recipient of both the FRC Chassis luck draw position and the Speedway Motors Hard Charger Award and received $100 certificates from each company.

Bill Baldwin of Bellevue, Nebraska was the lucky driver selected for the REAL Racing Wheels $500 bonus. Baldwin had four REAL Wheels mounted on his car and was in the selected finishing position. Craig Jacobs received the $50 Racemart Tough Luck Award as he was running second in the feature late in the race and had the engine let go. Gary Webb with a second-place finish extended his Deery Brothers points lead to 36 over Kevin Cale.

The IMCA Deery Brothers Series never returned to the Audubon Speedway which has since quit holding circle track races. But for three years, the Deery Brothers drivers and the invaders from Nebraska put on some great racing at the 4/10-mile facility.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

1971 - Blundy Wins Florida Fair Opener

Jerry Blundy

Tampa, Fla. (February 3, 1971) – Before 4,500 race fans, Jerry Blundy, the defending IMCA sprint car national champion from Galesburg, Ill., picked up just where he left off at the Florida State Fair by winning the opening feature of the Winternationals Sprints on Wednesday at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

Blundy did it like a champion should, leading the final 19 of the 25 laps, after establishing himself the fastest man at the track in qualifying with the top time of 25.671 seconds on the half-mile dirt.

Behind him, as he caught the checkered flag of starter Johnny Hicks, was Ron Perkins of Wood River, Ill., who passed Chuck Amati of Greenfield, Tenn., on the final lap to garner runner-up honors while Amati settled for the “show” spot.

Amati, a newcomer to Tampa racing, won his heat, a match race and was barely beaten out for second place by Perkins in the feature. The two staged a wheel to wheel duel during the late laps in the race.

Blundy survived a first-lap tangle with Buzz Barton of Tampa and Benny Rapp of Toledo, Ohio to come from his sixth-place starting position and gain the victory. The brush with the Barton car caused him to lose his front bumper and some grill work, but did no serious damage.

Results –
1. Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
2. Ron Perkins, Wood River, Ill.
3. Chuck Amati, Greenfield, Tenn.
4. Benny Rapp, Toledo, Ohio
5. Bob Kinser, Bloomington, Ind.
6. Cliff Cockrum, Mitchell, Ind.
7. Dick Sutcliffe, Kansas City
8. Jan Opperman, Beaver Crossing, Neb.
9. Bill Hudson, Montezuma, Iowa
10. Don Hewitt, Troy, Ohio