Thursday, May 30, 2019

1969 – Ernie Derr Keeps Winning; Takes Topeka

Ernie Derr

Topeka, Kan. (May 30, 1969) – It took longer than usual for him to get to the front, and he had to listen to the first boos to come his way in several years, but Ernie Derr finally won the 50-lap feature for IMCA late model stock cars at the Mi America Fairgrounds on Friday night.

It was a race which seemed to never really want to get started. Twelve of the first 20 laps were run under yellow and the first of those cautions are what rankled the 6,500 fans at Derr.

On the start, Ray Harrison’s 1968 Camaro stalled between turns one and two and in the hard braking when the yellow came out, Derr’s 1969 Dodge Charger got pinched by two other cars and the right rear tire blew out.

The field was lined up again as Derr changed the tire, and that brought out a series of catcalls from the fans. IMCA rules say when a yellow flag comes out on the first lap, there will be a complete restart.

On the restart, Lewis Taylor put his 1967 Plymouth in the lead and stayed there for 28 laps. Two more yellows slowed thee action. The longest occurred when Ray Littrell rolled, and all of his gasoline poured on to the track. The cars slowed for five laps while the fuel burned off.

The green flag waved on lap 16, but Tommy Taylor spun and Thurman Lovejoy hit him to bring out another yellow for two laps. The race was finally on for good on lap 21.

Taylor held off Derr until lap 29, when the nine-time IMCA national champion, put his Dodge Charger ahead on the backstretch and was off and running.

On lap 42, both Irv Janey and Fred Horn got by Taylor, and Janey claimed second while Horn took third. Taylor would drop out as the white flag waved with engine trouble and would settle for seventh.

Results –

1.    Ernie Derr
2.    Irv Janey
3.    Fred Horn
4.    Joe Wallace
5.    Leon Bowman
6.    Sandy Sandstrom
7.    Lewis Taylor
8.    Jay McIntosh
9.    Joe Melichar
10.  Dave Wall
11.  Bill Schwader
12.  Ron Hutcherson
13.  Jerre Wichman
14.  Dale Keeling
15.  Gary Martin

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

1974 - White edges Derr at Sedalia; Utz Wins Twin 25’s

Sedalia, Mo. (May 28, 1974) - Not to be outdone by USAC drivers Don White and Ernie Derr, Sedalia sprint car driver Bill Utz and Gene Gennetten of Gladstone, Mo., ran side-by-ide to finish 1-2 in each of the 25-lap segments of super-sprint racing at the Missouri State Fairgrounds.
White and Derr cast family ties aside as the two brothers-in-law from Keokuk, Iowa, dueled fender-to-fender in the 100-lap United States Auto Club late model stock car feature, held Monday after rain Sunday washed out any attempt at racing.

White picked up his 50th USAC feature win and his first victory since 1972 to end the longest drought in his career.

The two Keokuk drivers ran flat out on the half-mile dirt, pulling ahead of the rest of the field at the start, then wowing the 4,500 fans with some fancy driving on the rough, dry slick oval.

Irv Janey of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, overcame an early spin to finish third, nipping Ramo Stott of Keokuk for the spot on the 98th lap, veteran Norm Nelson of Racine, Wis., the race’s fastest qualifier, ran fifth.

Utz and Gennetten outclassed the 20 invited super-sprints and pulled off two of the most exciting races ever. Utz, driving for Dean Hathman of Columbia, ducked under Gennetten on the last lap of the second 25-lap go to successfully come from the back of the pack to win.

The cars drew for position in the first 25-lap feature, then that order of finish was inverted for the second 25-lap running, putting Utz and Gennetten on the back row.

Jay Lyle of Warrensburg finished third in both shows while Gary Scott of Holts Summit was fourth in both programs. Roy Hibbard of Marshall didn’t place, breaking a steering sector in hot laps.

Martin Godsey of Jefferson City, who drew the pole position, took a ninth-place finish in the second 25-lap race.

Ageless Norm Nelson, the USAC stock car champ in 1965 and 1966, was the first man out for qualifying time trials and set the afternoon’s fastest lap in the late models with a 26.31 second clocking.

The slower cars ran a 15-lap semi-feature to earn starting spots for the 100-lapper, and Ken Rowley of Bloomington, Ill., won that race.

“We were concerned with tire wear before the race,” a happy White beamed after the race. “We were prepared to change our right rear tire about half-way through the race if everyone else did.”

“But this is where our two-way radio comes in handy. We’ve had the radio since last year, but this is really the first time it has really worked for us.”

White, along with Janey, Stott and three-time USAC champ Butch Hartman, has purchased the two-way radios for communication with the pit crew from the race car.
Results -
USAC Stock Car
1. Don White, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
3. Irv Janey, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
4. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
5. Norm Nelson, Racine, Wis.
6. Steve Drake, Bloomington, Ill.
7. Paul Feldner, Colgate, Wis.
8. Larry Cope, Leroy, Ind.
9. Fred Zack, Milwaukee
10. Paul Sizemore, Terre Haute, Ind.
Feature #1
1. Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
2. Gene Gennetten, Gladstone, Mo.
3. Jay Lyle, Warrensburg, Mo.
4. Gary Scott, Holts Summit, Mo.
5. Jim Jenkins, Slater, Mo.
Feature #2
1. Bill Utz
2. Gene Gennetten
3. Jay Lyle
4. Gary Scott
5. Jerry Johnson, Kirksville, Mo.

Monday, May 27, 2019

1974 – Dixon Memorial to Weedon

Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, is joined by his wife Dee after winning the Frank Dixon Memorial at the Springfield Mile. (Terry Young Photo)

 Springfield, Ill. (May 26, 1974) – Iowa drivers were able to sweep the top three spots in the $8,000 Frank J. Dixon Memorial late model stock car racing promoted by the ladies of the Dixon Racing Association of Peoria, Ill.

The top cash prize of $1,500 was earned by Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, who led from his pole position and fought off a late closing challenge from Curt Hansen of Dike, Iowa, who had been trading off the second spot with Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Glen Gettenmeier of St. Charles, Mo., was fourth, several car lengths back as the checkered flag waved for Weedon. Bill Scherer of St. Louis, Mo., finished fifth and Earl Hubert of Aurora Park, Ill., was sixth for the best driver from the state of Illinois.

Weedon’s wife Dee, said in victory lane with her husband that it “was the biggest win in all of his years of racing”. Weedon received the 6-foot Frank Dixon Memorial trophy presented by the late Frank Dixon’s daughters Doris and Gerry Dixon James.

Rain had postponed the event from Sunday, May 26, when showers fell after only seven of 60 cars had taken time trials. Some of the car were unable to return because of work schedules made necessary because of Illinois vote to recognize the traditional holiday of May 30, rather than the federal date of May 27.

Sam Reakes of Rockford, Ill., was the winner in the 20-mile semi-feature and he took the lead from his pole position. Jim Strube of Peoria, Ill., was second for most of the race but dropped out with only a few laps remaining.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

1973 - Gaines Wins Rain-Shortened Little 500

Anderson, Ind. (May 26, 1973) - What was billed as the Little 500 turned out to be the "Dick Gaines Show".

Gaines turned the 23rd annual Little 400 upside down Saturday night as he drove Sun Valley Speedway like an old man out for a Sunday afternoon ride. The husky veteran breezed to a four-lap victory in the rain shortened Little 500 to take home $5,910 in sliver dollars.

After Gaines “got snookered” at the start, he recovered quickly. The Floyds Knobs, Ind., resident took the lead on the 11th lap and was home free. He had built up such a lead by the 237th lap that he pitted for fuel and did not lose his position.

Chasing Gaines at the time the rains fell were Bobby Black of Taylorsville, Ind., and Butch Wilkerson of Deputy, Ind. Black had an eight second advantage on Wilkerson when the rain started falling with Gaines on lap 266.

Saturday night marked the first time the Little 500 has ever gone less than the full 500-lap distance. In both 1958 and 1968, the race was halted temporarily by rain but was resumed to finish the prescribed distance both times.

The rain cost Gaines some lap-prize money since the leader picked up $5 per lap. But, in the long run, it probably was a blessing.

Gaines' car was starting to run a little warm and severe problems might have cropped up later in the race.

Other problems might have cropped up, too, since the first eight cars were only 10 laps apart.

Gaines had only a four-lap lead on Black and Wilkerson with Jim Murphy two laps further back, defending champion Jeff Bloom another lap back. It was then one lap back to Calvin Gilstrap, another lap to find Joe Demko and Bobby Kinser. Richert had a seven-second lead on Kinser. Demko lost several positions just before the yellow flag came out with Gaines on lap 266 because of the light rain. Demko was driving relief for Jerry Richert and had a few problems adjusting to the car.

While he was adjusting, several cars got by.

“I'm really sorry the race was stopped,” Gaines said. “At least, I think I am. I may decide different after I have the money.”

“Really, we were running good and it was a good, clean race. The track got slick once when someone dropped oil down the front stretch but it was really nice.”

Gaines appeared to be able to drive as fast as he wanted to run and in almost any groove on the track. He was passing cars in the turns and on the straightaways and getting around both high and low on the track.

Black lost some time early but was in a good position to make a run at Gaines. He stopped for fuel early when Bobby Mitchoff spun in the first turn and brought out the yellow for five laps.

“We look on enough fuel,” said Black, “that we could have gone the rest of the way with just one more stop. We were waiting for a yellow a little later in the race to make a stop.”

“Then, it could have been interesting,” grinned Black.

Gaines, Black, Wilkerson, Gilstrap and Kinser are apart of the Southern Indiana contingent in this year's Little 500. They run against each other throughout the Midwest in both dirt and paved-track shows.

Herman Wise of Atlanta, Ga., the 1971 winner, brought out the first yellow light of the night on the 31st lap when he spun in the first turn. A quick push got him rolling, however, and he lost only a little over a lap. 

Moments later Al Liskai of Gibsonburg, Ohio, blew his engine and put a thick layer of oil on the front stretch. The yellow was out for 21 laps while track crews dusted down the oily section on the track.

Gaines figured he “got snookered” on the start by starter Butch Brooks.

“We were told in the driver's meeting,” Gaines said, “that we would go around one more lap on the yellow after the pace car pulled off the track. But the pace car left and we got the green two turns later. “Why, I was driving almost in the infield when I saw that guy (Brooks) drop the green flag. People went past me like a strong wind. I was third before I got to the starting line.”

Gaines trailed Richert and Calvin Gilstrap through the first few laps before moving up. He got past Gilstrap on the seventh lap and took Richert to lead the lap.

It was a breeze from there.

By the 102nd lap, Gaines had lapped all but two cars in the field - Gilstrap and Armond Holley. Jim Riddle brought out the yellow flag when he threw a wheel in the fourth turn and came to a stop against the outside guardrail.

On lap 152, Gilstrap pitted for fuel white running second. The Salem driver scattered people in the infield by driving through pylons blocking the center of the infield.

Gilstrap said later he was out of fuel and made a straight line for his pit. He lost nearly two laps because he entered the pits in the wrong area and had to make nearly one-and-a-half laps before he was scored again crossing the start-finish line.

Holley pitted while running third and Riddle took over the wheel. Riddle later had a flat tire and lost considerable time getting back around to his pit, Kinser, the veteran from Bloomington, was black flagged while running third on lap 185 when his brakes caught on fire. Bob Mitchoff banged the outside wall going down the backstretch on lap 252 and brought out the yellow again. This time he was out for eight laps.

The yellow appeared again moments later when the rain started to fall.

Results –

1. Dick Gaines, Floyd Knobs, Ind.
2. Bobby Black, Taylorsville, Ind.
3. Butch Wilkerson, Deputy, Ind.
4. Jim Murphy, South Haven, Mich.
5. Jeff Bloom, Elkhart, Ind.
6. Calvin Gilstrap, Salem, Ind.
7. Jerry Richert, Forest Lake, Minn.
8. Bobby Kinser, Bloomington, Ind.
9. Bob Frey, Elyria, Ohio
10. Herman Wise, Atlanta, Ga.
11. Mike Johnson, Martinsville, Ind.
12. Bobby Leever, Anderson, Ind.
13. Bob Luscomb, Orlando, Fla.
14. Bernie Graybeal, Shelbyville, Ind.
15. Tony Solomito, Bloomington, Ind.
16. Doc Dawson, Lima, Ohio
17. Doc Mitchoff, South Bend, Ind.
18. Al Liskai, Gibsonburg, Ohio
19. Bud Frazier, Chillicothe, Ohio
20. Leon Thickstun, Bloomington, Ind.
21. Armond Holley, Pensacola, Fla.
22. Ray Kenens, Lafayette, Ind.
23. Casey Jones, South Bend, Ind.
24. Ed Angle, Flora, Ind.
25. Mark Caldwell, Bunker Hill, Ind.
26. George Harbour, Apple Grove, W.Va.
27. Jim Riddle, Lutz, Fla.
28. Ron Fisher, Kokomo, Ind.
29. Ray Wright, Elkhart, Ind.
30. Ron Semelka, Wauseon, Ohio
31. Larry Curtis, Stilesville, Ind.
32. Ron Ennis, Martinsville, Ind.
33. Tucker Nunnery, South Point, Ohio

Saturday, May 25, 2019

1981 - Gundaker Wings It on Last Lap

Sedalia, Mo. (May 25, 1981) - Race fans who journeyed to the Missouri State Fairgrounds on Monday afternoon to witness the National Outlaw Stock Car Association winged late model 30-lap feature did not go home disappointed as the race was not decided until the final turn of the last lap when Kevin Gundaker of St. Louis, Mo., took the checkered flag. 

Roger Thompson of Junction City, Kan., jumped out to an early lead at the beginning of the feature. Following Thompson, Joe Merryfield of Des Moines, Ken Walton of Viola, Iowa, and Gundaker were running bumper-to-bumper in the battle for second.

A caution flag on lap 11 closed the pack behind leader Thompson and when the green flag reappeared, Walton moved around Merryfield to take second place on lap 15.

On the next lap, Gundaker passed Merryfield to take the third position. On lap 22, Thompson was still in first, but Walton was knocking on the door with Gundaker right behind.

Walton lost traction for an instant on lap 27 in the loose dirt, allowing Gundaker to move around him into second place. Gundaker then set his sights on Thompson, who appeared to have a comfortable lead. 

As the white flag fell to signal the last lap, Gundaker was running right on the rear bumper of Thompson and stayed there going into the fourth turn. Coming out of the turn, Gundaker got the bite on Thompson and beat him to the finish.

‘‘Thompson slipped coming out of four as he tried to get around a lapped car and that was the break I needed,” Gundaker said. The victory was worth $2,000 to Gundaker, who led only one-fourth of a lap — but it was the lap that counted most.

In other races, Steve Fuqua of Mayetta, Kan., took the 20-lap, sportsman feature. He was followed across the finish line by Rick Kimberling of Slater, Mo., Pat Wancewicz of Omaha, Joe Cobb of Kansas City and John Craig of Manhattan, Kan. Fuqua also won the sportsman trophy dash. Wancewicz won the sportsman B feature, allowing him to advance to the A feature.

Steve Kosiski of Omaha took the one-on-one outlaw shootout for winged late models.

The 15-lap street stock feature went to Randy Gastineau of New Bloomfield, Mo., driving a 1967 Chevelle. Jim Turpin of Jefferson City won both the B and C features in the street stock division.

More than 2,500 race fans turned out for the event.

Results –

1. Kevin Gundaker, St. Louis
2. Roger Thompson, Junction City, Kan.
3. Ken Walton, Viola, Iowa
4. Don Hoffman, Des Moines
5. Joe Merryfield, Des Moines
6. Gene Claxton, Kansas City
7. Rick Beebe, Overland Park, Kan.
8. Joe Kosiski, Omaha
9. Jake Deimer, Springfield, Ill.
10. Don Morris, Junction City, Kan.

Monday, May 20, 2019

May 20, 1951


Sterling, Ill., (May 20, 1951) - Stock car racing debuted at the new third-mile Speedbowl Park on Sunday afternoon in Sterling. A program of thrills and spills was witnessed by a crowd of well over 5,000 spectators. It was one of the first auto racing programs ever presented on a legal track.

Charles Moffitt of Stanwood, Iowa, came through traffic from his 14th starting spot to win the 20-lap feature in the time 7 minutes and 45 seconds.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

1979 - Miller Takes Checkered in Dells Late Model Go

Mike Miller

Wisconsin Dells, Wis. (May 19, 1979) – Mike Miller of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., held off the challenges of Marv Marzofka of Nekoosa, Wis., and Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., to capture the 30-lap late model feature at Dells Motor Speedway on Saturday night.

Miller, who started in the 12th position, quickly made his way through pack. Ron Beyer jumped into the lead off the pole position, but Miller overtook Beyer on lap 6 to lead the 17-car field.

Cross-town rival Trickle, driving Jim Bohmsach’s Nova, followed Miller through the pack and took over second place on lap 7. Trickle would make several attempts to overtake Miller, but Miller managed to consistently outpower Trickle in the turns.

Back in the pack, Marzofka moved past Ted Buelow to take third on lap 17, but was nearly a full straightaway behind the leaders.

Dick Turner, Orv Buelow and Morie Delmore tangled in turn two on lap 20, bringing out the first yellow of the race.

The caution allowed Marzofka to close tight behind Trickle’s bumper as racing resumed and the battle for second place began.

A second yellow occurred on lap 25 when Buelow, Joe Kryzkowski and Turner tangled coming out of turn four and hit the wall. Only Turner was able to continue.

Under the green for the final five circuits, Marzofka ducked under Trickle and took second on lap 27, but Miller had built a two-car length lead as the battle for second wore on and he recorded the win.
Steve Carlson of La Crosse, Wis., rode his 1978 Camaro to victory in the 15-lap hobby stock feature, edging Jay Sauter of Necedah, Wis., and Mike Niles of Holmen, Wis.

Results –

1.    Mike Miller, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
2.    Marv Marzofka, Nekoosa, Wis.
3.    Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
4.    Ted Musgrave, Grand Marsh, Wis.
5.    Tom Musgrave, Grand Marsh, Wis.
6.    Arnie Christen, Mineral Point, Wis.
7.    Ken Lund, Deerfield, Wis.
8.    Ron Beyer, Stevens Point, Wis.
9.    Chuck Decker, Marshfield, Wis.
10.  Morie Delmore, Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

1975 – Nesteby Captures Tunis Main

Waterloo, Iowa (May 18, 1975) – Defending track champion D. Arthur Nesteby gave a one-time only performance with his late model feature win on Sunday night at Tunis Speedway.

Nesteby claimed the season-opening main event after selling the car he was racing that night, a recently built Chevy designed to run primarily on half-mile tracks, to Evansdale, Iowa’s Red Dralle.

Next week, he’ll be back in the old No. 99 car that carried him to the championship last season.

Glen Martin of Independence, Iowa, had the pole position for the feature and led the race for the first three laps before Nesteby overtook him.

Nesteby continued in the lead until lap 13 of the nip and tuck race when Martin got around him again. Nesteby would take the lead for good a couple of laps later. He would lead Martin by no more than a bumper when the race was called on lap 24 because of a wreck between Roger Klingfus and Denny Osborn.

“If I would have waited until after tonight’s feature to decide to what car to sell, it would have been a lot tougher decision,” Nesteby admitted. Nesteby indicated his plans for a lighter car failed. His new machine will end up weighing as much as his old one.

Martin won the first heat while Joe Schaefer of Waterloo, Iowa, claimed the second heat. Darrell Sells of Cedar Falls, Iowa, scored the victory in heat three. Jack Mitchell of Cedar Falls, Iowa, won the consolation.

Results –

Heat #1 – Glen Martin, Independence, Iowa
Heat #2 – Joe Schaefer, Waterloo, Iowa
Heat #3 – Darrell Sells, Cedar Falls, Iowa
Consolation – Jack Mitchell, Cedar Falls, Iowa
Feature –
1. D. Arthur Nesteby, Waterloo, Iowa
2. Glen Martin
3. John Allinson, Williams, Iowa
4. Joe Schaefer
5. Bill Barthelmes, Troy Mills, Iowa
6. Bob Hesse, Waterloo, Iowa
7. Jim Burbridge, Delhi, Iowa
8. Jack Mitchell
9. Darrell Sells
10. Tom Bartholomew, Waterloo, Iowa

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

1991 – Kaeding Tops Hales CRA Sprinters

Franklin, Wis. (May 15, 1991) – Brent Kaeding survived a race-long duel with Richard Griffin to claim the 30-lap California Racing Association (CRA) non-winged sprint car feature Wednesday night at Hales Corner Speedway.
The start of the feature was slowed by three mishaps before a lap could be completed. CRA officials ordered a single-file restart. Kaeding and Griffin, the front-row starters, then paced the field the entire 30 circuits.
After five laps Kaeding and Griffin and broken away from the rest of the 20-car field and near the halfway point the top duo nearly had a straightaway lead over third-place Randy Sippel.
On lap 16 Griffin closed in on the leader and two laps later edged past Kaeding. The two then worked through lapped traffic with Griffin using the high groove while Kaeding worked the low line.
Kaeding waited for his opening and on lap 24 powered inside of Griffin to regain the top spot. For the rest of the way Kaeding was able to stay out of Griffin’s reach to take the checkered with two lapped cars between them.
Jack Hewitt placed well behind in third followed by Sippel and Cary Faas.
“Running around the yellows hurt us on fuel,” Kaeding said, referring to the three restarts. “We have a fuel shutoff valve and I kept turning it off.”
Earlier in the evening Ron Shuman won the B feature while Jim Moulis, Bob Robel, Griffin and Mike Frost. Shuman also won the trophy dash.

Results –

1.     Brent Kaeding
2.     Richard Griffin
3.     Jack Hewitt
4.     Randy Sippel
5.     Cary Faas
6.     Steve Ostling
7.     Jim Moulis
8.     Allen Winker
9.     Gib Wiser
10.  Mike Frost
11.  Ron Shuman
12.  Mark Sokola
13.  Bob Robel
14.  Billy Boat
15.  Leonard Lee

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

1975 – Hansen Wins Second at Oskaloosa

Oskaloosa, Iowa (May 14, 1975) - Curt Hansen of Dike took advantage of Don Hoffman's blown engine early in the race then held off a hard charge from the remainder of the field to win his second late model stock car feature at the Southern Iowa Speedway in a bumper to bumper duel Wednesday night.

Starting on the pole position, Hoffman led the first nine laps before his engine let go, paving the way for Hansen's victory and his hold on the point lead.

Hansen then fended off Joe Merryfield of Des Moines for the win amid a flurry of red flags and restarts as the entire field remained in tight formation due to three feature restarts.

Results –

First Heat: Don Hoffman, Des Moines
Second Heat: Johnny Babb, Ottumwa
Third Heat: Curt Hansen, Dike
Semi-Main: Fred Horn, Marion
1. Curt Hansen
2. Joe Merryfield, Des Moines
3. Phil Reece, Des Moines
4. Mel Morris, West Liberty
5. Karl Sanger, Waterloo
6. Bob Bonzer, Liscomb
7. Fred Horn
8. Ed Sanger, Waterloo
9. Verlin Eaker, Cedar Rapids
10. Johnny Babb

Sunday, May 12, 2019

1961 – Bettenhausen Killed at Indianapolis

The mangled remains of Tony Bettenhausen's car.

Indianapolis, Ind. (May 12, 1961) — Tony Bettenhausen, 44, whose greatest ambition was to win the richest of all auto races, died because a nickel's worth of wire broke on a car he was testing for a friend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Bettenhausen was killed instantly when the roaring racer hurtled into a wall and burst into flames Friday.

Speedway officials said the cause of the accident was a cotter pin worth about five cents.
The sheared pin let a bolt fall, and when Tony stepped on the brakes, the axle twisted, flinging the car into the outside retaining wall on the northwest turn.

Bettenhausen, Tinley Park, Ill., was dead when guards fought their way through horrified fans to where the smashed car hung wrapped in wire atop the wall.

It was Bettenhausen's 29th wreck in a race car. The first was in his first race at Chicago 23 years ago.

The stocky little Dutchman's death came while his own car, with which he hoped to break records at today's time trials for the 500-mile Memorial Day race, was sitting in a speedway garage.

Bettenhausen was testing for a long-time friend, Paul Russo, formerly of Kenosha, Wis.

He would have spent a great deal of his time in Milwaukee this summer. Less than a month ago, he signed with Milwaukee's Bill Trainor to drive the latter's 1961 Ford which topped the 159 mile per hour mark in a run at Daytona Beach, Fla.

This was to have been the final season for Bettenhausen. But he had said that before…

When last referring to his plans, he said, "I want to win the 500, the national stock and the big car championships and retire in a blaze of glory. Then when I become a racing official no one can say I didn't have the savvy to hold such a position."

There was no one to challenge his knowhow, this year, or during many of the 22 years he was a racing driver.

Only Wednesday, Tony had turned in a 149.245 mile per hour lap - the fastest ever recorded in traffic on the 2.5-mile brick and asphalt track.

Bettenhausen's death was the 53rd fatality at the Indianapolis "brickyard," opened in 1909 as a dirt track. He was the 30th driver killer. The toll involves 14 mechanics and 9 spectators.
Bettenhausen was born in Tinley Park, where he farmed 600 acres of corn and soybean land with his two teen-age sons, Gary, 19, and Merle, 17.

He also is survived by his wife, Valerie, and two daughters, Susan, 15, and Tony Lee, 9.

The entire family had planned to attend qualifications at the track today.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Don Branson

Born in Rantoul, Illinois, Don Branson drove in the USAC Championship Car series and also in sprint cars, racing champ cars in the 1956–1966 seasons with 128 starts, including the 1959–1966 Indianapolis 500 races. He finished in the top ten 85 times, with 7 victories.

Branson was the 1959 and 1964 USAC Sprint Car Series Champion.

He was killed in 1966 in a crash at a sprint car race at Ascot Park in Gardena, California, along with fellow driver Dick Atkins. 1966 was to be his last year of competition, and the fatal wreck occurred with only a few races left in the season for the USAC series

He was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1994 and the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2012

Friday, May 10, 2019

1970 - Ward Cops Capital 'Race of Champions'

Bobby Ward

Jefferson City, Mo. (May 10, 1970) – Bobby Ward, the Arkansas Traveler from Conway, took the checker ahead of Bill Utz of Sedalia, Mo., at the Race of Champions held at Capital Speedway near Jefferson City on Sunday.

The race, which was postponed last October due to rain, paid a total of $3,500 in prize money.

Ward, driving the Alamo Mobile Homes Special from Amarillo, Tex., jumped from his outside pole position on the first lap and was never headed in the 20-lap main event.

The speedy Arkansas driver took home the first-place money of $750.

For Utz, it was also a profitable day. He took first in the trophy dash, first in his heat race, as well as finishing second in the feature.

With Sunday's winnings, Utz, piloting the Dean Hathman sprinter, added to the Friday night's winnings he collected at the Granite City, Ill., track.

There he finished again second in the feature, behind Wib Spalding, second in the trophy dash, second in his heat and set the nights' fast time.

Heat races were won Sunday by Ralph Henson, another Arkansas driver, Gene Gennetten of Kansas City, and also Utz and Ward.

In the 8-lap consolation race for non-money winners, Windsor, Missouri’s Jerry McCown won first place.

The 15-lap semi-feature was won by Ralph Henson, followed by Tiger Bob Williams of Kansas City and Ralph Parkinson Jr., of Wichita Falls, Tex.

Following Ward and Utz across the finish line in the feature event were Tom Corbin of Carrollton, Mo., Roy Hibbard of Marshall, Mo., and Flea Atkin of Jefferson City.

A total of 48 cars timed in for the day’s activity.

Results –

Time trials – Roy Hibbard, Marshall, Mo. (20.64)
Trophy dash – Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
Heat #1 – Ralph Henson, Little Rock, Ark.
Heat #2 – Bill Utz
Heat #3 – Bobby Ward, Conway, Ark.
Heat #4 – Gene Gennetten, Kansas City
Consolation – Jerry McCown, Windsor, Mo.
Semi-main – Ralph Henson
Feature –
1. Bobby Ward
2. Bill Utz
3. Tom Corbin Carrollton, Mo.
4. Roy Hibbard, Marshall, Mo.
5. Jerry Atkins, Jefferson City, Mo.
6. Wib Spalding, Granite City, Ill.
7. Jerry Johnson, Utica, Kan.
8. Dale Moore
9. Jay Lyle, Warrensburg, Mo.
10. Johnny Babb, Ottumwa, Iowa

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Golden Belt Speedway

Golden Belt Speedway was a 3/8-mile dirt oval track located in Great Bend, Kan., that ran stock car racing on Sunday nights. The track was very popular with the local and out of town drivers.
This advertisement is from the 1973 season. The speedway closed in 1975.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

1972 – Blanchard in Disputed I-70 ARCA Win

Leonard Blanchard

Odessa, Mo. (May 7, 1972) – More than 4,000 wind-chilled fans watched Leonard Blanchard of Louisville, Ky., win a disputed 100-lap feature victory in ARCA’s first appearance west of the Mississippi River.
Dave Goldsberry of Springfield, Mo., raced into the lead from his outside front row position with Bobby Watson, Ralph Latham, A. Arnold, Ron Hutcherson, Les Snow and Larry Moore closely bunched behind him.
The first yellow flag waved on lap 3 when Moore’s 1972 Monte Carlo broke a right front spindle sending him crashing full-bore into the third turn’s outer concrete wall. The car bicycled some 100 feet along the barrier then slid down the track towards the apron.
The entire right front was sheared away with the wheel landing in the parking lot outside the track. Moore was shaken but uninjured.
Goldsberry continued to lead once the green returned. A four-car battle for second place developed with Snow, Latham, Hutcherson and Blanchard for the next 40 circuits. Blanchard nudged Hutcherson coming off the fourth turn and the Keokuk, Iowa, driver’s 1969 Torino went into a wild slide down the front stretch striking the wall twice before Hutcherson was able to regain control as he entered turn one. Amazingly, Hutcherson lost only two positions during his wild ride.
Blanchard slipped under Snow on lap 53 to take over second. Latham pitted with a flat tire and returned four laps later. By lap 65, Hutcherson had worked his way back into fourth place and then passed Snow for third.
On the 81st lap, Dick Smith spun and caught fire on the homestretch. His spinning Camaro was struck by Al Straub. Both cars partially blocked the track with the field bearing down and forcing Goldsberry into a spin to avoid the wreckage.
The dispute arose as whether the leader had been passed by Blanchard and Hutcherson before he restarted.
The pace car picked up Goldsberry as the leader. At the drop of the green, Goldsberry maintained a four-second margin the rest of the way to the checkers.
But, after an hour and a half of deliberation by ARCA officials, the victory was awarded to Blanchard with Hutcherson second and Goldsberry scored in third. A. Arnold and Iggy Katona rounded out the top five finishers.
Snow won the trophy dash and Don Accurso, Bobby Watson and Goldsberry won heat races.

Results –

1.     Leonard Blanchard
2.     Ron Hutcherson
3.     David Goldsberry
4.     A. Arnold
5.     Iggy Katona
6.     Bobby Watson
7.     Les Snow
8.     Ralph Latham
9.     Clifford Hamm
10. Bill Clemons
11. Don Accurso
12. J.G. Linne
13. Tony Schiller
14. Bob Thomas
15. Bob McCoy
16. Danny Dean
17. Leroy Austin
18.  Ron Clark
19. Dick Smith
20. Al Straub