Wednesday, June 19, 2019

1966 – McCluskey a Double Winner at Terre Haute

Terre Haute, Ind. (June 19, 1966) - The gate to the winner’s circle had been closed to Roger McCluskey since September 9, 1963, but Roger found the key here yesterday afternoon and made two quick trips to the promised land.

McCluskey captured both ends of USAC’s first sprint race doubleheader before a crowd of slightly over 8,000 who paid a record purse of $11,133.

By winning both of the 30-lap races McCluskey's take was $2,788, which is the largest winners share ever paid for a sprint race In the United States.

He also won two 30-30 rifles. . . one for each victory . . .and a wrist watch for having the fastest qualifying time of the day. Like I said, he waited a long time . . . but once he got started, man he did go.
The first of the 30-lappers was strictly no contest. McCluskey jumped into foe lead and was never headed. In fact, he said after the race, as he was getting his first rifle, “The car was handling beautifully and when I got the 'big lead' sign from my crew, just before the end, I slowed down a little."

Bobby Unser followed McCluskey across the finish line with the top 10 being rounded out by; Arnie Knepper, Don Branson, Larry Dickson, Dick Atkins, Greg Weld, Chuck Booth, Carl Williams and Chuck Allen.

After a 30-minute pause, while the cars and drivers were being refreshed, they were lined up in the order of finish in the first race and cranked up for another 30-lap run.

This time McCluskey wasn't able to slow down before the checkered flag fell; In fact, he was wishing for a little more oomph out of his Chevy-powered H & H Machine Special.

He was finally credited with leading 27 of the 30 laps, but during several other trips around the half-mile clay oval, the lead was changing hands more than once.

In fact, during the 16th lap McCluskey went from first to fourth and back to first again before the lap was completed and was back in the lead at the start of the 17th.

Bobby Unser, Greg Weld and rookie Dick Atkins all had a crack at the first-place spot with Unser and Atkins being able to hold the lead as they crossed the starting line, to receive credit for leading laps.

 Atkins, fresh from the ranks of the California Racing Association, led from lap 22 until 25 and looked mighty impressive. He and Paul Jones, that’s right, Parnelli's brother, both made their first Midwest appearance in the sprint cars at Terre Haute.

Jones had chassis trouble and couldn’t keep his car headed in the right direction, but Atkins went like a bomb. Both of them will be heard from before this season Is over.

Atkins slipped in the second corner on the 29th lap and Bobby Unser sailed by to grab the second-place finish, but a third place your first time out in that crowd isn’t to be sneezed at.

The rest of the top 10 in the second race were: Weld, Knepper, Bob Pratt, Dickson, Allen, Gary Congdon and Williams.

It seems as though It’s getting to be a habit . . . and a bad one . . . but there was another accident yesterday. This one turned out to be one of the “not serious" kind, but it looked bad for a few minutes.

Dee Jones and Al Unser bumped wheels coming out of number four turn on the second lap of the 10-lap semi-feature and both of them smacked the outer wall, in front of the stands with a bang.

Each made the siren trip to the hospital for examination and to have cut knees stitched, but they were both back to the track - not as drivers – before the last feature race was started.

Carl Williams won the 10-lap event and along with George Snider, Chuck Taylor, Pratt and Ray Kenens earned a starting spot in the features by finishing in the top five in the semi.


Results –

Feature #1

    1.     Roger McCluskey
2.     Bobby Unser
3.     Arnie Knepper
4.     Don Branson
5.     Larry Dickson
6.     Dick Atkins
7.     Greg Weld
8.     Chuck Booth
9.     Carl Williams
10.  Chuck Allen


Feature #2


1.     Roger McCluskey
2.     Bobby Unser
3.     Dick Atkins
4.     Greg Weld
5.     Arnie Knepper
6.     Bob Pratt
7.     Larry Dickson
8.     Chuck Allen
9.     Gary Congdon
10.  Carl Williams

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

1975 – Reffner Wins 100-Lap Tri-County Special

West Chester, Ohio (June 18, 1975) – Tom Reffner of Rudolph, Wis., charged through a strong field of late models to take the lead on lap 36 and stayed in front to win the 100-lap feature at Tri-County Speedway on Wednesday night. The win was worth $1,200 to the driver of the 1974 AMC Javelin.

Reffner was content to stay out of the heavy early-race traffic as Lennie Waldo of Columbus, Ohio, Rodney Combs of Mason, Ohio and Bob Senneker of Dorr, Mich., battled for the top spot.

Senneker, the evening’s second fastest qualifier, led for two circuits before bowing out with a blown engine.

When Reffner decided to make his move, he passed Waldo and Combs and eventually stretched his advantage to a quarter-lap margin at the checkered.

Combs held off a late charge by Waldo to claim second. Harry Long of Columbus, Ohio placed fourth, with another Wisconsin driver, Dick Trickle, of Wisconsin Rapids, fifth.

Feature –

1.     Tom Reffner, Rudolph, Wis.

2.     Rodney Combs, Mason, Ohio

3.     Lennie Waldo, Columbus, Ohio

4.     Harry Long, Columbus, Ohio

5.     Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

6.     Neal Sceva, Urbana, Ohio

Monday, June 17, 2019

1962 – 8,000 See Leep Drive to Futurity Victory


Des Moines, Iowa (June 17, 1964) – Harold Leep, who use to make life miserable for Offenhauser drivers, climbed into one on Sunday afternoon and took home the Gaylord White Memorial Trophy in the Hawkeye Futurity 30-lap feature before 8,000 race fans at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

The Offy he drove was the same one Buzz Barton piloted to victory in the Futurity a year ago – a sleek red and black outfit owned by Irene Lempelius, a dress designer from St. Paul, Minn.

Bill Horstmeyer of Stoughton, Wis., also driving a Offy, finished second in the 25-lap, 50-mile grind worth $600 to the winner, who was third here a year ago.

Gordon Woolley of Waco, Tex., finished third in the Chet Wilson Chevrolet-powered sprint car handled by Leep last year. Arnie Knepper of Belleville, Ill., the recent Little 500 winner was fourth in the Pete Mocca Offy.

Pete Folse of Tampa, Fla., a two-time Futurity winner and three-time International Motor Contest Association champion, was jinxed by the number 13.

He drew that number twice for starting positions in the time trials and that’s where he finished in the main event. He did manage a third place in the Australian Pursuit and had the third fastest car in time trials.

Leep, a 29-year-old native of Wichita, Kan., started sixth and didn’t get the lead until he overhauled Horstmeyer on the sixth lap, when his rival grazed the west wall.

Horstmeyer, who had earlier taken the top spot from polesitter Johnny Rutherford of Fort Worth, Tex., regained the lead on lap 11 but stayed in front for only a lap before fading back to third in a duel with Johnny White of Warren, Mich.

White would later spin into the fence in turn four on lap 32 giving Horstmeyer back second place. By that time, however, Leep had put enough distance between himself and the rest of the field to erase any challenges.

Results –

Heat one – Arnie Knepper, Belleville, Ill.
Heat two – Gordon Woolley, Waco, Tex.
Heat three – Russ Long, Yucaipa, Calif.
Consolation – Bart Manley, Denver, Colo.
Pursuit – Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
Feature –

1.     Harold Leep, Wichita, Kan.
2.     Bill Horstmeyer, Stoughton, Wis.
3.     Gordon Woolley
4.     Arnie Knepper
5.     Johnny Rutherford, Fort Worth, Tex.
6.     Russ Long
7.     Herschel Wagner, Hickman Hills, Mo.
8.     Jerry Mans, Wood River, Ill.
9.     Mickey Shaw, Berea, Ohio
10.  Roger Lane, Blue Springs, Mo.
11.  Jerry Daniels, St. Paul, Minn.
12.  Al Fredenburg, Madison, Wis.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

1977 – Rice Lake Invitational to Nesteby

Rice Lake, Wis. (June 16, 1977) – Dan Nesteby was on his way back from Canada to his home in Waterloo, Iowa, when he decided to stop at Rice Lake Speedway on Thursday night. He was glad he did…

In his first appearance at the track, Nesteby scored a six car-length victory over Punky Manor of Altoona, Wis., in the 30-lap late model invitational feature. Both drover Camaros built by Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa.

A massive power outage occurred in North Central Wisconsin plunging the track into darkness for about an hour, just before the third heat. Dave Morgan and Red Steffen didn’t complain, however, as that had damaged their cars in the second heat, giving them ample time to make repairs.

When the feature finally started, Morgan took the early lead, followed closely by Leon Plank and Tom Steuding. Plank’s differential seized and he spun sideways, taking Steuding with him. Plank was towed to the pits and Stueding was forced to restart from the rear of the field.

Nesteby, in second, chased Morgan, the fast qualifier, but repeated attempts to get by him were futile. With smoke coming from Morgan’s engine, Nesteby was finally able to get by him, as did Manor and Steffen. Neither one could catch Nesteby, however.

Morgan’s troublesome engine finally gave up and he coasted to a stop just short of the finish line and officially was placed at 11th.

Results –

1.    Dan Nesteby, Waterloo, Iowa
2.    Punky Manor, Altoona, Wis.
3.    Red Steffen, Eau Claire, Wis.
4.    Brent Laursen, Cameron, Wis.
5.    Dave Palmquist, Rice Lake, Wis.
6.    Bob Husby, Menomonie, Wis.
7.    Phil Prusak, Eau Claire, Wis.
8.    Bob Lawrence, St. Croix Beach, Minn.
9.    Larry Boettcher, Cameron, Wis.
10.  Larry Quinn, Bruce, Wis.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

1965 – Nelson by Nine Seconds in USAC Tilt at Indianola

Norm Nelson

Indianola, Iowa (June 13, 1965) - Veteran Norm Nelson, a strapping "Great Dane" from Racine, Wis., tamed the hairpin curves, steep grades and narrow asphalt Sunday to win the 200-mile United States Auto Club stock car race at Greenwood Raceway.
Nelson, who looks something like a greased-smeared Gary Cooper, fought off a frantic final effort by Paul Goldsmith, Munster, Ind., and Don White, Keokuk, for the checkered flag. The 43-year-old Racine, Wis., driver covered the 200-miles in two hours, 24 minutes, 39 seconds.

A crowd announced at 10,337 swarmed thickest around the dangerous curve sections on the 3-mile track, but the race was relatively free of accidents.

There were no serious accidents over the winding three-mile road racecourse, but Jim Hurtubise, on the comeback trail after being critically burned in a racing accident last year, spent most of the race sitting on the top of his car in a nearby lake. Hurtubise spun out of control at the end of the main straightaway at about 90 miles per hour and wound up in four feet of water.
“My oil blew out and I lost control of my car going down the grade,” smiled Hurtubise, unhurt. “The car kept right on going into that little lake or swamp. It came to a rest, I scrambled out and watched the rest of the race from the roof of the car."
Goldsmith led during much of the race but lost time in two pit stops and was not able to catch Nelson. He finished nine seconds behind the winner.
Bobby Isaac, Catawba, S.C., finished fourth and Herb Shannon, Peoria, Ill., came in fifth. White's Ford was the only non-Chrysler product finishing in the first five places. Winner Nelson drover a 1965 "Hemi-Head" Plymouth. 

Nelson, who has been racing 25 years and is a former USAC national champion, had two pit stops. The first time he paused just long enough for his pit crew to pour 18 gallons of fuel into his 25-gallon tank. The second time he took on 20 gallons and two new tires on the left side.

Only a dozen of the original 19-car field was on hand at the finish. Besides Hurtubise, David Pearson, who qualified for the pole position in a 1965 Dodge, was among the spectators when it ended. Pearson was stalled in the pits for 20 laps due to a suspension failure after the opening lap.

In trying to get back in the race, Pearson drove like a man possessed, with radars clocking him at speeds as high as 150 miles per hour on the straightaways  Twice he averaged 85 miles per hour for one lap on the treacherous course. He finally quit for good when his water pump broke on the 41st lap.

No injuries were sustained on the rough, winding Greenwood course and only two other incidents were reported. Dick Passwater blew a tire and John Riva lost a wheel.

Both Goldsmith and the victorious Nelson had two pit stops, but Goldsmith's first stop cost him two laps on a delayed tire exchange.


Results –


1.     Norm Nelson, Racine, Wis.

2.     Paul Goldsmith, Munster, Ind.

3.     Don White, Keokuk, Iowa

4.     Bobby Isaac, Catawba, S.C.

5.     Herb Shannon, Peoria, Ill.

6.     J.C. Klotz, Fort Wayne, Ind.

7.     Gary Bettenhausen, Tinley Park, Ill.

8.     Lou Burmeister, Milwaukee

9.     Bruce Jacobi, Salem, Ind.

10.   Bob Goesch, Tinley Park, Ill.

11.   Bay Darnell, Deerfield, Wis.  

12.   Bill Moore, Villa Park, Ill.

13.   David Pearson, Randleman, S.C.

14.   John Riva, Chicago

15.   Bob Christie, Grants Pass, Ore.

16.   Dick Passwater, Indianapolis

17.   Jim Hurtubise, North Tonawanda, N.Y.

18.   Bud Gaghey, Indianapolis

19.   Rick Clement, Chicago

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

1972 - Masters Wins at Action Track

Terre Haute, Ind. (June 11, 1972) - With a large, enthusiastic crowd on hand at the Action Track, Charlie Masters won his first United States Auto Club sprint car feature on dirt, nipping Larry Dickson by three car lengths Sunday.

Masters jumped into the lead on the first lap after starting second. Dickson was never able to catch him although he pulled even several times. Behind Dickson were Gary Bettenhausen, Tinley Park, Ill., Chuck Allen, San Diego, Calif., and Sam Sessions, Nashville, Mich.

Sessions’ fifth place finish allowed him to maintain his lead in the USAC sprint division point standing.

Masters, who won $1,600 of the $9,000 purse, had never won a USAC sprint car feature on a dirt track and his last feature victory in the sprints was at Salem, Ind., in 1969.

Billy Cassella won the 12-lap semi-feature while Bubby Jones, Springfield, Ill., won the first heat race. Larry Cannon, Oakwood, Ill., took the second heat. Duane Carter Jr. of Huntington Beach, Calif., won the third and Merle Bettenhausen of Indianapolis took the fourth heat.
I was lucky to win it," said Masters, as he accepted pats on the back from well-wishers following the race.
Sessions, winner of Saturday’s Eldora Sprint at Rossburg, Ohio, picked up 25 points for his fifth-place finish Sunday. He now has 334 points to lead all USAC drivers in sprint action.
Dickson for the second day in a row finished as runner up. Dickson, currently in second place in the USAC standings, closed the gap on the leader. Sessions, by adding 35 giving him 310.
Gary Bettenhausen, who qualified sixth, was the day’s fastest qualifier, winning
the ice bucket trophy. Bettenhausen turned the half-mile track in 23.5 seconds.

It turned out to be a perfect afternoon for racing as the fans watched the accident-free race under clear blue skies.
Several cars spun out on the track as it turned slick after an afternoon of intense racing.
Early qualifiers found the track prepared to their liking as the first six men out turned in times on the mid-23 second range.

Jones won the first heat race with top qualifier Bettenhausen. Starting at the back of the inverted seven-car field and unable to get around traffic, and finally spinning out on the last lap in turn three.

“Boom Boom” Cannon grabbed the second heat but developed engine trouble on the last lap that proved fatal in the feature. Cannon started the championship running on six cylinders and was the first car out to drop out of the race.
Carter jumped out to an early lead and hot-footed it to win the third heat. Carter nicknamed “Pancho” was the birthday boy on Sunday and was presented a cake by Vigo County Fair Queen Betsy Larr when Billy Vukovich and friends dropped a bucket of ice water on the driver and local announcer, Bob Forbes.
Bruce Walkup, winner of the Hulman Classic, jumped out to the lead in the fourth heat but couldn’t hang on as Merle Bettenhausen, Darl Harrison, Tom Bigelow and Dickson finished ahead of him.
Cassella, in his first year on the USAC circuit, won the semi-feature event after passing Chuck Allen on the seventh lap. Allen finished second with Bettenhausen third. Steve Cannon and Lee Kunzman finished fourth and fifth.


Results –

Heat #1 – Bubby Jones
Heat #2 – Larry Cannon
Heat #3 – Duane Carter
Heat #4 – Merle Bettenhausen
Semi-main – Bill Cassella
Feature –
    1.     Charlie Masters
2.     Larry Dickson
3.     Gary Bettenhausen
4.     Chuck Allen
5.     Sam Sessions
6.     Tom Bigelow
7.     George Snider
8.     Steve Cannon
9.     Rollie Beale
10. Johnnie Parsons
11. Darl Harrison
12. Bubby Jones
13. Rick Goudy
14. Merle Bettenhausen
15. Gary Ponzini
16. Duane Carter
17. Ralph Liguori
18. Bill Cassella
19. Bill Puterbaugh
20. Larry Cannon