Eldon, Iowa (August 10, 1975) - Jan Opperman of Beaver Crossing, Neb., making a rare appearance, won the 25-lap IMCA sprint car feature at the Wapello County Fair on Sunday night.
“This is the kind of track I like,” Opperman said, referring to the tacky condition of the half-mile oval. “We had the right chassis combination tonight.”
Several caution periods allowed the field to close on the Indianapolis 500 veteran during the race.
However, he was able to pull away from the competition each time by being the only driver able to use the entire track to his advantage.
Finishing second was Bubby Jones of Danville, Ill., followed by Bill Utz of Sedalia, Mo., and Larry Kirkpatrick of Wood River, Ill. Kirkpatrick had been running in third place for most of the race before slowing on the backstretch during the final lap, allowing Utz to pass.
“He ran out of gas,” commented Kirkpatrick’s mechanic, Bob Trostle of Des Moines, “When he got bumped earlier by another car, the gas tank tilted, and the engine couldn’t pull the last gallon and a half.”
Heat races were won by Kirkpatrick, Roger Rager of Mound, Minn., and John Babb of Ottumwa. Kirkpatrick edged Opperman to win the five-lap match race and Bob Thoman of Higginsville, Mo., won the 10-lap consolation race.
Twenty-seven drivers from seven states qualified for the program and 20 cars started the feature event.
Heat #1 – Larry Kirkpatrick, Wood River, Ill.
Heat #2 – Roger Rager, Mound, Minn.
Heat #3 – Johnny Babb, Ottumwa, Iowa
Match Race – Larry Kirkpatrick
Consolation – Bob Thoman, Higginsville, Mo.
1. Jan Opperman, Beaver Crossing, Neb.
2. Bubby Jones, Danville, Ill.
3. Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
4. Larry Kirkpatrick
5. Roger Rager
6. Bill Robison, Topeka, Kan.
7. Bob Thoman
8. Del Schmidt, Topeka, Kan.
9. Ralph Parkinson Sr., Kansas City
10.Gene Kester, Odessa, Mo.