Jan Opperman proudly displays his trophy after winning the 30-lap IMCA sprint car feature at the Nebraska State Fair. - Bob Mays Collection
Lincoln, Neb. (September 1, 1968) – Jan Opperman of Hayward, Calif., grabbed first place in Sunday’s 30-lap IMCA sprint car feature at the Nebraska State Fair before 11,000 spectators.
Opperman, starting on the outside in the front row, paced the 18-car field for 16 circuits before he went wide in the fourth turn and yielded two positions to Bill Utz of Sedalia, Mo., and Joe Saldana of Lincoln.
Opperman, however, would get the lead back, when Saldana and Utz tangled while battling for the lead, severely damaging the leader’s car and sending the Missourian to the pit area.
On the restart, Opperman would quickly separate himself from the rest of the field and lead the remaining three laps to seal the victory.
Dave Ross of Jetmore, Kan., and Dale Reed of Wichita, Kan., would follow Opperman across the finish line.
An earlier mishap took out Hank Smith of Mt. Ayr, Iowa, Lonnie Jensen of Lincoln, Dick Sutcliffe of Greenwood, Mo., and J.L. Cooper of Kansas City. That accident would occur on the lap 2 when Roger Lane of Blue Springs, Mo., rammed Sutcliffe from behind.
In the preliminaries, heat race wins went to Hank Smith in a curtain raiser; Opperman took the second heat; and Roy Bryant of Wichita, Kan., won the third heat. Lane won the 10-lap consolation.
In contrast to Sunday’s opener, the track was had-slick much of the time and race times were some 10 seconds off the record-smashing pace established in the first day of racing.
1. Jan Opperman, Hayward, Calif.
2. Dave Ross, Jetmore, Kan.
3. Dale Reed, Wichita, Kan.
4. Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
5. Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa
6. Roger Rager, Mound, Minn.
7. Joe Saldana, Lincoln, Neb.
8. Lonnie Jensen, Lincoln, Neb.
9. Jerry Weld, Kansas City
10. Chuck Taylor, East Alton, Ill.
11. Bill Hudson, Montezuma, Iowa
12. Sonny McDaniel, Pasadena, Tex.