Frank Gawlinski shows off his hardware after scoring his first ARTGO-sanctioned victory in the Tony Bettenhausen 100.
Schererville, Ind. (September 27, 1981) – Coming back from an early race spin and using 10 additional yellow flags to his advantage, Frank Gawlinski was the victor in Sunday afternoon’s ARTGO-sanctioned Tony Bettenhausen Classic 100-lap late model stock car race at Illiana Motor Speedway.
The 34-year-old Lynwood, Ill., leadfoot wheeled his 1981 Camaro past race leader Tom Jones with only seven laps to go to score the win. For Gawlinski, the 1980 Illiana track champion, it was his first ARTGO feature win of his career, which began late model competition back in 1977.
Jones’ victory hopes faded on lap 94, when Gawlinski, who credited the numerous yellow flags in giving him a chance to make chassis adjustments, charged into the lead. Lap 95 saw the caution light flash again as Larry Middleton, running an impressive fourth, and Alan Kulwicki got tangled up in turn four, with Middleton spinning and Kulwicki grazing the outside guardrail.
With a trophy dash to the checkers set, Gawlinski maintained the edge and went on to victory, becoming the 16th different winner of the Bettenhausen Classic and the ninth different winner on the ARTGO tour in 1981.
Trailing Gawlinski at the end of the 100-laps were Tom Jones, Ed Hoffman, ’74 race winner Tom Reffner and Billy Venturini.
Jim Sauter set a new track record during time trials, turning a lap in 19.331 seconds, to set fast time for the day.
1. Frank Gawlinski, Lynwood, Ill.
2. Tom Jones, Northbrook, Ill.
3. Ed Hoffman, Niles, Ill.
4. Tom Reffner, Rudolph, Wis.
5. Billy Venturini, Chicago, Ill.
6. Joe Shear, South Beloit, Ill.
7. Steve Moll, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
8. Larry Middleton, East Hazel Crest, Ill.
9. Tony Hertko, Joliet, Ill.
10. Ray Young, Dolton, Ill.
11. Alan Kulwicki, Milwaukee, Wis.
12. Gil Tarbutton, Hebron, Ind.
13. Rich Sundling, Addison, Ill.
14. Junior Hanley, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
15. Jim Back, Vesper, Wis.
16. Jack Carey, Orland Park, Ill.
17. Jim Sauter, Necedah, Wis.
18. Billy Kuhn, Freeport, Ill.
19. Dave Weltmeyer, Harvey, Ill.
20. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
21. Fred Campbell, Battle Creek, Mich.
22. Mel Whalen, Shakopee, Minn.
23. Ron Bloomberg, Elgin, Ill.
24. Jim Weber, Rosemount, Minn.
25. Trace Embrey, Schererville, Ind.
26. Larry Schuler, New Lenox, Ill.