Tuesday, March 24, 2020

1974 – Puterbaugh is Reading sprint car winner

Bill Puterbaugh (73) battles Jan Opperman (90) during their USAC sprint car encounter at the Reading Fairgrounds. Puterbaugh would win the 40-lapper. – John Mahoney Photo



Reading, Penn. (March 24, 1974) - Bill Puterbaugh of Indianapolis, Ind., scored his first USAC sprint feature victory since 1971 by prevailing in the first 40-lap event of the season at Reading Fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon.

Starting in eighth place, Puterbaugh took the lead from Jan Opperman, Beaver Crossing, Neb., on the 23rd lap and then battled Duane Carter Jr., who finally submitted to a spinout that forced him to the back of the pack on the 36th lap.

Opperman salvaged second place, followed by Don Nordhorn, Wadesville, Ind.; Lebanon's Lee Osborne, and Mel Cornett of Milwaukee, Wis.

Heat winners were Sheldon Kinser, Bloomington, Ind.; Kramer Williamson, Mechanicsburg and Cornett.

Osborne captured the 10-lap semi-feature. George Snyder of Indianapolis clocked a 23.50 as fastest in the time trials.


Results –


1. Bill Puterbaugh
2. Jan Opperman
3. Don Nordhorn
4. Lee Osborne
5. Mel Cornett
6. Pancho Carter
7. Sam Sessions
8. Bill Cassella
9. Kramer Williamson
10.Rich Leavell
11.Greg Leffler
12.Bruce Walkup
13.Johnny Parsons
14.Mike Lloyd
15.Sheldon Kinser

Sunday, March 22, 2020

1959 – Lakewood Race to Beauchamp

Johnnie Beauchamp


Atlanta, Ga. (March 22, 1959) – Johnnie Beauchamp, who recently lost the Daytona 500 by a few inches and a reversal of the official’s decision, was somewhat luckier Sunday, as he won the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National auto race at Lakewood Speedway.

Beauchamp, a native of Harlan, Iowa, wheeled his 1959 Ford Thunderbird around the one-mile track in 1 hour, 19 minutes and 49 seconds for an average speed of 75 miles per hour.

Had the race lasted another couple of laps, it is quite possible luck would have frowned upon him again. His car’s rear end began to smoke as he went into the last lap.

Veteran Buck Baker of Spartansburg, S.C., in a 1959 Chevrolet, finished in second place, a mile or so back.

Trailing Beauchamp and Baker were Tom Pistone, Chicago, 1959 Thunderbird, Speedy Thompson, Monroe, N.C., 1957 Chevrolet, and Joe Eubanks, Spartansburg, S.C., 1958 Ford.

Although there were no serious mishaps, mechanical failure took a heavy toll of the starters. Among them was Lee Patty, the North Carolinian awarded late judgment over Beauchamp at Daytona. He was sitting on the back stretch with a broken axle when the race was won by Beauchamp.


Results –


1. Johnnie Beauchamp
2. Buck Baker
3. Tom Pistone
4. Speedy Thompson
5. Joe Eubanks
6. Shorty Rollins
7. Billy Carden
8. Fireball Roberts
9. Tiny Lund
10.Bob Welborn
11.Jim McGuirk
12.Sam Massey
13.Roscoe Thompson
14.Cotton Owens
15.J.C. Hendrix
16. Chet Barron
17.Lee Petty
18.Johnny Allen
19.Pete Kelly
20.Charles Griffith

Friday, March 20, 2020

1977 – Ruttman snares I-70 Speedway opener



Odessa, Mo. (March 20, 1977) – Joe Ruttman of Westland, Mich., led start to finish in the 100-lap main event at I-70 Speedway on Sunday afternoon to take the top prize in the first annual “Clear Skies 250”, which served as I-70 Speedway’s opening event as well as the first on this year’s schedule for the American Speed Association (ASA) “Circuit of Champions” late model stock car series.

Ruttman also won one of the 75-lap preliminary features and took home $2,275 for the afternoon’s work.

In the first 75-lapper, Ruttman jumped from the outside pole to lead the first lap but was overhauled by polesitter Tom Reffner of Rudolph, Wis., on the second round.

Reffner, had earned the pole position with a qualifying time of 17.74 seconds, identical to that of Tom Maier of Brea, Calif., Maier earned the pole position for the second preliminary.

Reffner would lead the next 37 circuits until his AMC Hornet experienced handling problems, which his pit crew traced to tire compound, and he retired after six more laps.

On the same lap, Larry Phillips of Springfield, Mo., took over the lead in his Camaro, but held it only two laps before Ruttman pushed his own Camaro back into the top spot. Phillips also developed engine problems and fell out of the running.

Ruttman would take a comfortable win with Don Gregory, Columbus, Ohio, placing second and Ed Hoffman, Niles, Ill., in third.

In the second 75-lap preliminary, Maier took the lead at the drop of the green but problems with a soft tire compound forced him to give up the top spot on lap 14 when Mike Eddy of Kawkawlin, Mich., put his Camaro in front.

Eddy went on to win handily, beating Maier to the checkered flag by seven seconds. Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., finished third in his Mustang.

Although Ruttman led every lap of the 100-lap main event and won by almost half a lap, he had a far from easy time of it.

For two-thirds of the race, it was the hard-charging Mike Eddy that kept the nearly 3,400 fans in attendance on the edge of their seats as he tried inside and outside in repeated attempts to get around Ruttman.

On lap 64, however, Eddy slowed visibly as the two frontrunners raced down the front straight of the banked half-mile, and on the next lap he was in the pit area with a blown engine.

Ruttman was left with a sizeable lead margin, with a half a lap lead on Ed Hoffman. Hoffman remained in second until lap 84 when he retired with an oil leak.

Don Gregory inherited second spot with Hoffman’s departure, but was too far back to mount any challenge to Ruttman. Trickle took third, better than half a lap behind the winner and the top three were the only cars on the lead lap.

Fourth went to Junior Hanley of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, a lap back, with Dave Watson of Milton, Wis., finishing fifth and being credited with 98 laps finished.

Maier was penalized three laps for using an air wench on a pit stop in the 100-lap final as was Ray Young of Dolton, Ill. ASA rules prohibit the use of an air wrench for tire changes during a race.

Results –

1. Joe Ruttman, Westland, Mich.
2. Don Gregory, Columbus, Ohio
3. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
4. Junior Hanley, Burlington, Ontario
5. Dave Watson, Milton, Wis.
6. Rusty Wallace, St. Louis
7. Wayne Woody, Marionville, Mo.
8. Harold Scott, New Castle, Ind.
9. Jim Behee of Independence, Mo.
10. Tom Maier, Brea, Mich.
11. Gary Truelove
12. Gene Christie
13. Willie Crane, Kansas City
14. Robbie Dean
15. Clayton Petersen Jr., Grand Island, Neb.
16. Dave Anderson
17. Ray Young, Dolton, Ill.
18. Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark.
19. Ed Hoffman, Niles, Ill.
20. Dave Bruggink, Sheboygan, Wis.
21. Mike Eddy, Kawkawlin, Mich.
22. Jack Constable, Trenton, Mo. 
23. Joe Shear, South Beloit, Ill
24. Larry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
25. Ferris Collier, Lampe, Mo.
26. Jimmy Pierson, Milton, Wis. 
27. Axel Dahlberg, Mauston, Wis.
28. Tom Reffner, Rudolph, Wis.
29. Bill Crane, Kansas City
30. Jim Campbell
31. Tommy Edwards
32. Dave Roahrig, Plymouth, Ind. 
33. Al Jones

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

1973 – Kunzman Wins USAC Opener at Salem

Lee "Stub" Kunzman


Salem, Ind. (March 18, 1973) – Lee Kunzman of Guttenberg, Iowa, and his immaculately-prepared R&B Racing Associates Chevy won the 1973 United States Auto Club sprint car season opener Sunday afternoon at Salem Speedway.

Kunzman had both the handling ability and the power of the Jack Steck wrenched car to zoom to the victory over the half-mile paved banks, however Greg Weld gave hm quite the struggle, especially in the last few laps.

After a lap 34 yellow dissipated a 10-second lead for Kunzman, Weld applied plenty of pressure for the balance of the race, making at least three attempts to take the top spot.

Kunzman would fend off all challenges by the Kansas City, Mo., pilot and win by four car lengths.

In a post-race interview with Weld, he said he could get around Kunzman but the back-end of his rear-engine beauty kept breaking loose causing him to lift from thee throttle before he wanted to.

The 40-lap A-main started with polesitter Benny Rapp leading thee first go-round before Jerry Poland passed him going down the backstretch. Don Nordhorn then took the lead on lap 6 with a same-place pass.

Finally, Kunzman, up from his sixth place starting position (having set fast time), roared around Nordhorn coming off the fourth turn and led the rest of the way.

Thee attrition rate was high with only nine of the 20 starters finishing. Among those out were early leader Rapp with handling problems and Larry Dickson in the rear-engine Gehlhausen with radiator issues.

Yellow flags unfurled three times during the feature but there were no accidents. In fact, the whole program was safely run, and speeds were exceptionally fast. No records were broken due as the cold weather affected the adhesion of the tires.

The cold weather, with snow the day before, kept the crowd down, but 3,000 diehard fans still showed up.

Finishing third behind Kunzman and Weld were Karl Busson, who started 14th. He was followed by Bill Puterbaugh and Nordhorn.

Defending USAC sprint car champion Sam Sessions was without his regular ride as the Amerling Special was stuck somewhere up north in a snowbank.

Results –

Heat #1 – Bob Kinser
Heat #2 – Karl Busson
Heat #3 – Cy Fairchild
Heat #4 – Greg Weld
Semi – Benny Rapp
Feature –
1. Lee Kunzman
2. Greg Weld
3. Karl Busson
4. Bill Puterbaugh
5. Don Nordhorn
6. Rollie Beale
7. Jerry Poland
8. Chuck Booth
9. Cy Fairchild
10. Sam Sessions
11. Tom Bigelow
12. Gary Bettenhausen
13. Duke Cook
14. Charlie Masters
15. Benny Rapp
16. Larry Cannon
17. Joe Saldana
18. Bob Kinser
19. Larry Dickson
20. Sonny Ates

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Remembering 1990: The Busch All Star Tour - Memorial Day Weekend


Ray Guss Jr. - Todd Healey Photo


By Lee Ackerman
Omaha, Neb. - By 1990, the NASCAR Busch All Star Tour was in its sixth year and was providing Midwest race fans with some great racing action. Starting in 1985 when they ran a short season of just six races that saw Iowa veteran Roger Dolan edge out Steve Kosiski by just one point for the title, the series had grown to 17 events in 1989 when Joe Kosiski won his third tour championship interrupted only by brother Steve’s title in 1987.

1990 would see 15 races go in the record books with the busiest weekend being over Memorial Day when the series ran four races in four days. Action would start on Friday night at Eagle Raceway outside Lincoln, Nebraska move to the Mid-Continent Raceway near Doniphan on Saturday night then back to Omaha’s venerable Sunset Speedway on Sunday night and finish up on Monday night at the West Liberty (Iowa) Raceway.

On Friday night at Eagle, 40 late models timed in with Steve Kosiski posting fast time at 15.46. Ironically, brother Joe was the following car to qualify and turned a 15.47 second lap. Story City, Iowa’s Bob Hill was third on the clock at 15.53. Fifteen-lap qualifiers would go to fourth starting Rick Wendling in qualifier one and sixth starting Ray Guss, Jr. in qualifier two. Johnny Saathoff would take the Race of Champions and then just before the consolation, there was light. Eagle Raceway turned on their new lighting system and the whole place lite up. Giltner, Nebraska’s Al Humphrey then stormed from his outside front row starting position and won the consolation.

At the drop of the green, Rollie Frink grabbed the lead from his outside pole position and appeared to be the car to beat, but sixth starting Steve Kosiski was working his way up to challenge and by lap 34 he was running side by side with Frink, on lap 36 Kosiski went to the front and despite giving it everything he could muster, Frink simply had to settle for second. Following Kosiski and Frink to the line were Bob Hill, Joe Kosiski and Sonny Findling.


Joe Kosiski - Jerry Adams Photo


On Saturday, the series moved to the Mid-Continent Raceway outside Doniphan, Nebraska for round two of weekend. When qualifying was over, the third Kosiski brother, Ed had set fast time at 20.04 seconds. Qualifying races went to Steve Fraise of Montrose, Iowa, with home track favorite Kent Tucker second and Bob Hill third. In the second qualifier it was Ray Guss, Jr. of Milan, Illinois picking up the win following by Rick Wendling and Gary Webb. Sonny Findling took the Race of Champions. The two consolation races were won by Jerry Wancewicz and Bubba Harvey.

The 50-lap feature ended up being a an all Kosiski show as Joe and Steve waged a fierce battle for the top spot with Steve gaining the lead on lap 30 and going on to win the race. Joe would finish second and Ed finished third. Steve Fraise and Gary Webb rounded out the top five.

“I saw him behind me and just tried to use as much racetrack as I could,” said Joe after the event, “but he had too much for everyone tonight.” 


Gary Webb - Todd Healey Photo


Round three on Sunday night would see the series move to Sunset Speedway on the northwest side of Omaha and things were about to change. Rollie Frink of Davenport would set fast time at 19.07 seconds. Gary Webb picked up the win in the Fierge Auto Parts Race of Champions while it was business as usual with Ed and Steve Kosiski picking up the Qualifying race wins. Rollie Frink would come back to win the consolation race.

In the 50-lap feature Ray Guss Jr. took the Precision Performance Camaro to the front on the third lap and would never give up the lead in taking home the win. There were however some fierce battles behind Guss. Sonny Findling would settle into second place but the battle for third was a war between Gary Webb, Pete Parker, Willy Kraft, Rick Wendling, Bob Hill and Steve and Joe Kosiski. That group would provide some great side by side, door to door racing that brought crowd to their feet a number of times.

Guss, however would be out by himself and despite a late lap 43 caution that bunched up the field nobody could mount a challenge on the restart that saw the top five at the finish include Guss, Findling, Webb, Parker and Kraft. “Our car was really hooked up tonight.” said Guss, after the race. “The track was slick and dry, but it made for a good racing surface and we’re happy the way the car performed.”

Steve Kosiski


The series moved to Eastern Iowa and the West Liberty Raceway for the four and final race of the four day Memorial Day swing and once again it was Ray Guss, Jr. in the Precision Performance #50 that would go to victory lane. Guss would grab the lead from his front row starting position at the outset of the event and never look back. The race would see only one caution during the 50 laps, that for Steve Johnson who blew a motor.

Guss would end up winning the event by nearly a straightaway with Rollie Frink, Steve Kosiski, Ed Kosiski and Willy Kraft rounding out the top 5. Gary Webb would pace the 48 car field in time trials with a lap of 21.30 seconds. Qualifying races went to Guss and Steve Kosiski with Joe Kosiski winning the Race of Champions and Steve Hennies the consolation race.

“We were looking forward to coming here tonight on the tour.” Guss commented. “West Liberty is our home track and we enjoy running here before our fans.”

The four-day swing would end with Steve Kosiski and Ray Guss, Jr. both picking up two wins. Kosiski would use his two wins and three more later in the 1990 season to nail down the 1990 Busch All Star Tour Championship, his second of what would be a career high seven tour championships.

Willy Kraft

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

1962 – Derr’s Pontiac wins Atlanta 100-miler

Ernie Derr


Atlanta, Ga. (March 4, 1962) - Drivers from the Midwest won the first three places in the 100-mile late mode auto race at Lakewood Speedway on Sunday.

Ernie Derr of Keokuk, Iowa, played it safe on the one-mile dirt oval and came In first with a 1962 Pontiac.

Iggy Katona of Willis, Mich., gambled and lost. He tried to go the 100 miles on one tank of gas but fell two laps short in his 1962 Ford.

Derr made a fuel stop on the 78th lap. The 40-year-old father of six children lost the lead at the time but he surged back and was out in front when it really counted - on the 100th and final lap

Victory in the race sanctioned by the Midwestern Association of Car Racing (MARC) was worth $1,000.

Dick Freeman of Dayton, Ohio, was second in a 1961 Chevrolet and received $650. Katona earned $500 by finishing third.

Jim Norton of Atlanta was fourth in a 1960 Ford and received $350. Tim Flock of Atlanta was fifth in a 1962 Ford and earned $75.

About 3,000 fans watched the race.

Phil Cronin of Houston, Tex., wrecked his 1961 Ford on the second lap when it slammed into a guardrail, but he was not hurt.

Veteran Curtis Turner of Roanoke, Va., was 10th, while Bob Welborn of Greensboro, N.C., finish 12th. Welborn is a former NASCAR driver who joined the MARC circuit for this race.



Results –

1. Ernie Derr
2. Dick Freeman
3. Iggy Katona
4. James Norton
5. Tim Flock
6. Ramo Stott
7. Harold Smith
8. Jimmy Lunsford
9. Charlie Glotzbach
10.Curtis Turner

Friday, February 21, 2020

The USA Late Model Nationals

Steve Kosiski would win the inaugural USA Late Model Nationals in 1992. Ms. 34 Raceway, Jenni Carlson joins Kosiski in victory lane. - Dennis Krieger Imagery


By Kyle Ealy
Burlington, Iowa – A dream of race promoters Ron and Susan Pallister became one of the biggest late model events in the Midwest.

The USA Late Model Nationals at 34 Raceway would draw the very best late model drivers from near and far.

“These late model guys are my heroes,” Pallister would say. “They need to get the limelight. There’re been national races for other forms of racing, but never anything for the late models. This is their opportunity.”

The inaugural event in 1992 would surpass Pallister’s expectations. The original plan was for about 40 to 45 drivers to enter the event. Instead, 65 late models registered for the races.

“We didn’t think it would be this big this quick,” Pallister said. “This has exceeded what we expected to have.”

So, what drew the top drivers and their late models to the 3/8-mile dirt track located near Middletown, Iowa?

“The money,” said Rollie Frink of Davenport, Iowa.

“The money,” said Steve Boley of Oxford, Iowa.

“Definitely the money,” said Joe Kosiski of Omaha.

The winner of the 100-lap feature was to receive $5,000 plus there was an additional $1,000 in lap money.

Originally scheduled for August 25-26, 1992, the Tuesday-Wednesday format would be postponed because of heavy rains. It would be rescheduled for September 1-2 only to see those dates rained out as well. Finally, on Tuesday, September 8, the USA Late Model Nationals became reality…

The six top qualifiers in time trials automatically qualified for the feature. The next 14 positions were filled in qualifying races.

Terry Schlipman of Mendon, Ill., was the fastest driver in qualifying with a one-lap time of 16.87 seconds around the 3/8-mile oval, .02 faster than second-place driver Steve Kosiski of Omaha. Tom Hearst of Tipton, Iowa, and Ray Guss Jr. of Milan, Ill., won 25-lap qualifying features and Joe Kosiski, the NASCAR Central Region point’s leader, won the $1,000 Pallister Pallet Challenge featuring the top six qualifiers.

Rain would continue to be a factor, though, with Wednesday’s 100-lap championship feature rained out and moved forward to Thursday.

Thursday’s feature would be a family squabble as Steve and Joe Kosiski as the Omaha, Neb., drivers dominated the race, with Steve passing Joe for the lead on the 83rd lap and then holding on for the win and the $5,000 first-place prize.

A change of driving lines was enough to boost Steve past his older brother and claim the inaugural event.

“His car was a lot faster than mine early in the race, but when I quit trying to pass him on the inside and moved up the track, I found I could get more speed,” Steve said.

Joe looked like he was going to lead the entire race. He led the first 82 laps and seemed headed for the win before Steve found a new driving line.

“I couldn’t get around him on the inside,” Steve said. "When I moved to the middle of the track, I found I could get out of the corners faster and get more speed. Joe thought he was going to have to move down low to hold me off, and that’s how I got around him.”

Ray Guss Jr. finished third in the race. Jay Johnson of West Burlington, Iowa, who started 13th, finished fourth. Gary Russell of Carman, Ill., finished fifth.

The second annual USA Late Model Nationals finished up its first day of time trials and qualifying races on Monday, August 23, 1993, with no clear-cut favorite emerging.

As one driver mentioned afterwards, “Take your pick, this is one tough field.”

Bryan Wanner of Winfield, Iowa, was fastest of 41 late models, timing in at 18.06 seconds and Steve Boley of Oxford, Iowa, the NASCAR Central Region point’s leader, won the 6-car fast dash and $1,000.

The Kosiski’s, back again for more, saw Ed and Joe win 25-lap qualifying features while the defending winner, Steve, was one of the six fastest qualifiers.


Ray Guss Jr. was the 1993 USA Late Model Nationals winner. Cathy Coppes makes the trophy presentation. - Mike Svoboda Photo


The next night, one driver made it crystal clear…

Ray Guss Jr., led all 100 laps to claim the title in the event. The Milan, Ill., driver started on the front row and passed polesitter Steve Boley on the first lap. Guss would survive challenges by Steve and Joe Kosiski, as well as several caution periods late in the race which tightened the field.

“I kept hitting the holes,” Guss said. “I was able to keep control, but it was rough. “The restarts made me nervous, especially at the end,” said Guss, who earned $7,000 with the win.

Steve Kosiski settled for second with big brother Joe taking third. Curt Martin of Independence, Iowa, took fourth with Steve Boley in fifth.

Gary Webb’s weekly set-up at 34 Raceway would produce the same results at the USA Late Model Nationals on Tuesday, August 23, 1994. Webb had won four weekly features at the track and also the NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour feature at the track in July.

“This is the same set-up we’ve used every night here,” the Davenport driver said as he collected the $7,000 prize money. “We didn’t change a thing.” 

Gary Webb of Davenport, Iowa, added another trophy and paycheck to an already successful season by winning the 1995 USA Late Model Nationals. Ms. 34 Raceway, Corina Nichols, makes the presentation. - Dennis Krieger Imagery


Webb led the final 25 laps of the 100-lap feature after taking the lead in a three-car duel with Johnny Saathoff of Beatrice, Neb., and Steve Boley of Oxford, Iowa.

Webb took the lead on lap 35 when leader Ray Guss Jr. tangled with second -place Steve Kosiski. That gave the lead to Webb, who was in third place.

Saathoff, who snatched the lead from Webb on the 64th lap, found himself trapped on lap 74 when Webb and Boley came up to challenge for the lead. They went three-wide into the first turn, with Webb coming out the leader.

Webb set fast time during Monday’s qualifying, touring the 3/8-mile in 17.331 seconds. Layne Meyer of West Union, Iowa, won the six-car Fast Dash while Boley and Steve Sutliff of Carman, Ill., won 25-lap qualifying features.

The fourth annual race, held on August 22, 1995, would see another Kosiski family shootout, this time with Joe outlasting his younger brother Steve.

The slightly older Kosiski led the final 37 laps to take the $8,000 top prize and become the fourth different winner of the event. Steve Kosiski was able to stay close to his brother but was never able to make a move for the top spot.

“I think the starting spot helped,” said Joe, who started from the pole position “Plus, I was able to save the tires.”

Joe Kosiski took the lead on the 63rd lap when Ray Guss Jr., the 1993 winner of the event, cut a right rear tire and slid off the backstretch.

While the Kosiski’s were battling it out, a lot of other contenders would fall by the wayside. Along with Guss Jr., Jay Johnson of West Burlington, Iowa, Monday’s fast qualifier, was among the top five when he suffered damage on lap 72. His father, Johnny Johnson, also a top-five contender, dropped a few laps later with a flat tire. Bob Dominacki of Bettendorf, Iowa was creeping up on the leaders when a tie rod snapped on lap 92.

Rick Wending of Hazelton, Iowa, would finish third in the 100-lapper followed by Ryan Fierge of Quincy, Ill., and Ryan Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa.

The USA Late Model Nationals would suffer tragedy in December of 1995 when Susan Pallister, wife of promoter Ron Pallister, passed away following a lengthy illness.

The race would go on, but with a new name…The Susan Pallister Memorial - USA Late Model Nationals.

When the fifth annual event took place on August 21, 1996, a decision awaited the field. Drivers were given a choice of tire – they could run either NASCAR or IMCA race tires for the 100-lapper. The majority of those chose IMCA tires. One driver decided to go with NASCAR tread…and he would choose wisely.

Brian Birkhofer’s decision paid big dividends. As the track began to put down rubber in the late stages, Birkhofer’s tires took hold of the track while the cars with IMCA tires began to push out in the corners. Birkhofer took advantage, passing defending champion Joe Kosiski on lap 89 and pulling away to win the $9,000 payday.

To date, it was the biggest late model victory for the young Muscatine, Iowa driver.

This is probably my biggest win yet,” Birkhofer said. “It hasn’t really hit me. The most I had ever won before at one race was $3,000. I don’t know what I’ll do with $9,000. It will definitely do my bank account good.”

Rick Wendling and defending champion Joe Kosiski would lead the field to green with Kosiski getting the drop on lap 1. He would proceed to lead the next 88 circuits with Wendling in tow the whole distance.

Birkhofer, who started in the middle of the field, made his move with 15 laps to go. While Kosiski and Wendling were having problems with their cars pushing out in the turns, Birkhofer’s tires took hold on the tacky track. Birkhofer went low in the front straight-away on lap 86 to get by Wendling for second place, then set his sights on an unsuspecting Kosiski with 11 laps remaining.

“I thought there was no way I was going to win this,” Birkhofer said afterwards. “After I drew the 14th spot, I was just hoping to finish in the top 10. I was just racing, trying to find the fastest groove and pick off as many cars as I could.” 

Jay Johnson of West Burlington, Iowa, collected his biggest late model win ever in the sixth annual USA Late Model Nationals. Ms. 34 Raceway, Heidi Newman presents the check while Bill Newman presents the checkers. Johnson's children are also pictured. - Dennis Krieger Imagery



Jay Johnson would add his name to the Susan Pallister Memorial - USA Late Model Nationals trophy a year later, August 20, 1997, with a dominating performance. Johnson would lead 92 of 100 laps, taking the win and the $10,000 paycheck.

Johnson knew he had strong car when he went out to hot lap before the feature. He quickly found out how his car was handling on the 3/8-mile dirt oval.

“I found out they were clocking me on the stopwatch running the same time at the top and bottom of the track,” Johnson said. “I thought the car felt pretty good.”

Johnson took the lead on the seventh lap from Gary Russell of Biggsville, Ill., and held it until the 83rd lap, when former champion Gary Webb passed Johnson. But two laps later, Johnson went high in the third turn as Webb became trapped behind Russell and powered by Webb and took back the lead.

Johnson would build a three-second lead from there and sail to the win. Webb hung on for second while Mark Burgtorf of Quincy, Ill., who started 17th, took third. Jeff Aikey finished fourth and Jay’s father (and track owner) Johnny Johnson earned fifth after spinning out on lap 24 and restarting at the rear of the field.

Johnson, who also won one of the five qualifying heats Monday night, became the sixth different winner in the six years of the event. Webb was the only returning champion in the field.

During Monday’s preliminaries, Jeff Guengerich of Washington, Iowa, Gary Russell, Gary Webb, Johnson and Thad Trump of Kahoka, Mo. Curt Martin of Independence, Iowa, was quick timer with a time of 17.478 seconds. 

Changes were in store for 34 Raceway and the Susan Pallister Memorial - USA Late Model Nationals in 1998. One of the most successful racers in 34 history, Ron Jackson, was taking over the promotional reins. And, for the first time since it started in 1992, the USA Late Model Nationals would become sanctioned. The race would be ruled and regulated by IMCA and the event would become part of the popular Deery Brothers Summer Series tour.

How fitting it was that the tour’s hottest driver would be the winner after the checkered wave on Monday night, September 7, 1998. Cedar Falls, Iowa’s Jeff Aikey had a record-setting year on the Deery Brothers Summer Series, winning seven of the 15 races run in the series.

Aikey, starting from the third row in the 100-lap, 28-car feature race, got past IMCA national champion Mark Burgtorf on the 20th lap and never looked back. Aikey opened his lead through the middle of the race and pulled away for the $10,000 win.

For Aikey, the win was a record-setting eighth in the series this year and was the richest payday of his career. He lapped all but four cars in the 28-car feature race.

“This is my biggest win ever,” Aikey said. “This is definitely the most money I have ever won. On the way down here, I told the boys I was going to win, and I was going to lap the field.

Burgtorf finished second, just ahead of Rob Toland of Hillsdale, Ill. Tommy Elston of Keokuk, Iowa, finished fourth, while Terry Schlipman of Mendon, Ill., finished fifth.

The victory was Aikey’s eighth on the series and he became the seventh different winner in the seven-year history of the USA Late Model Nationals.

Saturday night’s prelims found Boone McLaughlin of Mediapolis, Iowa, setting fast time with a 16.829 second clocking. His heat win put him on the pole for Sunday night’s race. Burgtorf, Johnny Johnson, Terry Schlipman, Jeff Laue of West Burlington and Aikey. 

Jeff Aikey of Cedar Falls, Iowa, would become the first two-time winner of the USA Late Model Nationals, 1998 and 1999. He's shown here in victory lane after winning the '99 race. Promoter Ron Jackson (far left), Ms. 34 Raceway Jennifer Fiedler and Bill Newman join Aikey in the celebration. - Kelly Underbakke Photo



Aikey would make history the following year, becoming the first driver to win the USA Late Model Nationals two time when he pulled off the feat on Sunday, September 5, 1999.

While not the dominant performance like the year before, Aikey took the lead from Rob Toland of lap 29 and increase his margin over the remaining 70 circuits to win easily in the non-stop, flag-to-flag feature.

“The car was tight at the beginning, but my crew told me that’s the way it was going to be,” said Aikey. “After we burned off some fuel, the car was lighter and ran perfect.”

Terry Schlipman, who started 22nd after winning a last chance qualifier, charged through the field, battled with Toland and former champ Jay Johnson for most of the race, and finished an impressive second. Toland would settle for third while Mark Burgtorf took fourth. Johnson would round out the top five.

A new winner would emerge when the USA Late Model Nationals Susan Pallister Memorial took place on September 2 and 3, 2000. Sixty-five late models attempted to qualify for the 26-car field that would compete for 100 circuits and the $10,000 winner’s share.

When the dust settled, Mark Burgtorf of Quincy, Ill., reigned supreme, becoming the eighth different driver to win the prestigious event.

Mike Smith of Jewell, Iowa, would take the lead at the drop of the green but Darren Miller of Chadwick, Ill., would scoot past him on lap 2. Miller would prove to be the fastest man on the track, extending his lead to nearly half a track’s length.

While it appeared that Miller was well on his way to victory, Burgtorf was efficiently making his way from his third row starting position. He would work his way to second place by lap 11 and begin to pull away.

With the race well in hand for Miller, disaster struck on lap 60 when he suffered a flat tire and was forced to the pit. This put Burgtorf in the top spot with two-time winner Jeff Aikey right behind him. Miller would change his tire and return to the battle at the rear of the field.

While Burgtorf stayed out front and put some distance between himself and the rest of the field, Miller had worked his way back thru the field and with only a couple of laps remaining, charged back into second place.

Miller would give it all he had in the final lap, making a charge at Burgtorf, but he would come up a couple of car-lengths short. Miller, despite a gallant effort, would settle for second followed by Aikey, Boone McLaughlin and another former winner, Ray Guss Jr., finishing fifth. 

After losing a heart-breaker the year before, Darren Miller of Chadwick, Ill., put it all together to win the 2001 USA Late Model Nationals. Deery Brothers Series sponsor Brad Deery (left) and Bill Newman join Miller in the winner's circle. - Craige Gheer Photo


There would be no flat tire to hinder Darren Miller’s progress when the 10th annual USA Late Model Nationals took place on August 16, 2001. Miller led more than half of the 75-lap Deery Brothers Summer Series event and collected $5,000 for his efforts.

He earned his starting spot in the feature by winning the B-main over Ray Guss Jr. Starting 16th in the field of 27, Miller worked his way toward the front steadily and passed Jeff Aikey for the lead after a restart midway through the contest.

Repeating his performance in the B-main, Miller proceeded to take command and extend his margin en route to a comfortable win. Aikey finished second while defending winner Mark Burgtorf took third. Joe Kosiski took fourth and a late bobble by Terry Schlipman allowed former Iowa native Billy Moyer Jr., to grab the fifth spot. 

Curt Martin of Independence, Iowa, was declared the winner of the 2002 USA Late Model Nationals after initial winner Rob Toland was found too light at the scales. Promoter Ron Jackson (left) and Bill Newman join Martin in victory lane. - Scott Tjabring Photo



Thirty-five pounds would be the difference between a $10,000 payday and disqualification during the USA Late Model Nationals on August 20, 2002.

Curt Martin of Independence, Iowa, would be declared the winner after the post-race weigh-in showed initial winner Rob Toland of Hillsdale, Ill., 35 pounds light at the scales.

IMCA late models running the series had to weigh at least 2,400 pounds with the driver inside at the end of the race. Toland’s car crossed the scales several times before officials made the ruling a disqualification.

Martin qualified for the 100-lapper through the B-main, running second to Chris Smyser. Starting 18th, Martin knifed through the field, taking the lead on the lap 39.

However, Toland caught up with Martin on lap 92 and as the leader became mired in lap traffic, Toland sneaked around him and led the final eight circuits and the apparent victory.

But, with Toland light, Martin took home the series’ highest paying event on the schedule.

Smyser, of Lancaster, Mo., made an incredible run himself, starting 17th, and being promoted to runner-up after Toland’s disqualification. Gary Russell would take third, Brian Harris of Davenport, Iowa, was fourth and Jeff Aikey rounded out the top five. 

Driving a borrowed late model, UMP competitor Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., made the long haul to win the 2003 USA Late Model Nationals. - Graige Gheeer Photo


An unlikely winner was crowned the 11th different champion of the USA Late Model Nationals on August 14, 2003.

Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., a regular competitor on the United Midwestern Promoters (UMP) circuit, made the four-hour tow with a borrowed late model and came out on top of the 61 entries to claim the $10,000 first prize.

Boone McLaughlin led the field to green and would lead the first 18 circuits before Erb grabbed the top spot for one lap. McLaughlin would regain the point one lap later and with the Mediapolis, Iowa, speedster out front, the battle for second place would rage behind him with Erb, Gary Russell and defending winner Curt Martin going bumper-to-bumper.

Beginning on lap 32, race fans would see three-wide action as McLaughlin, Erb and Russell fought for the top spot and on lap 38, Russell ducked low and passed both McLaughlin and Erb for the lead much to the fan’s delight.

Russell, attempting to become the first 34 Raceway local driver to win the event, stretched his lead over the field while Erb and McLaughlin would swap second and third place several times.

Erb would finally distance himself from McLaughlin and focus on catching the leader. With 27 laps left to go, Erb had tracked down Russell and when the caution flag came out, Erb was on Russell’s bumper as the field came to green.

The Biggsville, Ill., hot shoe would hold onto his lead on the restart but only briefly as Erb went to the inside groove and powered his way past on the back stretch and into the number one slot. The Illinois ace would increase his margin while Russell was forced to battle with Curt Martin for second spot.

Russell would earn his highest finish to date with a runner-up finish while Martin held on for third. McLaughlin settled for fourth place and Rob Toland rounded out the top five. 

Rob Toland of Hillsdale, Ill., was a double winner during the 2004 USA Late Model Nationals, winning not only the 100-lap feature but clinching the Deery Brothers Summer Series crown as well. - Dana Royer Photo


Rob Toland would be a double winner when the final checker waved on the 13th annual USA Late Model Nationals Susan Pallister Memorial on September 18, 2004. Not only did the Hillsdale, Ill., speedster win the 100-lap feature, but the win also secured him his first Deery Brothers Summer Series late model title. It was Toland’s seventh win in 14 Deery Brothers events for the year.

Toland threatened to make the feature a runaway until lapped traffic midway through the contest allowed the field to close. Terry Schlipman reeled Toland in and passed him on lap 54. Toland would not give in, however, and the duo raced side-by-side for the next eight circuits until Toland was able to regain the top spot, this time for good.

Schlipman, from Mendon, Ill., crossed the finish line in second followed by Brent Slocum of Burlington, Iowa, 18th-starting Boone McLaughlin and former winner Jay Johnson.

Two drivers would cross the finish line first and second, but it was the third-place driver crowned champion of the 15th annual USA Late Model Nationals on September 17, 2005.

Terry Neal of Ely, Iowa, was credited with first place and awarded the check for $10,000 after apparent winner Brian Harris of Davenport, Iowa, and runner-up Boone McLaughlin were both disqualified for failed engine inspection nearly two hours after the race’s completion.

Bud Wollam, IMCA’s technical inspector for the Deery Brothers Summer Series, stated that Harris’ and McLaughlin’s powerplants were three cubic inches over what was legal by race standards.

“Everything is in black and white, and we have to apply the rules,” Wollam remarked. “Nothing would have made me happier than everyone passing inspection. It was a great race and you hate to have this happen.”

Neal, the Deery Brothers Summer Series season champion, not only picked up the big payday, but also got a $1,500 Ironman bonus for perfect attendance in the series this season. He received $500 for starting the feature, and $1,000 for winning.

Jay Johnson was moved up to take home runner-up money while Lonnie Bailey of Quincy, Ill., was credited with third-place. Former winners Mark Burgtorf and Rob Toland rounded out the top five.

“This one was a little sweeter,” said Mark Burgtorf, after becoming the second two-time winner of the USA Late Model Susan Pallister Memorial on September 16, 2006. Burgtorf, who won in 2000, added, “I won that race because Darren Miller cut a tire. We were the class of the field tonight.”

Burgtorf passed fellow Quincy, Ill., veteran Lonnie Bailey for the lead on lap 28, then worked his way through traffic over the final 72 laps to win the 15th annual event. Burgtorf collected the winner’s check for $10,000 and joined Jeff Aikey as the only two-time winners of the event.

Kevin Blum of Colona, Ill., finished second, nearly half the length of the track behind Burgtorf while Bailey held on to take third. Boone McLaughlin was fourth while Jeff Aikey clinched his record fifth Deery Brothers Summer Series title with his fifth-place finish. 

Mark Burgtorf of Quincy, Ill., would become the event's first three-time winner, winning in 2000, 2006 and shown here, winning the 2007 title. Promoter Jeff Laue joins Burgtorf in victory lane. - Dennis Krieger Imagery



Good things come to those who wait and Mark Burgtorf, the two-time winner and defending champion, could certainly attest to that old adage. The Quincy, Ill., veteran used patience to win his record third USA Late Model Nationals title on September 16, 2007.

The Quincy, Ill., veteran was running in second-place, waiting for the opportune time to get around race leader Jason Frankel, also of Quincy. That opening came on the 55th lap. As Frankel got caught up in lapped traffic, Burgtorf seized the chance and got around Frankel for the lead. That was the only break Burgtorf needed. He held off several late charges by Frankel to win the 100-lap feature and taking home the winner’s check worth $ 10,000.

Not even a brief rain shower, which halted the feature event after 15 laps for one hour and 15 minutes, could put a damper on Burgtorf’s historic night. “This one feels great,” Burgtorf said with a smile.

Frankel held on for second while ’93 winner Ray Guss Jr. held on for third. Lonnie Bailey and Joey Gower, both of Quincy, Ill., crossed the finish line in fourth and fifth but were both later disqualified during post-race inspection.

Jeremy Grady of Story City, Iowa, was awarded fourth place, giving him the Deery Brothers Summer Series title. Darrel DeFrance of Marshalltown, Iowa, was moved up to fifth place. 

Matt Strassheim would bring the hometown crowd to it's feet, winning the 2008 USA Late Model Nationals. Promoter Jeff Laue joins Strassheim in victory lane. - John Vass Photo


A hometown driver would lay claim to the 17th annual USA Late Model Nationals as Matt Strassheim would score the victory on September 27, 2008. The West Burlington pilot would lead the final 36 circuits of the 50-lapper and collect $5,000 plus lap money.

Boone McLaughlin and Gary Russell would bring the field to green with McLaughlin shooting out ahead. However, the race would be red-flagged before the first lap could be scored after Tom Goble ended up on his roof in the second set of turns.

Resuming the lead on the re-start and staying in front after what proved to be the last caution of the contest on lap 3, McLaughlin set the fast pace through lap 14, when Strassheim found his way by on the bottom groove.

The front pair didn't get into lapped traffic until after midway. Rob Toland, who started 13th, caught McLaughlin for second and closed the gap behind Strassheim to four car lengths but couldn't wrestle away the lead. Ray Guss Jr., who started 12th, passed McLaughlin for third-place late in the race. McLaughlin would settle for fourth but clinch the Deery Brothers Summer Series title. Jay Johnson rounded out the top five.

A late charge would net Jason Frankel the USA Late Model Nationals on September 19, 2009. Frankel passed two former winners of the event, first Jeff Aikey, and then Mark Burgtorf the last two times around the track to earn the $10,000 payday.

Burgtorf started outside the front row and was chased by Lonnie Bailey and Frankel into lapped traffic on the 13th circuit.

After the first of two cautions, Burgtorf, Bailey and Aikey ran three-wide for the lead before Bailey and Aikey swapped the second spot on lap 23 and again on lap 24. Bailey found the low groove to his liking on lap 29, passing both Aikey and Burgtorf for the lead.

He'd stay there until lap 47, when Burgtorf motored by. Aikey made a pass of his own for the front, which was negated when Terry Neal and Bailey got together to bring out the second and final caution on lap 53.

After slipping back as far as sixth, Frankel started working his way back up, catching Fraise and then Neal to get back into contention for the big payday. Aikey fell on lap 97 and Burgtorf gave way on lap 98.

Burgtorf settled for second ahead of "B" qualifier Rob Toland, series champion Aikey and Terry Neal.

Friday night preliminaries is all the 19th annual USA Late Model Nationals would get in as rain washed away the Saturday night finale and again for the re-scheduled Sunday evening card, September 19, 2010.

Defending champion Jason Frankel won the first of five qualifying heats, putting him on the pole for the 100-lapper but it would never come to fruition. Rain, standing water, and less than ideal track conditions forced the cancellation. Nate Beuseling of Silvis, Ill., Lonnie Bailey, Boone McLaughlin and Andy Eckrich of Tiffin, Iowa, were the other heat winners. T.J. Criss of Oskaloosa, Iowa, won the 20-lap Ironman Challenge.

A photo finish would highlight the 2011 USA Late Model Nationals, held on Sunday, September 4. 

Andy Eckrich hoist his trophy high after winning the 2011 USA Late Model Nationals. Promoters Jeff and Amy Laue join a happy Eckrich in victory lane. - Dana Royer Photo
 


Andy Eckrich would reel in, then hold off Ray Guss Jr. in a green, white, checkered finish for the $10,000 victory. Guss ran in front most of the 99-lapper before getting stuck in lapped traffic. Eckrich, went around on the higher line and wound up beating Guss to the checkers by a car length.

For the second year in a row, inclement weather would delay the $10,000 to win event, pushing the finale to Sunday. Unlike the year before, Mother Nature cooperated, and the main event wouldn’t disappoint.

Guss had the pole but it was fellow front-row starter Tyler Bruening grabbing the top spot and holding that edge until lap 22. The Decorah, Iowa speedster’s impressive run came to an end when the frontrunners, trying to negotiate lapped cars, traded paint, sending Bruening into a spin and out of contention.

After the caution, Guss set the fast pace ahead of Eckrich and former winner Jay Johnson. Eckrich tried inside and outside grooves and would briefly get the nose of his car out front several times but Guss would always secure the lead back.

But staying close, and patient, Eckrich made what proved to be the winning pass when Guss got caught up with slower traffic with eight laps left. After the pass, Eckrich would hold on the last two times around the 3/8-mile oval for one of the biggest paydays in his career.

A disappointed Guss would hang on for second place. Justin Reed of Quincy, Ill., would finish third, Jay Johnson fourth and Tom Goble of Burlington, Iowa, would take fifth. 

Jeff Aikey would win the 21st and final running of the USA Late Model Nationals in 2012. It would also make Aikey the event's second three-time winner. - Dana Royer Photo



The 2012 USA Late Model Nationals would see its second three-time winner of the event when Jeff Aikey scored the victory on Sunday, September 2. The race had been delayed a day because of rain. 

The 21st and final running of the event saw Mike Murphy of Colona, Ill., and defending champion Andy Eckrich lead the field to green with Murphy leading the pack for the first 19 laps before getting caught up in lap traffic.

Aikey took advantage and would take over the lead – a lead he would never relinquish. Jay Johnson would stay on Aikey’s back bumper through three restarts but the Waterloo, Iowa, hot shoe wouldn’t concede the top spot.

Eventually, Andy Eckrich would get by Johnson for second and make several attempts at Aikey as well but hold off Eckrich at the checkered flag taking the win by three car lengths.

Former winners dotted the top five with Aikey and Eckrich followed by Jay Johnson, Matt Strassheim and Ray Guss Jr.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

1963 - Stock Car Racetrack Planned in Madison

Sam Bartus looks over his new track, the paved quarter-mile Capital Speedway. 




Madison, Wis. (February 20, 1963) - A new stock car racing track is being planned on a site one mile east of Highway 51 on 151 this spring, Sam Bartus of Mosinee, operator of tracks at Wisconsin Rapids, Wausau, and Friendship, announced Wednesday.

Construction on the one-quarter mile asphalt track, to be known as Capital Speedway, will begin in April, pending final reconsideration on a license tonight by the Dane County board of supervisors, who approved the site at their January meeting.

Bartus is seeking the license from the county amusement committee. Some strong competition is apparent.

Bartus’ investment would run between $36,000 and $50,000. He plans to open the track on Memorial Day weekend and hold weekly races on Saturday nights and holidays. The track would be lighted for night racing and spectator stands would be built into an adjoining slope. His plans include, as a safety measure, a four-foot retaining wall topped by a 10-tall cyclone wire fence.

The site is a 30-acre plot on the Leo Zeier farm, 1,200 feet off of Highway 151. Bartus, who already has leased the property, built tracks in Wausau in 1952, Wisconsin Rapids in 1960, and Friendship in 1961, and plans to operate those at Rapids and Friendship on Fridays and Sundays.

He plans to organize a crew of officials to operate the track later this spring and will schedule a driver’s meeting “within 30 days”.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

1967 – Daniels wins second straight Tampa main

Jerry Daniels


Tampa, Fla. (February 18, 1967) – Jerry “Scratch” Daniels of St. Paul, Minn., won his second consecutive IMCA Winternationals sprint car feature at the Florida State Fair on Saturday afternoon, but had to withstand the determination of Jerry Poland off Somerville, Ohio, for the full 50 circuits.

It was Poland all over Daniels’ tailpipe as starter Johnny Hicks dropped the checkered flag with Tom Bigelow of Whitewater, Wis., a close third.

The 25-mile race was completed in 27 minutes and 16.57 seconds, slowed by the 14 laps run under the caution flag.

Jerry Richert of Forest Lake, Minn., the defending IMCA champion, won the first heat, Buzz Barton of Tampa, Fla., the second heat and Rollie Beale of Toledo, Ohio, the third. The consolation top honors went to Karl Busson of Toledo, Ohio.

In winning the feature and placing fourth in his heat, Daniels gathered enough points to clinch the Winternationals crown and earn a huge trophy.

The first part of the feature as the most eventful as spinning cars brought out the yellow three times. On thee second lap, Bill Puterbaugh of Roxana, Ill., and Gordon Woolley of Waco, Tex., hooked up in a spin that caused no damage.

Then, two laps later, Barton, Puterbaugh, and Ralph Blackett of Coffeyville, Kan., hooked together in the same turn. This time, Puterbaugh was towed to the infield.

After two more racing laps, Bobby Adamson of Coraopolis, Penn., lost a rear wheel in turn four, bringing out the third and final yellow.

Each time, Daniels was forced to gun hard on the restarts to maintain the front position he held.

Results –

Heat #1 – Jerry Richert
Heat #2 – Buzz Barton
Heat #3 – Rollie Beale
Consolation – Karl Busson
Feature –
1. Jerry Daniels
2. Jerry Poland
3. Tom Bigelow
4. Darl Harrison
5. Gene Tallman
6. Jerry Blundy
7. Steve Ungar
8. Bill Roynon
9. Benny Rapp
10.Don Hewitt

Monday, February 17, 2020

1962 – Tampa Finale, Crown to Folse

Pete Folse was the 1962 Florida State Fair champion.



Tampa, Fla. (February 17, 1962) – Pete Folse came from behind to nail the Florida State championship by winning the 25-lap finale on Saturday to boost his point total by 100 tallies.

Folse went into the feature tailing Herschel Wagner, Johnny White and Jerry Richert. Wagner ran second for three-quarters of the race and that spot would have given him the title and trophy. The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for the Hickman Hills, Mo., driver and his fourth place finish left him 10 points shy of Folse’s 350 total. Neither White nor Richert netted any points in the feature.

Folse had some anxious moments in the closing laps, as Johnny Rutherford, a young driver from Fort Worth, Tex., was gaining on the leader consistently. Afterwards, Folse said he heard a car behind him but thought it was a lapped car. When he finally realized the car was a contender, Folse sent his foot to the floor on the Honore Offy and used the remaining cushion to pull away.

Rutherford said he heard Folse’s engine respond but believed had the race been a little longer the ending would have been reversed. Arnie Knepper was a close enough third to make it a three-car battle.

The race had a red flag on the second lap, with Jerry Blundy, Gordon Woolley and Mickey Shaw getting involved in a fracas.

Folse, Wagner and White ran knobbies while the rest of the field used the wide tire. The result was a really bunched up field of cars and no true groove. As one lapped driver put it, “Every driver had a different groove and he didn’t know where to make room for a car to lap him.”

Once again, the weatherman smiled on another banner production of Al Sweeney of National Speedways, Inc.

Results –

Heat #1 – Arnie Knepper
Heat #2- Dick Hope
Heat #3 – Herschel Wagner
Match race – Jerry Richert
Consolation – Johnny White
Feature –
1. Pete Folse
2. Johnny Rutherford
3. Arnie Knepper
4. Herschel Wagner
5. Dick Hope
6. Joe Conroy
7. Gordon Woolley
8. Jerry Blundy
9. Jerry Daniels
10.Mickey Shaw

Sunday, February 16, 2020

1974 – Osborne cops Winternational Finale

Lee Osborne of Lebanon, Penn., receives the trophy after winning the 50-lap finale of the 54th annual Winternational Sprints. Presenting the trophy is Hubert Brooks, with IMCA official Woody Brinkman and IMCA Speed Queen Wanda Vetzel looking on. 




Tampa, Fla. (February 16, 1974) – Experimenting with something new, Lee Osborne of Lebanon, Penn., won the 50-lap Winternational Sprints finale on Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 6,600 at the Florida State Fair.

The something “new” was a torsion bar suspension to springs and Osborne was not clear whether he won because of them or in spite of them.

The win probably came because, as he said, “The track got black (with rubber) towards the end.”

It was towards the end, on lap 38 of the 50-lapper, that Osborne gained the front position.

The driver stated that the experiment was still far from satisfactory and he had…” a lot of changing to do. The suspension is still too soft.”

Bill Utz, who came from last position twice, once at the original start and again on a restart after a minor accident blocked the track, finished an impressive second. But it was an hour after the checkered flag had dropped that Utz was assured his position. The race was protested by Ray Lee Goodwin, who claimed that Utz did not go completely to the rear of the field, his assigned position, on the restart.

IMCA officials ruled that although he may have been ahead of two cars on the restart, they were cars involved in the same accident and all were assigned to the rear at the restart.

Goodwin, who challenged throughout the race, but never managed to get in front, finished third.

The program started under clear skies after a rainy morning. The rain did a good job of wetting down the clay surface. But a brisk wind and a hot afternoon sun changed the track from wet and tacky to a dry-packed surface midway of the feature race.

Once it dried and the field of 24 cars started laying rubber down, the field did an about face. The front runners early, drifted back and a new set of chargers shot to the front.

It was then that Osborne found the low groove to his liking and threaded through from about halfway back in the pack.

But the real workhorse of the race was Utz, the cigar smoking former blacksmith, who picked off one car after another in a furious charge to second place.

The overall winner of the Winternational Sprints was Jan Opperman, who had won the first three feature of the series and finished second in the fourth race of the series. Saturday, he wrecked his own car, then changed to two others before he qualified for the feature and finished 10th.

Attendance for the five days reflected the gasoline shortage that has plagued the South Florida area. Promoter Al Sweeney said attendance was down 8.9% for the five days of racing.

Results –

Heat #1 – Ralph Blackett
Heat #2 – Bubby Jones
Heat #3 – Jerry Richert
Consolation – Thad Dosher
Feature –
1. Lee Osborne
2. Bill Utz
3. Ray Lee Goodwin
4. Kramer Williamson
5. Larry Dickson
6. Chuck Amati
7. Bob Kinser
8. Earl Wagner
9. Jay Lyle
10.Jan Opperman

Saturday, February 15, 2020

1970 – Stott wins Daytona ARCA

Ramo Stott is joined by his wife Judy and ARCA owner John Marcum after winning the 300-miler. 



Daytona, Fla. (February 15, 1970) - A Keokuk, Iowa, driver - Ramo Stott - wrestled the lead away from 54-year-old Iggy Katona in the final three laps Sunday to win the ARCA 300 stock car race at Daytona International Speedway.

With only seven miles remaining in the race, Bobby Watson of Prestonsburg, Ky., was running second and Stott third with a bare car length separating the three.

Katona blew a tire on his 1969 Dodge and went into a wild spin. Stott took advantage of the situation to scream past both Katona and Watson and take the lead.

Stott, 33, then beat Watson across the finish line moments later to win the closest finish in seven of these high-speed chases at Daytona for drivers of the Midwest-centered Auto Racing Club of America.

It was the first victory for one of Chrysler’s new winged Plymouth “Superbird.” Watson drove a similarly – designed Dodge Daytona.

Stott's time for the race was 2 hours, 6 minutes and 41 seconds for an average of 142.086 miles per hour. The victory was worth $5,900.



Results –

1. Ramo Stott
2. Bobby Watson
3. Ron Grana
4. Louis Wusterhausen
5. Iggy Katona
6. Hank Teeters
7. Les Snow
8. Bill Clemons
9. John Sommerville
10. Blackie Wangerin
11. Buck Newland
12. Joe Booher
13. Bob Thomas
14. Red Farmer
15. Hoss Ellington
16. Armon Smith
17.Larry Ashley
18. Hubert West
19. Dave Sorg
20. Dick May
21. Wayne Trinkle
22. Phil Ploughe
23. Benny Parsons
24. Paul Wensink
25. Coo Coo Marlin
26. Paul Feldner 
27. Bill Kimmel 
28. Jim Scott
29. Leroy Austin
30. Charlie Paxton
31. Andy Hampton 
32. Dick Trickle
33. Len Blanchard 
34. Dave Dayton
35. Joy Fair 
36. Jerry Churchill
37. Frank Utterback
38. Ronnie Daniel 
39. Larry Baumel 
40. John Anderson

Friday, February 14, 2020

1968 – Rapp’s Victory is Sweet

Benny Rapp


Tampa, Fla. (February 14, 1968) – Benny Rapp didn’t get a single Valentine but ended up the sweetheart of Plant Field on Wednesday – for a while.

The 40-year-old Rapp came back Wednesday as the dust settled from the 30-lap IMCA sprint car race at the Florida State Fairgrounds and a voice broke through the throng of congratulations,…” all right old man, that’s enough.”

Rapp, after winning his first feature at Tampa, was just coming up for air from his second kiss from pretty IMCA Speed Queen Bernadette Juanich.

Mrs. Rapp applied the brakes.

It was another kind of brakes, however, that put the sunned-tan Toledo, Ohio, chauffeur out front to stay. Rapp had started the feature on the pole but sitting next to him was IMCA’s most respected driver, Jerry Richert.

Richert, with two feature wins already to his credit in the young season, seemed to be a heavy favorite to win despite Rapp’s sizzling qualifying mark of 26.23 seconds he set in time trials.

As expected, Richert quickly grabbed the lead at the start and Rapp fell in behind him, with dust that almost obscured the track.

Halfway through the race Rapp got his break. Richert broke a drive line and had to be towed to the pits. For the next 15 laps Rapp made the rest of the field eat his dust.

Gus Linder, the hard charger whose probably passed more car than anyone else in the four programs, finished second and Ralph Parkinson took third.

The tricky half-mile dirt proved many a guesser wrong as it started out fast and ended up slow towards the end.

Among those who guessed wrong were IMCA standouts Richert and Karl Busson as well as local hopefuls Wayne Reutimann and Bill Roynon. Richert did make the show, however, by borrowing Jerry Weld’s car.

Results –

Heat #1 – Bobby Adamson
Heat #2 – Darl Harrison
Heat #3 – Jay Woodside
Match race – Jay Woodside
Consolation – Gus Linder
Feature –
1. Benny Rapp
2. Gus Linder
3. Ralph Parkinson
4. Bob Black
5. Ray Tilley
6. Lee Kunzman
7. Charlie Masters
8. Gordon Woolley
9. Whitey Harmon
10.Jerry Lepinski

Thursday, February 13, 2020

1972 – Cassella Doubles Up in Tampa Sprint Series

Billy Cassella of Weirton, W.Va., won the IMCA sprint car feature at the Winternational Sprints in Tampa, Fla., on February 13th. IMCA referee Gene Van Winkle (left) presents the trophy to Cassella. Speed queen Jo Ann Jenkins and National Speedways VP Woody Brinkman join in the celebration. When Ms. Jenkins went to give the winner his traditional victory kiss, he brushed her off stating, "I just don't go for that". — Al Major Photo





Tampa, Fla. (February 13, 1972) – It was a repeat performance for Billy Cassella on Sunday, as the curtain fell on the Winternational Sprints at the Florida State Fair.

As he did on Saturday, the dark-hared West Virginian driver led from green to checkered in the feature race. It was a shorter race, 30 laps, but apparently just as tiring as Cassella asked someone to hold the big trophy while he was waiting for Winternational point champion Jerry Blundy to show up for the picture session.

But Blundy did not show. He was already on his way to the airport to catch a plane back to home base, Galesburg, Ill.

The feature race was one of the calmest of the series, caused by a narrow groove that limited passing. Cassella admitted the groove was tight.

He had little trouble during the running of the race, except for running into heavy traffic as he caught up with a gaggle of slower cars. Once, Jan Opperman attempted to pass Cassella in traffic but settled back to claim second-place.

Ray Lee Goodwin was third followed by Jerry Blundy and crowd favorite Chuck Amati rounded out the top five.

Early in the race, Opperman and Blundy worked each other over for a couple of laps, banging wheels as they few down the backstretch and nearly put each other into a spin. Those were the only fireworks of the race.

The paltry crowd of 2,500 did some breath catching in the consolation.

Leroy Felty did a half spin and crowded Bill Burk Jr. The latter’s car jumped into the air, did a half turn and cracked into the wall. Burk was stunned momentarily but suffered nothing worse than a leg bruise.

Results –

Heat #1 – Ron Perkins
Heat #2 – Cliff Cockrum
Heat #3 – Steve Schultz
Match race – Chuck Amati
Consolation – Chuck Amati
Feature –
1. Billy Cassella
2. Jan Opperman
3. Ray Lee Goodwin
4. Jerry Blundy
5. Chuck Amati
6. Dean Shirley
7. Cliff Cockrum
8. Jim McCune
9. Roger Rager
10.Hank Albers

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

1975 – First timer; Dawley wins at Tampa

Darryl Dawley powers through the turn en route to his first Winternationals victory. 



Tampa, Fla. (February 12, 1975) – Darryl Dawley was so excited after winning the feature race at the Florida State Fair Wednesday night, that he ran away from photographers, fans and sports writers and disappeared into the darkness of the pit area.

But when he was finally cornered, the Sioux Falls, S.D., admitted that it was because it was the first time he has won a feature in the Winternational Sprints in the five years he’s been coming to Florida.

He was almost passed by Ralph Parkinson Jr., at one point, but managed to pull away when heard the latter’s engine.

Dawley said the track was a little greasy going into the corners but liked the generous groove it presented. It rained an hour before the races, delaying the program for about an hour but the showers worked well for the racing surface.

Parkinson came through to finish second and a hard-charging Joe Saldana finished third.

Heat races were won by Jan Opperman, Rick Hood, and Doc Dawson. Joe Saldana was the consolation winner.

Results –

Heat #1 – Jan Opperman
Heat #2 – Rick Hood
Heat #3 – Doc Dawson
Consolation – Joe Saldana
Feature –
1. Darryl Dawley
2. Ralph Parkinson Jr.
3. Joe Saldana
4. Ralph Blackett
5. Jan Opperman
6. Jim Edgington
7. Tommy Dickson
8. Ralph Quarterson
9. Chuck Amati
10.Dick Tobias

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

1967 – Ungar in Winternationals Opener


Steve Ungar of Garrettsville, Ohio, gets a kiss from Speed Queen Anne Harris after his upset victory in the IMCA Winternationals opener at Tampa. Starter Johnny Hicks holds the checkers and George Brummett, vice-president of Pepsi-Cola presents the trophy. 




Tampa, Fla. (February 11, 1967) - Steve Ungar, a balding 39-year-old from Garrettsville, Ohio, who does most of his racing in supermodifieds, turned a lot of firsts into first-place in the rain-delayed opening day feature of the IMCA Winternationals sprints at the Florida State Fair on Saturday.

A turn away crowd saw Ungar flip while attempting to qualify early in the afternoon but came back later to set fastest time of the day with a lap of 26.77 seconds on the hard and slick half-mile clay oval.

Oddly, it was the first time he had driven the Long Brothers #55 Chevy and his first ride at the track.

“I was wondering if I would even qualify for the feature,” said a grinning Ungar, surrounded by well-wishers, and still carrying a lipstick print from a kiss by Speed Queen Anne Harris. “The car handled real good, I didn’t have any trouble.”

Ungar explained after his flip that he had tried to go too deep into the first turn during his first qualifying attempt and the car went into a drift. It was too far gone for him to correct and he went over three times.

Not so lucky was Bill Brown of Denville, N.J., who made five rolling end-over-end turns on the same corner during the consolation. Brown’s Chevy was demolished, and he was removed unconscious and taken to an area hospital where he was released after overnight observation.

Finishing second to Ungar was Darl Harrison of Bettsville, Ohio, followed by Dick Kelm of Clinton, Penn., Jerry Daniels of St. Paul, Minn., and Bill Puterbaugh of Roxana, Ill.

The crowd of 10,638 was the largest crowd ever to witness an IMCA race here, topping last year’s opening day crowd by 335 admissions.

It was a bad day for a lot of drivers, with almost every race stopped because of spinouts or accidents.

The track, after a heavy morning rain, got faster as qualifying stated to unfold, and the top 20 in IMCA points, allotted the first 20 qualifying spots, found their times exceeded by the late timers.

Jim Moughan, second in points for 1966, qualified the Honore Black Deuce qualified 40th and missed the feature. And for the first time in IMCA history, the champion, Jerry Richert, failed to make the feature, running the consy and failing to finish.

Results –

Heat #1 – Buzz Barton, Tampa, Fla.
Heat #2 – Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
Heat #3 – Frank Riddle, Tampa
Match race – Bill Brown, Denville, N.J.
Consolation – Darl Harrison, Bettsville, Ohio
Feature –
1. Steve Ungar, Garrettsville, Ohio
2. Darl Harrison
3. Dick Kelm, Clinton, Penn.
4. Jerry Daniels, St. Paul, Minn.
5. Bill Puterbaugh, Roxana, Ill.
6. Karl Busson, Toledo, Ohio
7. Buzz Barton
8. Frank Riddle
9. Dave Scarborough, Largo, Fla.
10.Jerry Blundy