Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Happy Holidays to all of our 

Midwest Racing Archives readers!

Kyle Ealy 

Lee Ackerman







Monday, December 14, 2020

Eldon Raceway’s Pepsi-Mountain Dew Special

By Kyle Ealy

Eldon, Iowa – From 1976 to 1981, it was Eldon Raceway’s marquee event of the year, drawing the top late models from not only Iowa, but the Midwest…The Pepsi-Mountain Dew Special. 

Mahaska Bottling Company of Oskaloosa, Iowa, distributors of Pepsi and Mountain Dew in the area and the Wapello County Fairboard were co-sponsors of the event.

The inaugural race would take place on June 5, 1976 with beautiful weather, perfect track conditions and $7,700 purse. The 30 Late Models that entered through the pit gate would compete for a $1,000 top prize.

The 30-lap main event didn’t disappoint with three different leaders in the race. Don White of Keokuk, Iowa, no stranger to racing in the southeast corner of the state, took the lead at the drop of the green and would lead the first 16 circuits with Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, hot on his heels.

Dolan would slip past White the following lap and begin to build a couple of car-length lead. A few laps later, a hard-charging Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, would get by White as well. Sanger would spend the next few laps trying to narrow the gap between himself and Dolan. 

On lap 24, Sanger would be right on Dolan’s bumper and a lap later, power inside of Dolan to take the lead. Sanger would extend his lead after that, never looking back and taking home the first-place money.

Dolan would settle for second while White held on to finish third. Ron Jackson of Burlington, Iowa, and Curt Hansen of Dike, Iowa, would round out the top five finishers.

Bob Helms of Andalusia, Ill., Ron Jackson, and Don White were heat winners. Curt Hansen won an exciting Australian Pursuit race and Mike Derr of Keokuk, Iowa, was the semi-main victor.

Kenny Fenn of Washington, Iowa, won the accident-marred Sportsman feature. The extra prize money seemed to make the drivers throttle happy as only seven drivers of the original 16 starters were able to finish the 15-lap race.

The first annual Pepsi-Mountain Dew Special was hailed a success with the Ottumwa Courier reporting, “Eldon’s population is 1,300 but that figure at least quadrupled with this event.”

Weather would be a factor for the second annual Pepsi-Mountain Dew Special on May 21, 1977. Rain had threatened all day, but not much had fallen of the track. But, with the high, gusty winds, it made the racing surface hard, dry and slick. 

Lem Blankenship would start on the pole for the scheduled 35-lapper and grab the lead immediately with fellow front-row starter Ron Jackson right on his tailpipe. With passing at a minimum, Blankenship would continue to lead with Jackson right behind, waiting and hoping that the veteran Keokuk driver would make a mistake.

Sprinkles would come around lap 18 and on lap 21, the rains came, putting a halt to the action. After some waiting, the race was declared official with Blankenship the winner.

Jackson would take second with Ken Walton of Cedar Rapids earning third. Bob Kosiski made the trip from Omaha and grabbed fourth while Tom Bartholomew of Waterloo took fifth.

The conditions of the track made it very particularly challenging for the drivers and numerous spinouts made for exciting heat races. Heat winners were Steve Fraise of Montrose, Iowa, Bob Kosiski and Fred Horn of Marion, Iowa. Ken Walton led all six laps in winning the Australian Pursuit and Bill Zwanziger of Waterloo was the consolation winner.

Ed Pilcher of Ottumwa, Iowa, no stranger to the half-mile track, had no problems negotiating the dirt oval, making his way around five cars to take the lead halfway through the 15-lap Sportsman feature to capture the top prize. 

Named Iowa’s “Driver of the Year” for 1977, Curt Hansen of Dike, Iowa, had already gotten off to a rousing start when the 1978 season began. Hailed as the hottest driver in the Hawkeye state, Hansen was the overwhelming favorite when the third annual Pepsi-Mountain Dew Special took place on May 23, 1978.

And, Hansen wouldn’t disappoint…

Starting in the third position, Hansen would power past front-row starters Pete Parker and Don Hoffman on the first lap and then proceed to lead the remaining 49 laps to collect the $1,000 winner’s check.

Hansen’s only challenge came from his car owner and 1976 winner, Ed Sanger. Sanger, who started 19th in the main event, quickly made his way to the front of the field and challenged Hansen for the lead before losing steam in the waning laps.

In fact, at one point, Sanger-built (and owned) cars were running in the top three with Verlin Eaker of Mechanicsville, Iowa, also in the mix early on before making contact with the fence and retiring to the pits.

Finishing behind Hansen and Sanger would be a pair of Des Moines drivers, Don Hoffman and Joe Merryfield, with Ken Essary of Galena, Mo., rounding out the top five.

Heat winners were Denny Hovinga of Pocahontas, Iowa, Joe Merryfield, Mike Frieden of Cedar Rapids, and Don Hoffman. Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids grabbed the win in the semi-main.

More than 40 Late Models timed in with Pete Parker of Kaukauna, Wis., setting fast time.

Red Dralle of Evansdale, Iowa, copped the Sportsman feature, with Mike Benjamin of Keokuk taking second. 

When the fourth annual Pepsi-Mountain Dew Special took place on June 30, 1979, there was no clear-cut favorite for that year’s race. But of the 36 Late Model pilots competing, several drivers were performing at a high level.

Bill Zwanziger had just won the Coca-Cola Special at Tunis Speedway the previous Thursday. Defending champion Curt Hansen had also just won a big race in Des Moines the previous week, the Futurity 100. Mike Niffenegger of Kalona, Iowa, was a weekly competitor at Eldon and had already won five features that year.

Also competing was a driver from Waterloo, who had yet to win a feature but surprisingly was the point leader at the Wapello County Fairground track. Dick Schiltz had been consistent all season long but still hadn’t gotten over the hump in the win column. That would all change…

Schiltz would fight hard for all 35 laps and win the $1,000 payday.

Mike Niffenegger would take the lead from his pole position and set a blistering pace, leading the first five laps. He would suddenly lose power, and drop back to third, giving the lead to ’77 winner Lem Blankenship, followed by Schiltz.

Blankenship would separate himself from the rest of the field and by the halfway point, possess a half-lap margin. But Blankenship would lose power as well, and with only 10 laps remaining, pull his car to the infield.

Schiltz would inherit the top spot at that point and have to fend off Dolan in the final laps. With the capacity crowd on their feet, Dolan would nose to the inside of Schiltz several times in the closing laps but wasn’t able to complete the pass. As the checkered waved, Schiltz crossed the finish line mere feet ahead of Dolan.

Dan Dickey of Packwood, Iowa, would come in third with Niffenegger nursing his sick motor to a fourth place finish Denny Banks of Washington would round out the top five.

Heat winners were Niffenegger, Schiltz, and Dan Ludwig of Keokuk. Don Hoffman was the consolation winner.

In Sportsman action, Jack Dunne of Keokuk came from his fifth-starting position to win a thrilling 15-lap contest. Dunne brought the crowd to their feet, passing Tony Stewart of Washington on the last lap to score the victory. 

In early June of 1980, Rodney Combs of Lost Creek, W.Va., came to Iowa and proceeded to wallop a stellar field of Late Models in the prestigious Miller 100 stock car classic at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids. One of the drivers who on the receiving end of that trouncing was Fred Horn.

Horn, a builder of race cars himself, was so impressed with the lightweight fiberglass body and engineering of the Ed Howe-built Camaro, he purchased the car from Combs.

Two weeks later, June 21, Horn debuted the car at the sixth annual Pepsi-Mountain Dew Special and like Combs, got the same results. Horn made a quick $1,400, taking the lead from Ken Walton on lap 6 and then stretching his lead from there to claim an easy win.

So dominant was the Marion, Iowa, veteran, he lapped all but six of the 24 starters in the 30-lap contest. In addition to his share of the winner’s share, he received lap money and a six-foot high trophy.

Ken Walton, Johnny Johnson of Morning Sun, Iowa, defending champion Dick Schiltz, Ed Sanger and Dan Dickey were the only drivers to finish on the lead lap with Horn.

Winners of heat races were Ken Walton, Ken Hoeppner of Waterloo, Fred Horn and Johnny Johnson. Dan Dickey won the $300 winner take all Eldon Clash. This race was for the top eight cars in the point standings. Kenny Fenn was the B main victor.

In the Street Stock division, George Robinson of Ottumwa, Iowa, held off Dave Bronson of Ottumwa and Bill Metcalf of Eldon to score the win in the 15-lapper.

The sixth and final Pepsi-Mountain Dew Special at Eldon Raceway would bring one change as the event was now run by the National Speedway Contest Association (NSCA).

Ken Walton, now of Viola, Iowa, was the NSCA point leader but had no wins in the series. That changed on July 15, when he scored his first victory at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, which, ironically, was their Pepsi-Mountain Dew Special as well.

With some momentum from that victory, Walton came to Eldon on July 17 and won the 35-lapper here as well, taking home the $1,000 payday. Walton would earn every penny of his paycheck.

Curt Hansen would lead the first nine laps before Walton would take over the top spot. Hansen wasn’t giving in that easy and fought Walton tooth and nail for the lead until fading with less than 10 laps to go.

But the victory still wasn’t in the bag for Walton as a new threat, this time Don Hoffman, decided to give Walton a run for the money.

The Des Moines driver would give Walton all he could handle, actually grabbing the lead from Walton on lap 31, before sliding up too high in turn three, and giving Walton the lead right back.

Walton would cross the finish line several car lengths ahead of Hoffman to seal the victory with Hoffman in second. Bill Beckman of Lisbon would take third followed by early leader Curt Hansen and Tony Stewart of Washington.

Vic Bentlage of Jefferson City, Mo., and Walton were heat winners. Beckman was fast qualifier, touring the big half-mile in 23.11 seconds.

Jim Brown of Ottumwa, Iowa, was an easy winner of the Sportsman division, leading all the way in the 15-lap event.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Good Old Days; Racin’ in Hamburg


Bud Aitkenhead

By Lee Ackerman

Omaha, Neb. - For many years when I thought of racing and Hamburg, Iowa, I thought of Terry Holliman whose career spanned 35+ years driving Late Models and Sprint Cars. Somewhere in that period, Terry’s son Tadd started racing Sprint Cars with him and hence, Hamburg, Iowa and racing = Holliman. Well sometime back I found out that I didn’t go back far enough when it came to Hollimans from Hamburg racing. So, to tell that story, I must tell you about the Hamburg Speedway.

It all started in 1952…

On May 18, 1952 the Hamburg Speedway held its first race. The crowd was decent with a crowd of over 1,000 fans, the car count not so much as only nine cars showed up for the inaugural event. Harold Douglas, President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce stated that they were pleased with the crowd but wished they had been able to attract more cars.

The spongy track slowed and cut thrills and spills to a minimum, but because it also caused radiators to boil over ten lap heat races were cut to five laps and the 25-lap feature to 15. Drivers said that the track was hardening up nicely by the end of the last race, and most of them said they would be back next week.

By June 8, things had gotten a lot better and race fans who attended that race said it was by far the best race of the season. The track was hard from the beginning and the speed picked up and there were three roll-overs. One interesting incident was that Atlantic, Iowa driver Carl Lilienthal was disqualified and banned from the Hamburg Speedway for trying to run down the flagmen. He missed the flagmen but destroyed the flag stand and flags.

It was also announced that the Jaycees who were promoting the races had purchased a complete set of lights and would be installing them soon with racing moving to every Wednesday or Thursday nights. It ended up being Thursday night.

Things improved and by July 3 the place was humming. A field of 26 cars was on hand for that event which was dominated by Harlan, Iowa’s Johnny Beauchamp driving the 8-Ball car. Beauchamp won his heat, the trophy dash and the feature. The 8-Ball was owned by the Williams Brothers of Shenandoah.

After the races the 2,000 fans who had attended the races and 2,000 more who were parked on various roads around the Speedway were treated to a free fireworks extravaganza co-sponsored by the Jaycees and the Hamburg Merchants.

By mid-July Ray Whitehead of Hamburg had a significant lead in the points race with 150 points followed by Marlin Crum of Nebraska City with 100, Gerald Kinnersley of Red Oak with 100 and Joe Lindsay of Red Oak with 74.

In late July, Omaha’s Bud Aitkenhead had joined the fray and he and Ralph Betts of Nehawka, Nebraska put on some of the best racing yet seen at the Speedway. After each had won their heat races, Aitkenhead brought his #1 home a half-car length ahead of Betts in the trophy dash as he turned the six laps in two minutes and 19 seconds.

In the 18 lap feature, Betts gained revenge spinning Aitkenhead out in the north turn and taking home the win. Two Red Oak drivers Gerald Kinnersley and Joe Lindsay chased Betts to the checkers.

In early September Betts wasn’t so lucky. At the September 4 races, Betts took the wildest ride seen at the race thus far. The accident totally destroyed his #71 machine and it took track workers at least ten minutes to extract him from the car. He was transported to the Hamburg hospital and it was reported he had a broken collarbone. The races were called complete at that point (14 laps) and Joe Lindsay of Red Oak was declared the winner.

Although not confirmed it is believed that Ray Whitehead won the track championship.

1953 would bring new challengers to the Hamburg Speedway but a driver when the dust settled at the end of the year it was an Omaha driver who had raced had Hamburg Speedway the latter part of 1952 that would walk away with the Track Championship.

By mid-July the Jaycees Racetrack Committee decided to switch from Thursday nights to Saturday nights. The committee said the move was three-fold. First, it was to attract more people to Hamburg to do their Saturday shopping and then attend the races. Secondly, to attract bigger race crowds and lastly to attract more stock cars for the races.

The early part of the season was a battle between Bud Aitkenhead and Merle Ravenstein of Omaha and Don Pash of Missouri Valley. By early July Aitkenhead held a slim lead over Ravenstein with Bash not far behind. In late July and early August Ravenstein charged to the points lead while Pash dropped from the action and did not race at the Hamburg Speedway the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Ray Whitehead had started the season late but had cracked the top ten.

Aitkenhead put on a late season charge while Ravenstein (most likely not racing all the remaining races) and ended up winning the season championship by over 100 points. Aitkenhead took the season finale with Whitehead second and that is how they finished in points even though Whitehead missed the first several races.

Aitkenhead finished with 368 points, Whitehead with 271 points, Hamburg’s Gene Holliman (remember I said at the start we would find another Holliman racing back in the day at Hamburg Speedway). Terry’s dad Gene finished third with 256, Ravenstein 249 points, with Johnny Carlson rounding out the top five at 233 points.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

1962 – Crash Halts Ball Race; Marshman Declared Winner


A somber Bobby Marshman after being declared the winner of the Bobby Ball Memorial. 

Phoenix, Ariz. (November 18, 1962) – Elmer George lost control of his speeding racer coming out of a rough north turn, flipped over the guardrail and into an overflow crowd of spectators, bringing an abrupt termination to the scheduled 100-mile Bobby Ball Memorial at the Arizona State Fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon.

A crowd of 12,000 were party to a miracle.

George, of Speedway, Ind., was severely cut around the head and shoulders. Twenty-two spectators were treated for injuries at several area hospitals.

But no one was killed in a mishap that had all the ingredients to be one of racing’s greatest tragedies.

The accident occurred while the race was in the 49th lap. The flagman waved the field around for two more laps under the yellow caution flag to make the race official, then stopped the cars.

After George was dragged from his capsized racer and the injured removed, officials of the United States Auto Club and local promoter Mel Martin announced the race could not be continued in safety since the guardrail in front of the grandstand could not be repaired.

There were a few grumblings from the capacity crowd, but most fans agreed they’d watched a good race and accepted the short show as just part of racing luck.

Bobby Marshman of Pottstown, Penn., was declared the winner and collected the $4,800 first prize. Marshman, driving the Lindsey Hopkins Special, hustled his car into the forefront on lap 30 after a tight duel with Parnelli Jones of Torrance, Calif., and A.J. Foyt of Houston, Tex.

The trio made a runaway of the early minutes of the race and had lapped most of the field by the 21st circuit around the one-mile dirt oval.

Foyt was running hot on Marshman’s tailpipe when the accident occurred. He took home approximately $3,000 for his runner-up effort.

Jones, last year’s Bobby Ball winner, turned in a 35.94 second qualifying time to win the pole position. He would get bogged down in traffic chasing Marshman and was some five seconds in back of Foyt – with three lapped cars in his way – when the race concluded.

Spectators had jammed the forebay in front of the grandstand in order to get a closer look at the action but USAC officials wouldn’t start the race until they stepped back from the flimsy fence that separated the track from the crowd area. They did – but moved back in after the race had started.

The safety rail circling the track was the same type used on highways. Where George’s car made impact, it was anchored in with 6x6 wood posts. But a few paces further in front of the grandstand area posts were only 2x4’s holding the guardrail level.

George’s car barely lost speed as it ripped through this area, flipped and landed upside down amid spectators standing in front of wood bleachers set against concrete grandstand front wall.

The abbreviated win was the first of the season for Marshman who noted in accepting the trophy, “I’m glad it was stopped. My car is worn, and it was a question of going all the way. I think the same applies to Foyt.”

Results –

1. Bobby Marshman, Pottstown, Penn.
2. A.J. Foyt, Houston, Tex.
3. Lloyd Ruby, Wichita Falls, Tex.
4. Parnelli Jones, Torrance, Calif.
5. Jim Hurtubise, New Lennox, Calif.
6. Roger McCluskey, Tucson, Ariz.
7. Troy Ruttman, Dearborn, Mich.
8. Don Branson, Champaign, Ill.
9. Len Sutton, Portland, Ore.
10.Chuck Hulse, Downey, Calif.
11.Johnny Rutherford, Ft. Worth, Tex.
12.Bobby Marvin, Columbus, Ohio
13.Ralph Liguori, Tampa, Fla.
14.Colby Scroggin, Eagle Rock, Calif.
15.Chuck Booth, Sacramento, Calif.

Rescue workers surround Elmer George's HOW Special and attend to injured spectators at the 1962 Bobby Ball Memorial. George crashed into the stands, on the 47th lap, injuring 23 race fans. The race was called after 51 circuits, and Bobby Marshman was declared the winner. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

1959 – Musgrave Grabs Ascot 100-Lapper


Gardena, Calif. (November 15, 1959) - Elmer Musgrave, Des Plaines, Illinois, drove a 1958 Pontiac to victory in the 100-lap USAC national stock car championship race before 5,500 fans at Ascot Stadium Sunday.

There were eight different leaders during the course of the race with Musgrave edging runner-up Roger Ward in a 1958 Ford by three seconds.

Ward claimed after the race that Musgrave had made up ground while a yellow accident flag was up, but his protest was disallowed.

Musgrave took the lead on the 38th lap and led for the remainder of the race despite challenges by Ward, Les Snow in a 1957 Pontiac and Hal Smith in a '59 Chevy.

Snow, Bloomington, Ill., finished third and Smith, Dayton, Ohio, fourth. Nelson Stacy, Maysville, Ky., grabbed fifth and John Rostek, Fort Collins, Colo., sixth.

The J.C. Agajanian-promotion grossed $8,500 with Musgrave taking home about $800.

Results –

1. Elmer Musgrave
2. Rodger Ward
3. Les Snow
4. Hal Smith
5. Nelson Stacy
6. John Rostek
7. Bill Cheesbourg
8. Bob Ross
9. Jack Bowsher
10.Dick Rathmann

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

1957 – Jimmy Bryan Wins Phoenix 100-Miler


With his trademark cigar, Jimmy Bryan accepts his trophy after winning the Bobby Ball Memorial at Phoenix. 

Phoenix, Ariz. (November 11, 1957) - Jimmy Bryan of Phoenix won the 100-mile Bobby Ball Memorial race today after a neck-to-neck duel with Pat O'Connor of North Vernon, Ind.

The victory earned Bryan $3,183 and undisputed possession of the United States Auto Club national championship for the third straight year.

His official time on the 100-lap dirt track at the State Fairground was 1 hour, 9 minutes and 46 seconds. Johnny Boyd of Fresno, Calif., who led on the first 34 laps, finished third, followed by Art Bisch of Phoenix.

Next in order were Johnny Tolan of Norwalk, Calif.; Jim Rathmann of Miami, Fla.; A. J. Foyt of Houston, Tex.; Bud Randall of New Orleans; Earl Motter of Oakland, Calif., and Bob Veith, also of Oakland.

Bryan took the lead on the 70th lap to break a deadlock between himself, O'Connor and defending champion George Amick of Venice, Calif.

O'Connor overtook him when Bryan went wide on the 98th turn. The two drivers dueled all the way to the finish line, Bryan finishing about a car length ahead.

No one was hurt in the race, although only 10 of 18 starters finished.

The victory gave Bryan 1,650 points, tops in the United States Auto Club standings. The husky, cigar chewing winner finished third at the Indianapolis Speedway and won the 500-mile race at Monza, Italy, earlier this year.

Results –

1. Jimmy Bryan
2. Pat O'Connor
3. Johnny Boyd
4. Art Bisch
5. Johnnie Tolan
6. Jim Rathmann
7. A.J Foyt
8. Bud Randall
9. Earl Motter
10. Bob Veith
11. George Amick
12. Jud Larson
13. Rodger Ward
14. Don Freeland
15. Bud Clemons
16. Elmer George
17. Len Sutton
18. Billy Garrett

Monday, November 9, 2020

1986 – Balough wins All-American 400


Gary Balough

Nashville, Tenn. (November 9, 1986) - After being rained out for the third time last Saturday night, the All Pro/ASA Miller All American 400 was finally run on Sunday afternoon at the Nashville (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Before a surprisingly large crowd, Gary Balough of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., became the first two-time winner in the six-year history of the event. Balough had previously won in 1984.

Balough took the early lead from his outside front-row starting spot and held on until being passed on lap 48 by pole-sitter Mike Alexander.

The order was then shuffled several times during yellow flag pit stops until Balough once again took command under yellow on lap 140.

He would hold the top spot until being passed by rising ASA star Bobby Dotter on lap 223. Balough and Dotter held sway until near disaster struck on lap 303. Alexander, while leading after a restart, made contact with the lapped car of Darrell Brown in turn two with both cars spinning.

Brown vaulted the inside guardrail and Alexander suffered extensive front end damage. Balough spun to avoid the others and backed into the stopped Alexander machine. 

Both leaders were able to continue and Balough actually took the lead at that point. Alexander, minus some body work, fell in at the tail of the lead lap, but was slowed by the damage and unable to maintain the pace.

The final restart came with 32 laps remaining. Balough, Dotter, Mark Martin and Butch Miller were the only ones left on the lead lap at that time. Balough left the others behind on the restart, but Dotter wasn’t out of it yet. He made up a nearly 4 second deficit in less than 10 laps, tried desperately to make a pass for the win, but fell short at the finish by less than a car length.

Martin, who had driven a flawless race, was slowed over the last 20 laps by a fading battery. He was credited with ninth place, and that was enough to gain him his fourth ASA points championship.

His closest rival for the title, Dick Trickle, finished the race in fifth, but it wasn’t enough to make up the points he needed to overtake Martin.

Results –

1.Gary Balough, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
2.Bobby Dotter, West Allis, Wis.
3.Butch Miller, Coopersville, Mich.
4.Mike Alexander, Franklin, Tenn.
5.Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
6.Steve Grissom, Gadsden, Ala.
7.Tom Jones, Northbrook, Ill.
8.Joe Shear, Beloit, Wis.
9.Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark.
10.Bobby Allison, Hueytown, Ala.
11.Bob Senneker, Dorr, Mich.
12.Billy Bigley, Jr., Naples, Fla.
13.Rusty Wallace, Trinity, N.C.
14. Alton Jones, Pleasant Grove, Ala.
15.Kent Stauffer, Elyria, Oh.
16.Mike Eddy, Midland, Mich.
17.Russ Urlin, London, Ont.
18. Gary St. Amant, Columbus, Oh.
19.Jody Ridley, Chatsworth, Ga.
20. Darrell Brown, Birmingham, Ala.
21. Kenny Wallace, St. Louis, Mo.
22.Tom Harrington, Hendersonville, Tenn.
23.Tommy Martin, Angie, La.
24.John Wilson, Springfield, Oh.
25.Bobby Hamilton, Nashville, Tenn.
26.Ron Jenkins, Antioch, Tenn.
27.Kenny Lund, Oregon, Wis.
28.Morgan Shepherd, Conover, N.C.
29.Tommy Evans, Eclectic, Ala.
30.Dick Anderson, Wildwood, Fla.
31.Harold Fair, Livonia, Mich.
32.Junior Hanley, Oakville, Ont.
33.Rick Crawford, Mobile, Ala.
34.Sterling Marlin, Spring Hill, Tenn.
35.Gene Harsch, Sharonville, Oh.
36.Mike Harmon, Mulga, Ala.
37.Chet Eosin, Inkster, Mich.
38.Daniel Keene, Tampa, Fla.
39.Mark Day, Clarksville, Tenn.
40.Kyle Petty, Randleman, N.C.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

1976 – Makara Zips in Midwest 300


Jerry Makara reaps the benefits of winning the Midwest 300 at Salem. 

Salem, Ind. (November 7, 1976) – For the first 25 laps of the 100-lap championship segment at Salem Speedway, Jerry Makara found himself racing his Camaro door-to-door with a Camaro driven by Randy Sweet as the pair battled for the lead.

Then a flat tire forced Sweet to the sidelines on lap 26. He would have to stop twice more for the same problem because, as the Portage, Mich., ace later found out, he had a bent wheel rim.

“When I saw Randy go into the pits with the first flat tire, I felt really confident,” Makara said.

He had good reason to…his car was performing flawlessly.

The Westland, Mich. Star never was seriously challenged as he stayed in front the rest of the way to pick up the $2,150 first prize money from a $11,750 purse.

Second place and $1,050 went to Rodney Combs of Mason, Ohio, who had to drop out of the first qualifying 100 when he had problems with his Camaro. He started 25th in the final 100-lapper.

Makara won the first heat easily after fast qualifier Mike Eddy of Kawkawlin, Mich., had tire problems. Dennis Caves of Salem escaped injury when his car flipped over the third turn guardrail during the second heat, which was won by Sweet.

Results –

Heat #1 –

1. Jerry Makara, Westland, Mich.
2. Vern Schrock, Middlebury, Ind.
3. Lonnie Breedlove, Indianapolis
4. Ellis Herbert, Rushville, Ind.
5. Larry Schuler, Lockport, Ill.
6. Wayne Arnold, Indianapolis
7. Ray Fullen, Anderson, Ind.
8. Ray Barnard, Ann Arbor, Mich.
9. Gene Christie, Gaston, Ind.
10.Mike Eddy, Kawkawlin, Mich.

Heat #2 –

1. Randy Sweet, Portage, Mich.
2. Don Lamb, Milford, Ohio
3. Neal Sceva, Urbana, Ohio
4. Ray Young, Dolton, Ill.
5. Dave Sorg, Fort Wayne, Ind.
6. Jim Brandenburg, Springfield, Ohio
7. L.J. Lines, Greensboro, Ind.
8. Robin Schildknecht, Louisville, Ky.
9. Rick Knotts, Kalamazoo, Mich.
10.Warren Howard, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Championship –

1. Jerry Makara
2. Rodney Combs, Mason, Ohio
3. Don Lamb
4. Neal Sceva
5. L.J. Lines
6. Dave Sorg
7. Mike Eddy
8. Ellis Herbert
9. Wayne Arnold
10.Jim Brandenburg
11.Ray Fullen
12.Gene Christie
13.Ray Barnard
14.Lonnie Breedlove
15.Vern Schrock
16.Larry Schuler
17.Randy Sweet
18.Rick Knotts
19.Glenn Ohlmann, Louisville, Ky.
20.Robin Schildknecht
21.Ray Young
22.Junior Hanley, Burlington, Ont.
23.LaMarr Marshall, Louisville, Ky.
24.Bobby Davis, Louisville, Ky.
25.Warren Howard, Fort Wayne, Ind.
26.Dicky Howard, Owensboro, Ky.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

1967 - Unser's Hot Car Chills Track Mark


Bobby Unser

Tracy, Calif. (November 5, 1967) - Bobby Unser of Albuquerque, N.M., has a Ford-powered car that's too hot to handle.

Builder A. J. Watson chose to use alcohol instead of nitrated fuel in the $23,000 sprint car because the engine was too fast for the half-mile oval at the Altamont Speedway.

Unser still shattered the record for 30 laps yesterday by roaring to an easy win in the United States Auto Club championship sprint car race.

He averaged 90.769 miles an hour and finished more than 11 seconds ahead of Don Thomas of El Cajon in 9 minutes and 58.27 seconds.

Unser also set a record for an 8-lap heat race of 2 minutes and 36.15 seconds, exceeding the old mark set by Thomas last year by better than 3.5 seconds.

“It’s a hot car in more ways than one,” said the 32-year-old Unser. “I have never driven a car where my feet got a better roasting or in which I was more uncomfortable.”

Results –

1. Bobby Unser
2. Don Thomas
3. Sam Sessions
4. Hal Minyard
5. Wib Spaulding
6. Steve Kennick
7. Bud Tinglestad
8. Larry Dickson
9. Dale Burton
10.Greg Weld

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

1974 – Carman Wins Winchester ‘Snowball’

Marvin Carman accepts his trophy after winning the 50-lap feature for ASA sprint cars at Winchester. 

Winchester, Ind. (November 4, 1974) - Marv Carman, driving his own wedge-shaped roadster, won the American Speed Association supervised “Snowball 50” Sunday afternoon beating out a quartet of USAC regulars on the high banked paved half-mile oval.

Twenty-four of the nation’s finest super sprints - super modifieds took the green for the 50-lap -chase with Bill Brian of Beckley, West Virginia, taking, the lead going into the first turn. His lead was short lived, however, as Bruce Walkup put the Leyba Sprinter in front on lap 2 with Charlie Masters, another USAC runner, getting by Brian setting the scene for the first 20 laps.

Walkup led until lap 4 when Masters put the Leffler Sprinter into the lead with Walkup right on his tail. They zipped around the ultra-fast oval weaving in and out of traffic at speeds of over 100 miles per hour giving the fairly large crowd some real exciting racing until the 20th lap when they brushed wheels going into turn three, sending both into a hair raising slide that also involved fourth place runner Billy Cassella.

This mishap put Larry Dickson into the lead with Carman second and Brian third. Brian lasted only four more laps when his engine came apart in a trail of smoke giving third to Joe Saldana in the Smith Speed Shop car.

Dickson, driving the Ernie Ensign machine, couldn’t stop the hard charging Union City, Mich., veteran as Carman made his move on lap 33 setting the stage for a dramatic finish. Dickson made a final charge coming out of turn four on the final lap but lost by less than a car length.

Rich Leavell of Elwood, Ind., claimed third place with a daring move on the final lap getting by Joe Saldana. Leavell, driving the Virgil Welch Sprinter, started the race in ninth position while Carman started fifth, Dickson sixth and Saldana eighth.

Heat winners were Don Hewitt, Bill Heeney and Dick Gaines. The 15-lap semi-feature was taken by Heeney with Duane Spangler second, Dave Gable third, and Rocky Fisher fourth.

Larry Dickson was fast qualifier in the 55-car field with a clocking of 16.293 seconds which is just a tick slower than the record of 16.16 seconds held by Bruce Walkup.

Results –

1. Marvin Carman
2. Larry Dickson
3. Rich Leavell
4. Joe Saldana
5. Greg Leffler
6. Tommy Dickson
7. Dick Gaines
8. Doug Syer
9. Sonny Ates
10.Danny Landis

Saturday, October 31, 2020

1971 – Derr wins IMCA title again


Ms. Teresa Seals, Miss Auto Racing of Oklahoma City, presents the championship trophy to Ernie Derr after his victory in the 150-lap stock car race at State Fair Speedway in Shreveport. Veteran IMCA starter Ollie Goodridge presents the checkers. – Bill Causey Jr. Photo

Shreveport, La. (October 31, 1971) – Ernie Derr wrapped up his 12th International Motor Contest Association national stock car championship on Sunday afternoon when he emerged as the winner of the 150-lap feature at the Louisiana State Fair. The event concluded the 1971 IMCA season and it was the finale of the State Fair’s speedway program.

Derr’s time was a new world’s record for 75 miles and it was 58 minutes and 2.33 seconds, bettering the old mark set last year in the same 150-miler by Freddy Fryar of 1 hour and 19 minutes.

Ron Hutcherson finished second and was the only other driver to finish on the same lap as the winner. Hutcherson, also from Keokuk, Iowa, drove a 1969 Dodge Charger.

Larry Phillips of Springfield, Mo., was the leader for 142 laps before he was forced to the pits for fuel and while he was sidelined, Derr overtook the front position.

Billy Bayles of West Monroe, La., was the fastest qualifier, touring the paved half-mile in 21.78 seconds.

Twenty-four cars started the race with Warren Hughes of Baton Rouge, La., taking the early lead before Phillips began setting the pace on lap 5.

One of the first cars out of action was Tony Bettenhausen Jr., of Houston, Tex., the son of the famed Indianapolis 500 driver. Bettenhausen was knocked out after blowing his engine. His car was crashed into by Joe Plowman of Galveston, Tex. Hughes lost control of his car on lap 38 and smashed the guardrail. Freddy Fryar of Baton Rouge, the defending champion, ran into tire trouble and finished ninth.

Results - 

1. Ernie Derr
2. Ron Hutcherson
3. Larry Phillips
4. Dave Goldsberry
5. Terry Bivins
6. Phil Cronin
7. Chuck Arnold
8. Bill Bayles
9. Freddy Fryar 
10. Willie Crane 

Friday, October 30, 2020

1966 – Stott wins controversial IMCA finale at Shreveport


George England receives the checkered flag declaring him the winner of the 150-lap feature race at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds on Sunday. An official check afterwards by IMCA showed that Ramo Stott was actually the winner by over a full lap.

Shreveport, La. (October 30, 1966) – In one of the most exciting an controversial finishes in International Motor Contest Association history, Ramo Stott of Keokuk, Iowa, was declared the winner of the 150-lap IMCA stock car feature at the Louisiana State Fair Speedway on Sunday after George England had gotten the checkered flag in his 1965 Chevrolet with a blown right front tire.

The standing room only crowd saw England blow his tire on lap 145 with Stott charging closer a lap and a half behind. For the final four and a half laps, England gunned his Chevy around the half-mile course with Stott gaining all the time.

On the final turn, Stott pulled right behind England but was unable to pass the shuddering Chevy because he was blocked in. England took the checkered and the announced victory.

After the race, Stott’s pit crew were adamant that he was a lap or two ahead and had been signaling him to ease off and preserve a sure win since England was only running on three tires.

An official check by IMCA officials showed that Stott was actually the leader, and the winner. The mix-up came during a pit stop by England when Stott passed. The unofficial scoreboard in the infield did not record the pass and therefore showed England to still be the leader.

Both England and Stott were called to the timing booth where and official check showed the real results.

Ernie Derr, who wrapped up the IMCA championship by winning the 25-lap feature on Saturday, had to pull out of Sunday’s race on the first lap when the harmonic balancer broke on his Dodge Hemi. “One thing nice about the break, “said Derr, “it saved me a lot of sweat today.”

Butch Hall and Lewis Taylor teamed up for a battle for third and fourth positions with Hall finally pulling out, completing 146 laps to Taylor’s 145. Dean Roper of Fair Grove, Mo., was fifth driving a Ford.

Stott led the race for the first 50 laps before until he pitted for the mandatory 30 second stop. Larry Phillips of Springfield, Mo., who had given Stott such a bad time the day before, took over the lead with Ed Negre of Monett, Mo., right behind.

On lap 78, Negre pitted and Stott climbed into second place behind Phillips. Phillips went into the pits on the very next lap and Stott was back in front.

Driving his 1965 Plymouth flawlessly, Stott held on to the lead until the 117th lap when he pitted for a tie change. England then took the lead with Taylor right behind him.

Or so everyone thought…

But in an earlier pit stop by England, the scoreboard didn’t record the lap pass by Stott, which led to the big confusion at the end.

On lap 145, England’s right front tire blew and the spectators in the grandstand, not knowing of the error, watched anxiously as Stott came barreling around the oval.

Refusing to come in, England showed considerable poise in piloting his Chevy around the track, trying for what he thought was the win. On the final turn Stott pulled in right behind England and was bumper to bumper as they crossed the finish line.

Results –

1. Ramo Stott
2. George England
3. Butch Hall
4. Lewis Taylor
5. Dean Roper
6. Tony Barcelona
7. Bob Foster
8. Hughie Krana
9. Vic Elson
10.Paul Feldner
11.Tom Roller
12.Dale Keeling
13.Jack Witt
14.Joe Melichor
15.Roy Batson
16.Larry Phillips
17.Ed Negre
18.John Mickey
19.Karl Stauffer
20.Lenny Funk
21.Jerry Wolland
22.Bill Peck
23.Phil Cronin
24.Ernie Derr

Thursday, October 29, 2020

1967 – Derr nabs Fair Race in Record Time


Ernie Derr enjoys a big birthday cake after winning the Louisiana State Fair’s 150-lap championship which enabled him to clinch his record eighth IMCA national crown. Joining Derr are former IMCA champion Herschel Buchanan (far left), Auto Racing, Inc’s publicity director Nick Nachicas (second from left) and IMCA promoter Frank Winkley (far right). – Bill Causey Jr. Photo

Shreveport, La. (October 29, 1967) – Eight-time IMCA stock car champion Ernie Derr piloted his way to the biggest triumph of his career on Sunday afternoon before a capacity crowd at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds.

It was a big win because Derr scored his 211th career IMCA win on his birthday while using two cars in the contest. He also shattered the State Fair tracks’ 150-lap record.

“I had no idea I would emerge the winner,” commented Derr following the checkered flag being twirled by starter Russ Brown.

Derr started the race in the driver’s seat of his 1967 Dodge Charger which was used throughout the ’67 campaign. However, on lap 19 the car was sidelined with a broken right rear axle. Upon discovery that the mechanism could not be repaired in time for returning the car to the track, Derr flagged Lewis Taylor, the driver of his other car.

And immediately Derr took over the wheel of the '66 Dodge he used in last season’s dash to the 1966 crown.

When Derr returned to action, he was two and a half laps behind the leader, Ramo Stott. But Derr eventually overtook Stott on the backstretch on lap 147 to grab the lead and hold it for the rest of the distance.

Derr erased the old State Fair Speedway 150-lap mark of 1 hour, 10 minutes and 44.25 seconds set by Stott in 1966. The winning time on Sunday was 1 hour, 7 minutes and 8.17 seconds. The victory paid Derr $500 and it also enabled him to claim big bonus currency to be awarded with his eighth national title. He becomes the first stock car driver anywhere to nail down eight national thrones. The win also jumped Derr to the nation’s #1 position in stock car racing as its biggest winner.

Stott would take runner-up honors and cash in on $400 and finish second in the point’s chase behind Derr.

Lenny Funk of Otis, Kan., finished third behind Derr and Stott.

Derr commented after the race that the brakes on his second car were almost gone when he got behind the wheel.

State Fair observers hailed the race as one of the most thrilling since stock car racing entered the exposition program back in 1950.

Stott led the first lap and Darrell Bradley was ahead on the second. Derr moved ahead on lap 3 but was sidelined with axle trouble allowing Stott to build up a mile and a half lead before taking over Taylor’s cockpit.

When Derr returned to the track, he was in fourth position.

Stott made his mandatory 30-second pit stop on the 100th lap with Derr pushing ahead.

Derr wouldn’t comment on his age except that he’s like Jack Benny. He said he was 39 years of age.

Results –

1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
3. Lenny Funk, Otis, Kan.
4. Darrell Bradley, Keokuk, Iowa
5. Paul Feldner, Colgate, Wis.
6. Dale Keeling, Dixon, Mo.
7. Phil Cronin, Houston, Tex.
8. Leon Bowman, Wichita, Kan.
9. Bob Perry, Springfield, Mo.
10.Bob Foser, Conroe, Tex.
11.Joe Melichar, Albuquerque, N.M.
12.Tom Roller, Independence, Mo.
13.Chuck Arnold, Baton Rouge, La.
14.Dick Johnson, St. Paul, Minn.
15.George England, Dallas, Tex.
16.Tony Barcelona, Houston, Tex.
17.Willie Crane, Springfield, Mo.
18.Vic Elson, Springfield, Mo.
19.Ken Christie, Springfield, Mo.
20.Ray Bolander, Milwaukee, Wis.
21.Butch Hall, Russell, Minn.
22.Darrell Dake, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
23.Karl Stouffer, Independence, Mo.
24.Elmer Walton, Independence, Mo.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

1962 – Foyt wins Golden State 100


A.J. Foyt accepts his trophy from California State Fair president Farrell Wrenn (right) after winning the '62 Golden State 100. Dick Wareing, trophy sponsor (left) and race promoter J.C. Agajanian (behind Foyt) join in the post-race festivities. - Bill Piggot Photo

Sacramento, Calif. (October 28, 1962) – A.J. Foyt likes to ride the high road.

And this is the route he traveled to win the Golden State 100 championship dirt car race on the California State Fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon before a throng of 12,400.

Foyt was in command of the situation beginning with the seventh lap as he shattered a track record in being clocked for 100 miles in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 59.14 seconds. His time represented a speed of 97.22 miles per hour.

The Houston, Tex., speedster who dominated the 1961 United States Auto Club competition, also set a record for the 50-mile distance as he timed in 31 minutes and 48.05 seconds.

For his afternoon ride over a surface deemed excellent by the contestants, Foyt pocketed $3,970 from the record purse of $19,115 and lap awards and accessory money raised his total earnings to $5,720.

The personable Foyt, whose triumph was a popular one with the big crowd, said he likes to ride high on the track and after the first few laps, began his descent to the outside groove.

“I trailed Jim (Hurtubise) low for the first few laps,” Foyt recounted. “but soon found out I couldn’t get anywhere low, so I moved up to the high side. For me, I can get more speed out of the car riding against the cushion.”

Foyt’s record smashing performance was accomplished despite a slipping clutch which bothered him during the last 20 circuits. He admitted afterwards that he slowed down rather than risk being forced out at such a late stage in the race.

Foyt, who is the third driver in the history of the Golden State 100 to win more than once, his other being in 1960, said he did not push his car and preferred to cling to his lead and “ride it out.”

During his victorious spin, Foyt nearly lapped the field as he had a 24-second bulge on the second-place finisher, Don Branson of Champaign, Ill., who was trailing the winner by three-quarters of a mile.

It didn’t take long for Foyt to catch up to the tail end of the 18 starters as he began overtaking them on lap 19 and continued the process until he was forced to ease up on the throttle due to the slipping clutch.

Hurtubise, the early pace setter for the first six laps, settled for fourth behind Branson and Elmer George of Speedway, Ind., who came with a rush in the final 10 laps to gain third place.

Hurtubise, a former Golden State winner, held onto second for 32 laps before being passed by Jim McElreath of Arlington, Tex. McElreath eventually retired on lap 61 with a brake problem.

Results –

1. A.J. Foyt, Houston, Tex.
2. Don Branson, Champaign, Ill.
3. Elmer George, Speedway, Ind.
4. Jim Hurtubise, Lennox, Calif.
5. Parnelli Jones, Torrance, Calif.
6. Troy Ruttman, Dearborn, Mich.
7. Johnny Rutherford, Fort Worth, Tex.
8. Lloyd Ruby, Houston, Tex.
9. Chuck Booth, Sacramento, Calif.
10.Len Sutton, Portland, Ore.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

1968 – National Open to Adamson


Bobby Adamson accepts his trophy and new television after winning his second National Open. 

Mechanicsburg, Penn. (October 27, 1968) – Bobby Adamson romped to an impressive repeat triumph in the sixth annual National Open on Sunday afternoon after starting fourth in the 35-car field.

The “Coraopolis Comet” became the first two-time winner of the event and garnered $1,840 plus extras for his stellar effort.

Time on the event was 48 minutes for an average speed of 72.73 miles per hour. The lap average was 28.80 seconds.

Adamson gunned into third place on lap 12, took second on lap 14, and passed Lou Blaney of Hartford, Ohio, the 1966 winner, coming out of turn four on the 17th circuit for a lead that proved to be permanent.

Blaney, $250 richer after he set a track record of 24.04 seconds in qualifying, on Saturday night, started on the pole and withstood early challenge from Frank Gorichky and Ralph Quarterson.

Winner of 33 features in the western part of Pennsylvania this season, Quarterson was well back in the pack when the checkered flag came out as a result of engine problems.

Blaney held on for third and Gorichky, off West Middlesex, Penn., got fourth-place money as both drivers failed in their efforts to stave off a determined bid by Lynn Paxton for the runner-up spot.

Paxton, who started 14th, moved into third-place on lap 62, passing J.D. Leas of Steubenville, Ohio, then overhauled Quarterson while moving through the third turn in the outside groove of lap 69.

A yellow flag on lap 77 allowed Paxton to close in on Adamson, but Bobby quickly opened up a five-car-length lead on the restart and held it until the finish.

There were 77 cars on hand for time trials.

Results –

1. Bobby Adamson
2. Lynn Paxton
3. Lou Blaney
4. Frank Gorichky
5. Hank Jacoby
6. Ted Wise
7. Gene Kohr
8. Mitch Smith
9. Jerry Matus
10.Pete Swarmer

Monday, October 26, 2020

1974 – McElreath Nabs IMCA Run


James McElreath

Shreveport, La. (October 26, 1974) – McElreath is a familiar name in auto racing circles. Jim McElreath has run at Indianapolis and last year won the Ontario 500.

But Saturday at State Fair Speedway it was James McElreath, the veteran racer’s 22-year-old son who was in the spotlight.

James took a wire-to-wire victory in the International Motor Contest Association 25-lap sprint car feature, won the first heat and was second in the trophy dash.

“It’s just a matter of time and a little more experience,” said the proud father of his son’s potential to move up to the bigger, more powerful Indianapolis-type cars.

James’ time for the 25 turns around the half-mile asphalt oval was 8 minutes and 59 seconds as he fought off the challenges of Ronnie Burke of Houston, Tex.

Burke, running for the first time in an IMCA-sanctioned race, had won the second 10-lap heat in the day’s best time of 3 minutes and 36.4 seconds and also took the trophy dash in 1 minute and 45.8 seconds.

Bill Thrasher of Mesquite, Tex., was the winner of the third heat in 3 minutes and 39 seconds.

A crowd of 3,000 saw the drivers set new State Fair Speedway records for sprint cars in the 5, 10 and 25-lap distances since it was the first time for that type of auto to run at the track since it was paved in 1969.

Thrasher finished third in the feature followed by Shane Carson of Oklahoma City and IMCA sprint car point’s leader Bill Utz of Sedalia, Mo.

Utz totaled 95 points for a day’s work, which included a second-place finish in the middle heat race, and wrapped up the national title over Larry Kirkpatrick of Wood River, Ill.

Kirkpatrick had to withdraw his car from the feature on Saturday because “it wasn’t handling right.”

“The car isn’t designed for pavement. I was just trying to get by on account of the point’s race. I’m used to racing on dirt tracks and it’s hard to get the car set up for pavement,” he added.

McElreath has gotten most of his experience at Devil’s Bowl Speedway where he’s champion in both sprint cars and super modifieds. He’s been driving competitively for five years.

“I like the track,” McElreath said. “It was a little slick, but it was okay.”

Results –

Heat #1 – James McElreath, Arlington, Tex.
Heat #2 – Ronnie Burke, Houston, Tex.
Heat #3 – Bill Thrasher, Mesquite, Tex.
Trophy dash – Ronnie Burke
Feature –
1. James McElreath
2. Ronnie Burke
3. Bill Thrasher
4. Shane Carson, Oklahoma City, Okla.
5. Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
6. Richard Powell, Enid, Okla.
7. Bobby Marshall, Dallas, Tex.
8. Rick Hood, West Memphis, Ark.
9. Ralph Blackett, Des Moines, Iowa
10.Roger Archer, Dallas, Tex.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

1959 – Sacto Victory to Rookie


Jim Hurtubise is joined by his lovely wife Jane after scoring his first career USAC championship victory at Sacramento. 

Sacramento, Calif. (October 25, 1959) – Rookie driver Jim Hurtubise of Lenox, Calif., making only his third start in United States Auto Club championship competition, sped to victory Sunday afternoon in a 100-mile race at the California State Fairgrounds.

The 26-year-old Californian drove the #3 Racing Associates Special from Indianapolis over the 100 laps on the dirt track at an average of 85.9 miles an hour. His time was 1 hour, 9 minutes and 23 seconds.

Only six of the field of 18 drivers finished the race, the last of this year's USAC competition. Al (Cotton) Farmer of Dallas, Tex., was second and Gene Force of Richmond, Ind., finished third.

Roger Ward, the 1959 Indianapolis 500 winner and this year's top USAC pilot, dropped out on the ninth lap with a burnt piston. He was awarded 17th position.

Tony Bettenhausen was awarded eighth place to move into competition, just 30 points ahead of Johnny Thompson, who sat out this race with an injury.

The young Hurtubise was driving the same car Thompson drove to victory at last year's state fair 100-miler.

Bettenhausen led for 15 laps before he dropped out when his car lost Its magneto.

Results – 

1. Jim Hurtubise
2. Al Farmer
3. Gene Force
4. Jim McWithey
5. A.J. Foyt
6. Shorty Templeman
7. Wayne Weiler
8. Tony Bettenhausen
9. Bill Hyde
10.Eddie Sachs
11.Len Sutton
12.Johnnie Tolan
13.Chuck Hulse
14.Bob Cleburg
15.Don Branson
16.Dempsey Wilson
17.Rodger Ward
18.Bob Veith

Saturday, October 24, 2020

1969 - Vandiver Wins an Easy One at Talladega


A celebratory ride to victory lane was in order for Jim Vandiver and crew after winning at Talladega. 

Eastaboga, Ala. (October 24, 1969) - The third time’s the charm, and laughing Jim Vandiver, a 28-year-old rookie out of Charlotte, N. C. will testify for that one.

Running only his third super speedway race ever, the 215-pound Grand Touring graduate romped to a two-lap victory over Ramo Stott, one of ARCA’s top drivers, here Sunday afternoon in his Ray Fox Dodge.

In winning the first Vulcan 500, an ARCA-sponsored event, Vandiver set a new track record for 500 miles at the brand new Alabama International Motor Speedway. Taking a holiday from the NASCAR circuit, Vandiver averaged 156.017 miles per hour and admitted afterwards that he “never really went flat out the whole afternoon.”

The old record of 153.778 was set by Richard Brickhouse back on September 14, when he won the first Talladega 500 in a Dodge Daytona. Vandiver, running his first NASCAR race in that one, finished second. Stott, who had been hanging in the same lap with Vandiver throughout the sunny afternoon, lost his chances for a victory less than 30 laps from the finish - and he lost in the pits when an air hose remained attached to his car as he pulled back into the race.

That made it necessary for Stott to come back in on the next stop and from there his crew had to change tires without an air wrench. Vandiver had it dead-locked from that point to the finish - if not before.

“No, I didn't have too much sweat out there today,” he grinned. “There were no problems on the track and as far as I know we didn’t have any tire problems. I blew one tire, but it was on the third or fourth turn, it was time for me to pit, anyway; and that really didn’t hurt. I just came on in off the fourth turn.”

Vandiver picked up $8,575 for his victory. Stott, in second, won $5,950. Freddie Fryar, in a 1969 Plymouth, ran third while Ron Grana, in a ‘69 Ford, finishing fourth.

And there was a big story on the fifth-place car where Tiny Lund, winner of the Permatex 300 on Saturday, finished. Lund, in placing fifth, may have turned in one of his very best races ever. Starting in the second row, the big man from Cross, S. C. first 20 laps, and was running dead last in the field of 41 cars. Among his troubles was a transmission which came apart. The pit crew locked Lund's red, white, and blue Pepsi-Cola car in high gear, and by the 60th lap he had it back into sixth place.

Benny Parsons, ARCA’s defending champion who blew a motor near the mid-way point, relieved Lund near the finish; but it was Lund's spectacular driving that got his car in the top five.

An estimated 28,500 fans turned out to watch Vandiver dominate the race after race leader Don Tarr hit the wall on the 61st lap. Tarr had led for 39 laps before going out, and when it was over Vandiver had led on 132 of the 188 laps needed at the 2.66-mile track for a 500-mile race.

Results -

1. Jim Vandiver, Charlotte, N.C., 1969 Dodge, $8,575
2. Ramo Stott Keokuk, Iowa, 1969 Plymouth, $5,950
3. Freddie Fryar, Baton Rouge, La., 1969 Plymouth, $3,950
4. Ron Grana, Farmington, Mich., 1969 Ford, $2,725
5. Tiny Lund, Cross, S.C. 1967 Ford, $2,000
6. Les Snow, Bloomington, Ill., 1969 Plymouth, $1,500
7. Clifton Martin, Columbia, Tenn., 1969 Plymouth, $1,200
8. Bobby Watson, Prestonsburg, Ky., 1970 Dodge, $1,000
9. Buck Baker, Charlotte, N.C., 1967 Plymouth, $900
10. Leon Van Atta, Lima, Ohio, 1969 Ford, $850

Thursday, October 22, 2020

1950 – Carter Winner of Ted Horn Memorial


Williams Grove Speedway track owner Roy Richwine (center) joins Ted Horn winner Duane Carter (left) and runner-up Tommy Hinnershitz (right).  

Mechanicsburg, Penn. (October 22, 1950) – Indianapolis 500 star Duane Carter of Fresno, Calif., flashed to victory in the annual 50-lap Ted Horn Memorial automobile race on Sunday afternoon at the half-mile Williams Grove Speedway before one of the largest crowds in the history of the oval.

Piloting the Agajanian Offenhauser, Carter’s winning time for the grind was 22 minutes and 42 seconds.

His name will go down on the trophy offered by track owner Roy Richwine to the first driver to win the event twice. Carter sat in the same car in which Johnny Mantz won the event last year.

Tommy Hinnershitz of Reading, Penn., who tailed Carter across the finish line by nearly three-quarters of a lap, was presented with a gold trophy when he was crowned the 1950 Williams Grove Speedway champion for piling up more points than any other driver.

Roy Sherman of Bedford, Ohio, finished third. Doc Shanebrook of Gary, Ind., was fourth; Ed Terry, Plainfield, N.J., fifth: Bill Mackey, Indianapolis, sixth; and Jackie Holmes, Indianapolis, seventh.

Mark Light of Lebanon, Penn., was forced out of action in the sixth lap of the feature, as was Vic Nanman, another Lebanon driver, when they had car failure.

In the time trials, Carter set a new track record by circling the oval in 24.62 seconds.

Results - 

1. Duane Carter
2. Tommy Hinnershitz
3. Roy Sherman
4. Doc Shanebrook
5. Ed Terry
6. Bill Mackey
7. Jackie Holmes
8. Mike Nazaruk
9. Lee Wallard
10.Cliff Griffith

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

1973 – 12,000 see Weld notch third straight Open title

Kenny Weld is congratulated by car owner Bob Weikert (cowboy hat) as Williams Grove promoter Jack Gunn interviews the winner. 

Mechanicsburg, Penn. (October 21, 1973) – The largest crowd in 10 years to take in a racing program at Williams Grove Speedway saw Kenny Weld do what comes naturally in Sunday’s 150-lap National Open for super sprints

The nation’s winningest super sprint pilot gave the 12,000 plus fans a demonstration of his driving skills as he worked his way through traffic even though his brakes had gone out with 40 laps to go. 

Weld’s victory, his 45th of the season, was worth $4,100 from the total purse of $14,000.

Weld started o the pole as a field of 35 took the green for the initial 75-lap segment. He posted a time off 24.40 seconds in Saturday’s time trials to earn the inside of the front row next to Steve Smith of Hanover, Penn.

Smith, clocked in 24.91 seconds in the trials, shot into the lead at the waving of the green, and kept it for 10 laps, but he spun out while trying to avoid another car which had flipped and had to drop back to scratch (last).

Geared for a slick track by the Bob Weikert crew, Weld pushed his #29 sprinter in front and was not to be denied his third consecutive National Open triumph.

Jan Opperman was second at the halfway mark but yielded to Lynn Paxton on the 105th lap. Two yellow flags gave Paxton a crack at Weld, but Kenny proved equal to both challenges.

Paxton found himself running low on fuel late in the event, and Bobby Allen came on strong for second. It was a long haul back for Allen, who had slipped from seventh to 27th before a red flag gave his crew time to make some necessary adjustments.

Opperman placed third and Van May, who ran with the leaders throughout, was fourth. Smith rallied to take fifth as Paul Pitzer, up with the front five all afternoon long, suffered a flat tire on the final lap.

Results –

1. Kenny Weld
2. Bobby Allen
3. Jan Opperman
4. Van May
5. Steve Smith
6. Johnny Grum
7. Kramer Williamson
8. Lynn Paxton
9. Red Wise
10.Paul Pitzer
11.Junior Parkinson
12.Jay Myers
13.Jackie Howerton
14.Kenny Slaybaugh
15.Ralph Quarterson
16.Rick Schmeylun
17.Hank Rogers Jr.
18.Elvin Felty
19.Buddy Cochran
20.Bill Banick
21.Smokey Snellbaker
22.Bill Wentz Sr.
23.Ed Zirkle
24.Terry Crousore
25.Mike Lloyd
26.Doc Dawson
27.Len Seoka
28.Gus Linder
29.Lee Osborne
30.Lou Blaney

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

1974 - Rick Ferkel; Happy and Rich


Rick Ferkel 

Long Beach, Calif. (October 20, 1974) - What can a “homespun” sprint car driver from Bowling Green, Ohio, possibly teach the rock-hard veterans of the California Racing Association?

Quite a lot, as Jimmy Oskie, Don Hamilton and Ron Rea found out last year. For one thing, Rick Ferkel taught them how to lose. For another, he introduced a piece of equipment that has since revolutionized the sport.

A former auto machinist turned race car driver, Ferkel showed up at Ascot Park for last year's Pacific Coast Open sprint car championships and he had barely unloaded his Chevrolet-powered car when the jokes and snide remarks started circulating around the pits.

The object of their ridicule was the so-called “bumper” or drag race tires Ferkel installed on the rear, wheels - a full six inches wider and 10 inches larger in circumference than the traditional 94-inch “shoes” utilized by CRA drivers.

“A few of the drivers came up to me and said, ‘There's no way those tires are going to work here.’ I think they were genuinely trying to help me, but I thought I'd try ‘em anyway. Well, I guess the rest is history.”

Ferkel made some that bright October night – he went on to an embarrassingly easy victory in the 50-lap feature and picked up $2,800 from the $20,000 purse. Not by coincidence, Bubby Jones, another privateer entrant from Danville, Ill., finished second while using the radical rubber.

“The tires are fantastic because they develop a ‘crown’ when the centrifugal force builds up in a spinning tire,” explains the 33-year-old driver. “You get greater traction on a damp dirt surface since the tires have a tendency to dig in.”

“You learn to adopt these innovations as they come along. If you don't, you may end up in a breadline pretty fast.”

Ferkel is in no immediate danger of that. Last year, Ferkel - hardly a household name in American racing when compared to A.J. Foyt – still managed to gross in the neighborhood of $85,000 racing on the so-called “pirate” or “bandit” super sprint car circuit and took home close to $35,000 after expenses.

He refuses to run events sanctioned by organizations such as the United States Auto Club (USAC) because “it's not economically feasible.”

“USAC normally schedules only one or two events per week for base purses of $1,000 to $1,500. Heck, in our peak months, I may run six races in seven days for purses between $750 and $1,000, so the potential for a greater monetary return is there.”

“I've got a wife (Pat) and a daughter (Felicia, 14) to support. I enjoy what I do, but to me it's a livelihood as well as a sport.”

Ferkel is one of a growing number of “racing gypsies” who tour the East, Midwest and Southwest from March until October, stopping at such exotic way stations as Williams Grove, Pa., Knoxville, Iowa, and Hinsdale, Ill. He and his chief mechanic, Jim Darley, log anywhere from 70,000 to 80,000 miles each season with their Chevy camper and 8-foot trailer rig. The rig serves as a mini-speed shop on wheels.

“We have a spare engine, a spare frame, a rear axle, new brakes, shock, absorbers, and radius rods - virtually everything to put the car back together.

We can't afford to go running back home every time we bend the car a little. Last year, we wrote off (totaled) the car and had to go home, but that's a rare exception.”

So far, Ferkel has spent the last three years in his unusual pilgrimage across the United Stales and he figures the “pluses” outweigh the “minuses”.

“I tell you one thing, I've seen it all - the dirty one-horse towns, the sleazy hotels, the horrible food and the constant pressure to do well,” he says. "But there are the good times.”

“It's hard to believe, but practically every town in the Midwest with a population over 1,000 has a race track. Some of them are real weed patches and you swear Davy Crockett carved his initials on the retaining wall, they're that old.”

“There have been times when I look up from the pits to the grandstands one hour before the race and it's empty. Ten minutes before the trophy dash, the stands are full. The people seem to come out of the hills like magic.”

Ferkel believes sprint car fans in the Midwest are the most rabid and woe be the intruder who beats the hometown hero.

“I know I've been the bad guy on some occasions. They don't like it when they have a local ‘hot shot’ and you use his car for traction in a turn: It's kind of hard for them to idolize Superman one minute and then all of a sudden find out he's Minnie Mouse the next minute.”