Wednesday, September 30, 2020

1962 – Ruttman Surprises Stockers in Illiana Benefit


Troy Ruttman relaxes in victory lane after winning the inaugural Tony Bettenhausen Memorial. 

Schererville, Ind. (September 30, 1962) - Troy Ruttman scored a surprise victory in a thrilling battle before some 7,000 fans in Sunday’s first annual Tony Bettenhausen Memorial Hospital Fund stock car race at Illiana Speedway.

Ruttman’s victory came as a surprise as he was driving a 1962 Mercury which outran the many hot Pontiacs and Fords entered. Ruttman worked his way through traffic on the half-mile asphalt track and dogged Don White of Keokuk, Iowa, who had the lead from the start, from the 75th lap on, finally making an outside try pay off with only three laps remaining in the 100-lap contest.

Norm Nelson, driving a Ford, placed third in the United States Auto Club-sanctioned event after an early mishap which cost him a lap. Battling with Pontiac-mounted Paul Goldsmith, Nelson tried to go by on the inside, grazed Goldsmith and wound up on the corrugated bumps used to mark the inner boundary of thee track.

Nelson’s Ford spun across the track and backed gently into the wall. The Racine, Wis., pilot got restarted just as Goldsmith came around and then put on a display of virtuoso driving to make up the lost lap, repass Goldsmith and earned a hard-fought third-place.

Goldsmith, of Munster, Ind., settled for fourth while Herb Shannon of Peoria, Ill., was fifth. Sal Tovella of Addison, Ill., took sixth.

The Ruttman – White action in the latter stages kept the capacity crowd standing as most of the 24-car field were still running.

White, in qualifying, set a new one-lap standard of 24.14 seconds while Ruttman’s 41 minute and 35 second mark was a record for the 50-mile distance.

The proceeds after expenses were pledged to the Bettenhausen Hospital Fund by promoter Harry Molenaar.

Results –

1. Troy Ruttman
2. Don White
3. Norm Nelson
4. Paul Goldsmith
5. Herb Shannon
6. Sal Tovella
7. Ken Finley
8. Elmer Musgrave
9. Neil Houston
10.Whitey Johnson

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

1974 – Senneker wins DRI-POWR 400


Bob Senneker accepts his trophy after winning the Dri-Powr 400 at Winchester. - Tom De Vette Photo

Winchester, Ind. (September 29, 1974) – Bob Senneker of Grand Rapids. Mich., driving a ’73 Camaro, won the fifth annual DRI-POWR 400 here Sunday afternoon after gaining the lead on lap 299 of the 400-lap event on the high-banked paved half-mile oval.

Senneker picked up $6,120 for his efforts in the American Speed Association race that offered a $28,500 purse for the 40 competitors.

When the green flag fell Vern Schlock of Middlebury, Ind., jumped into the lead in his ’73 Camaro trailed by Don Gregory and Senneker. The race ran smooth until lap 33 when Bobby Allison of Hueytown, Ala., blew a tire going into turn two causing him to hit the outside guard rail.

Allison’s ’74 Camaro was tagged by another car leaving him facing the oncoming traffic. Several cars spun to avoid Allison, but Dave Sorg had no place to go and crashed his ’74 Chevelle head-on into Allison. Sorg was taken to Ball Memorial Hospital and was treated for a cut over his eye

The wreck took out several favorites including Allison and two-time DRI-POWR winner Sorg. Others unable to continue after the melee was the 1971 winner Dennis Miles of Muncie and Terry Bivens of Shawnee, Kans. Tom Reffner of Rudolph, Wis., was also out with the right side of his '70 Mustang destroyed.

The race was red-flagged at this point to make repairs on the guard rail, which took 50 minutes, then the field was once again running with Schrock still in command followed by Tom Maier, Senneker and Larry Moore.

On lap 53 Moore and Ray Fuller collided coming out of turn two ending Moore's hopes for the day as his ’73 Camaro was out of action leaving fourth spot to Don Gregory who dropped out on lap 175 with mechanical ills.

Maier pushed his Camaro in front on lap 72 and was building up a lead when the yellow appeared on lap 153 to pick up some metal on the track allowing Maier to make a needed pit stop.

This gave Schrock the lead once again which he held until lap 176 when Rodney Combs hit the guard rail in turn four bringing out the yellow once again.

Schrock darted into the pits leaving Maier in control. On lap 203 Schrock passed Maier once again getting the top spot back giving the 6,500 fans some real racing.

On lap 254 Lennie Waldo lost control of his ‘68 Camaro coming off of turn two, hitting the inside grass and flipping over on his top. Waldo, a one-time USAC sprint competitor, scampered out of the car uninjured.

During this caution period Maier pitted as did Joe Ruttman and Senneker. The green waved on lap 260 with Schrock first, Senneker second and Maier running third.

Schrock pitted again on lap 298 with a sour running machine and Senneker gained the lead for the first time in the race.

On lap 320 Senneker got by Maier gaining a full lap on second place and appeared to be running smoothly. On lap 344 Larry Phillips made his move on Mater gaining second place to set up the finish of the grueling 200-mile chase.

The last yellow appeared on lap 384 when Randy Sweet spun, allowing the cars to bunch up for the last nine laps Nobody changed positions during the final laps and Senneker became the first out of state driver to win the DRI-POWR 4OO.

Results –

1. Bob Senneker, Grand Rapids, Mich.
2. Larry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
3. Tom Maier, Midland, Mich.
4. Ed Vanderlaan - Joe Ruttman
5. Vein Schrock, Middlebury, Ind.
6. Marv Smith, Columbus. Ohio
7. Bruce Gould, Milford, Ohio
8. Bobby Jacks, Dayton, Ohio
9. Randy Sweet, Portage, Mich.
10. Bob Coffey, Indianapolis, Ind.
11. Mike Eddy, Kawkawlin, Mich.
12. Gene Christie, Gaston, Ind.
13. Warren Howard. Ft. Wayne, Ind.
14. Kenny Simpson, Bedford. Ind.
15. Neal Sceva, Urbana, Ohio
16. Ned Webb, West Chester, Ohio
17. Shorty Hinshaw, Moreland, Ind.
18. Lennie Waldo, Columbus, Ohio
19. Roland Van Arsdale, Indianapolis, Ind.
20. Jody Ridley, Chatsworth, Ga.
21. John Anderson, Detroit, Mich.
22. Ray Fullen, Anderson, Ind.
23. Don Gregory, Columbus, Ohio
24. Jim Cushman. Worthington, Ohio
25. Doug Hanna, Goshen, Ind.
26. Rodney Combs, Hamilton, Ohio
27. Paul Wiesner, Muskegon. Mich.
28. Frank Demske, South Bend, Ind.
29. John Vado, Miamisburg, Ohio
30. Don Higgins. New Castle, Ind.
31. Larry Moore, Dayton, Ohio
32. Bobby Taylor, Elkhart, Ind.
33. La Marr Marshall, Louisville, Ky.
34. Dave Dayton, Indianapolis, Ind.
35. Bobby Allison, Hueytown, Ala.
36. Tom Reffner, Rudolph, Wis.
37. Dave Sorg, Ft. Wayne, Ind.
38. Dennis Miles, Muncie, Ind.
39. Terry Bivens, Shawnee, Kan.
40. Jim Hurtubise, Indianapolis, Ind.

Monday, September 28, 2020

1969 – Tri-County Win Posted by Gerken

West Chester, Ohio (September 28, 1969) — Whitey Gerken of Melrose Park, Ill., capitalized on a spin-out on the 95th lap to move ahead of Don White and win the 100-lap United States Auto Club feature race for stock cars at Tri-County Speedway by less than a car length Sunday night.

It was the first time since 1962 that a Chevrolet had won a USAC-sanctioned stock car race, Gerken said, after edging out White of Keokuk, Iowa.

Gerken, driving a 1969 Chevelle, won his first USAC feature race by going low on the final curve as Lefty Robinson of Des Moines, Iowa, went into a spin.  

The yellow flag was out for three laps. Then White tried unsuccessfully to maneuver his 1969 Charger back into the lead. 

White had taken the lead on the 42nd lap of the half-mile dirt track. He moved back into the lead again on the 44th circuit after yielding for one lap to Butch Hartman of South Zanesville, Ohio. Hartman had led from lap 8 to lap 42 and finished third in the race. 

Results – 

1. Whitey Gerken 
2. Don White 
3. Butch Hartman 
4. Roger McCluskey 
5. A.J. Foyt 
6. Jack Bowsher 
7. Verlin Eaker 
8. J.J. Smith 
9. John Martin 
10.Jim Nusbaum 
11.Glen Bradley 
12.Frank Freda 
13.Dave Whitcomb 
14.Lefty Robinson 
15.Paul Feldner

Sunday, September 27, 2020

1964 – Johncock is International Classic Winner


Nolan Johncock accepts his International Classic trophy from race sponsor Dick Stuart as sportswriter "Dizzy" Dean Murray looks on. 

Oswego, N.Y. (September 27, 1964) – Nolan Johncock of Hastings, Mich., one of the most popular pilots to contend here over the last several years, scored his greatest triumph Friday night as he took first place in the eighth annual International Classic at Oswego Speedway.

Johncock earned a cool $3,000 out of a $15,000 purse along with a mammoth trophy.

Hundreds of admirers streamed to the track to surround the champion, but the actual heroes were estimated close to 10,000 patient fans who out-waited a penetrating six-hour rain and windstorm, which threatened to cause the race’s postponement until Sunday of next week. 

Here, the management deserved accolades. Hounded by many who would have called off the race in deference to the elements, owner-operator Harry Caruso and track manager Will Hackett doggedly refused to yield to the demands and their stubbornness was eventually rewarded. Both officials, as soon as raindrops fell, decided all human attempts would be made to stage the race, in order that patrons who had travelled great distances, many more than 400 miles, would not be disappointed.

This, mind you, despite the fact rain checks were issued and, regardless of when the race was finally conducted, the management had the money in the bank. 

So officials lounged somewhat uncomfortably in the booth for six long, dragged-out hours, but the program was finally completed to the satisfaction of nearly everybody. Most fans left the track during the afternoon, but when the interrupted program was resumed at 8:30 pm., it was felt all but perhaps 200 or so spectators were back in their damp seats.

Sam Sessions, whose 110.2 miles-per-hour proved the fastest in the time trials, led over the first 89 circuits, but was forced into the pit area for minor repairs and relinquishing the lead to Kenny Fisher.

Fisher, of Hamburg, N.Y. drove an expert race and led for the next 28 laps when Johncock forged ahead and maintained first place over the last 30 laps for the big win.

Norm Rusk of Novi, Mich., took third place while Jack Nichols of Sturgis, N.Y., grabbed fourth. Harry Jones of Nashville, Mich., rounded out the top five finishers.

Results –

1. Nolan Johncock
2. Ken Fisher
3. Norm Rusk
4. Jack Nichols
5. Harry Jones
6. Todd Gibson
7. Ed VanderLaan
8. Bobby Pierce
9. Wayne McGuire
10.Mark Letcher

Saturday, September 26, 2020

1964 – Foyt Cops Hoosier 100

A.J. Foyt accepts his trophy and accolades after winning his fourth career Hoosier Hundred.

Indianapolis, Ind. (September 26, 1964) - A.J. Foyt became racing's winningest driver Saturday when he crossed the finish line seconds ahead of defending champion Rodger Ward in the rich Hoosier Hundred.

The triumph, cheered by 25,000 fans, was Foyt's 26th championship victory and his ninth this year alone. The Houston, Tex., speedster, who started from the pole position, collected $18,000 of a record $55,500 purse. Ward, like Foyt a two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 mile race, finished the 100-mile grind over the bumpy Indiana State Fairgrounds dirt track 7.7 seconds behind Foyt and fell second to Foyt in championship wins.

Foyt's average speed was 89.056 miles an hour. The race was slowed several times by spins, but no drivers were hurt.

Don Branson of Champaign, Ill., finished third. Jud Larson of Austin, Tex., was fourth, Bud Tinglestad of Dayton, Ohio, fifth, and Arnie Knepper of Belleville, Ill., sixth.

Foyt won the pole position with a qualifying speed of 102.887 miles per hour, although he was among the late qualifiers and had to make the test on a track already riddled with ruts.

Bobby Marshman of Pottstown, Penn., who was the first to qualify, started from the outside front row position on a test clocked at 102.244 miles per hour.

Marshman bolted into the lead on the first turn and kept it until Foyt overtook him on the sixth lap to stay in front for good. The two dueled until Marshman was forced out of the race with mechanical troubles on the 46th lap.

Results –

1. A.J. Foyt
2. Rodger Ward
3. Don Branson
4. Jud Larson
5. Bud Tingelstad
6. Arnie Knepper
7. Ronnie Duman
8. Len Sutton
9. Lloyd Ruby
10.Mario Andretti
11.Norm Hall
12.Joe Leonard
13.Bob Harkey
14.Gordon Johncoc
15.Bobby Unser
16.Bobby Marshman
17.Parnelli Jones
18.Johnny Rutherford
19.Dee Jones
20.Ralph Liguori
21.Jim McElreath
22.Hal Rettberg

Friday, September 25, 2020

1977 - Izzo Caps Best Santa Fe Year with National Clay 200 Victory


Tony Izzo capped off a successful season by capturing the National Clay Track Championship 200 at Santa Fe Speedway. 

Willow Springs, Ill. (September 25, 1978) – Tony Izzo was the class of the 33-car field as he captured the National Clay Track Championship 200 for late models on Sunday afternoon at Santa Fe Speedway.

Izzo, driving a 1977 Camaro, topped off his best season by adding the triumph to his 1977 Santa Fe Speedway track championship.

The Bridgeview driver qualified for the front row the night before by winning one of two 25-lap features. He shared the front row with last year’s National Clay Track champion, Jim O’Conner, who also won a qualifying feature and started on the pole.

When the green flag fell, Izzo jumped into the lead and pulled away from the field. By lap 70, Izzo had lapped all but O’Conner, Arnie Gardner of Batavia and Ed Sanger.

On lap 98 Gardner made a move to get by O’Conner by slipping low. O’Conner held him off until they rounded fourth turn heading for lap 100. At that point Gardner stuck to the inside and took second, just inches ahead of O’Conner.

The rules require that the race be halted at the halfway point for cars to re-fuel.

The cars that were leading began to slow down at that point to make the mandatory stop. Meanwhile, the cars that were a lap down continued to race for position.

The frontrunners, who had slowed, suddenly found themselves in the way of the fast approaching pack. The car of Bobby Shell ran into the back of O’Conner’s Camaro and ended up on top of the Kankakee driver’s car.

As a result, seven cars ended up piling into each other. J.J. Smith and Dennis Marcelle were the only two drivers unable to continue. A bit of fast work allowed O’Conner to return to action, minus his roof and a rear quarter panel.

The second half of the 200-lapper was relatively uneventful with Izzo again opening up a big lead. Throughout the remaining 100 circuits, Sanger tried to get by O’Conner for the third position. O’Conner, running the high groove, shut off repeated efforts by the Waterloo, Iowa, pilot to secure the position.

At the finish, it was Izzo winning by a half-lap over Gardner, with O’Conner shading Sanger by three car lengths for third. Fifth went to Curt Hansen of Dike, Iowa.

Results –

1. Tony Izzo, Bridgeview
2. Arnie Gardner, Batavia
3. Jim O’Conner, Kankakee
4. Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
5. Curt Hansen, Dike, Iowa
6. Ken Pohlman, Oak Lawn
7. Denny Falkos, Aurora
8. Bobby Shell, Clifton
9. Darrel Dake, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
10.Larry Jackson, Lyons

Thursday, September 24, 2020

1972 - Iowa Driver Wins in Fair Finale


Irv Janey of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, won the 50-lap IMCA late model stock car finale at the Kansas State Fair. 

Hutchinson, Kan. (September 24, 1972) - Irv Janey of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, won the 50-lap feature race in the finale of the international Motor Contest Association late model stock car racing at the Kansas State Fair Sunday afternoon.

Janey, driving a 1970 Plymouth, came from the third position at the end of the 11th lap to take the lead for good. He finished the race in 21 minutes, 51.35 seconds, Janey was also the top driver in time trials with a time of 26.18 seconds.

Gordon Blankenship, Keokuk, Iowa, who finished second in the 50-lap feature on Saturday, was runner-up again Sunday. Mike Lutkie, Wichita, was third, followed by Gary Brooks, Grand Prairie, Tex., fourth, and Jerre Wichman, Kansas City, fifth.

Janey qualified for the feature with a third place finish in the first heat. He also placed second in the trophy dash behind Blankenship. The latter was timed in 2:13.02 in winning the dash.

In the first heat Brooks won in a time of 4:32.40, with Wichman second, and Jim Dreasher of Topeka fourth.

Galen Schaeffer of Topeka won the second heat in 4:37.51. Carl Vander Wal of Ames, Iowa, finished second, Gaylord Lippert, Albuquerque, N.M., third and Tom Frasher, Jefferson City, Mo., fourth.

In the consolation race, Jim Hager, Liberty, Mo., edged out Blankenship for the top spot. Thurman Lovejoy, Kansas City, was third and Jim Still, Topeka, fourth.

Results –

STP trophy dash – Gordon Blankenship, Keokuk, Iowa
Heat #1 – Gary Brooks, Grand Prairie, Tex.
Heat #2 – Galen Schaefer, Topeka, Kan.
Consolation – Jim Hager, Liberty, Mo.
Feature –
1. Irv Janey, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
2. Gordon Blankenship
3. Mike Lutkie, Wichita, Kan.
4. Gary Brooks, Grand Prairie, Tex.
5. Jerre Wichman, Kansas City
6. Vic Elson, Ash Grove, Mo.
7. Tom Frasher, Jefferson City, Mo.
8. Jim Still Topeka, Kan.
9. Don Ely, Kingman, Kan.
10.Gary Truelove, Trimble, Mo.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

1960 – Shepherd Takes State Fair Win


A.J. Shepherd made Diz Wilson a happy man by winning the IMCA big car 25-lapper at the Tennessee State Fair. – Merle Wilson Collection

Nashville, Tenn. (September 23, 1960) – A.J. Shepherd held off the frantic efforts of Johnny White and won his third straight International Motor Contest Association big car race at the Tennessee State Fair on Tuesday afternoon.

The 25-lap feature was held up for more than an hour by a heavy rainfall, but that didn’t slow Shepherd, the Gardena, Calif., native, driving an Offenhauser-powered vehicle. Shepard was also the winner in both races last year’s State Fair.

White became the third man with that surname to hold a one-lap track record, when he toured the half-mile banked paved oval in 20.87 seconds (86.25 miles per hour).

This is the fastest anyone has every driven at the Fairgrounds Speedway. Rex White holds the NASCAR record while the USAC mark belong to Don White.

Shepherd grabbed the lead on the first lap, and held it the rest of the way, but it wasn’t easy. White gave the crowd of 3,000 it’s biggest thrill on the ninth lap. Skidding on the wet pavement, he came off the banking on the first turn and spun completely around twice. At the end of the second spin he was pointed straight ahead and that’s the way he proceeded.

Before another lap had passed, he was on Shepherd’s bumper again. A.J. almost made a fatal slip on lap 11, coming off the final turn, when his car swerved crazily down the straightaway. He got it under control, however, before White could take advantage of any miscue.

From there to the finish, White tried every trick in the book to get around Shepard but couldn’t do it. “With a dry track he would’ve been gone,” said Jack Flynn, owner of White’s car. White agreed that there was only one dry lane, and he felt he could have passed had the track been drier.

Shepherd was happy as a lark. When you beat those Chevy’s with a great chauffeur like Johnny, you’ve done something,” he remarked.

Pete Folse, the IMCA point leader, tore his car up before the start of the second heat race. Completing the parade lap, Shepard and LeRoy Neumayer darted for the same hole. As Neumayer said, “The hole didn’t stay open for long.” Folse hit Neumayer’s rear tire and spun at full speed into the wall in front of the scorer’s stand. His car tore a huge hole in the wall and even a bigger one in his car. Folse escaped shaken but uninjured.

Results –

Heat #1 – Johnny White
Heat #2 – A.J. Sheperd
Heat #3 – Red Renner
Handicap – Hugh Randall
Match race – Bob Mathouser
Feature –
1. A.J. Shepherd
2. Johnny White
3. Buzz Barton
4. Hugh Randall
5. Red Renner
6. Mickey McCormick
7. Jerry Blundy
8. Bob Mathouser
9. Hank Lawshe
10.Harry Ross

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

1973 – Hansen Tops Midwest National


Des Moines, Iowa (September 22, 1973) – Curt Hansen of Dike, Iowa, came from the outside second row to claim victory in the 100-lap Midwest National Late Model Stock Car Championship Saturday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Bob Hilmer of Dysart, Iowa, led in the early going but was forced out of the race with a broken tie rod after a pileup involving Hilmer, Hansen, Lem Blankenship of Keokuk, Iowa, Dave Chase of Omaha and Fred Horn of Marion, Iowa.

Blankenship, in his 1972 Monte Carlo, led the restart and held it until just after the halfway mark, but blew a tire and was forced out of the race. Blankenship later re-entered the race but couldn’t make up the lost ground.

Hansen took over the lead from Blankenship on lap 58 and held it the rest of the way to the checkered flag.

Dave Chase, Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, Randy Sterner of Blair, Neb., and Stan Stover of Reinbeck, Iowa, rounded out the top five.

Heat race winners were Weedon, Karl Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, Hansen and Dave Mack of Des Moines. Sonny Morgan of Fairmont, Minn., won the Race of Champions, Dick Oldham of Des Moines took the B feature, Bill Geil of Des Moines scored the win in the consolation and Fred Horn won the trophy dash.

Results –

1. Curt Hansen, Dike, Iowa
2. Dave Chase, Omaha
3. Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley, Iowa
4. Randy Sterner, Blair, Neb.
5. Stan Stover, Reinbeck, Iowa
6. John Connolly, Delhi, Iowa
7. Dave Bjorge, Austin, Minn.
8. George Barton, Ankeny, Iowa
9. Karl Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
10.Verlin Eaker, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Monday, September 21, 2020

1958 - Amick Grabs IMCA Honors at Nashville


Red Amick accepts the trophy representing the Tennessee State Fair Championship from judge Beverly Briley as IMCA official Al Sweeney looks on.

Nashville, Tenn. (September 21, 1958) – Red Amick, a mild mannered little guy in a little Chevy showed the bigger drivers in their Offenhausers how it’s done Sunday afternoon at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

Amick won the feature race for the second year in a row by capturing the lead on lap 11 of the 25-lap and running like a scared jack rabbit the rest of the way to assure the victory.

A crowd estimated at more than 9,000loved every minute of it, and responded with a tremendous ovation for the little redhead out of Muncie, Ind., as he picked up the checkered flag.

Wayne Alspaugh held the lead in the feature for the first 10 circuits but dropped to second on lap 11 when Amick made his move, and narrowly escaped with his life on the 12th lap.

Alspaugh was trying to recapture the lead and came high off the dangerous turn four when he blew his right front tire and went smashing into the guardrail at top speed. While the huge gathering held its breath and waited, Alspaugh hopped out his car with a big smile as if he had just won the race. As someone mentioned, he may have been smiling because he was alive.

A restart was necessary with Amick in the lead followed by Jim Packard and Bobby Grim, a man many expected to win. But Grim on asphalt is like the Washington Senators in baseball; He’s in the big leagues but that’s about it.

Grim has won just about everything in sight this season on dirt tracks but he just can’t go on asphalt. Promoter Al Sweeney said, “He didn’t even want to come. I made him.”

Despite his sad showing, he backed into third place when two of the men running in front of him came up with car trouble. Alspaugh had his accident and Pete Folse, who had the fastest time in qualifying on Friday, and tire trouble on lap 8 and dropped out of the picture.

One reporter asked Amick if he liked the track. He drew a big laugh when he answered, “How could I help but not like it?”

Results –

Heat #1 – Jim Packard
Heat #2 – Red Amick
Heat #3 – Jerry Blundy
Consolation – Ken Rubright
Match race – Jim Packard
Feature –
1. Red Amick
2. Jim Packard
3. Bobby Grim
4. Bud Randall
5. Don Carr
6. Ken Gottschalk
7. Fritz Tegtmeier
8. Red Hoyle
9. Eddie Loetscher
10.Arbie Hensley

Sunday, September 20, 2020

1969 - Hilmer, Hoffman win Des Moines Titles


Des Moines, Iowa (September 20, 1969) – Bob Hilmer and Don Hoffman scored triple victories, both including season championships, at the Iowa State Fair Speedway on Saturday night before 7,500 fans.

Hilmer of Dysart, Iowa, driving his 1965 Chevelle, took the pole position in the 35-lap season championship, and led all but one lap when young Lem Blankenship pulled ahead of him.

Hilmer also edged out Darrel Dake of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the first 20-lap feature that was being rerun after being rained out two weeks ago. Hilmer took the checkered flag in the second heat.

Hoffman, who opened up the evening in winning style by capturing the 25-lap sportsman season championship, trailed the entire race in the final 15-lap makeup feature. Trailing Carl Vander Wal of Ames, Iowa, who had won only one race at the track all season, led for 14 and a half laps before taking the third turn too high and spinning, letting Hoffman go home with an easy victory.

Vander Wal had accumulated a quarter lap lead over the half-mile oval. The spin cost him a victory and relegated him to a fourth-place finish.

Hoffman led the sportsman season championship all of the way – after 24 cars started the race. As it ended, only nine finished in the wreck-marred funfest.

Results –

Late Model

Makeup –

1. Bob Hilmer, Dysart, Iowa
2. Darrel Dake, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
3. Bill McDonough, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
4. Arlo Becker, Atkins, Iowa
5. Stan Stover, Reinbeck, Iowa

Season Championship

1. Bob Hilmer
2. Lem Blankenship, Keokuk, Iowa
3. Darrel Dake
4. George Barton, Ankeny, Iowa
5. Bill McDonough
6. Arlo Becker
7. Roger Dolan, Lisbon, Iowa
8. Don Davidson, Des Moines
9. Irv Janey, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
10. Chuck Berg, De Moines


Make-up -

1. Don Hoffman, Des Moines
2. Mike Brooks, Knoxville, Iowa
3. Lee Pinckney, Des Moines
4. Carl Vander Wal, Ames, Iowa
5. George Derry, Des Moines

Season Championship -

1. Don Hoffman
2. Mike Brooks
3. Sam Foggia, Des Moines
4. Marvin Korns, Brooklyn, Iowa
5. L.E. Burns, Des Moines
6. Rick Grant, Madrid, Iowa
7. Joe Merryfield, Des Moines
8. Larry Embrey, Panora, Iowa
9. Joe Alsin, Ankeny, Iowa
10. Ron Van Roekel, Pella, Iowa

Saturday, September 19, 2020

1965 – Easy Victory for Hurtubise in 250-miler


Jim Hurtubise and Norm Nelson take a victory lap after finishing 1-2 in the 250-miler at Milwaukee.

West Allis, Wis. (September 19, 1965) – Jim Hurtubise of North Tonawanda, N.Y., finished two laps ahead of his nearest competitor Sunday as he powered his 1965 Plymouth to victory in a 250-mile race for United States Auto Club late model stock cars at State Fair Park Speedway.

Hurtubise took the lead from Ed Kozbiel on the 64th lap over the one-mile paved oval and led for the remainder of the contest except for a single lap for gasoline. He averaged 93.26 miles per hour.

Norm Nelson of Racine, Wis., finished second, in a 1965 Plymouth followed by Paul Goldsmith of Munster, Ind., in a 1965 Plymouth. Don White of Keokuk, Iowa, driving a 1964 Ford, finished fourth and Bay Darnell of Deerfield, Ill., in a 1965 Plymouth, took fifth.

Bobby Isaac of Catawba, N.C., hit the wall late in the race while running third in a 1965 Dodge. He was not injured but the crash put his car out of commission for the rest of the race.

A crowd 21,350 viewed the race and the total purse was $26,560.

Results –

1. Jim Hurtubise
2. Norm Nelson
3. Paul Goldsmith
4. Don White
5. Bay Darnell
6. Joe Leonard
7. Billy Foster
8. J.C. Klotz
9. Ted Hane
10. Bob Slensby
11. Bob Wawak
12. Johnny Riva
13. Ed Kozbiel
14. Bobby Isaac
15. Gary Bettenhausen
16. Bob Jusola
17. Harry Kern
18. Bud McGauhey
19. Bruce Jacobi
20. Sal Tovella
21. Bill Shoulders
22. Parnelli Jones
23. A.J. Foyt
24. Rick Kleich
25. John Kennedy

Friday, September 18, 2020

1977 – Eldora Sprints Mastered by Jones


Bubby Jones is all smiles after conquering Eldora. 

Rossburg, Ohio (September 18, 1977) – Bubby Jones avoided the mis-fortunes which plagued many of his rivals and won Sunday afternoon’s 40-lap United States Auto Club sprint car feature at Eldora Speedway.

Roger Rager finished second in the main event, ahead of USAC point leader Sheldon Kinser, Tom Bigelow, Bill Engelhart and Clark Templeman. Only one other driver, seventh-place Allen Leavell, was still running at the conclusion of the event in which 20 cars started.

Kinser used his pole position to good advantage, soaring into the lead at the start of the contest. However, third-starting Jerry Weeks replaced Kinser at the front of the pack on lap 4.

The field was reduced by five on lap 6 when Dana Carter, Greg Leffler, Ralph Parkinson Jr., Larry Rice and Joe Saldana tangled on the backstretch, sending Leffler and Saldana barrel-rolling and bringing out the red flag.

Weeks remained in front briefly after the resumption of action but surrendered the top spot back to Kinser on lap 10. Four circuits later Jones, who had started second, took command by passing Kinser.

Jones was still in front on lap 35, when another tangle knocked Weeks, Johnny Parsons, Karl Busson and Ron Shuman out of the chase, necessitating another red flag.

When the green returned, Jones outdistanced the six remaining foes to pick up the victory.

Leavell, Rice, Pancho Carter and Rager won heat races, which were completed without interruption.

Engelhart won a slam-bang 10-lap semi-feature which had to be halted on two occasions.

Results –

1. Bubby Jones
2. Roger Rager
3. Sheldon Kinser
4. Tom Bigelow
5. Bill Engelhart
6. Clark Templeman
7. Rich Leavell
8. Jerry Weeks
9. Johnny Parsons
10.Karl Busson

Thursday, September 17, 2020

1972 - Trickle Racks up 65th Win at Elko

Dick Trickle accepts his trophy after winning the Old Style 200. It was Trickle's 65th feature win of the season. 

Elko, Minn. (September 17, 1972) – It was the Old Style 200 Sunday afternoon and with Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., sitting on the outside of the second row, everyone was guessing who would finish second.

A dandy fight for second-place would develop between Joe Shear of Beloit, Wis., and John Ziegler of Madison, Wis., from lap 40 to 170. Ziegler would maintain second-place most of the way and when Shear finally dropped out after spinning and hitting the wall on lap 185, Ziegler finished the last 15 circuits without a fight. Shear would recover to finish 10th.

But it was Trickle who led from lap 4 to the end, putting a good margin between himself and the rest of the talented field. He did slow down the last 20 laps, but it was nothing to be concerned about as he was merely being careful as he negotiated slower traffic.

Noticeable among the early hotshots was Joe Ruttman of Westland, Mich. He was holding his own and moving good until lap 150 when he suddenly pitted and then dropped out altogether.

Trickle, meanwhile, went non-stop for the 200 laps, only slowing down for a caution flag between laps 150 to 160.

The victory racked up win number 65 for the young Wisconsin driver, believed to be an all-time record by any major driver in the United States.

The first 20-lap qualifying heat Sunday afternoon was won by Rich Bickle of Edgerton, Wis. The second heat was won by Phil Bickley of Wausau, Wis. This qualified each for a spot in the 200-lapper.

Marv Marzofka of Nekoosa, Wis., set fast time in qualifying and started 15th in the 200-lapper. He would finish fourth.

Results –

1. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
2. John Ziegler, Madison, Wis.
3. Larry Detjens, Wausau, Wis.
4. Marv Marzofka, Nekoosa, Wis.
5. Don James, Bloomington, Minn.
6. Jim Sauter, Necedah, Wis.
7. Dick Stang, Prior Lake, Minn.
8. Larry Smith, Shakopee, Minn.
9. Jon Chrest, Hamel, Minn.
10.Joe Shear, Beloit, Wis.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

1961 – A.J. Foyt Captures Hoosier Hundred

Before a packed house at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, A.J. Foyt won his second Hoosier Hundred. - Joseph Ramirez Collection

Indianapolis, Ind. (September 16, 1961) – A.J. Foyt of Houston, Tex., pocketed his third straight big auto racing purse in Indianapolis on Saturday, winning the annual Hoosier Hundred by a mile and quarter over Bobby Marshman of Pottstown, Penn., and setting two new records at the Indiana State Fairgrounds one-mile dirt track.

A record crowd of 36,646 contributed to a record purse of about S41,800 — biggest on the USAC championship circuit outside the $100,000 Memorial Day race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Foyt collected $12,815 for his victory.

Parnelli Jones, Torrance, Calif., led the first 17 miles after slipping past Foyt on the first lap. Foyt’s white Bowes Special zipped in front on the 18th lap but Parnelli nibbled at Foyt’s exhaust pipe until Jones’ Agajanian Special quit in the 78th mile. They had lapped all the other starters and Foyt just cruised the rest of the way.

Foyt set a race record of 92.369 miles an hour, rubbing out the 92.142 mark set three years ago by Eddie Sachs of Coopersburg, Penn., whose qualifying run Saturday was too slow to make the 18-car starting field.

Foyt established a qualifying record of 102.975 miles an hour against a 1960 mark of 101.609 miles per hour by Roger Ward, Indianapolis, whose car quit Saturday.

The contest uncovered a new threat to auto racing big leaguers. Jim McElreath of Arlington, Tex., finished third.

The time trials were marred by a spectacular wreck involving A.J. Shepherd of Mitchell, Ind., whose car flipped over the retaining wall at the east end of the track and hit a horse barn. He was reported in critical condition at an area hospital. No spectators were injured.

Results –

1. A.J. Foyt, Houston, Tex.
2. Bobby Marshman, Pottstown, Penn.
3. Jim McElreath, Arlington, Tex.
4. Len Sutton, Portland, Ore.
5. Shorty Templeman, Seattle
6. Chuck Hulse, Downey, Calif.
7. Ralph Liguori, Tampa, Fla.
8. Don Branson, Champaign, Ill.
9. Danny Jones, Long Beach, Calif.
10.Parnelli Jones, Torrance, Calif.

Monday, September 14, 2020

1974 – Dolan wins Eldon finale, title

Season and point champion Roger Dolan is joined in victory lane by flagman Cy Bohr (far left), car owner Harold Norton (second from left) and promoter Ron Stockstill (far right). Karen Fenn (center) presents Dolan with the trophy. – Ken Starkweather Photo

Eldon, Iowa (September 14, 1974) - Lisbon’s Roger Dolan and Selma’s Don Benge took season championship races at Eldon Raceway Saturday night.

Dolan capped the season in his customary fashion, winning the second heat, Australian pursuit and his seventh straight feature. The victory also left the Lisbon driver on top in the final super stock point standings.

Dolan led the 17-car field from start to finish in the 20-lap super stock championship feature. Larry Jenkins of Wilton finished second and Steve Fraise of Montrose third.

Sportsman winner Don Benge led from the fifth lap to the finish of the 12-lap event after taking the lead from Rick Scott of Eldon following a red flag and restart. Scott wound up third and Gary Thomas of Washington second.

Rod Prisner of Blandinsville, Ill., was injured in the second super stock heat when his car hit a concrete wall in front of the grandstand. Prisner was taken to Ottumwa Hospital with chest and neck pains but released after a short time.

Jenkins held off Fraise in a tight first heat while Bob Helm of Andalusia, Ill., nipped Ottumwa Bob McCall in the third heat. Jon Metcalf of Eldon won the 8-lap semi-main event.

Bill Metcalf of Selma and Larry Winn of Kirksville, Mo., won the sportsman heat races.

A packed grandstand and a field of 40 cars saw the yearend finale, culminating a season in which 80 super stock and 62 sportsman outfits nosed through the Wapello County Fairgrounds’ gates.

Results –

Super Stock -

Heat #1 – Larry Jenkins, Wilton
Heat #2 – Roger Dolan, Lisbon
Heat #3 - Bob Helm, Andalusia, Ill
Australian pursuit – Roger Dolan
Semi-main – Jon Metcalf, Eldon
Feature –
1. Roger Dolan
2. Larry Jenkins
3. Steve Fraise, Montrose
4. Bob McCall, Ottumwa
5. Bob Helm
6. Johnny Babb, Ottumwa
7. Larry Pipes, Kirksville, Mo.
8. Jerry Pilcher, Ottumwa
9. Ken Boyse, Welman
10. Jon Metcalf

Sportsman -

Heat #1 – Larry Winn, Kirksville, Mo.
Heat #2 – Bill Metcalf, Selma
Feature –
1. Don Benge, Selma
2. Gary Thomas, Washington
3. Rick Scott, Eldon
4. Truman McDowell, Fort Madison
5. Dan Beaver, Tracy
6. Jerry Sprouse, Eldon
7. Leroy Stutzman, Lockridge
8. Gaylord Davis, Eldon

Sunday, September 13, 2020

1959 – White wins Detroit 250-Miler

Don White is joined by promoter John Marcum in victory lane. 

Detroit, Mich. (September 13, 1959) – Taking the lead on the 130th lap after a stiff duel with Bob James, Don White of Keokuk, Iowa, threw caution to the winds as he drove to victory in the 250-mile late model classic held at the Michigan State Fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon.

His time of 3 hours, 8 minutes and 18 seconds was a new track record.

White, who set a new track mark with a qualifying speed of 81.95 miles per hour, started on the pole, but Bob James jumped him at the green and stayed there until lap 16 when White went under him.

White kept his 1959 Ford ahead of the pack through the next 30 circuits, lapping all but Darrel Dieringer, also driving a 1959 Ford, and James, in his ’57 convertible. White held a 24-second lead over Dieringer with James another eight seconds back.

On the 106th go-round, White and Dieringer pitted for the first time and James went back on top. At this juncture, 26 of the original 42 starters were still running.

With 110 miles logged, James held a four-second lead over White with Dieringer a full lap behind in third. But James made his first pit stop on the 130th circuit and White went back in front, this time for good.

At the completion of 225 laps, White had built a 16-second lead over James One lap later, the yellow came out when Keith Ploughe plowed through the fence in the north turn.

On the 233rd lap, James lost his right front wheel and was all through. Norm Nelson slipped into second place and stayed there with Don Oldenberg taking third.

Eighteen cars finished the grind before an estimated 13,500 fans.

Results –

1. Don White
2. Norm Nelson
3. Don Oldenberg
4. Jack Shanklin
5. Red Duval
6. Les Scott
7. Iggy Katona
8. Darrel Dieringer
9. Bob James
10.Whitey Gerken

Saturday, September 12, 2020

1970 – Fairgrounds’ Title to Stover

Stan Stover

Des Moines, Iowa (September 12, 1970) – Stan Stover of Reinbeck, Iowa, found the slick, rough Iowa State Fairgrounds track to his liking Saturday night and sailed to victory in the season championship late model stock car feature before a crowd of 6,007.

Joe Merryfield of Des Moines captured the 15-lap sportsman main when Sonny Morgan of Blue Earth, Minn., was sidelined on lap 14 after leading all the way.

The late model feature had been scheduled for 35 laps and the sportsman for 25. However, because of the cold – temperatures were in the low 50’s – and track conditions, drivers requested that the regular 25 and 15-lap events be run.

Stover, who piloted a 1970 Chevy II, won his first feature of the season although he finished second in points. He finished a full lap over second-place finisher Bob Hilmer of Dysart.

Dick Oldham of Des Moines, the regular season point champion, led the first six laps before giving way to Stover.

Jerry LeCroy of Des Moines finished third and Oldham settled for fourth.

Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids, who had been absent for the last two weeks, had mechanical issues on the first lap of the feature and retired for the night.

Dean Montgomery of Milan, Ill., who had won the last two late model features, started in the rear of the field and was unable to get to the front of the pack.

Morgan, who had won the three previous sportsman features, had a nearly one-half lap lead over Merryfield at one time. After the race he believed the rotor broke.

Jerry Roberts of Prairie City finished second and Phil Reece of Des Moines was third.

Results –

Late Model

1. Stan Stover, Reinbeck
2. Bob Hilmer, Dysart
3. Jerry LeCroy, Des Moines
4. Dick Oldham, Des Moines
5. Cal Swanson, Reinbeck
6. Dave Chase, Council Bluffs
7. Chris Maurer, Colfax
8. Dan Dickey, Packwood
9. Bugsy Vincent, Nevada
10.Ed Sanger, Waterloo


1. Joe Merryfield, Des Moines
2. Jerry Roberts, Prairie City
3. Phil Reece, Des Moines
4. Tom Zenor, Madrid
5. Bob Pike, Des Moines

Friday, September 11, 2020

1966 – McCluskey Leads Action Field

Roger McCluskey, driving Mutt Anderson’s #51, won the 50-lap USAC sprint car race at Terre Haute.

Terre Haute, Ind. (September 11, 1966) – Roger McCluskey of Tucson, Ariz., has sped away and virtually hidden from other drivers on the USAC sprint car circuit.

He won the 50-lap race at the Vigo County Fairgrounds Sunday after roaring past leader Greg Weld of Kansas City on lap 6. McCluskey collected $3,100 of the $8,225 purse.

A red light and two caution marred the 50-lap main event.

Dave Lundy of Pittsburgh, Penn., suffered slight neck and back injuries when his car flipped sideways twice and end-over-end twice on the backstretch on the 31st lap and then rolled over the wall.

Yellow lights flashed when Ronnie Duman of Dearborn, Mich., and Bud Randall of Ridgeville, Ind., spun out on the first turn and when Don Branson of Champaign, Ill., hit the wall on lap 37.

Larry Dickson of Marietta, Ohio, finished second to McCluskey followed by A.J. Foyt of Houston, Tex., Carl Williams of Kansas City and Dick Atkins of Hayward, Calif.

Branson set the pace in qualifying, touring the half-mile in 22.95 seconds to gain the pole position in the feature.

A crowd of 7,500 were present for the program.

Branson took the inside track to go into the first turn ahead of the field after the green flag waved. Weld, Mario Andretti and McCluskey in close pursuit.

After four laps, it was Weld, Andretti, McCluskey and now A.J. Foyt in the mix.

McCluskey moved wider on the track as he attempted to charge into the lead and on the fifth lap he moved forward passing the front-runners.

At the end of lap 6 McCluskey was in the lead followed by Andretti, Weld and Ralph Ligouri, who had passed Foyt for fourth place. McCluskey was never headed after taking the lead.

Duman and Randall spun in turn one on lap 8. Duman finally got restarted two laps behind the rest of the field but managed to finish the race.

Racing activity was held up for 30 minutes during the red flag period for Lundy’s flip.

After the race was restarted the yellow waved again on lap 39 when Branson got into trouble and drivers rode the caution light for 6 laps.

With McCluskey in the lead, Foyt started his drive for victory as the green flag waved and was in hot pursuit of McCluskey, who was riding high in the turns.

Foyt was pouring on the power, riding low on the track but on lap 48 he got a little too low and got himself mixed up with the infield guard-rail as he exited turn four. Foyt got his car straightened out but the mishap cost him valuable time and he finished third.

Branson, Foyt, and Bobby Unser were heat winners and Al Smith won the 15-lap semi-main.

Results –

1. Roger McCluskey
2. Larry Dickson
3. A.J. Foyt
4. Carl Williams
5. Dick Atkins
6. Al Smith
7. Greg Weld
8. Arnie Knepper
9. Bobby Unser
10.Sam Sessions
11.Ronnie Duman
12.Don Branson
13.Dave Lundy
14.Ralph Ligouri
15.Mario Andretti
16.Bud Randall

Thursday, September 10, 2020

1977 – Wrich scores IMCA victory at Spencer

Bill Wrich

Spencer, Iowa (September 10, 1977) – Bill Wrich of Kennard, Neb., won the 50-lap International Motor Contest Association late model feature at the Clay County Speedway on Saturday.

Wrich, who had taken the lead on lap 16, beat out early leader Bud Dibben of Kansas City, and 1977 IMCA point leader Kent Tucker of Aurora, Neb.

The 41-year-old Wrich said that he had problems early on in that he couldn’t get his tires heated up because of the numerous yellow flags at the start. He further explained that the tires were seven years old and were a harder compound than what is used today.

Wrich was driving a 1974 Chevelle with a 454 cubic inch engine. He mentioned that his car weighs about 600 pounds more than the Camaros, which were running the same horsepower engines as Wrich.

Wrich remarked that the track was a typical afternoon racing surface, slippery and dusty.

Winning heat races were Wrich, Randy Sterner of Blair, Neb., and Mike Richardson. Bud Dibben won the semi-main. Fast time of the day went to Jerry Holtkamp of Williams, Iowa, who turned the half-mile dirt in 25.25 seconds, a new Clay County Fairgrounds’ track record.

Results –

1. Bill Wrich
2. Bud Dibben
3. Kent Tucker
4. George Barton
5. Jerry Holtkamp
6. Bob Hill
7. Randy Markley
8. Shorty Acker
9. Gary Lindgren
10.Steve Coe

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

1973 – Hartman Wins Governor’s Cup

Butch Hartman

West Allis, Wis. (September 9, 1973) - Butch Hartman has finally achieved the
recognition that eluded him in the past.

Hartman became the first driver to win three straight United States Auto Club stock car division championships when he pushed his 1973 Dodge Charger to a lopsided victory in the 250-mile Governor’s Cup race at State Fair Park Sunday.

The victory, by a lap over second-place Jack Bowsher and three laps over third-place Ramo Stott, also gave Hartman a sweep of the four 1973 races at the Fair Park. Only Parnelli Jones has won four straight at Milwaukee and he, too, did it in a single season, 1964.

Hartman, who had never won on the State Fair mile until the July Miller 200, came into the season with the reputation of a non-winning champion after taking the 1973 title without a first-place finish. At the beginning of the 1973 season he complained bitterly that he was an unknown, despite two straight stock car titles, because USAC publicized its Championship (Indy car) Division at the expense of the rest.

So, he took matters into his own hands and started winning. His complaints softened with the victories, and he not only publicized himself, but he gave the entire division a shot in the arm. Instead of attracting fans with the Indy car drivers who drop down a division for the big races, the stock division has its own star who beats everyone, including the Indy names.

None of the Indy car drivers were in Milwaukee Sunday, due partially to a scheduling conflict between Saturday’s qualifying and the scheduled but rained-out Hoosier 100 Championship dirt race in Indianapolis.

But it wouldn’t have mattered because no one has been able to touch Hartman all season.

“Everything is falling into place this year,” Hartman said shaking his head in wonder. “I think the hardest race I’ve had has been La Crosse (he won). And that was because the track was so short there was no time for a breather.” 

Sunday was easy too.

“I never even intended to lead today,” he said. “You use up so much of your car when you lead. And a 250-mile race is hard on brakes. But I wasn’t ever running hard.”

He did have to come from behind once, though. Jack Bowsher won the pole again and led the first nine laps before Hartman passed him and everybody else for good on the 10th lap. 

In the final laps of the race Bowsher was almost set to pass an easily cruising Hartman to unlap himself but Hartman gave his throttle one final jab and held Bowsher off.

“He said he was about to catch me when the race was stopped here last month.” said Hartman, referring to a one-lap mistake by the flagman which ended the Fair Week race early.

Results –

1. Butch Hartman
2. Jack Bowsher
3. Ramo Stott
4. Paul Feldner
5. John Reimer
6. Verlin Eaker
7. Norm Nelson
8. Sal Tovella
9. Larry Berwanger
10.Irv Janey
11.Bob Brevak
12.Frank Freda
13.John Schultz
14.Leroy Austin
15.Roger McCluskey
16.Larry Cope
17.Harry Cooper
18.Bob Whitlow
19.Don White
20.Jim Ouellette
21.Bruce Jacobi
22.M.J. McBride
23.Art Bormet
24.Bay Darnell
25.Harold Fair
26.Mark Dinsmore
27.Larry Moore
28.Len Blanchard
29.Dick Trickle
30.Ray Bolander
31.Dave Decker
32.Ralph Latham
33.Ron Keselowski
34.Keith Ploughe
35.Charlie Schmidt
36.Whitey Gerken
37.Dan Weyker
38.Blackie Wangerin
39.A.J. Moldenhauer
40.Charlie Glotzbach

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

1978 – Rice Wins McGinnis Memorial

Davenport, Iowa (September 8, 1978) – Des Moines’ driver Bill Rice overcame a last-lap challenge to grab the checkered only a half-car length ahead of Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, to win the Dick McGinnis Memorial race at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds on Friday night.

Rice, driving a lightweight 1977 Camaro, has run only a handful of times on the half-mile oval at Davenport. His car is too light to make weight rules so he appears only for open competition events when weight rules are waived.

Dolan made his bid on the fourth turn, running low beside Rice. The two cars bumped together along the straightaway before Rice squeezed through for the victory.

Gary Webb of Davenport, Iowa, finished third followed by John Connolly of Delhi, Iowa. Steve Keppler of Marion, Iowa, took fifth.

USAC driver Terry Ryan of Davenport, Iowa, driving Ronnie Weedon’s Trans-Am, finished third in his heat and tenth in the feature.

Rice and Dolan both won heat races and finished one-two in the Race of Champions. Gary Webb and John Connolly also won heat races. Steve Keppler won the crash-marred 10-lap semi-main.

Rice, the point champion at Eldon, Iowa, this year, boycotted the Des Moines track because of weight limitations.

Results –

1. Bill Rice, Des Moines
2. Roger Dolan, Lisbon, Iowa
3. Gary Webb, Davenport, Iowa
4. John Connolly, Delhi, Iowa
5. Steve Keppler, Marion, Iowa
6. Tom Hearst, Wilton, Iowa
7. Johnny Johnson, Morning Sun, Iowa
8. Bob Helm, Andalusia, Iowa
9. Ray Guss Sr. Milan, Ill.
10. Terry Ryan, Davenport, Iowa

Monday, September 7, 2020

1964 – Foyt Exceeds $200,000 with Du Quoin Win

A.J. Foyt

Du Quoin, Ill. (September 7, 1964) – Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt off Houston, Tex., was all alone in the record books today as the first man in history to win four national driving championships.

Foyt wrapped up his fourth United States Auto Club title in five years with a victory in the USAC 100-mile race on the dirt track at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds.

Going into Monday’s race, only Rodger Ward of Indianapolis and Lloyd Ruby of Wichita Falls, Tex., had a chance to catch Foyt in the standings. But, both drivers had a dismal day, with Ward finishing 13th and Ruby 17th.

It was Foyt’s eighth win in nine races on the championship circuit and his 25th triumph in a major USAC event, tying him with Ward for most races won.

It also made Foyt racing’s first $200,000 a year driver. He earned $6,000 on Monday, boosting his official 1964 winnings to $205,587.

Foyt led all the way to cop the Ted Horn Memorial and finished five-eighths of a mile ahead of second-place finisher Bobby Marshman of Pottstown, Penn., the only driver Foyt did not lap.

Both Foyt and Marshman lapped third-place finisher Don Branson of Champaign, Ill., while Foyt lapped fourth-place Bobby Unser of Albuquerque, N.M. for the second time on the 99th lap.

Results –

1. A.J. Foyt
2. Bobby Marshman
3. Don Branson
4. Bobby Unser
5. Jim McElreath
6. Jud Larson
7. Johnny Rutherford
8. Bud Tingelstad
9. Ralph Liguori
10.Arnie Knepper

Sunday, September 6, 2020

1975- Bigelow is Hoosier Hundred Winner

Hoosier Hundred winner Tom Bigelow (left) is interviewed by announcer Sid Collins while third-place finisher Jimmy Caruthers looks on.

Indianapolis, Ind. (September 6, 1975) - At 35, Tom Bigelow, pint-sized as drivers go at 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, finally has gained some measure of recognition by again doing something he feels has cost him recognition in the past - finishing second.

The personable Whitewater, Wis. won the biggest race of his career Saturday, the prestigious Hoosier 100, for the type of roadsters run in the Indianapolis 500 15 years ago.

Despite that victory, and two other triumphs in the five-race series, Bigelow was runner-up for the third straight year in the United States Auto Club division that has had the likes of A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Mario Andretti as champions in the past.

Bigelow, who has also finished second the U.S. Auto Club sprint and midget divisions in recent years, trailed steady Jimmy Caruthers this time.

Caruthers finished third, behind Bigelow and Foyt, a six-time winner in his 19 appearances in the 100-mile, $50,000 race at the Indiana State Fairgrounds mile track.

“Winning this race is very important to me,” said Bigelow, who earned about $10,000. “I’m still not sure how I can win three races and still finish second in the championship again.”

Bigelow, winner of more than 35 USAC races, said he would like more than anything now to make some improvement in his showings on the Indianapolis car circuit.

Results –

1. Tom Bigelow
2. A.J. Foyt
3. Jimmy Caruthers
4. Billy Cassella
5. Arnie Knepper
6. Ronnie Burke
7. Johnny Parsons
8. Jim Hurtubise
9. Sam Sessions
10.Larry Rice
11.Billy Engelhart
12.Sheldon Kinser
13.Al Unser
14.Ralph Liguori
15.Jerry Miller
16.James McElreath
17.Spike Gelhausen
18.Pancho Carter
19.Bill Vukovich
20.Steve Chassey
21.Rollie Beale

Saturday, September 5, 2020

1966 – 19,741 See Derr Win ‘500’ at Fair

A cold drink and a huge trophy for Ernie Derr after winning the North Star 500. 

St. Paul, Minn. (September 5, 1966) – The longest race in Minnesota State Fair history was not too long nor too grueling for Ernie Derr. It was rather deliciously rewarding. Yet, it couldn’t end soon enough…

Derr, from Keokuk, Iowa, won the North Star 500, a 250-mile International Motor Contest Association late model stock car race on Monday.

The 45-year-old father of six won by five laps over runner-up Lenny Funk of Otis, Kan., and pocketed $2,200 in first place money. Saturday, he won the other late model feature, the Northland 300, and received $1,250 for that.

Derr, in his 1966 Plymouth, was the polesitter and stayed in front for all but 39 circuits. He lost the lead to his constant adversary and hometown chum, Ramo Stott, when he pitted for fuel on lap 151.

Thirty seconds later he returned to the half-mile asphalt oval and began his pursuit.

After first trying to pass Stott inside, then wide, he pulled even and finally went by on the outside on lap 190. He kept pouring it on from there.

“From that point on, I just wanted the race to end,” Derr said afterwards.

“I kept going around the track, 200 times, 300, 400. I wasn’t getting tired. I like to drive and could’ve gone all day. But I also wanted to win. And I kept wishing the next lap was the last.”

Stott was having problems handling his 1966 Dodge. He dropped back half a lap behind the leader when he spun on lap 257. He fell back to fifth place where he finished.

Derr, on the other hand, was driving swiftly and smoothly, increasing his lead by as much as seven laps at one point.

“Sometimes the car is temperamental,” said Derr. “But it gave me no problems today.”

A crowd of 19,741, the largest of the 10-day Minnesota State Fair racing program, saw nine yellow flags which slowed the action for 46 laps, and one serious accident, in the 3 hour, 30 minute and 54 seconds of racing action. Only 15 of the original 31 starters finished the race.

Results –

1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Lenny Funk, Otis, Kan.
3. Dave Marcis, Wausau, Wis.
4. Bob Jusola, Mound, Minn.
5. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
6. Eddie Harrow, Corpus Christi, Tex.
7. John Mickey, Columbus Junction, Iowa
8. Perry Cottingham, Inglewood, Calif.
9. Jerry Kauffman, Minneapolis
10.Paul Feldner, Colgate, Wis.

Friday, September 4, 2020

1960 - Jones wins Salem USAC 100-lapper

Parnelli Jones

Salem, Ind. (September 4, 1960) – Parnelli Jones of Torrance, Calif., won the USAC 100-lap sprint car race at Salem Speedway on Sunday afternoon. The grueling 95-degree heat took its toll on drivers as only six of the 16 starters completed the race.

Jones captured the pole position with a record shattering one-lap qualifying run of 18.59 seconds. Eddie Sachs of Center Grove, Penn., had held the previous record of 18.78 seconds.

Jones took the lead at the drop of the green flag and never gave it up.

Roger McCluskey of Tucson, Ariz., was second and Ronnie Duman of Roseville Mich., was third. Don Branson of Champaign, Ill., had held down the runner-up spot for more than two-thirds of the race but was forced out of action on lap 81 when he dropped a valve.

Jones piloted a Chevrolet-powered sprint car. Most of the dropouts were due to overheated engines. Jones reduced his speed towards the end of the race as he had a one-lap lead and he feared his car might succumb to the heat.

Results –

1. Parnelli Jones
2. Roger McCluskey
3. Ronnie Duman
4. Al Miller
5. Bud Tingelstad
6. Wayne Weiler
7. Jim Hurtubise
8. Don Branson
9. Jim Packard
10. A.J. Foyt

Thursday, September 3, 2020

1973 – Utz’s Dominance Broken by Dosher’s Triumph

Thad Dosher

Lincoln, Neb. (September 3, 1973) - Defending champion Thad Dosher broke up Bill Utz’s dominance Monday in the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) races at the Nebraska State Fair.

Dosher took the lead on the 17th lap and went on to win the 30-lap feature race with Utz, who won the features on Saturday and Sunday, finishing fifth.

“This was a great emotional win for me,” Dosher said. “I hadn't won a point race since July when I took one in Wichita, Kan.”

Dosher is the leading driver in the IMCA point standings, while Utz has advanced from 19th to third in the past few weeks.

Going into Monday's races Dosher unofficially had 1,920 points with second place Gene Gennetten next with 1,785 and Utz third with 1,735. After Monday's races Dosher unofficially had 2,090, Genetten 1,925, and Utz 1,800.

Genetten won a heat race and was second to Dosher in the feature Monday, while Utz was second in the third heat besides his fifth place showing in the feature.

The rain on Sunday night and early Monday morning didn't affect the track like most drivers anticipated according to Dosher.

“The track was a lot drier than we thought it would be,” Topeka, Kan., resident remarked. “So, we changed gears after I won the second heat to a higher ratio.”

Putting a new master cylinder on the brakes was also credited by Dosher for helping him win.

“After I took the lead in the feature I just wanted to hold my position and not take any unnecessary chances.”

Results –

First Heat: Gene Gennetten, Gladstone, Mo.
Second Heat: Thad Dosher, Topeka, Kan.
Third Heat: Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa
Trophy Dash: Ray Lee Goodwin, Kansas City, Mo.
Consolation: Ray Lee Goodwin
1. Thad Dosher
2. Gene Gennetten
3. Earl Wagner
4. Ralph Blackett, Des Moines, Iowa
5. Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
6. Bill Robinson, Topeka, Kan.
7. Ray Lee Goodwin
8. Ken McCarty, Kansas City, Mo.
9. Don Droud, Lincoln, Neb.
10.Gary Scott, Holts Summit, Mo.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

1961 – Protested Sprint Car Main to George

Elmer George

Du Quoin, Ill. (September 2, 1961) – An intense ex-sprint car champion, Elmer George, won the protested 26-lap USAC feature event on Saturday before 5,000. Confusion set in when poor communication between the starter and scorer sent the hectic race into an extra lap.

As the leaders swung off the backstretch and into the third turn, George brushed the lapped Don Branson, sending the Hyneman Offenhauser into a series of terrifying flips. Starter Pat Vidan whipped out the red flag.

Parnelli Jones – that intrepid Californian – who had dogged George the entire distance, was the first under the red flag and declared the winner. George quickly recovered from a near spin after the Branson-brush and continued around the track, besting Jim Hurtubise.

Branson was taken to an area hospital and preliminary reports stated he suffered from facial cuts and a split finger.

It was a day for records at the one-mile fairground track. The charging George posted a one-lap time that not only broke the six-year-old Don Freeland held sprint record, but actually eclipsed Don Branson’s championship mark of 34.46 seconds. New 3, 10, 12 and 25-lap marks were also established.

At the start it was George, Al Keller, Jones and Hurtubise breaking away from the pack. The Green Acres, Fla., ace soon faltered and found himself challenged by A.J. Foyt and Bobby Marshman. The tearing trio – George, Jones and Hurtubise – then tore turf for the next 25 laps. They finished in that order, but George was in trouble on every lap after the 10th.

Back in the field, Keller successfully denied Foyt and Marshman improved positions and further back Chuck Marshall, Don Branson and Rodger Ward conducted their own race. Branson passed to Ward and settled for 10th as the cars entered the 25th lap – and white flag – lap.

Heat winners were Jones, Hurtubise and Foyt. Jones copped the handicap and Bob Matthouser the semi-feature. Fourteen cars bested the old track record.

The Fike Plumbing crew protested the race because the red flag was displayed on the final lap, instead of the checkered. If the race had ended with the checker, Jones, who crossed the line first, would have won. The red flag reverted the positions back one lap – and George was declared the winner.

The purse was with-held pending a USAC decision on the protest.

Unofficial Results –

1. Elmer George
2. Parnelli Jones
3. Jim Hurtubise
4. Al Keller
5. A.J. Foyt
6. Bobby Marshman
7. LeRoy Neumeyer
8. Chuck Marshall
9. Rodger Ward
10. Don Branson
11. Bud Tingelstad
12. Jim Hemmings
13. Bob Mathouser
14. Red Renner
15. Roger McCluskey
16. Hugh Randall
17. Allen Crowe
18. Len Sutton

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

1958 – Ernie Derr Cops North Star ‘350’

North Star 350 winner Ernie Der receives congratulations from runner-up Johnny Beauchamp.

St. Paul, Minn. (September 1, 1958) – Little mustachioed Ernie Derr, a relentless competitor in his 1957 Pontiac, won the money – but grimy-faced Johnny Beauchamp of Harlan, Iowa, won the hearts of a record-smashing Minnesota State Fair racing throng on Monday afternoon.

While 33,178 vocal cords triumphed their approval, Derr rolled across the finish line under a full head of steam. Beauchamp limped in second, with a blown-out front right tire to supply a dramatic finish in the North Star 350 non-stop IMCA late model stock car marathon.

This was the first time since 1952 that Derr, a Keokuk, Iowa, product, has come out of the fair as the big-money winner. The 140-pound, 36-year-old mechanic picked up a lush check for $1,500, a new trophy and prestige by the carload.

Beauchamp, who was nearly a casualty instead of a crusader, received $1,200 and proved his competitive greatness in the last two laps.

Trailing by a lap with time running out, Beauchamp was tooling his ’57 Chevrolet at a furious, charging pace on the 348th lap when he blew a tire on the straightaway. With shocking force, his machine rocketed dead ahead for the wall at the top of the east turn. The Chevy thudded off the concrete with heavy impact, but the dauntless Beauchamp got it back on course and struggled the last lap and a half to hold onto second.

Actually, it was more of a case of keeping his machine moving than anything else, for third-place finisher Bernie Hentges of Anoka, Minn., was eight lap back in hi 1958 Plymouth.

This, incidentally, was one of the finest stands ever made by a Twin Cities-area driver. Hentges is the jalopy champion of the Twin City Speedway and stamped himself as a potential star in the late model ranks with his smooth performance Monday.

The time of the race went into the International Motor Contest Association record books, mainly because this was the first race run at this distance by the organization. Derr was clocked in 2 hours, 52 minutes and 17 seconds, a good time considering the field came to a walk 10 times because of accidents.

Results –

1. Ernie Derr
2. Johnny Beauchamp
3. Bernie Hentges
4. Chub Liebe
5. Ramo Stott
6. Dave Hirschfield
7. Sonny Gross
8. Newt Bartholomew
9. Bob Potter
10.Dick Santee