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Thursday, April 15, 2021

1978 - Niffenegger Wins Liberty's 'Spring Championship'

West Liberty, Iowa (April 15, 1978) – Over 6,000 race fans were at the West Liberty Fairgrounds Saturday evening for the annual ‘Spring Championship’, which opened with the weekly stock car season. A total of 54 late models from seven states were on hand, with drivers competing for a $10,000 purse.

Mike Niffenegger of Kalona, Iowa, took home the $1,000 top prize by winning the 30-lap late model feature race. Gary Crawford of Independence, Iowa, earned $800 for finishing second. Niffenegger also finished second in his heat and was second fastest qualifier on the day.

The feature was made up of the 20 fastest qualifiers, with the top six inverted. Fastest qualifiers were Bob Kosiski of Omaha, Niffenegger, Tom Hearst of Wilton, Iowa, Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, and John Simenec of Rock Island, Ill. Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, had the pole with Simenec on the outside front row.

Simenec grabbed the lead at the drop of the green and held off his challengers for 17 circuits. On lap 18, Simenec’s “Tri-City Buggy” developed engine problems, forcing him to the pit area.

Niffenegger, who had been running second, took over the top spot and never relinquished for the final 13 laps, although he was given some very tough competition from Gary Crawford and Bill Martin of Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Late model heat wins went to Duane Steffe of Colona, Ill., Jim Burbridge of Delhi, Iowa, Bill Martin, Curt Houge of Ames, Iowa, and Bill Breuer of Wapello, Iowa.

Results –

1. Mike Niffenegger, Kalona, Iowa
2. Gary Crawford, Independence, Iowa
3. Bill Martin, Council Bluffs, Iowa
4. Tom Hearst, Wilton, Iowa
5. Roger Dolan, Lisbon, Iowa
6. Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley, Iowa
7. Duane Steffe, Colona, Ill.
8. Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
9. Bob Kosiski, Omaha
10. Ted Zieman, Mason City, Iowa
11. Steve Keppler, Marion, Iowa
12. Johnny Johnson, Morning Sun, Iowa
13. Darrell Dake, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
14. John Simenec, Rock Island, Ill.
15. Del Schmidt, Topeka, Kan.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

1974 - Bettenhausen Grabs Hulman Classic Title

Gary Bettenhausen tames Terre Haute.

Terre Haute, Ind. (April 14, 1974) - Gary Bettenhausen won the 4th annual Tony Hulman Classic for United States Auto Club sprint cars yesterday to cap a day’s furious racing activity at the Terre Haute Action Track. In doing so, he captured the record for number of consecutive feature wins in a sprinter, breaking out of a tie with Jim Hurtubise, who won an unprecedented 5 straight.

The Tinley Park, III., native who now drives out of Indianapolis, started 13th in the field, but worked his way through the field and finally got past George Snider, the winner of the inaugural Hulman Classic three years ago, on the 34th lap.

He held it the rest of the way, fending off challenges offered by Snider, Jan Opperman, and A.J. Foyt to take the 40-lap event.

Foyt put on one of the better showings in the Hulman as he found the high road to his liking and began passing easily from his 12th starting position.

But he could do no better than seventh through the latter stages of the rare until the 38th circuit, when a yellow was flagged for an accident.

Trying to get position to make a run for the crown and its big purse, he bolted to the outside barrier and was accused by USAC officials of passing under the yellow His apparent fourth place finish was declared foul and he was put 15th in the unofficial standings.

USAC officials were to make their decision on the outcome of Foyt’s appeal.

Jackie Howerton sped to the lead at the start and held that spot for the first 18 laps before making contact with the turn one wall, allowing Snider to slip by and take charge for the next 15 circuits.

Snider would build a slight lead until Bettenhausen made a daring move on lap 34 to get past him for the top spot. Opperman would also manage to get by Snider for second-place, setting up an exciting finish with Bettenhausen for the remaining six circuits.

Bettehausen, in addition to winning the feature, took the final heat race. He started dead last in that one and took the lead on the eighth and final lap. Other heat winners were Don Nordhorn, Mel Cornett and Lee Osborne. Bruce Walkup nipped Tom Bigelow in the 10-lap semi-main.

Bettenhausen earned approximately $7,000 from a $36,790 purse.

Results –

1. Gary Bettenhausen
2. Jan Opperman
3. George Snider
4. Duane Carter Jr.
5. Sheldon Kinser
6. Billy Cassella
7. Mel Cornett
8. Greg Leffler
9. Rollie Beale
10.Don Nordhorn
11.Tom Bigelow
12.Joe Saldana
13.Butch Wilkerson
14.Bruce Walkup
15.A.J. Foyt
16.Johnny Parsons
17.Jackie Howerton
18.Lee Osborne
19.Bill Puterbaugh
20.Chuck Booth

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

1969 – Snow Runs Away with Salem 100

Les Snow

Salem, Ind. (April 13, 1969) – Les Snow of Bloomington, Ind., capped a record-breaking Sunday afternoon at Salem Speedway with a half-lap victory over Bobby Watson in the 100-lap ARCA late model stock car feature.

Snow, driving a 1969 Plymouth, outjumped Benny Parson’s Ford Torino on the start and was never headed, coming home a runaway winner in 34 minutes and 32 seconds for the 50 miles on the high-banked half-mile paved oval.

Both Snow and Watson, who drove a ’69 Super Bee Dodge, finished a lap ahead of the 25-car field.

Snow’s clocking erased Parson’s year old mark of 34 minutes and 55 seconds. Earlier, Parsons broke his own one-lap qualifying record of 20.02 seconds with a new mark of 19.48 seconds, Parsons’ 1969 Ford Torino Cobra is fitted with a 427-wedge engine, the “Boss 429” power plant being an illegal engine on the ARCA Circuit.

Parsons ran second for the first 35 laps trailed by Andy Hampton in his 1969 Charger and Watson. On the 36th go-round, Watson got hot and zoomed by his two rivals to take second, but at the halfway mark popped a tire and the resulting pit stop dropped him deep in the field, moving Iggy Katona and his 1967 Charger into fourth place.

The only yellow flag of the day came on lap 85 when Forrest Haliburton blew a tire and hit the wall.

Katona finished fourth with Ramo Stott’s ’69 Plymouth in fifth place.

An interested spectator at Salem was Charlie Glotzbach, recently resigned from NASCAR racing.

Results –

1. Les Snow
2. Bobby Watson
3. Benny Parson
4. Iggy Katona
5. Ramo Stott
6. Dave Dayton
7. Elmer Davis
8. Bill Kimmel
9. Andy Hampton
10. Paul Sizemore

Monday, April 12, 2021

1964 – Foyt Cops Feature Race

Always one to draw a crowd,  A.J. Foyt has a audience as he changes a tire prior to race action. 

Mechanicsburg, Penn. (April 12, 1964) – A.J. Foyt of Houston, Tex., started slow but came on strong Sunday to win the 30-lap race for United States Auto Club sprint cars at Williams Grove Speedway.

Foyt, starting in the sixth spot as 4,700 fans looked on, took the lead on the 19th lap and came home a 15-length winner over Johnny White of Warren, Mich. Jimmy Maguire of Dunellen, N.J. was third.

Foyt’s winning time was 13 minutes and 24.51 seconds.

Foyt took the leaders one-by-one to slip ahead and pull away.

He moved into third place on the 10th lap while White was holding about a length-and-a-half margin on Maguire.

The Texas driver went by Maguire on the 14th lap and went to the outside on the 19th lap to pass White and race home a victor.

Results –

1. A.J. Foyt
2. Johnny White
3. Jim Maguire
4. Jud Larson
5. Gordon Johncock
6. Chuck Hulse
7. Bob Mathouser
8. Chuck Engel
9. Chuck Arnold
10. Mario Andretti

Sunday, April 11, 2021

1976 – Bivins to Victory Lane at I-70

Terry Bivins

Odessa, Mo. (April 11, 1976) – A flat tire put Terry Bivins out of contention in the feature event for the late model stock cars last week at I-70 Speedway, but the Shawnee, Kan., driver had everything in his favor Sunday afternoon as he put his 1976 Camaro into victory lane.

Terry Brumley, who started the feature on the pole, led the first few laps before Bivins took over. David Goldsberry, looking for his second straight feature victory, also made it past Brumley and with “Tiger” Bob Williams and Brumley, kept the heat on Bivins until Brumley went out with mechanical issues on lap 9.

Bivins stretched out his lead to about 100 yards at the finish. Goldsberry, Williams, Dave Klingsporn and Jerry Nussbaum rounded out the top five finishers.

Bivins competed last week in the 1974 Chevelle that he competed in last year but chose to run his new Camaro after running third at Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, Okla., Friday night.

“We bought the Camaro in Indiana,” Bivins said. “And rebuilt it over the winter. We tore it down to the bare frame and roll cage and “Bivinized” it.”

Bob Williams set fast time with a one-lap orbit of 18.85 seconds. Bivins won the trophy dash. Brumley was the winner in the fast heat while Klingsporn took the middle heat and Dick Turner nabbed the slow heat.

Results –

Time trials – Bob Williams, Independence, Mo.
Trophy dash – Terry Bivins, Shawnee, Kan.
Fast heat – Terry Brumley, Springfield, Mo.
Middle heat – David Klingsporn Monett, Mo
Slow heat – Dick Turner, Kansas City
Feature –
1. Terry Bivins
2. David Goldsberry, Bolivar, Mo.
3. Bob Williams
4. David Klingsporn
5. Jerry Nussbaum, Oak Grove, Mo.
6. Roger Arnhart, Kansas City
7. Denny Roberts, Independence, Mo.
8. Steve Privett, St. Charles, Mo.
9. Rod Hayes, Bates City, Mo.
10.Charlie Kinard, Vida, Mo.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

1982 - Phillips Class of 'World Championships'

Larry Phillips

Phoenix, Ariz. (April 10, 1982) – Missouri’s Larry Phillips was in a class by himself in the finals of the RC Cola/7-Up Western World Championships for late model stock cars at Manzanita Speedway.

Although the line-up for the 40-lap feature was studded with driving stars, no one could match Phillips and his lightning fast Camaro. Phillips started alongside Bill Cheesbourg but easily beat the Tucson veteran into the first turn. Even though he had to endure several cautions and a red flag for refueling purposes, Phillips still managed to lap all but nine cars en route to a $3,500 payday.

There was only one car that may have been able to run with Phillips. Don Hoffman of Des Moines, Iowa, made it into the feature by virtue of winning the 20-lap semi-main and was on his way to the front when disaster struck prior to the halfway point. Hoffman had moved his Camaro into fifth place and was challenging Cheesbourg for fourth when he jumped the cushion and slammed into the retaining wall, ending a beautiful drive.

While there was really no contest for the front spot, the action was hot and heavy behind Phillips. Throughout most of the race, there were six or seven cars in contention for the runner-up spot. Mike Gibson and Carl Trimmer swapped the second position two or three times and George Brazil Jr. was in the thick of the battle and finally took over that spot with only three laps remaining. However, tough luck that has plagued him the past two weeks struck again s he blew an engine on the white flag lap and pushed his car across the finish line in tenth.

Trimmer edged Charlie Swartz for second, Cheesbourg took fourth and Steve McGuire grabbed fifth.

Hoffman, who had problems during the qualifying races, was not seriously challenged in the semi. He started fifth and was in front before the first lap was completed.

The excitement in the semi was created by Roger Saathoff. The South Dakota driver started 15th and drove his way to second place even though he was losing his clutch in his Camaro. Gaylord Lippert finished third with his Thunderbird and qualified for the feature when Red Dralle scratched. However, Lippert had to scratch a well when his mount lost oil pressure. Saathoff would last only a few laps in the feature before his transmission went out.

Results –

1. Larry Phillips
2. Carl Trimmer
3. Charlie Swartz
4. Bill Cheesbourg
5. Steve McGuire
6. Mike Gibson
7. Ivan Russell
8. Bill Black
9. Buddy Murphy
10.George Brazil Jr.
11.Bill Brandon
12.Ken Hobson
13.Jim Maguire
14.H.D. Jackson
15.Herb Laing
16.Gary Thomas
17.Art Adams
18.Fred Lundock
19.Jerry McCurdy
20.Terry Green
21.Don Hoffman
22.Roger Saathoff

Friday, April 9, 2021

1972 - 'Big D' Struggles to Elko Victory

Dan Prizborowski

Elko, Minn. (April 9, 1972) – Although the weather that greeted race fans at Elko Speedway on Sunday afternoon was of the mid-winter variety, the type of racing presented was more like the heated competition of mid-summer.

Dan Prizborowski of Savage, Minn., took late model feature honors but not before Minneapolitan Dick Giles and Mert Williams of Rochester, Minn., issued a 22-lap challenge that forced the popular driver to go all out in his bid for the opening checkered flag ride of the season.

Giles, driving a sparkling new Ford, had won both his heat and the trophy dash while Williams was second in his heat and third in the dash. Prizborowski was fourth in his heat, but because the top heat winners were inverted for the main event, the defending track champion found himself on the pole position.

But, with only five laps gone, both Giles and Williams had already moved through traffic to touch Prziborowski’s bumper and from there on, the trio battled lap after lap, never more than a car length apart.

Despite constant pressure from Giles and Williams, though, Prizborowski was able to hold on, winning by a couple of car lengths at the checkers. Williams settled for second while Giles finish third. Dick Stang of Prior Lake was fourth and Larry Smith of Shakopee rounded out the top five.

Giles and Larry Behrens of Northfield were heat winners. Giles was also the trophy dash winner and Norm Setran of Bloomington was the consolation victor.

Meanwhile, 45 hobby stocks checked in and produced the same close-knit action. Joe Ritchie of Minneapolis was the feature winner followed by Dewey Gustafson of St. Paul and Al Pearson of Richfield.

Sunday’s doubleheader was accident free except in warmups when John Boegeman of Shakopee flipped his Superamerica Chevy but escaped injury.

The biggest surprise to track owner/operator Phil Stewart was the splendid turnout of fans, nearly 2,200 total.

“With the temperature around 35 degrees I anticipated maybe a quarter of this for fans but with 1,700 passing through the turnstiles plus the youngsters, I was pleasantly pleased,” Stewart said. “With warmer temps, we’ll be on our way.”

Results –

Late Model –

1. Dan Prizborowski
2. Mert Williams
3. Dick Stiles
4. Dick Stang
5. Larry Smith
6. Norm Setran
7. Mike Miller
8. Larry Behrens
9. Harry Bahr
10.Ray Forsythe
11.Mike Murgic
12.Dave Noble

Hobby Stocks –

1. Joe Ritchie
2. Dewey Gustafson
3. Al Pearson
4. Lynn Peterson
5. Mike Blass

Thursday, April 8, 2021

1956 – White Wins Gulf States Marathon

Don White

Shreveport, La. (April 8, 1956) – An Iowa speed demon looms as the favorite in the 1956 chase for the International Motor Contest Association stock car championship.

Don White, IMCA’s 1954 and ‘55 national champion, began defense of his crown Sunday afternoon by shattering a world’s IMCA 50-mile record while taking first place in the second annual Gulf States Championship race at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds.

White, the driver of a 1956 Dodge, finished the 100-lap marathon in 50 minutes and 8.15 seconds to shatter a previous record – 51 minutes and 51.25 seconds – which he established on September 1, 1955 at Sioux Falls, S.D.

The two-time national stock car champion annexed his latest triumph in what was one of the most exciting races promoted here in recent years. His Gulf States success climaxed a three-event program.

Johnny Beauchamp, driver of a 1956 Chevrolet from Harlan, Iowa, led the field to take the checkered flag in the opening 15-lap event, winning in 7 minutes and 57.8 seconds. He was followed by Newt Bartholomew of Carlisle, Iowa, Shreveport’s Roxy Dancy and Bobby Brown of Springfield, Mo.

The second 15-lapper was captured by White in 7 minutes and 39.8 seconds. Preacher Durr, driving Herschel Buchanan’s Ford Thunderbird, finished second ahead of Dick Houdek of Wichita, Kan.

Two drivers made trouble for White in the main event. Roxy Dancy grabbed the lead on the first lap and stayed ahead of the talented field for the first 48 trips around the half-mile dirt oval. Beauchamp overtook Dancy on lap 49 and he retained the lead until the 68th go-round when his car started overheating and White assumed command until the end.

White won his Gulf States crown before a capacity crowd which also had spectators watching the action from the infield.

Herschel Buchanan, Shreveport’s veteran driver, was fastest qualifier with a time of 30.65 seconds. Unfortunately, Buchanan was forced to withdraw from competition after timing his car, which gave the pole position to the second fastest qualifier, Roxy Dancy with a time of 30.91 seconds.

Results –

1. Don White, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Sonny Morgan, Beaumont, Tex.
3. Preacher Durr, Shreveport
4. Dick Houdek, Wichita, Kan.
5. Shorty Ebert, Kansas City, Mo.
6. Ralph Dyer, Shreveport
7. Roxy Dancy, Shreveport
8. Bobby Brown, Springfield, Mo.
9. Johnny Beauchamp, Harlan, Iowa
10.Doc Narber, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

1974 – Hinshaw Scores First ASA Victory

Winchester, Ind. (April 7, 1974) – Although he finished third in the series point standings last year on the American Speed Association “Circuit of Champions” late model stock car circuit, Shorty Hinshaw of Mooreland, Ind., had never been to victory lane in an ASA-sanctioned race.

Under cold, blustery skies, the diminutive, mustached driver baptized ahis new Camaro at Winchester Speedway with a wire to wire victory in the 50-lapper.

Hinshaw’s faultless drive netted him his first big win but he was followed to the checkers by a persevering Kenny Simpson of Bedford, Ind., the 1973 ASA “Rookie of the Year” who battled the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune all day.

Secure in the trophy dash with a third-fastest qualifying time, Simpson appeared to have the race won on the last lap when Conan “Moose” Myers, in a passing attempt, apparently broke a tie rod end that sent both cars into the backstretch wall of the half-mile. Myers’ car was damage extensively but Simpson was able to start his heat race, albeit with much flapping sheet metal.

Closely following Jim Hines and Mike Eddy in his heat, Simpson was sent headlong into the fence when the pair crashed, dislocating Simpson’s rear axle and necessitating non-stop work for him to join the feature field.

Hinshaw shot into an immediate lead in the 50-lap feature, out dragging Jim Hines into the first turn. In the early going, Hinshaw was pursued by Harold Scott and the two built a 3 second lead on a pack consisting of Hines, Gene Prosser, and Simpson, locked in a battle for the third spot.

Denny Miles brought out the first caution flag on lap 26 as he spun entering the first turn. With the order unchanged, all clear condition resumed at lap 28 only to have the yellow reappear on lap 32 when Gene Fullen spun entering the backstretch.

All the more determined after the constant misfortune of the day, Simpson immediately attacked Prosser when the green was displayed on lap 33, passing for fourth through the first two turns. Carrying his momentum, Simpson overhauled Hines on the same lap to secure third.

With Hinshaw conducting the pace from the lead, Simpson set out after Scott and hounded him incessantly until he commandeered second place on lap 39. Although attempting to catch Hinshaw boxed in slower traffic during the final 10 circuits and drawing to within 2 seconds of the leader, Simpson could not overhaul the flying Hinshaw who was not to be denied his first major win.

At the finish, Hinshaw and Simpson were followed by Scott in third; Hines in fourth; and Gene Prosser in fifth. Young Mike Eddy maintained a narrow lead a narrow lead in ASA points with a sixth place finish.

Results –

1. Shorty Hinshaw
2. Kenny Simpson
3. Harold Scott
4. Jim Hines
5. Gene Prosser
6. Mike Eddy
7. Ray Fullen
8. Jiggs Myers
9. Jackie Neal
10.Don Keevin
11.Ron North
12.Dennis Miles

Monday, April 5, 2021

1970 - I-70 Features to Blundy, Morris

Jerry Blundy

Odessa, Mo. (April 5, 1970) - Jerry Blundy, who made the long trip to I-70 Speedway Sunday afternoon from Galesburg, Ill., didn’t travel the distance for an afternoon joy ride around the half-mile asphalt oval.

Blundy copped one of the two heat events for the super-sprints as well as winning the sprint feature on a cool, windy afternoon.

Blundy took the lead on the eighth lap of the 20-lap feature and crossed the finish line ahead of Don Mack. Mack had earlier in the afternoon set a new season’s track record during the time trials by turning in a time of 18.56 seconds.

The East Grand Forks, Minn., driver had traveled the oval in a first-lap time in at 18.80 seconds.

Eddie Leavitt of Kearney, Mo., ran third in the sprint car feature, while Ralph Parkinson of Kansas City finished fourth.

Sedalia’s Bill Utz tested the asphalt for the second time this season at I-70. The best he could muster was a fourth-place finish in the first sprint car heat race and an eighth-place finish in the feature.

The Sunday afternoon program at I-70 was another combined show of super-sprinters and late model stocks.

Mel Morris of West Liberty, Iowa, powered his 1970 Dodge Charger to the late model feature win. Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, who had broken the old one-lap time trial record earlier in the day with a time of 20.48 seconds, finished second. Roy McClelland of Independence, Mo., was third, while Terry Bivins of Kansas City finished fourth.

Results –

Super Sprints - 

1. Jerry Blundy
2. Don Mack
3. Eddie Leavitt
4. Ralph Parkinson
5. Bob Williams
6. Jan Opperman
7. Dale McCarty
8. Bill Utz
9. Roy Hibbard
10.Daryl Dawley

Late Models -

1. Mel Morris
2. Ed Sanger
3. Roy McClelland
4. Terry Bivins
5. Dave Wall
6. Jim Still
7. Gary Martin
8. Jim Hager
9. Ray Littrell
10.Tom Stewart

Sunday, April 4, 2021

1965 – Derr Roars to Win in Pelican

Ernie Derr exits his car after winning the 1965 Pelican 200 at Shreveport. Derr’s mechanic offers up a cold beverage while starter Bernie Carlson presents the checkers. – Bill Causey Jr. Photo

Shreveport, La. (April 4, 1965) – Ernie Derr may be getting older but he still has the know-how when it comes to winning stock car classics as evidenced on Sunday afternoon when he chalked up his fourth championship in the Pelican 200 marathon before a crowd of 8,000 at State Fair Speedway.

The Pelican officially opened the Golden Anniversary season of the International Motor Contest Association and when the checkered flag was handed to Derr, the race had produced two new world records.

Ramo Stott of Keokuk, Iowa, finished in the 14th position, but was the man who grabbed the new marks while battling with Derr and a field of 18 drivers.

Four drivers alternated as leaders of the Pelican before the title was decided. Don White, the former three-time IMCA national champion and one-time USAC king, grabbed an early lead for three laps but was overtaken on the fourth by Lenny Funk of Otis, Kan., who gave in to Stott on the 12th lap.

Stott, one of the “Keokuk Komets” and second in points for the 1964 season, set his first world standard when he finished 25 laps in 10 minutes and 6.73 seconds. He picked up another record for 50 laps with a time of 20 minutes and 34.76 seconds.

Derr forged to the front on lap 97 when Stott was forced to the pits because of rear-end troubles. Derr had made his pit stop for gas on lap 83.

Funk, riding in third place behind Derr and White, went to the pits for fuel on lap 117. Stott returned to the track on lap 131 after losing 38 laps due to repairs. Two laps later, he retired for good when he was forced to the pits again with his left front tire almost off the car.

The field, paced by Derr, completed the 200 laps in 1 hour and 36.42 seconds.

Results –

1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Lenny Funk, Otis, Kan.
3. Ron Hutcherson, Keokuk, Iowa
4. Blaine Morrow, Mt. Joy, Ill.
5. Bill Gibson, Kansas City
6. Buzz McCann, St. Paul, Minn.
7. Bill Thomas, Lake Elmo, Minn.
8. Don White, Keokuk, Iowa
9. Ernie Shirley, Kansas City
10.Dean Huckaby, Kansas City
11.Jerry Spray, Grandview, Mo.
12.Dean Roper, Springfield, Mo.
13.Lewis Taylor, Shawnee, Kan.
14.Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
15.Leon Fellers, Flemington, Mo.
16.Roland Wilson, Bedford, Iowa
17.Bob Gray, Raytown, Mo.
18.Vic Elson, Ash Grove, Mo.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

1982 – Hearst Wins Sedalia Frost Buster

Tom Hearst

Sedalia, Mo. (April 3, 1982) - Tom Hearst of Wilton, Iowa, made it two in a row in the late model division of the Frost Buster, winning the event for the second successive year as the 1982 Missouri State Fairgrounds racing season kicked off.

Hearst, a National Speedways Contest Association regular, passed Bill Moyer of Des Moines in turn one of lap 10 and was never really pressured for the rest of the 30-lap late model feature,

Ronnie Hoover of Fulton, Mo., jumped into the lead at the drop of the green flag, but was overtaken by Moyer on the second lap Moyer led for the next nine laps until he was passed by Hearst.

The real battle was for second spot, as Moyer fought to hold off Bill Martin of Council Bluffs. Iowa, and Kevin Gundaker of St Louis. Gundaker passed Martin on lap 15 to move into third.

Lap 18 almost proved disastrous for the leaders, as cars driven by Bill Breuer of Wapello, Iowa and Craig Spetman, Omaha, Neb., spun in turn two. Hearst, Moyer and Gundaker had to drive high to avoid the spin.

Gundaker passed Moyer on the 23rd lap to take over second place, but was unable to overhaul Hearst, who held on for the win.

After the race, Hearst said that he knew Gundaker was behind him but, “I felt I could outrun anyone today.”

In the first heat, Jim Turpin of Jefferson City, Mo., broke the frost for the 750 chilled fans, as he got up high in turn three and rolled his car over the guard rail.

The heat races were won by Richard Crane, Palmyra, Mo.; Mark Fleischman, Jefferson City; Martin and Ken Walton, Viola, Iowa.

Hearst had fast time for the afternoon, making the half-mile circuit in 24.32 seconds.

Results –

1. Tom Hearst
2. Kevin Gundaker
3. Billy Moyer
4. Roger Thompson
5. Vic Bentlage
6. Ronnie Hoover
7. Rick Beebe
8. Sam Jacobs
9. Andy Claiborne
10.Bill Martin
11.Joe Cobb
12.Richard Crane
13. Mark Fleishman
14.John Edwards
15.Mark Kutina
16.Jim Turpin
17.Bobby Goulden
18.Bill Breuer
19.Mike Klinkhammer
20.Ed Dixon
21.Keith White
22.Ken Walton
23.Craig Spetman

Thursday, April 1, 2021

1973 – Rookie Takes Pelican Checkers

Harlan Beene

Shreveport, La. (April 1, 1973) – Harlan Beene, a 31-year-old plantation manager from Bossier City, La., and a graduate of dirt track racing, nosed a 1970 Chevelle onto the asphalt pavement at State Fair Speedway and in less than one and a half hours, inscribed a mini-history on the 23rd annual Pelican 200 late model stock car classic.

Never had a rookie driver caught the checkered in the springtime inaugural of the International Motor Contest Association stock car circuit. And not since the early 50’s, when Herschel Buchanan of Shreveport had a “local” driver beaten back the big threats of the Midwest.

The Pelican 200, minus defending champion Irv Janey of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who was kept at home by business interests, developed into a two-car race between Chevelle’s.

Landing in second place, three car lengths back was snake bit Freddy Cook of West Monroe, La. Cook, who overhauled Beene, had led from lap 58 to 103, and looked like a sure winner, despite a dragging air scoop under the front bumper, as late as the 180th lap.

Then 10 miles from the finish, Cook spun out in the third turn and slammed into the guard rail – a victim of his left front wheel catching a car he was lapping.

“It knocked the steering wheel out of my hand,” a despondent Cook said.

Despite three false starts – two spinouts in the first turn that derailed a couple of green flags – the pace was slow and easy for the assembled 4,700 in attendance. 

“We knew we had a lot of laps to go,” said Beene, who first ran an asphalt track in Jackson, Miss., two weeks before. “We just took our time, both of us.”

Still, it was a long afternoon. Beene waved his hand over the hood of his #55 and laughed, “I don’t want to see one of these things for a week.”

Trailing thee two front-runners was Gordon Blankenship of Keokuk, Iowa, in a 1970 Plymouth and finishing fourth was Gary Brooks of Grand Prairie, Tex., in a 1972 Monte Carlo.

Gerry Harrison of Topeka, Kan., second only to Janey in the 1972 IMCA point’s standings, finished seventh.

Another page from history was inserted by Mrs. Martha Wideman of Lufkin, Tex., behind the wheel of a lavender-colored Monte Carlo. The first woman to compete in an IMCA event, dating back to 1915, Martha clocked 26.73 second back-to-back in the two-lap time trials. Unfortunately, a broken steering arm sent her to the pit area after only 14 laps of the main event.

Beene pocketed $800 of the $5,000 prize money put up by Mar-Car, Inc.

Results –

1. Harlan Beene, Bossier City, La.
2. Freddy Cook, West Monroe, La.
3. Gordon Blankenship, Keokuk, Iowa
4. Gary Brooks, Grand Prairie, Tex.
5. Vern Mondry, Lake Elmo, Minn.
6. Larry Lynch, Garland, Tex.
7. Gerry Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
8. Roy Dendy, Arlington, Tex.
9. Bill Renner, Topeka, Kan.
10.Ray Blohm, Arlington, Tex.
11.W.C. Smith, Shreveport, La.
12.Eddie Cook, Monroe, La.
13.Thurman Lovejoy, Kansas City
14.Tommy Taylor, Irving, Tex.