By Phil Maly
Cedar Rapids, Iowa (May 6, 1962) – National stock car champion Ernie Derr made a clean sweep of things at Hawkeye Downs on Sunday afternoon. An estimated 8,000 people saw Derr wheel his 1962 Pontiac to a world’s record in the Hawkeye 250.
Derr completely outclassed his colleagues as he whipped around the Downs’ half-mile dirt oval in 1 hour, 55 minutes and 46 seconds, shattering the old mark by more than three minutes.
It was not the only final time that told the story of Derr’s superb driving. The pride and joy of Keokuk, Iowa, also reeled off four other record-breaking performances during the afternoon program.
Ernie started the matinee off by setting a new mark in time trials. He had two opportunities to break the old mark of 25.96 seconds, and oddly enough he went under it both times. His record time was 25.80 seconds.
Although Derr won the time trials, the top eight qualifiers drew lots for positions. Derr started on the inside of the third row but he quickly shot into second place behind early leader Chub Liebe of Oelwein, Iowa, while Dick Hutcherson, also of Keokuk, piloted his 1962 Ford into third place.
Derr displayed his ability of endurance and speed from this point on. His speed was evident when he broke the 50-lap dirt track world’s mark in 22 minutes and 15 seconds. The 100 and 150-lap marks were also broken.
Hawkeye Downs, notorious for its fast racing surface, took its toll on the field of 17 cars as only seven were still upright when the checkered flag waved.
Darrell Dake’s 1962 Ford was one of four ’62 models that was forced to the sidelines and unable to finish. Dake dropped out after completing only 100 laps and wound up in 11th place, the position where he started.
At the end of 120 laps, the race had narrowed down to a three-way battle between Derr, Hutcherson and Gil Haugen of Sioux Falls, S.D.
Haugen, who finished the race in third place, rode in the second spot until lap 123. Hutcherson moved past him and came on to finish only one lap behind the winner.
1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk
2. Dick Hutcherson, Keokuk
3. Gil Haugen, Sioux Falls, S.D.
4. Bob Reynolds, Edmonds, Okla.
5. Ken Pratt, Darlington, Wis.
6. Newt Bartholomew, Carlisle
7. Ernie McMahan, Keokuk
8. Bob Dugan, Waukegan, Ill.
9. Roland Wilson, Bedford
10.Ramo Stott, Keokuk
11.Darrell Dake, Cedar Rapids
12.Frank Richards, Marion
13.Chub Liebe, Oelwein
14.John Mickey, Columbus Junction
15.Mert Williams, Rochester, Minn.