Saturday, July 31, 2021

1973 – Barton Charges to Boone Title

George Barton of Ankeny, Iowa, won his record third Grand Nationals title at Boone. Flagman Floyd Michels joins Barton in victory lane. - Beetle Bailey Photo

Boone, Iowa (July 31, 1973) – George Barton of Ankeny, Iowa, grabbed the lead on lap 36 and went on to win the Grand Nationals at Boone Speedway on Tuesday night.

For Barton, it was his third Grand National title in the seven year history of the event.

Thirty-three cars lined up Indy-style with Arnie Braland of Boone starting on the pole.

However, it was Stan Stover of Reinbeck, Iowa, grabbing the lead at the start. He would maintain the top spot for the first 36 circuits until Barton, who had been hanging on Stover’s bumper throughout, powered inside of Stover to take over first place.

For the final 14 laps, however, Barton and Stover would race door-to-door with Barton finally getting the edge on the white flag lap. With the checkers flying, Barton would edge Stover by less than a car length for the victory and the $1,200 first prize.

In Monday night’s time trials, Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, earned the pole position by fact that he was the fastest qualifier with a time of 17.32 seconds.

Heat wins went to Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, Stan Stover and Mike Pinckney of Des Moines.

A special event was held Monday night comprised of the top seven finishers from each heat, Ron Weedon was the winner of that contest.

Results –

1. George Barton, Ankeny, Iowa
2. Stan Stover, Reinbeck, Iowa
3. Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley, Iowa
4. D. Arthur Nesteby, Waterloo, Iowa
5. Mike Pinckney, Des Moines
6. Denny Hovinga, Laurens, Iowa
7. Del McDowall, Ames, Iowa
8. Bob Shryock, Estherville, Iowa
9. Ray Guss, Milan, Ill.
10.Earl Tice, Ames, Iowa

Friday, July 30, 2021

1983 – Wolfgang’s first visit to Wilmot a good one

Doug Wolfgang

Wilmot, Wis. (July 30, 1983) – Doug Wolfgang, Sioux Falls, S.D., made his first visit to Wilmot Speedway on Saturday night a memorable and winning experience as he won top money in the second round of the J&L Gas – Wilmot Winged Open sprint car series.

His win came after Rick Ferkel, Tiffin, Ohio, lost steering in his #0 Morgan sprinter. Ferkel had started outside front row in the 20-car field for the 40-lap feature and led 37 circuits.

His departure from the race will always leave in doubt the question that Wolfgang and his Gambler #18 car could have made the winning pass in the final laps of the race.

Wolfgang had started seventh in the field but was in second by lap 10 after passing Wilmot point leader Gib Wiser of Neosho, Wis., but by then Ferkel had a full straightaway lead on the rest of the field.

That lead diminished on lap 14 when Gary Zobel of Lake Villa, Ill., dove into the infield with a flat tire just as Ferkel was making an inside pass. Contact between the cars almost sent Ferkel into a spin, but he corrected and then seemed to find an advantage by using traffic of slower cars to keep Wolfgang from getting close enough to attempt a pass. But on the 37th lap, Ferkel slowed, moved to the outside of the track and came to a stop on the backstretch, done for the evening.

The yellow came out for both Ferkel and Jim Moulis of Johnsburg, Ill., the fast qualifier for the 44-car field, who also suffered steering problems and stopped his car in the fourth turn.

Wolfgang was never challenged in the final three laps, winning handily. Wiser took second, followed by Jimmy Sills of Sacramento, Calif., Bob Robel of Oconomowoc, Wis., and Kenny Haynes of Bourbonnais, Ill.

Heat wins went to Dean Shirley of Middletown, Ill., Ferkel, Sills and Bill Kojis of Milwaukee. Ken Biertzer of West Bend, Wis., won the B-main and Darrell Dodd of Lake Villa, Ill., was the C-main winner.

Results –

1. Doug Wolfgang, Sioux Falls, S.D.
2. Gib Wiser, Neosho, Wis.
3. Jimmy Sills, Sacramento, Calif.
4. Bob Robel, Oconomowoc, Wis.
5. Kenny Haynes, Bourbonnais, Ill.
6. Dean Shirley, Middletown, Ill.
7. Craig Curzon, Baileys Harbor, Wis.
8. Dennis Spitz, Kenosha, Wis.
9. Ken Biertzer, West Bend, Wis.
10.Bob Warren, Beaver Dam, Wis.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

1979 - I-70's National Championship 300 to Eddy

Mike Eddy

Odessa, Mo. (July 29, 1979) – Mike Eddy survived a blistering hot day and outlasted a strong field of opponents to win Sunday afternoon’s National Championship 300 for American Speed Association Circuit of Champion late models at I-70 Speedway. Eddy collected $3,575 for the win, which was his third of the season.

Eddy grabbed the lead for the final time by passing Mark Martin on lap 276, when the Batesville, Ark., youngster was forced to the pit area with a punctured right rear tire and lost over a lap to Eddy in the process.

Martin returned to the track and managed to un-lap himself in closing stages of the event, but was still nearly a full lap down when he crossed the finish line to claim runner-up honors. Rusty Wallace, in his first ASA start of 1979, finished third, one lap down, and was followed by Randy Sweet and Mike Opperman.

Attrition, triggered mainly by intense heat and humidity, sidelined many of the usual ASA frontrunners, including fast qualifier Bob Senneker, Terry Bivins, Bob Sensiba, Don Gregory and Ray Young.

Young had put on one the most spectacular driving displays of the year by charging from his 13th starting spot to take the lead before a tightening engine caused him to call it a day at the halfway point.

Bad luck was particularly bitter for Don Gregory, who was forced to retire with third place all but sewn up. A broken rod forced Gregory to the pit area on lap 247 and he would finish 12th.

Bivins grabbed the early lead and was being pressured by Sweet and Senneker. Bivins would get tangled up with a lap car giving the lead to Sweet, only to give it away to Senneker on lap 58.

Young blasted ahead of Senneker on lap 92 and led until a rash of pit stops occurred under a yellow flag on lap 124.

For the most part, Martin then led until the final caution period on lap 211. The caution sent everyone to the pits for what figured to be the last time.

Eddy emerged from the pit area on top, but Martin ran him down on lap 234 and remained in front until misfortune struck on lap 276.

Making his debut in ASA circles was veteran John Martin. Driving a car owned by his brother Bob, Martin was eliminated after only 41 laps due to insufficient ventilation in the car. He officially finished 29th.

Rain on Saturday night forced postponement of the 300-lap main event until Sunday afternoon.

Results –

1. Mike Eddy
2. Mark Martin
3. Rusty Wallace
4. Randy Sweet
5. Mike Opperman
6. Fred Whisler
7. Ken Tadolini
8. Dave Jensen
9. Dick Trickle
10. Don Ely
11. Terry Ward
12. Don Gregory
13. Wayne Smith
14. Donnie Cooper Jr.
15. Roger Arnhart
16. Craig Spetman
17. L.J. Lines
18. Harold Scott
19. Ray Young
20. Bob Senneker
21. Bob Sensiba
22. John Knaus
23. Doug Klein
24. James Cox
25. Dave Roahrig
26. Vester Cates
27. Terry Bivins
28. Jerry Singer
29. John Martin
30. Bob Strait

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

1968 – Nordhorn Big at Winchester

Don Nordhorn

Winchester, Ind. (July 28, 1968) – Pete Wales owns the world-famous Winchester high-banked, half-mile speed plant but if IMCA and Don Nordhorn show up many more times, the ownership may change hands.

Nordhorn, the 34-year-old speed veteran from Wadesville, Ind., took home everything but the track from the IMCA-sanctioned and National Speedways, Inc., supervised MCA sprint car show on Sunday afternoon for the second straight time this summer.

The fastest qualifier for the day with a one-lap time of 17.73 seconds in his own #52 Chevy-powered sprinter, Nordhorn tasted defeat only once, in his 8-lap heat race before capturing the 5-lap STP handicap and then turning in a ridiculously easy triumph in the 30-lap main event.

Starting on the pole, the veteran of 14 years of speed activity, coasted home by nearly one full lap ahead of Darl Harrison of Tiffin, Ohio.

Harrison won a spirited three-car battle with Dave Weir in the #3 Speed Helms Chevy and Claire Lawicki in the #36 Stahl Brothers Chevrolet for second-place money and Weir grabbed show cash by a car length over Lawicki.

Weir was running second and Lawicki third until they got snarled in slower traffic on lap 20 and Harrison snuck by both of them for second place.

The feature was red-flagged after only three circuits when Jack O’Donnell, driving the #28 Spencer Buick, hit the turn four wall and spun approximately 140 feet down the front straightaway before stopping directly underneath the flagman’s stand.

O’Donnell jumped from his sprinter and climbed the protective fence while starter Woody Brinkman brought the field to a halt. O’Donnell escaped uninjured and thee race was resumed as soon as his car was towed to the infield.

Results –

1. Don Nordhorn
2. Darl Harrison
3. Dave Weir
4. Claire Lawicki
5. Buzz Gregory
6. Curly Boyd
7. Cliff Cockrum
8. Ralph Parkinson
9. Benny Rapp
10. Bernie Graybeal

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

1975 - Tunis: Horse to Horsepower

Judd Tunis

Waterloo, Iowa (July 27, 1975) - They’ve been racing cars for 27 years in Judd L. Tunis’ backyard here, and the 79-year-old former meat man hasn’t missed one of the more than 500 events.

Tunis Speedway, located on Highway 218 in western Waterloo - an area called Cedar-Loo because of its proximity to adjacent Cedar Falls — is the oldest operating stock car track in Iowa.

The name Tunis has become synonymous with stock car racing in eastern Iowa but that wasn’t what Judd had in mind when he carved an oval half-mile track out of the back part of his 52-acre spread.

“I was raised with horses. I love ‘em. I built the track in 1947 as a place to work out my horses because I had to go all the way to Waverly to do it,” said Tunis.

When word got out about the new track, auto enthusiasts approached him about using it for midget car races. Tunis consented, and a quarter-mile track was plotted inside the half-mile oval.

“John Gerber of Davenport, who was staging midget races at Cedar Rapids and Davenport, talked me into building a quarter-mile track and we’ve been in racing ever since.”

The new, shorter, steep banked oval opened in 1949 with midget car races. The stocks came in the following year, and so did the spectators - up to 10,000 at a time.

Tunis ran the show himself for 17 years, and then contracted with a racing association to put on the weekly Sunday night races. Starting in 1973, promoter Claus Stricker of Cedar Falls has had the contract to operate the races. Tunis, however, has stayed in the thick of it.

“There are always a few little details that need tending to. Seems like someone always wants something. The other night, I jumped in and helped one of the ticket sellers,” he said.

As a boy in Waterloo, Tunis rode horse-drawn delivery wagons for fun, and later for profit ($3 a week for a local sausage-maker). It was the beginning of his education in the field of processing and marketing meat.

“I was the best wienie taster they had,” he laughed. They always made sure that I was around on the days they made wienies.”

He got into the meat business for himself in a market in the west side downtown business district here; He eventually expanded into the wholesale meat trade, selling to restaurants and stores in northeast Iowa.

Tunis later sold the retail end of the business, but he kept the wholesale trade, and moved the operation to the site he purchased in 1938 at what then was the outskirts of Waterloo. He ran the meat business put of the basement of his home until 1965,

“I paid $200 an acre for the land. The top price at the time was $150 an acre. Everyone called me a damn fool,” he recalled.

Today, land, along the highway in Cedar-Loo, a prime commercial area is priced by the running foot. Tunis has sold off bits and pieces of his original 52 acres. He’s retained 34 acres, including the lot where Tunis and his wife, Marie, built their home in 1941.

The only stock car track to open before Tunis was one at Cedar Rapids, but it ceased operating years, ago, Tunis said, making his the longest running stock track in the state. Many of Iowa’s top race drivers were spawned at Tunis.

The best drivers, we made right here,” Tunis said proudly. “Lee Kunzman for example; look where he is now. This is where he started.”

Kunzman, 30, of Guttenberg, finished seventh in the Indianapolis 500 race in 1973, and still competes in the “big-car” racing circuit.

Many of the big names in Iowa stock car driving could call Tunis their home track, among them, Red Droste and Bill Zwanziger of Waterloo, Chub Liebe of Oelwein, Bob Hilmer and Cal Swanson of Reinbeck, Charley Moffitt, a former state jalopy titleholder from Stanwood; Bob Posekany of Cedar Falls and a Minnesotan, Mert Williams of Rochester.

“Running a race track is a lot like any other kind of business. People think that we only work on race night, but we actually work harder during the week,” Tunis said.

Adult ticket prices at Tunis are $1.50 and $2.50. Children under 12 get in free.” Lots of people couldn’t afford to come to the races if they had to pay for their kids too, or had to hire a babysitter so they could leave the kids home,” Tunis reasoned.

More than 50 paid workers are required at each racing program at Tunis Speedway. They include car parkers, ticket sellers and takers, gatemen, pitmen, infield workers, racecar pushers, judges, flagman, tow car operators, track waterers, and a crew of policemen. The total doesn’t include concession booth workers.

Two deaths have occurred at the Tunis track, but neither was connected with stock car racing. A boy died of injuries suffered when he fell from a horse he was riding on the track, and a thrill show performer was killed during his act.

“It was the Lee Overland Thrill Show,” Tunis recalled. “Some guy had an act where he blew himself up with 12 sticks of dynamite while he laid sealed in a coffin. Something went wrong that night.”

Insurance at the track costs $600 for each night of racing, Tunis said. At least $3,000 in prize money is guaranteed each race night.

The Tunis track was expanded from a quarter-mile to three-eighths of a mile in 1974. The extra eighth-mile was added, Tunis said, “Because stock car owners are coming in with autos more powerful and adapted to longer tracks.”

“Iowa is noted for its stock car racing,” Tunis said. “Right now, there are five tracks between Webster City and Dubuque in towns along Highway 20. Ours used to be the only one.”

Monday, July 26, 2021

1969 - McCluskey Kicks Up a Storm at Terre Haute

Roger McCluskey

Terre Haute, Ind. (July 26, 1969) – Roger McCluskey, in a Norm Nelson prepared ’69 Plymouth, outlasted independent racer Roger Regeth in a ’67 Plymouth to claim his fourth USAC Stock Car victory of the season at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds half-mile dirt bowl.

The 100-lap twilight feature was conducted under the freakish combination of “grease-slick” mud, blinding dust, and overcast sunset conditions.

McCluskey’s win, a repeat of this triumph in September of 1968, enabled him to secure a 455-point command over A.J. Foyt in the USAC Stock Car point standings. Roger was driving the only factory supported car in contention among the top six finishers that crossed starter Shim Malone’s checkered flag.

Before relinquishing the lead to McCluskey, Regeth had fended off the efforts of both Foyt and Jack Bowsher in their team of ’69 Torino's. Regeth was ultimately forced out of the lead by mechanical difficulties.

For the originally scheduled date of the event, June 22, race director Don Smith had arranged the addition of five to six inches of clay to the racing surface. When the racers arrived for the Saturday evening rain date running of the event, that new surface unfortunately appeared practically unfit for racing. Watering trucks had deposited their loads in such a manner that by practice time, lane-wide swaths of slush encircled the course.

In hopes that afternoon practice would pack the clay to asphalt-type hardness, the heavy stock cars not only churned up the heavy quagmire and also kicked up the dry, cloddy areas engulfing areas of the raceway with blinding dust.

During qualifying, driver after driver attempted to enter the turns low and broad slide under a hard throttle, but each experienced anxious moments when the surface would not permit power sliding.

A.J. Foyt, shooting for his own 26.24 second mark he set last September, expertly displayed the style that “on the Midwest” as he charged to the midpoint of the straightaway’s, cut his wheels sharply left and broad slid under power, aiming for the bottom edges of the shallow-banked turns. A.J.’s clocking was 26.87 seconds, well off his record mark, but quick enough to set fast time.

Foyt, however, would experience problems in the four-car fast dash. Attempting to pass McCluskey for the lead, Foyt would leave the packed low groove and try to pass Roger on the treacherous outside lane. A.J. immediately found himself shooting hood-first into the outer guardrail. Skillfully reducing he consequences to a few minor dents, Foyt went on to finish third behind McCluskey and Jack Bowsher. Foyt returned to the pits where it was discovered that he had differential problems. It was announced that A.J. would not make the 20-car field. The first alternate, Dick Trickle with his ’67 Fairlane, was added to the field.

Because of Foyt’s absence, the 1968 Rookie of the Year, Bill Jackson, inherited the pole position of the inverted start. Terry Nichels, campaigning a ’69 Charger, voluntarily moved to the rear of the field, suspecting from low oil pressure readings, engine failure was imminent. Moments before the start of the feature, Jack Bowsher’s crew completed work on Foyt’s car, and he returned to the line-up, displacing Trickle.

At the drop of the green Bob Wawak, driving a ’68 Charger, moved from the outside front row to assume the point as lead cars created a dust saturated cloud on the backstretch. Driving through the dust and into the sun, driver’s visibility was so reduced, several rear end collisions occurred as the field entered turns three and four.

Whitey Gerkin, piloting a ’69 Chevelle, passed into the lead coming down the frontstretch on the second lap with Dave Whitcomb following behind in his ’69 Charger. Confounded by visibility and traction problems, numerous drivers decided to pull in and pit in the early laps.

Whitcomb pulled in several laps later, rushed to the scoring tower, and advised USAC official Billy Taylor of the severity of the visibility situation on the track. The decision was made to red flag the event at the completion of 17 laps for a conference between drivers and officials.

After examining the condition of the surface, Foyt and McCluskey recommended that the event continue. Water trucks were again sent out and the 17 entrants still in contention lined up for a yellow flag restart with Roger Regeth, now leading in the Al Piette-owned Plymouth. J.J. Smith, in the Al Piette-owned ’67 Comet, was in second and Gerken dropped back to third.

The track again appeared as slippery as ice as Regeth paraded the field around before the competition resumed. While the packing corrected the dust problem, the daylight time was running out with sun already behind a cloud bank.

As the green waved, Regeth proceeded to stretch his lead on the field while Whitey Gerkin pulled to the infield with engine problems. Later, on lap 42, Foyt reached the rear bumper of Regeth’s car, but having experienced collisions with the rail on two other occasions when attempting to drive a higher pattern, Foyt was reluctant to pass. On the straights, Regeth was pulling away from everyone.

Foyt was eventually eliminated from contention on lap 48 with engine failure and his teammate, Jack Bowsher moved up to second to challenge Regeth. Jack succeeded where A.J. failed and managed to secure the lead from Regeth. However, on lap 59, Bowsher bobbled going into turn two, couldn’t keep his car under control down the backstretch and slammed into the turn three outer rail. The damage to the front end of his car necessitated a tow truck to clear away the damaged Torino. Between Foyt and Bowsher, the team retired for the evening with a combined $475 earned for their efforts.

With only seven cars remaining on the track when the green waved again on lap 70, Regeth again assumed command of the lead with McCluskey inheriting Bowsher’s spot, J.J. Smith in third and Paul Feldner running fourth. Smith and Feldner would battle back and forth for the remaining 30 circuits and the two Wisconsinites were as evenly matched as you could get, with both drivers never more than a car length apart.

On lap 83, Regeth’s luck, and his chance for his first USAC stock car victory, would fall short. Leading McCluskey by over half a lap, Roger’s engine would experience mechanical problems. He would slow, and then limp around for the remaining laps to secure fourth place.

McCluskey, driving now in semi-darkness, cruised on to victory, completing the 50-mile “mud-slinger” almost two laps ahead of runner-up J.J. Smith. Paul Feldner, Regeth, Joe Frasson and Ross Smith were the only cars that remained operational at the end of the contest.

Twilight quickly faded and total darkness then settled over the site of one of the most unusual experiences of the USAC stock car division.

Results –

1. Roger McCluskey
2. J.J. Smith
3. Paul Feldner
4. Roger Regeth
5. Joe Frasson
6. Ross Smith
7. Jay Wyatt
8. Jack Bowsher
9. Ray Bolander
10. A.J. Foyt
11. John Martin
12. Butch Hartman
13. Bay Darnell
14. Bob Wawak
15. Whitey Gerkin
16. Terry Nichels
17. Bill Jackson
18. Dave Whitcomb
19. Don White
20. Jerry Smith

Sunday, July 25, 2021

1969 – Droste Wins Mid-Season Title

Red Droste kept his cool and won the 50-lap mid-season late model crown at Hawkeye Downs. Joining Droste is All-Iowa Fair president H.T. Wenkstein. – Claire Schreiber Photo

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (July 25, 1969) – Chalk up another on for Red Droste…

The defending late model stock car champion from Waterloo captured the 50-lap mid-season championship at Hawkeye Downs on Friday night.

The triumph was the fourth of the season for Droste and his 1968 Chevrolet and it was good for $450. It also gave him a commanding lead in the point’s race over second-place Ed Sanger, also of Waterloo.

Sanger, driving a ’69 Chevelle, finished second, after staring at the redhead’s bumper for the full distance on the quarter-mile.

Both of the top finishers started on the front row and Droste maintained a five-car-length advantage for the first 40 laps. When the only yellow flag came out on lap 41, Sanger was able to close tight on Droste, but he wasn’t able to get the job done in the last 10 circuits.

Thus, Sanger failed in his first opportunity to “get” Droste, as he had vowed two weeks ago. Droste, on the other hand, appeared more than pleased over the outcome.

“Yes, tonight’s win gave me a particular satisfaction,” he said. “Especially after what I read in the Gazette a week ago.”

Red was referring to Sanger’s statement that he would recapture the point lead before the season was over.

Roger Dolan of Lisbon, driving a ’69 Roadrunner, finished on the same laps as Droste and Sanger, taking third. John Connolly of Delhi and Glen Martin of Independence rounded out the top-five.

Martin, Curt Hansen of Dike, and Larry Schulte of Cedar Rapids copped 10-lap heat races, while Arlo Becker of Atkins won the 20-lap consolation.

Becker enjoyed another double night of fun, racing his ’57 Chevy to the win in the 25-lap novice mid-season title race. He also won the first heat with Perry Beckler of Tiffin winning the second heat.

Paid attendance was 5,234.

Results –

Novice –

Heat #1 – Arlo Becker, Atkins
Heat #2 – Perry Beckler, Tiffin
Feature –
1. Arlo Becker
2. Perry Beckler
3. Walt McCoy, Cedar Rapids
4. Ted Young, Atkins
5. Ted Wanerus, Marion

Late Model –

Heat #1 – Curt Hansen, Dike
Heat #2 – Larry Schulte, Cedar Rapids
Heat #3 – Glen Martin, Independence
Consolation – Arlo Becker
Feature –
1. Red Droste, Waterloo
2. Ed Sanger, Waterloo
3. Roger Dolan, Lisbon
4. John Connolly, Delhi
5. Glen Martin
6. Karl Sanger, Waterloo
7. Gale Card, Waterloo
8. Roger Kruse, Independence
9. John Schlemmer, Cedar Rapids
10.Walt Carney, West Branch

Thursday, July 22, 2021

1977 – Watson repeats as Missouri State champion

Dave Watson won the 100-lap Missouri State Championship at Fairgrounds Speedway in Springfield. - Dennis Slane Photo

Springfield, Mo. (July 22, 1977) – Dave Watson of Milton, Wis., successfully defended his title as the Missouri State Champion, winning the 100-lap feature at Fairgrounds Speedway.

The largest capacity crowd ever at the speedway watched 24 of the best short track drivers in the Midwest go “bumper-to-bumper” with the winner taking home a large sum.

The top eight qualifiers in time trials inverted for the feature giving Watson the pole position. He would shoot out to the lead followed closely by Rusty Wallace of St. Louis and Joe Shear of Beloit, Ill.

By lap 28 Shear had moved past Wallace and snugly on Watson’s bumper with 18-year-old Mark Martin of Batesville, Ark., a tight third. On lap 54 Martin got by Shear for second and passed Watson for the top spot three laps later. Watson would tail Martin for the next 29 circuits patiently waiting to make his move.

A yellow flag would wave on lap 83 slowing the pace of the field. As the field made their “one-to-go” lap, Martin’s car lost fire on the backstretch and was pushed to the infield by his crewmen, putting Watson in the number one slot.

On the restart Watson was challenged by David Goldsberry of Bolivar, Mo., but Watson would manage to keep Goldsberry at a car length’s margin for the remaining 16 circuits.

Rusty Wallace would hang on for third while Fred Tiede of Marionville, Mo., grabbed fourth. John Foster of Odessa, Tex., would round out the top five.

Results –

1. Dave Watson, Milton, Wis.
2. David Goldsberry, Bolivar, Mo.
3. Rusty Wallace, St. Louis
4. Fred Tiede, Marionville, Mo.
5. John Foster, Odessa, Tex.
6. Wayne Woody, Marionville, Mo.
7. Steve Lutkie, Wichita, Kan.
8. Bobbie Menzie, Springfield, Mo.
9. Ken Essary, Galena, Mo.
10. Larry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

1984 – First ARTGO Victory for Holzhausen at Dells

Steve Holzhausen scored his first career ARTGO late model victory in the "Escape to Wisconsin 100" at Dells Motor Speedway. - Don Thies Photo

by Stan Kalwasinski 

Wisconsin Dells, Wis. (July 21, 1984) – Using his home track to the fullest, Steve Holzhausen captured the ASA-ARTGO Challenge Series second annual ‘Escape to Wisconsin 100’ at Dells Motor Speedway on Saturday night. The ninth event on the ASA-ARTGO Challenge Series late model circuit saw the 27-year-old Bangor, Wis., resident wheel his 1984 Thunderbird to his first-ever ARTGO victory.

A 10-year veteran of racing, Holzhausen, the 1980 Dells champion, moved into the lead on the 25th lap after starting seventh in the 24-car field.

Having a half-lap margin at the checkered flag, Holzhausen finished ahead of Tom Reffner, Jim Sauter, series leader Dick Trickle, and Steve Burgess.

Joe Shear moved his Firebird into the lead at the start of the 100-lapper. Shear, who started on the outside of the front row, paced the opening round with Jim Weber and Mel Whalen giving chase.

Moving quickly to the front, Holzhausen moved into third on lap 13 and second by lap 19. Using the outside groove Holzhausen set his sights on Shear. Taking the high side, Holzhausen moved past Shear as the pair raced into turns one and two on lap 25.

With Holzhausen in command, Reffner moved in to challenge only to see the new leader pull away to his first ARTGO Flag. Holzhausen began a comfortable margin, holding a quarter-lap lead at the halfway mark.

With no yellow flags to slow his progress, Holzhausen stretched his lead using the outside groove to build the margin to a half-lap at the finish.

Results –

1. Steve Holzhausen, Bangor, Wis.
2. Tom Reffner, Rudolph, Wis.
3. Jim Sauter, Necedah, Wis.
4. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
5. Steve Burgess, Eau Claire, Wis.
6. Al Schill, Franklin, Wis.
7. Jim Weber, Roseville, Minn.
8. Jim Back, Vesper, Wis.
9. Rick Wateski, La Crosse, Wis.
10. Tony Strupp, West Bend, Wis.
11. Mel Whalen, Shakopee, Minn.
12. Scott Hansen, Green Bay, Wis.
13. Ken Lund, Madison, Wis.
14. Bob Dotter, Chicago, Ill.
15. Don Leach, Beloit, Ill.
16. Dick Stang, Prior Lake, Minn.
17. Don Turner, La Crosse, Wis.
18.Tracy Schuler, Lockport, Ill.
19. Robbie Reiser, Allenton, Wis.
20. Joe Shear, South Beloit, Ill.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

1963 – Weld’s Go 1-2 Before 9,000 at Knoxville

Newly crowned champion Greg Weld is interviewed in victory lane by track announcer Doc Lemon. 

Knoxville, Iowa (July 20, 1963) – Two Kansas City, Mo., brothers finished one – two in the oft-interrupted National Super Modified Championships on Saturday evening.

Greg Weld, a 21-year-old Kansas City junior college student, captured the 25-lap race and his 25-year-old brother, Jerry, finished right behind him.

Weld, the second fastest qualifier on Friday night, took the lead on the opening lap and kept a few hundred yards ahead of his closest pursuers before an estimated 9,000 race fans at the Marion County Fairgrounds.

The feature was delayed several minutes just as it was about to start when a spectator was seriously injured as the cars sped towards the start/finish line.

It was halted twice more by spinouts on lap 4 and 6and then interrupted again on lap 14 when a track official thought he had detected a car blocking a turn. That was a false alarm.

Jerry Weld moved ahead of fast qualifier Dick Fries of San Diego, Calif., with four laps to go. Fries settled for third place with Gordon Woolley of Waco, Tex., taking fourth and Wib Spalding of Granite City, Ill., rounding out the top five.

The injured spectator was identified as 20-year-old Danny Adams of Topeka, Kan. He was reported to have suffered a compound fracture of the right leg and facial burns caused when a live wire struck him.

Adams was standing beside a light pole near the fourth turn when a car driven by Shorty Burkholder of Goff, Kan., glanced off another vehicle and veered to the left, striking the youngster and pinning him against the pole. The accident also put Burkholder out of the race.

Jud Larson of Kansas City spun out on lap 4 and two other drivers hit the fence on lap 6.

Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., who qualified two cars for the main event, didn’t get to drive any.

He chose his Blue #33 for a heat race and when the engine blew up, he was out of action. Racing director Marion Robinson ruled that he could not race his Red #33 in the main event.

Results –

Heat #1 – Carl Williams, Kansas City
Heat #2 – Hobe Nowell, Logansport, Ind.
Heat #3 – Gordon Woolley, Waco, Tex.
Heat #4 – Greg Weld, Kansas City
Heat #5 – Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa
Consolation – Roy Robbins, Louisville, Ky.
Semi-main – Bud McCune, Brookfield, Mo.
Feature –
1. Greg Weld
2. Jerry Weld, Kansas City
3. Dick Fries, San Diego, Calif.
4. Gordon Woolley
5. Wib Spalding, Granite City, Ill.
6. Russ Hibbard, Marshall, Mo.
7. Carl Williams
8. Tom York, South Bend, Ind.
9. Ed VanderLaan, Grand Rapids, Mich.
10.Audie Schwartz, Muncie, Ind.

Monday, July 19, 2021

1959 – Bettenhausen Wheels Ford to Victory

Tony Bettenhausen proudly holds his trophy after winning the 150-miler at Milwaukee.

West Allis, Wis. (July 19, 1959) — Tony Bettenhausen of Tinley Park, Ill., took the lead on the first lap and never gave it -up as he drove his 1958 Ford to an easy victory in a 150-mile late model stock car race Sunday.

In winning his first stock car race here since 1955, Bettenhausen - the national big car champion last year – collected $3,560. He was clocked in 1 hour, 47 minutes and 1.62 seconds, or 84.8 miles an hour.

A crowd of 21,555 saw the race, slowed when 19 laps were run under the caution flag. There were four minor wrecks but no injuries.

Bettenhausen finished 15 seconds ahead of runner-up Nelson Stacy of Cincinnati who won $2,397. Stacy drove a 1957 Chevrolet while third-place Darel Dieringer of Indianapolis wheeled a 1958 Ford.

Racine's Norm Nelson made a good showing for 41 miles, when he encountered engine trouble. He pulled out after 94 miles. The only other Wisconsin driver — Al Shear of Beloit — blew his engine after 25 miles.

Results –

1. Tony Bettenhausen
2. Nelson Stacy
3. Darel Dieringer
4. Don White
5. Red Duvall
6. Bob James
7. Elmer Musgrave
8. Gordon Gorman
9. Jimmy Bryan
10.Bill Cheesbourg
11.John Dodd Jr.
12.Sal Tovella
13.Jack Bowsher
14.Bill Shoulders
15.Bill Lutz
16.Don Oldenberg
17.Cliff Rowland
18.Bob Schultz
19.Ralph Baker
20.Mike Klapak

Tony Bettenhausen takes the checkered flag at Milwaukee. - Pete Fileca Collection

Sunday, July 18, 2021

1972 – Waterloo Stocker Cops Midwest Open in CR

Bill Zwanziger

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (July 18, 1972) – Hard charging Bill Zwanziger of Waterloo, Iowa withstood transmission problems and a pair of late restarts in the final 17 laps to capture the ADS Midwest Open late model stock car championship at Hawkeye Downs on Tuesday night.

It’s doubtful that any of the 4,500 on hand were aware that the veteran Waterloo pilot was having any difficulty with his 1971 Chevy, judging by the comfy quarter lap margin he had over second place Ed Sanger at the finish line.

Zwanziger, the mid-season champion at the Downs, flew around the half-mile dirt on his way to victory lane. When it was over, tough, the winner breathed a sigh of relief.

“I had a little problem with the transmission. It kept jumping out of gear,” he disclosed. “It happened about six or seven times. The linkage must be off.”

The problem, according to Bill, made him run all that harder. Mainly out f fear of being caught. The restarts, the last one with 13 laps left, increased that fear because the rest of the pack was allowed to sneak up on his bumper.

“I was afraid I'd really be in trouble if I lost the gear with someone right on me. So, when we did restart, I tried to get as far out in front as fast as I could.”

The victory was worth $980, including $700 to win and $280 in lap money ($10 per lap).

Zwanziger, who started inside in the second row in the 22-car finale, was the race's third and final leader. He grabbed the front spot on the 23rd tour when Verlin Eaker of Cedar Rapids bowed out with a broken A-frame on his 1972 Chevy. Eaker, a USAC veteran, had led from the second lap after Mike Niffenegger of Kalona had set the pace.

Ed Sanger and John Moss of Iowa City were practically inseparable for the final 13 laps Moss several times pulled wheel to wheel with Sanger on the straight away but Sanger had the groove and pulled him out of the corners.

Then, on the final lap coming out of turn four, they came upon lapped cars. Sanger ran into one, veered to the right in his 1979 Chevy and knocked Moss's 1970 Plymouth into the wall, only 150 yards from the finish line. Sanger was home free and pocketed $525. Moss was relegated to ninth and $125, while Fred Horn of Marion moved into third and claimed $350.

Moss, whose sponsor, Advanced Drainage Systems, co-sponsored the Midwest Open with Super Stocks, Inc. was fuming long after the race.

"I saw the traffic and figured I would have to settle for third place," he said. "What I can't figure out is why Sanger hit the lapped car."

Sanger explained, “I was set up to go by the lapped car (Bob Bonser) on the outside. But he pulled out to go around another lapped car and I hit him. That pushed my car outside and I hit Moss."

Moss had started 10th and Sanger 11th.

Starting 15th, Irv Janey took his 1970 Plymouth to fourth place finish, good for $225. Horn, who piloted his 1970 Plymouth to victory in the Iowa 300 last week, really moved through the field. He started in the 20th position.

Results –

1. Bill Zwanziger, Waterloo
2. Ed Sanger, Waterloo
3. Fred Horn, Marion
4. Irv Janey, Cedar Rapids
5. Joe Merryfield, Des Moines
6. Duane Steffe, East Moline, Ill.
7. Karl Sanger, Waterloo
8. John Connolly, Delhi
9. John Moss, Iowa City
10.Bill Martin, Omaha

Saturday, July 17, 2021

1977 – Trickle shades Shear to win WIR Special

Dick Trickle

by Gary Vercauteren

Kaukauna, Wis. (July 17, 1977) – Dick Trickle and Joe shear battled all afternoon in a fierce battle which left tire marks on the left side of Trickle’s 1977 Pontiac Firebird with Trickle winning the 55-lap feature at Wisconsin International Raceway before a crowd of 4,312.

Trickle beat Shear to the checkered flag in the second race of the Red, White and Blue State Championship Series by less than a car-length. It was the Wisconsin Rapids driver’s third straight win in Sunday afternoon special events at WIR this summer and his 38th victory overall of the season.

Shear qualified at a near-record 20.51 second lap in his Fred Nielsen-owned 1974 Camaro only to have Trickle take to the half-mile paved oval only a few moments later to qualify at 20.41 seconds, snapping shear’s 20.46 record established in May.

Slinger’s Tony Strupp took the lead in the feature in his 1973 Camaro and held on until the seventh round when Fred Bender of Sun Prairie shot past in his 1977 Camaro.

Bender led the event until lap 10 when hear motored past using the outer groove on the front stretch. Bender and Shear, a South Beloit, Ill., native, raced wheel-to-wheel for several laps before Shear eventually pulled away.

Shear built up a 12-car-length margin as Trickle and Larry Schuler of Lockport, Ill., moved through the 21-car field.

Trickle moved into third position on lap 15 and maneuvered into second on the 19th round.

The yellow flag came out on lap 21 when Freedom’s Bob Abitz spun in the first turn after oil dropped from another car onto the track.

When the green flag waved, Trickle immediately put himself of Shear’s rear bumper. The two veteran drivers raced nose-to-tail until lap 32 when Trickle powered past Shear on the backstretch.

As Trickle went past, the two speeding racers touched together briefly as Shear’s right front tire creased the side of Trickle’s white car, leaving black tire marks on the tail section.

The yellow flag reappeared on lap 34 when the engine in Bender’s car exploded on the back stretch in a ball of fire. Bender managed to wheel the car around the third and fourth turns into the pit area where the fire was quickly doused. Bender was uninjured.

The remainder of the race was a tight battle to the checkered as Shear attempted to regain the lead. Trickle skillfully held back Shear’s passing attempts to win by less than a car length.

“I saw Joe in front of me at times and behind me later,” Trickle said after the race. “I was just a little faster today.”

Schuler, winner of three Thursday night features at the track, placed third n his 1976 Camaro. Tom Reffner of Rudolph, driving a 1974 AMC Javelin, took fourth and Wausau’s Larry Detjens, in a 1974 Camaro, rounded out the top five.

Results –

1. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids
2. Joe Shear, South Beloit, Ill.
3. Larry Schuler, Lockport, Ill.
4. Tom Reffner, Rudolph
5. Larry Detjens, Wausau
6. Jim Pierson, Janesville
7. Tony Strupp, Slinger
8. Jerry Eckhardt, Watertown
9. Dennis Pasch, Marshfield
10.Bob Abitz, Freedom

Friday, July 16, 2021

1983 – Helfrich, Wallace score at I-70

Tom Helfrich

Odessa, Mo. (July 16, 1983) – Tom Helfrich of Haubstadt, Ind., posted his first National Dirt Racing Association (NDRA) late model victory in more than two years Saturday night as he won the Stroh’s/Dodge National 100 at I-70 National Speedway.

Helfrich took the lead on lap 76 from Rodney Combs of Lost Creek, W.Va., when Combs’ car developed trouble and was never headed the rest of the way. Helfrich, 32, dueled with Kevin Gundaker of Batesville, Ark., until lap 95 when Gundaker’s car slowed rapidly and held on to take the $20,000 first prize in the three-day event that paid out $100,000 in prize money.

Combs was forced to qualify for the 100-lap feature through the consolation race – the first time he’s ever run a consolation in NDRA history. Larry Phillips of Springfield, Mo., led at the start but was quickly overtaken by Freddie Smith of Kings Mountain, N.C. On lap 48, Larry Moore took over for three circuits until the 51st lap stop for fuel…and nearly all cars changed rear tires because of the track’s abrasiveness.

On the restart, Moore again led, but quickly faded, leaving Smith again out front. Smith then faded and Combs took over the lead, having come from the 12th row. Comb led until Helfrich took over on lap 76.

Morning Sun, Iowa’s Johnny Johnson ran a steady race and moved consistently to finish second behind Helfrich in the 100-lap finale. Kenny Brightbill of Sinking Spring, Penn., was third followed by Gundaker in fourth, while fifth went to Bill Martin of Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The final night of action on the high-banked, half-mile dirt oval drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 8,000.

Kansas City’s “Super Joe” Wallace borrowed his son’s car to win the Lunati Cams’ sportsman world championship. The win was worth $3,000 to the 41-year-old veteran. Wallace spent much of the off-season building the car for his son Brian – spending $1,000 on the car – and he turned it into a winner in the 50-lap, $12,000 race.

Wallace started on the 12th row, but sped quickly to the front, taking the lead on lap 15. Wallace then beat Todd Stueber of Fairmont, Minn., by five seconds. Polesitter Mel Sorenson of Omaha, Neb., finished third followed by Greg Larson of Plattsmouth, Neb., and Ken Farrell of New Hampton, Iowa.

Results –

Late Model –

1. Tom Helfrich
2. Johnny Johnson
3. Kenny Brightbill
4. Kevin Gundaker
5. Bill Martin
6. Mike Duvall
7. Willy Kraft
8. Doug Ingalls
9. Freddie Smith
10.Bobby Goulden III
11.Buck Simmons
12.Gary Stuhler
13.Mike Crabtree
14.Rodney Combs
15.Bob Shryock
16.Jerry Inmon
17.Larry Moore
18.John Mason
19.Jeff Purvis
20.Larry Phillips
21.Billy Moyer Jr.
22.Don Hoffman
23.Joe Kosiski
24.Tom Hearst

Sportsman –

1. Joe Wallace
2. Todd Stueber
3. Mel Sorenson
4. Greg Larson
5. Ken Farrell
6. Ken Kovar
7. Steve Bush
8. Donnie Shelton
9. A.R. Wilkinson
10.Claude Thomas

1961 - Sachs Wins Milwaukee 200-Miler

Eddie Sachs is interviewed in victory lane after winning the USAC stock car 200-miler. 

West Allis, Wis. (July 16, 1961) - It didn't take veteran driver Eddie Sachs, Coopersburg, Penn., long to get the knack of driving new model stock cars.

Sachs, driving in only his second stock car race, won the national championship 200-mile event at State Fair Park here Sunday, for his first Milwaukee victory.

The 1961 Indianapolis 500 runner-up took the lead on the 119th lap and led the rest of the way in his 1961 Ford: His teammate, Dick Rathmann, Roselle, Ill., finished second, also with a 1961 Ford.

Sachs averaged 87.37 miles an hour in winning $4,533 as his share of a $23,210 purse.

Norm Nelson, Racine, Wis., defending national stock car champion, finished third and was followed to the finish by Elmer Musgrave, Niles, Ill., and Whitey Gerken, Chicago. Nelson and Musgrave drove 1961 Fords and Gerken a 1961 Chevrolet.

Rodger Ward of Indianapolis, winner of the 1959 Indianapolis 500, narrowly escaped serious injury on the 55th lap of the race when the drive shaft of another car dropped to the pavement and bounced through the windshield of Ward's car. It landed just a foot away from the driver. Ward left the race five laps later after going into a spin.

Minor accidents and rain cut down the winners’ time with 35 of the 200 laps run at reduced speeds under the caution flag.

Results –

1. Eddie Sachs
2. Dick Rathmann
3. Norm Nelson
4. Elmer Musgrave
5. Whitey Gerken
6. Bill Cheesbourg
7. Gil Michaels
8. Bill Lutz
9. Sal Tovella
10.Herb Shannon
11.Ted Hane
12.Eddie Meyer
13.Don Oldenberg
14.Gordon Gorman
15.Dave Lundman
16.Ray Berry
17.Buzz McCann
18.Roy Atkinson
19.Whitey Johnson
20.Rich Clement

Thursday, July 15, 2021

1978 - Ferkel Captures 2nd Sprint Nationals Title

Rick Ferkel 

Sedalia, Mo. (July 15, 1978) - 1977 was a disappointing season for sprint car driver Rick Ferkel.

Throughout his 12-year racing career, the Findlay, Ohio, native had managed more feature victories each season — until 1977. Last year he slipped to 25 victories after chalking up 30 in 1976.

“So many strange, goofy things happened,” Ferkel said Saturday night. “Flat tires and just silly things like that would take us out of races.”

A year ago, in a Wednesday night race in Franklin, Penn., Ferkel lost one feature because of an official’s error and another when a front hub broke while Ferkel was leading. “The whole wheel just came off and landed over in a pond. We never did find the thing.”

Two nights later he was in Sedalia for the 1977 Missouri Sprint Nationals and twice, with straightaway leads, mechanical difficulties took him out of the race.

But 1978 has been another story. Wednesday night he won a 50-lap feature at Franklin, Penn., and Saturday night captured the 30-lap A main at the Missouri Sprint Nationals, along with the $3,000 first prize.

That made 23 feature wins for the season. His $3,225 total winnings gave him the overall title as Missouri Sprint Nationals Champion.

Ferkel became the first two-time winner of the four-year-old event, having won in 1976 also.

Ferkel took the lead on the 23rd lap in the main event and held on to beat second place finisher Charlie Swartz of Andersonville, Tenn., and third place finisher Bobby Allen of Hanover, Penn.

Last year’s winner, Doug Wolfgang, was bitten by mechanical troubles Saturday night, going out on the 21st lap with a blown engine.

Wolfgang, of Lincoln, Neb., came back Sunday afternoon to battle Sammy Swindell in the A feature. Swindell, who led from the start, held off a late Wolfgang challenge to win the $1,000 first prize. He was third overall with $1,450 in winnings.

Swartz, driving the Loretta Lynn Special finished second overall with $2,150. He earned $2,000 for his second-place finish Saturday night.

Other winners Saturday were:

Trophy Dash — Jimmy Boyd, Dixon, Calif.; D Feature - Rick Weld, Kansas City; C Feature – Rick Montgomery, Denver, Colo., B Feature — Doug Stambaugh, Hanover, Penn.

Winners Sunday were: Trophy Dash — Rick Ferkel; D Feature — Jerry Johnson, Kirksville, Mo.; C Feature — Rick Unger, Belpre, Ohio; B Feature — Rick Montgomery.

There was just one serious accident in the two days of racing, although several drivers had trouble with the hard, slick track during time trials Sunday afternoon.

In Sunday’s A feature, Bobby Layne went into the first turn too hard on the 27th lap and flipped his racer, eventually landing right side up.

Layne, of Kansas City, was taken to Bothwell Hospital and treated in the emergency room for a fractured collarbone and possible concussion He was transferred to a hospital in Kansas City for further treatment.

Results –

Saturday Night - 

1. Rick Ferkel
2. Charlie Swartz
3. Bobby Allen
4. Steve Kinser
5. Bobby Layne
6. Gene Gennetten
7. Butch Bahr
8. Randy Ford
9. Ken Schrader
10.Sammy Swindell
11.Jimmy Sills
12.Doug Stambaugh
13.Dave Dwyer
14.Dub May
15.Lee Osborne

Sunday Afternoon -  

1. Sammy Swindell
2. Doug Wolfgang
3. Bobby Marshall
4. Steve Kinser
5. Gene Gennetten
6. Bobby Allen
7. Jimmy Boyd
8. Lee Osborne
9. Larry Miller
10.Rodger Wright
11.Rick Ferkel
12.Rick Montgomery
13.Ken Schrader
14.Randy Ford
15.Bobby Layne

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

1968 – Gerber Wins at Start, Finish

Jim Gerber receives the checkers from starter Skip Chick after winning at East Moline. 

East Moline, Ill. (July 14, 1968) – It wasn’t his choice to make, so Jim Gerber graciously accepted the pole position and led from start to finish last night to win the 50-lap midseason championship stock car race at Quad City Raceway.

Gerber was second in point standings prior to the Sunday night show. The point leader, Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley, elected to start outside in the front row, hoping to beat Gerber into the first turn. He didn’t quite make it.

The start of the race was perfect as Gerber, from Mt. Joy, and Weedon hit the line wheel-to-wheel. They ran that way through the first and second turns and down the backstretch.

Then, going through the third and fourth turns, Gerber, running under Weedon, nosed ahead as Weedon slipped out of his groove momentarily. They ran that way the rest of the way for the remainder of the feature.

Don Dane of Peoria, Ill., Dean Montgomery of Milan, Ill., and Don Bitner of Peoria, Ill., were heat winners.

Terry Ryan of Davenport also led from wire to wire in winning the 30-lap midseason novice title

Results –

1. Jim Gerber, Long Grove, Iowa
2. Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley, Iowa
3. Don Bitner, Peoria, Ill.
4. Shorty Bennett, Moline, Ill.
5. Dean Montgomery, Milan, Ill.
6. Ray Guss, Milan, Ill.
7. Bob Stogdell, Rock Island, Ill
8. Mike Bardoel, Moline, Ill.
9. Denny Anton, East Moline, Ill.
10.Harold Melvin, Moline, Ill.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

1982 – Watson captures Rockford ARTGO go

Dave Watson in victory lane after winning the ARTGO All-Star 100.

Loves Park, Ill. (July 13, 1982) – Returning to the site of previous triumphs, Dave Watson of Milton, Wis., captured ARTGO Racing’s fifth annual All-Star 100 at the Rockford Speedway Tuesday night.

A former Rockford champion and winner of the speedway’s National Short Track Championship, Watson wheeled his 1982 Firebird to the win, which was Watson’s first in ARTGO competition since 1976, when he won the ARTGO championship. With his victory, Watson became the ninth different winner in 15 events to score a feature win in ARTGO action this season.

Watson was chased across the finish line by Joe Shear of Beloit, Wis., who pressured during the last half of the race and finished only a couple of car length behind the winner at the checkered flag.

The leading duo ran off and hid from the rest of the field during the last 50 circuits and finished better than half a lap ahead of third-place finisher Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

A field of 20 started the 100-lapper on the quarter-mile, high-banked paved oval with Rich Bickle of Edgerton, Wis., and his 1982 Firebird charging into first-place at the drop the green. Bickle, who started on the outside of the front row, began to build a strong margin as the rest of the field sorted itself out.

Lap 12 saw Bickle’s commanding lead disappear with the event’s first caution involving a wreck between Mark Martin of Batesville, Ark., and Jim Sauter of Necedah, Wis. Bickle would continue to lead when green flag racing resumed with Watson, Trickle and Shear breathing down his neck.

Watson, looking for one little mistake, found it on lap 41, slipping into the lead as the pair raced through turns one and two. A total of 42 lap were in the books when the yellow light flashed again for debris on the track.

When the green light returned, Watson continued to pace the event with a now second-place running Joe Shear right behind.

A master of the Rockford oval with six titles under his belt, Shear tried to slip underneath Watson as the pair exited the corners with Watson holding off stiff challenges. Watson’s ride to victory almost collapsed on lap 57 as he got crossed up with a slower car coming off of turn four.

Coming back from his early race accident, Mark Martin battled back up through the pack. Restarting at the tail end of the field, Martin tried hard to move towards the front with his now not so perfect handling ride. Cutting quick times lap after lap, Watson and Shear would eventually put Martin a lap down on the 78th circuit. He would finish seventh, one lap down.

Results –

1. Dave Watson, Milton, Wis.
2. Joe Shear, Beloit, Wis.
3. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
4. Tom Jones, Northbrook, Ill.
5. Tom Reffner, Rudolph, Wis.
6. Al Schill, Franklin, Wis.
7. Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark.
8. Wayne Lensing, Rockford
9. Rich Bickle Jr., Edgerton, Wis.
10.Ken Lund, Madison, Wis.
11.Dave Weltmeyer, Harvey, Ill.
12.John Luther, Rockford
13.Jay Sauter, Necedah, Wis.
14.Bobby Hacker, Rockford
15.Terry Ciano, Janesville, Wis.
16.Ron Bloomberg, Hampshire, Ill.
17.Tracy Schuler, Lockport, Ill.
18.Don Leach, Beloit, Wis.
19.Ricky Bilderback, Rockton, Ill.
20.Jim Sauter, Necedah, Wis.

1971 - Morgan Cops State Race Title

Eau Claire, Wis. (July 13, 1971) - Rice Lake’s Dave Morgan has claimed the Wisconsin Dirt Track Stock Car Racing Championship.

The popular driver did it Tuesday night at Eau Claire Speedway with Miss Wisconsin one of the estimated 3,000 witnesses.

Morgan won out in a 40-lap duel with Tom Nesbitt, driver from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada as Harold Mueller, the local favorite, experienced car problems and finished far back in the pack.

Red Steffen was the top local finisher, finishing fourth just behind Rochester’s Paul Fitzpatrick, while Tom Steuding, Altoona, came in fifth.

Steuding’s finish was amazing in that he negotiated the last 20 circuits with the hood of his car up and blinding his view. Steffen also experienced hood issues in the final laps.

Morgan started on the pole, saw Nesbitt starting behind him, lead briefly during the first lap, and then shot ahead and held the top spot the rest of the way.

Morgan, however, driving a 1957 Chevrolet Corvette, couldn't open any kind of comfortable lead in his bitter struggle with Nesbitt, who was right on his tail right to the finish.

Steuding, the track’s season point leader, was running a close third when his hood popped up. Fitzpatrick and Steffen took advantage of the opportunity to move ahead but Steuding hung tough with some courageous driving to take fifth.

Morgan pocketed $600 first-place money while Nesbitt took home $400. Fitzpatrick claimed $350, Steffen $300 and Steuding $250.

Twenty-one cars lined up in the feature according to their finish in heats and consolation.

One of the early dropouts was Phil Prusak, Eau Claire, who was running third when his engine failed on lap 6.

Mueller, one of the state’s big winners this year, started the main event in the seventh row but it was apparent from the start that engine problems would prevent him from making a challenge.

Mueller was lapped by the leader on the 25th lap and wound up just out of the money in 11th place.

Mueller won the late model feature here last month and was fresh from last Friday’s big late model invitational victory at Superior.

In winning the feature, Morgan captured the Russ Laursen Memorial trophy, presented in memory of the Cumberland driver who lost his life in a racing mishap last year.

Moran and Nesbitt received a victory kiss from Patricia Ann Jacobs, Miss Wisconsin, a Stevens Point State graduate student from Wauwatosa.

Tuesday’s crowd of 3,000 plus watched the action in beautiful weather.

Results –

1. Dave Morgan, Rice Lake
2. Tom Nesbitt, Thunder Bay, Ontario
3. Paul Fitzpatrick, Rochester, Minn.
4. Red Steffen, Eau Claire
5. Tom Steuding, Altoona
6. John Foegen, Winona, Minn.
7. Bob Jusola, Minneapolis
8. Loyal Skuza, St. Cloud, Minn.
9. Ken Campeau, New Richmond
10.Ronny Goss, Eau Claire

Monday, July 12, 2021

1965 - Norm Nelson Wins 200-Miler at Milwaukee

Norm Nelson accepts his trophy after winning the USAC 200-mile late model stock car race at the Milwaukee Mile. 

West Allis, Wis. (July 12, 1965) – Norm Nelson of Racine forged to the front in the final lap and picked up $5,053 in winning Sunday's 200-mile late model stock car race at State Fair Park in a 1965 Plymouth before a crowd of 27,944.

Nelson won by two seconds over teammate Jim Hurtubise of North Tonawanda, N.Y., also piloting a ‘65 Plymouth, on the one-mile asphalt track. Hurtubise, who had led most of the way collected $3,522.

Nelson averaged 90.25 miles per hour as the caution flag was raised eight times for a total of 35 miles because of minor accidents. No one was injured.

The starting field of 37 was the largest in a United States Auto Club race this season. The total purse was $26,250 plus accessories money.

A. J. Foyt of Houston, Tex., was third in a 1965 Ford and was followed across the finish line by three '65 Dodges. They were driven by Bobby Isaacs, Catawba, N.C.: Davis Pearson, Spartanburg, S.C., and Herb Shannon, Peoria, Ill., respectively.

Announcement of the winner drew mixed cheers and boos from the crowd. Nelson, leading the USAC circuit, said, “I’ve never had this many boos for winning but I'm very glad that Plymouth finished one-two.”

Hurtubise, who suffered severe burns in a big car race on the same track last year, said, “I had tire trouble at first and then my brakes went out on the 190th lap.”

Parnelli Jones of Torrance, Calif., seeking his eighth straight victory in late model stock car racing at State Fair Park, did not finish. His Mercury was disabled in a collision in the 20th lap.

Results –

1. Norm Nelson
2. Jim Hurtubise
3. A.J. Foyt
4. Bobby Issacs
5. David Pearson
6. Herb Shannon
7. Don White
8. Billy Foster
9. J.C. Klotz
10.Roger Regeth
11.Gary Bettenhausen
12.Elmer Musgrave
13.Eddie Meyer
14.Whitey Gerken
15.Paul Goldsmith
16.Ted Hane
17.Ed Kozbiel
18.Bobby Wawak
19.Rob Chauncey
20.Bob Christie

1959 – International ‘300’ to Dake

A tired, dusty Darrel Dake receives the coveted trophy from IMCA secretary John Libby after winning the Iowa International 300.

Des Moines, Iowa (July 12, 1959) – Grabbing the lead just past the halfway mark, Darrel Dake of Cedar Rapids, Iowa captured the 300-lap, 150-mile Iowa International stock car race in record time before more than 13,000 race fans at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

The 31-year-old diesel mechanic made only one brief pit stop for his 1957 Chevrolet convertible powered by a 283-cubic horsepower Corvette motor, which wheeled him across the finish line in 2 hours, 43 minutes and 59.28 seconds.

Despite 19 yellow flags, that reduced the speed of drivers to allow stewards a chance to clear the track of wreckage, Dake’s time was 12 minutes faster than the 1957 mark established by Keokuk, Iowa’s Don White.

Taking second place behind the $1,000 winner was Lenny Funk, the Otis, Kan., wheat farmer and Saturday’s time trial leader in a 1959 Plymouth Fury. He finished a full lap behind Dake.

Third place went to a second Iowan, Keokuk’s 27-year-old Dick Hutcherson, in a 1957 Pontiac. Another Keokuk driver, Ramo Stott, was squeezed out of fourth place by Bob Potter of Duluth, Minn.

A third Keokuk racing luminary, Erne Derr, pulled up from 24th to sixth position in the first 100 laps. But he was forced out of action on the 124th lap when a rock punctured his oil pan. The International Motor Contest Association circuit’s number one driver was sent to the sidelines with a burnt-out motor.

A half hour after the finish the first three cars were ordered impounded for a teardown inspection by IMCA secretary John Libby of St. Paul, Minn., who said it was a “routine check”.

Dake started in the eighth position and kept that position through the first hour while Omaha’s Bob Kosiskie and Funk battled each other for the first 49 laps.

Kosiskie, driving a 1959 Thunderbird, dropped back to second going through lap 15, then stayed on Funk’s tail-pipe past the 125-lap mark. An overheated motor forced the Nebraskan to the pit for water and Merton Williams of Rochester, Minn., took over the second spot.

On the 141st lap, Bill Harrison of Topeka, Kan., running third at the time, lost a wheel. Dake then slipped past Williams and finally caught Funk on the 154th lap.

Bob Hardy of Beaumont, Tex., hit the wall on the 155th lap and both Dake and Funk took advantage of the slowdown or a brief refueling stop.

Dake, however, got out of the pits ahead of Funk and remained in front the rest of the afternoon, clocking an average of 29 seconds per lap in the late stages.

Only 21 of the 33 starters were still running at the finish.

Results –

1. Darrel Dake, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
2. Lenny Funk, Otis, Kan.
3. Dick Hutcherson, Keokuk, Iowa
4. Bob Potter, Duluth, Minn.
5. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
6. Tubby Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
7. Shorty Eberts, Avondale, Mo.
8. Art Brady, Peoria, Ill.
9. Scott Cain, Santa Monica, Calif.
10. Herb Shannon, Peoria, Ill.
11. Sonny Morgan, Beaumont, Tex.
12. Frank Richards, Marion, Iowa
13. Newt Bartholomew, Carlisle, Iowa
14. Bob Kosiskie, Omaha, Neb.
15. Roland Wilson, Bedford, Iowa
16. Ralph Wilhelm, Milwaukee, Wis.
17. Bill Land, Keokuk, Iowa
18. Pete Van Oudenhoven, Appleton, Wis.
19. Mel Krueger, Massena, Iowa
20. Phil Cronin, Houston, Tex.
21. Wayne Lee, Burlington, Iowa

Sunday, July 11, 2021

1971 – Bettenhausen Edges Dickson at Salem

Gary Bettenhausen is joined by car owner Willie Davis.

Salem, Ind. (July 11, 1971) – Despite wrecks, rain and an ill-handling race car, Gary Bettenhausen of Tinley Park, Ill., eked out a car-length victory over Larry Dickson of Marietta, Ohio, in Sunday’s United States Auto Club sprint car race at Greater Salem Speedway.

Bettenhausen had to wait through a two-hour rain delay before picking up his third straight victory on the half-mile high-banked track.

The late-afternoon thunderstorm left most of the crowd of 4,219 huddled under the roof of the grandstand awaiting the last 31 of the scheduled 40 laps in the feature.

But it was Sam Sessions of Nashville, Mich., who appeared destined for a runaway victory, who actually brought the racing to a halt.

Sessions, who leads the national point standings, had a straightaway advantage on Bettenhausen after nine circuits when he attempted to pass Leigh Bradshaw of Morgantown, Penn., when their cars tangled going into the first turn. Sessions flipped over the outside wall in the melee.

The race was stopped, and Sessions was taken to a local hospital where he was examined and released.

When the race was halted, Bettenhausen was running second with Larry Dickson in third and Rollie Beale in fourth. The rain began as Sessions was being loaded into the ambulance.

Bettenhausen was none too confident of holding the lead when the race was finally restarted. The power steering in his car, the only Ford-powered machine in a race full of Chevy’s, had failed two laps before Sessions’ wreck.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to lead it 10 laps after the restart,” Bettenhausen said later. “It steered so hard I couldn’t believe it. I ran in the middle of the track, so I had plenty of room to slip and slide.”

But he did lead the final 31 laps, and Dickson, who himself was closely pressed by Beale, could only muster one challenge. That came when pulled alongside Bettenhausen going through the second turn of the last lap.

“Beale was putting the pressure on me, so I had to try something,” Dickson remarked. I thought I had him (Bettenhausen), but he was running good.”

Bettenhausen picked up $1,205 from the $6,500 purse. Dickson collected $995 and Beale $775.

Results –

1. Gary Bettenhausen, Tinley Park, Ill.
2. Larry Dickson, Marietta, Ohio
3. Rollie Beale, Toledo, Ohio
4. Charlie Masters, Waddy, Ky.
5. Tom Bigelow, Whitewater, Wis.
6. Greg Weld, Kanas City, Mo.
7. Darl Harrison, Tiffin, Ohio
8. Bob Pratt, Union City, Ind.
9. Lennie Waldo, Cincinnati, Ohio
10.Joe Saldana, Lincoln, Neb.

1954 – Iowa Driver Tools Olds to Win

Don White

Sioux Falls, S.D. (July 11, 1954) – Don White, the International Motor Contest Association’s late model stock car point leader, added impressively to his total on Sunday afternoon by streaking to victory in the 150-lap feature at the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds.

The young Keokuk, Iowa pilot, who wheels a 1954 Oldsmobile, took the lead on the first lap of the feature event and led the entire 75 miles before a packed grandstand of race fans watching the first auto races on the “new” Sioux Empire racetrack.

White was never pushed hard throughout, and the race was comparatively uneventful although the field of 20 cars was probably as good a field of stock cars as ever been run there.

Despite the intense heat, White and second-place finisher Ernie Derr both toured the distance without making a single pit stop. Derr, a Fort Madison, Iowa, chauffeur, who is White’s brother-in-law, made it a clean sweep for the Oldsmobile’s as he finished second in his ’54 Olds, a half a lap behind.

Herschel Buchanan, the drawling, laid back 48-year-old veteran who practically homesteaded the “old” Sioux Empire track and had won five of seven stock car grind here until this afternoon, failed to stake a claim on the “new” oval and finished third.

Buchanan, a Shreveport, La., driver, made his first appearance in 1954 Hudson Hornet after being a devotee of Nash for many seasons. Tire trouble plagued the two-time former IMCA national champion. He blew a right rear tire on the 117th lap while riding in third and temporarily lost his position to Tubby Harrison of Topeka, Kan., who drove a 1954 Dodge.

But Buchanan was back in after a brief pit stop and regained third. Harrison finished fourth and Bob Potter of Duluth, Minn., driving a spanking new ’54 Olds in it’s first race, finished fifth.

“Wild” Bill Harrison of Topeka, Kan., winner of the 90-minute marathon here last year, was forced out of the race on the 33rd lap with an overheated engine.

White, the diminutive driver, set a blistering pace, and with his windshield wipers going full blast, sailed through the dust to an unusually fast time of 1 hour, 23 minutes and 23.75 seconds. The time was announced as a new IMCA record.

Derr had the fastest time in qualifying, turning the half-mile in oval in 31.97 seconds although several cars were turning laps much faster than that in the feature.

Results –

1. Don White, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
3. Herschel Buchanan, Shreveport, La.
4. Toby Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
5. Bob Potter, Duluth, Minn.
6. Gene Brown, Fort Worth, Tex.
7. Doc Narber, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
8. Bob Timmons, Shreveport, La.
9. Art Schmidt, Somerset, Wis.
10.Tilman Huset, Brandon, S.D.
11.Mike Gleeman, St. Paul, Minn.
12.Bill Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
13.Joe Volseh, Sioux Falls, S.D.
14.Marvin Faw, Sioux Falls, S.D.