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.
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
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