Des Moines, Iowa (August 23, 1969) – Jan Opperman was easy to spot in the pit area at the Iowa State Fair’s grand championship sprint car races Saturday afternoon.The charging International Motor Contest Association driver wore a three-foot-tall Mexican sombrero.
On the track he was equally distinguishable. This time it was his foot rather than his head that caught everyone’s attention as the 29-year-old driver set fast time and then lead-footed his Speedway Motors Chevy to feature laurels.
The Lincoln, Neb., racer piloted his car around the half-mile at a 23.63 second clip to barely miss Jud Larson’s record of 23.55 seconds set with knob tires in 1956.
In the 30-lap feature, Opperman charged from his sixth starting position at the drop of the green flag. By lap 3, Opperman was all by himself out front, having slipped under Dick Sutcliffe of Greenwood, Mo.
Sutcliffe finished second with Ralph Parkinson of Wichita Falls, Tex., third in the 18-car feature.
Buzz Rose of Lomita, Calif., piloting the Burger King Special, protected his pole position in the consolation run and took the checkered flag by a comfortable margin.
Heat winners were Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., Sutcliffe and John Stevenson of Elmo, Minn.
Time trials – Jan Opperman, Lincoln, Neb. (23.63)
Heat #1 – Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
Heat #2 – Dick Sutcliffe, Greenwood, Mo.
Heat #3 - John Stevenson, Elmo, Minn.
Consolation – Buzz Rose, Lomita, Calif.
1. Jan Opperman
2. Dick Sutcliffe
3. Ralph Parkinson, Wichita Falls, Tex.
4. Lloyd Beckman, Lincoln, Neb.
5. Chuck Lynch, Springfield, Ill.
6. Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
7. Buzz Rose
8. Dave Ross, Jetmore, Kan.
9. Joe Saldana, Lincoln, Neb.
12.Tom Custer, Rock Island, Ill.
13.Johnny Babb, Ottumwa
14.Ron Perkins, Wood River, Ill.
15.Ron Jackson, Burlington
16.Roy Cary, Booneville, Mo.