West Salem, Wis. (October 6, 1974) – Jerry “Bear” Makara of Canada won two 50-lap feature races on Sunday afternoon and the Oktoberfest overall title in late model stock car races at the La Crosse Interstate Speedway.Makara’s payoff, plus money for his 37 leading laps in the championship race, came to over $1,000. The NASCAR Canadian point champion from Ancaster, Ont., won both his races by less than three laps over track veteran Jim Back of Vesper.
Makara changed rear tires between races which helped in the championship race, he said. Makara took the lead on the 13th lap of the championship battle as he went to the outside on the back straight to overhaul early leader Dave Watson.
Makara increased his lead to nearly a quarter-lap by the 37th circuit before a spinout by one of the middle-of-the-pack drivers brought out the yellow caution flag and bunched up the field, leaving Back in good position on Makara’s rear bumper.
But Back was unable to catch the speedy 1973 Camaro, which won by two car lengths. Marv Marzofka of Nekoosa, last year’s Oktoberfest winner, finished third, less than a length behind Back. Johnny Reimer was fourth followed by Rich Somers.
In an earlier 50-lapper, Makara took over first place from Jim Sauter on the 17th lap and built a healthy lead before Back came on strong in the late stages to finish just three car lengths away. Marzofka was third in that one also. Sauter was fourth and Watson fifth.
“I was taking it easy for about the last 20 laps,” said Makara, who was hoping his tires would last the race. “I didn't see Back coming up on me until about the last lap.”
The first 50-lap feature was won by Joe Shear of South Beloit, Ill., another former Oktoberfest champ. Shear, the day's fast timer, took the lead on the 12th lap from Johnny Reimer, who finished second. Rich Somers placed third with Bill Oas fourth.
The 30-lap semi-feature was won by Johnny Knaus of Rockford, Ill., who took command on the 21st circuit, passing Tony Strupp of Slinger. Larry Behrens of Northfield, Minn., placed second with Strupp third. The top local finisher was Don Grant of La Crescent, sixth.
Buck Linhart of Wonewoc won the 20-lap consolation race after taking the lead on lap 11. Steve Holzhausen of West Salem came in third.
Nearly 2,900 fans braved the cold, windy weather to watch the season’s final race, which had 70 entries.
1. Jerry Makara, Ancaster, Ont.
2. Jim Back, Vesper
3. Marv Marzofka, Nekoosa
4. Johnny Reimer, Caledonia
5. Rich Somers, Stevens Point
6. Mike Miller, Wisconsin Rapids
7. Joe Shear, South Beloit, Ill.
8. Neil Callahan, Merrill
9. Mark Lamoreaux, Minneapolis
10.Jim Sauter, Necedah
11.John Knaus, Rockford, Ill.
12.Bob Abitz, Appleton
13.Joe Ruttman, Westland, Mich.
14.Don Leach, Beloit
15.Bob Jusola, Centuria
16.Bill Oas, Minneapolis
17.Jim Pierson, Lake Mills
18.Fred Bender, Sun Prairie
19.Pete Mahlum, Onalaska
20.Gary Hemmerling, Beloit
21.Bruce Sparrman, Excelsior
22.Dave Watson, Milton
23.Jon Chrest, Hamel, Minn.