Saturday, April 30, 2022

1967 - Daniel’s fortune, Wente’s misfortune at Winchester

Jerry "Scratch" Daniels

Winchester, Ind. (April 30, 1967) - Dame Fortune cast a dirty frown at Bob Wente on the 29th lap of the feature race at the high-banked Winchester oval, Sunday.

Wente started on the pole position and at the drop of the green flag charged into the lead. He masterfully drove his high-powered sprinter through traffic and had the race all sewed up until his gearbox failed just one lap from victory.

Jerry “Scratch” Daniels, St. Paul, Minn., inherited the lead from Wente and went on to capture the 30-lap feature.

The action was fast and furious when the practice session began shortly after noon. Ralph Liguori, veteran USAC driver, spun going into the first turn causing Harold Smith, Dayton, Ohio, to lock-up his #51 Smith Chevy. They both kissed the outer retaining wall inflicting minor damage to both racers. Neither driver was injured in the slight mishap.

Qualifications were well off the current track record of 17.18 seconds, held by Gordon Johncock. The best time of the day was turned in by Karl Busson, Toledo, Ohio, of 17.80 seconds. Busson, driving the #94 Cedoz Chevy, was making his first appearance on the Winchester oval.

In the first 8-lap heat race, Bob Wente, St. Louis, Mo., showed Karl Busson, the fastest qualifier, and Bruce Walkup, Downey, Calif., the short way around the high-banked oval as they finished second and third, respectively.

Scratch Daniels, feature winner, also captured the second 8-lapper. He started on the outside of the first row and was never headed. Finishing second behind Daniels was Sam Sessions and third went to Mickey Shaw. Bud Randall caused the yellow caution flag to fly when he looped his sprinter going into the backstretch.

Butch Wilkerson, driving the #93 Iddings Special, won the accident-marred third heat. Bud Randall got into trouble again spun and flipped upside down. The unlucky driver wasn’t seriously injured, thanks to the good ol’ roll bar.

Aside from a few broken teeth and a sore tongue, Randall was okay.

Rollie Beale, winner of the Eldora opener, captured the semi-feature over hard charging Al Smith and newcomer Duke Cook.

Fourteen cars lined up for the feature race behind Bob Wente, driving the #16 Dunseth Chevy, and Karl Busson, in the #95 Cedoz Chevy. After five laps, Wente had a comfortable four second lead over Busson. While Wente was threading his way through traffic, Sammy Sessions decided he didn’t want to finish in 7th, in the exact same spot.

While Sessions and Walkup were battling for third, Scratch Daniels was giving Busson fits. Daniels was constantly pressing Busson for second. With about four laps to go, Busson’s Chevy blew, causing his racer to spin against the wall.

Daniels now had second position. The Minnesota speedster was too far behind Wente to catch up, so he settled himself for second place. However, Lady Luck stepped into the picture. She frowned at Bob Wente, causing his gearbox to let go, and smiled at Scratch Daniels (again), giving him the lead and the win.

Results –

1. Jerry Daniels
2. Bruce Walkup
3. Sam Sessions
4. Mickey Shaw
5. Al Smith
6. Rollie Beale
7. Chuck Engel
8. Larry Dickson
9. Dee Jones
10.Jerry Poland

Friday, April 29, 2022

1962 – Nelson First at Raceway Park

Norm Nelson pits during the running of the 200-lap USAC stock car race at IRP. He would go on to win the event. 

Clermont, Ind. (April 29, 1962) – Norm Nelson of Racine, Wis., maintained his grasp on first place in the national stock car standings by winning a 200-lap event at Indianapolis Raceway Park on Sunday.

A crowd of more than 8,000 fans watched Nelson roar into the lead on lap 194 and stay ahead to pick up the $1,090 winner’s share.

Nelson shot into first place when race leader Len Sutton of Portland, Ore., blew a tire on his 1961 Pontiac. Earlier, Paul Goldsmith of St. Clair Shores, Mich., had been forced out of the race by mechanical troubles after leading the first 141 circuits.

Goldsmith qualified for the pole position at 80.07 miles per hour, a new track record.

Another accident sidelined A.J. Foyt of Houston, Tex., the 1961 Indianapolis 500 winner. Foyt was riding in second place when his 1961 Pontiac blew a tire a crashed against the outside wall. Foyt was not hurt.

Don White of Keokuk, Iowa, finished second and Sutton concluded his tire repair in time to place third. Rodger Ward of Indianapolis was fourth and Nelson’s teammate, Milt Curcio, also of Racine, rounded out the top five.

Results –

1. Norm Nelson
2. Don White
3. Len Sutton
4. Rodger Ward
5. Milt Curcio
6. Whitey Johnson
7. Dick Rathmann
8. Paul Goldsmith
9. Bob Slensby
10.Gene Marmor
11.Herb Shannon
12.Elmer Musgrave
13.Eddie Meyer
14.Whitey Traeder
15.Neil Houston
16.A.J. Foyt
17.Bill Cheesbourg
18.Dave Lundman
19.Eddie Sachs
20.Dick Passwater
21.Skeeter Wyman
22.Bill Shoulders
23.Roy Atkinson
24.John Rostek
25.Whitey Gerken
26.Roger Shears
27.Ray Berry
28.Ted Rosenski
29.Jim Locke

Thursday, April 28, 2022

1973 – Dosher Battles for Topeka Win

Thad Dosher 

Topeka, Kan. (April 28, 1973) – Bill Utz’s misfortune turned out to be Thad Dosher’s big break Saturday night in the sprint car opener at the Mid America Fairgrounds, and the Topeka, Kan., driver made the most of it to claim the 30-lap feature and the $500 top prize that went with it.

Dosher and Utz were battling for second place midway through the contest, while Dick Sutcliffe of Greenwood, Mo., the pole starter, was making off with the contest in relatively easy fashion.

On the 17th lap, Darryl Dawley of Sioux Falls, S.D., spun in turn four. Utz didn’t see him in time to dodge, clipping the front of Dawley’ car, causing hi own to roll, taking him out of action.

On the restart, Dosher inherited second place and the new ball game ate up all of Sutcliffe’s lead.

Dosher tried to pass on the first lap of the restart, but Sutcliffe held him off and then built up a nice little lead through the next two circuits.

But on the 20th lap Dosher closed the gap. The two went down the backstretch on the 21st lap side-by-side. Dosher was on the outside and rode the rim of the track through the turns and got his R&H Farms Special ahead coming down the homestretch.

After that, the battle was for third, with Ray Lee Goodwin of Kansas City losing it, then regaining it from Don Mack of East Grand Forks, N.D.

Gene Gennetten of Gladstone, Mo., rounded out the top five.

Dosher started eighth in the 20-car field and quickly move to third after only nine laps to set up the struggle with Utz, of Sedalia, Mo., which ended in disaster for the Missourian.

Dosher and Sutcliffe each won a heat race and demonstrated in those short tests that their machines were the class of the 55-car field which broke all records at the half-mile track for entries.

Results –

Trophy dash – Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
Heat #1 – Dave Skari, Grand Forks, N.D.
Heat #2 – Bill Robison, Topeka
Heat #3 – Thad Dosher, Topeka
Heat #4 – Dick Sutcliffe, Greenwood, Mo.
B-feature – Stan Borofsky, Kansas City
Feature –
1. Thad Dosher
2. Dick Sutcliffe
3. Ray Lee Goodwin, Kansas City
4. Don Mack, East Grand Forks, N.D.
5. Gene Gennetten, Gladstone, Mo.
6. Stan Borofsky
7. Eddie Leavitt, Kearney, Mo.
8. Roger Larson, Solomon, Kan.
9. Dave Skari
10.Dean Ward, Lincoln, Neb.
11.Lloyd Beckman, Lincoln, Neb.
12.Larry Kirkpatrick, Wood River, Ill.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

1968 – Dolan Wheels to Surprise Des Moines Win

Des Moines, Iowa (April 27, 1968) – Ernie Derr of Keokuk, Iowa, and his 1967 Dodge Charger tried to use his bag of tricks at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Saturday night, but found Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, and his 1962 Ford convertible a little too tough to trick.

Dolan piloted his pink convertible to the checkered flag in the 25-lap late model feature as well as the first heat in the first night of weekly racing at the half-mile, co-promoted by Homer Melton and Johnny Beauchamp.

Dolan, in only his second year of late model racing, drew the pole position and led from start to finish.

Derr started in seventh but the 1967 IMCA national champion quickly moved into third place behind Dean Montgomery and his 1967 Chevelle.

But then, from nowhere, came Buzz McCann, the 15-year veteran from Minneapolis, Minn., who slipped by Derr for third.

Derr would regain third on lap 20, then move past Montgomery for second on lap 22. He tried to use his bag of tricks on Dolan, his lone rival for first place. Dolan would exhibit a beautiful defensive role, even as Derr continuously bumped on Dolan’s fender for the remaining few laps. Dolan would remain cool as a cucumber and hold on for the win as Derr would have to settle for second.

Fred Horn of Marion, Iowa, the 24-year-old rookie in late model racing, thrilled the 5,500 race fans in attendance. Driving Ramo Stott’s 1967 Plymouth “Hemi”, Horn put on a driving clinic holding off Derr in the 15-lap semi-feature.

Dick Gustin of Des Moines, driving a 1955 Chevrolet, took top honors in the sportsman feature, leading all 15 circuits in taking the win over Jack Piper of Mason City, Iowa, and Dan Patton of New Sharon, Iowa.

Results –

Heat #1 – Roger Dolan, Lisbon, Iowa
Heat #2 – Buzz McCann, Minneapolis, Minn.
Semi-main – Fred Horn, Marion, Iowa
Feature –
1. Roger Dolan
2. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
3. Dean Montgomery, Milan, Ill.
4. Buzz McCann
5. Ray Guss, Milan, Ill.
6. Tom Hughes, Monticello, Iowa
7. John Connolly, Delhi, Iowa
8. Bill McDonough, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
9. Verlin Eaker, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
10.Fred Horn, Marion, Iowa

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

1968 – Late Surge Decides Season Opener

John Connolly drove Chuck Thompson's Ford to victory in the season opener at Davenport. - Jim Wilmore Collection

Davenport, Iowa (April 26, 1968) – John Connolly, Delhi, moved in front of the field with two laps remaining and won the late model feature race going away in the season opener at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds on Friday night.

Mert Williams, Rochester, Minn., appeared to have the feature wrapped up but with a little over two laps remaining, he went to the pit area with engine problems. Connolly moved up from his second position to inherit the top spot and gain the victory.

Drivers were pushing their machines extremely hard for the opening night of the season and thus, many cars were knocked out of contention for various mechanical issues.

After winning his heat race, Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley was unable to complete the remainder of the feature due to mechanical problems. Red Droste of Waterloo was also hampered with engine problems.

Don Bohlander of Peoria and Williams were the early front-runners in the feature, but Connolly came on strong in the late stages of the 25-lapper.

Results –

Heat #1 – Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley
Heat #2 – Verlin Eaker, Cedar Rapids
Heat #3 – Tom Hughes, Monticello
Semi-main – Rich Miller, Davenport
Feature –
1. John Connolly, Delhi
2. Verlin Eaker
3. Don Bohlander, Peoria, Ill.
4. Tom Hughes
5. Jerry Reinhart, Moline, Ill.
6. Bill McDonough, Cedar Rapids
7. Dean Montgomery, Milan, Ill.

Monday, April 25, 2022

1970 – Mississippi Valley Speed Club Opens New Season

Mark Mosier

Columbus Junction, Iowa (April 25, 1970) – Mark Mosier of Washington, Iowa, battled Pokey West of West Chester, Iowa, here Saturday night for first place in the feature event. As the checkered flag came out, Mosier crossed the finish line with West on his back bumper.

A crowd of about 3,600 race fans were on hand to see the Mississippi Valley Speed Club open the season and the old weatherman was on our side with beautiful weather.

In time trials, John Moss of Iowa City turned the one-half mile oval in 28.25 seconds. Mosier had the second fastest time at 28.78 seconds and West was third quickest at 28.85.

The trophy dash gave fans a good idea of what was to come as West and Mosier battled for the lead in the 5-lap event. Mosier took the lead on lap 4 only to lose it to West coming out of the fourth and final turn.

Moss won the first heat and Mosier took the checkered flag for the second heat. Bob Helm of Rochester, Iowa, won the third heat and Gary Thomas of Washington came through in the fourth and final heat race.

Mel Morris of West Liberty, Iowa, the defending MVSC champion of 1969, won the 12-lap semi-main.

Ken Boyse of Wellman, Iowa, a new driver this year, had a little trouble in the second heat race as he was coming out of turn two and rolled his car. He was not injured but his car was scratched for the rest of the evening.

Results –

Time Trials – John Moss, Iowa City (28.25)
Trophy Dash – Pokey West, West Chester, Iowa
First Heat – John Moss
Second Heat – Mark Mosier, Washington, Iowa
Third Heat – Bob Helm, Rochester, Iowa
Fourth Heat – Gary Thomas, Washington, Iowa
Semi-Main – Mel Morris, West Liberty, Iowa
Feature –
1. Mark Mosier
2. Pokey West
3. Bud Darting, Wilton Junction, Iowa
4. Rom Hemsted, Lone Tree, Iowa
5. Joe Schillinger, Hampton, Ill.
6. Jerry Onnen, Wilton Junction, Iowa
7. Wahlee Brown, Rock Island, Ill.
8. Ron Perdock, Washington, Iowa
9. Mike Brooks, Hartford, Iowa
10. Don Morgan, Muscatine, Iowa

Saturday, April 23, 2022

1978 – Leavitt Posts Wire-to-Wire Win at Reading

Eddie Leavitt is joined by USAC official Don Peabody after winning the 40-lapper at Reading.

Reading, Penn. (April 22, 1978) – Eddie Leavitt of Kearney, Mo., scored his first United States Auto Club sprint car win of the season at the Reading Fairgrounds Saturday night. Leavitt also won the second heat but was denied the clean sweep when Chuck Gurney posted fast time in qualifying with a lap of 23.57 seconds.

Leavitt, last year’s sprint division rookie-of-the-year, started the feature on the pole position and led all 40 circuits around the half-mile dirt oval to pick up the win.

Ron Shuman, Dick Tobias, Gurney, and Rich Leavell followed Leavitt to the finish line and round out the top-five in the non-stop event.

The victory was the second USAC feature win in Leavitt’’ career. His previous victory came in a 50-lapper at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, on October 9, 1977.

Tom Bigelow, Junior Parkinson and Duane “Pancho” Carter joined Leavitt in picking up heat wins while Shuman took the semi-feature.

Results –

1. Eddie Leavitt
2. Ron Shuman
3. Dick Tobias
4. Chuck Gurney
5. Rich Leavell
6. Junior Parkinson
7. Tom Bigelow
8. Joe Saldana
9. Dana Carter
10.Bobby Olivero

Friday, April 22, 2022

1972 – Iowan snares MASCAR victory

Ernie Derr

Oklahoma City, Okla. (April 22, 1972) – Veteran stock car driver Ernie Derr of Keokuk, Iowa, captured the first half of the MASCAR-sanctioned Admiral Twin-100’s at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds on Saturday.

Derr, who seemed content following race leader Larry Phillips of Springfield, Mo., through some 80 laps of the feature event, began to make his move with repeated challenges during the next five circuits before taking advantage of a Phillips’ mistake for the lead on the 85th lap.

Phillips, who looked unbeatable during the early and mid-stages of the race, made a slight bobble in the third turn of lap 85 and by the time he recovered Derr, the 12-time IMCA national stock car champion, had taken a half-lap lead. Derr relinquished little real estate after that en route to the win.

Phillips was impressive in his fourth heat win, speeding away from both Chuck Arnold of Jackson, Miss., and the ever-present Derr. Eddie Potts of Joplin, Mo., was the first heat winner while a couple of Muskogee drivers, Joe Hull and Bill Sanders, won the second and third heats, respectively.

Derr and Phillips had little to no pressure from the rest of the field in the 100-lapper. Chuck Arnold finished a distant third followed by Oklahoma City’s Freddy Stowe. Johnny Bowman of Seven Gables, Mo., rounded out the top five.

Results –

1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Larry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
3. Chuck Arnold, Jackson, Miss.
4. Freddy Stowe, Oklahoma City
5. Johnny Bowman, Seven Gables, Mo.
6. Terry Brumley, Springfield, Mo.
7. Joe Hull, Muskogee
8. James Kelley, Springfield, Mo.
9. Jerry Minor, Fort Worth, Tex.
10.Ron Pattison, Tulsa
11.John Devener, Fort Worth, Tex.
12.Vern Mondry, Lake Elmo, Minn.
13.Les Zeigler, Oklahoma City
14.Larry Ball, Springfield, Mo.
15.Dean Roper, Fair Grove, Mo.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

1974 – Carter has Victory in Winchester Sprints

Duane "Pancho" Carter won the USAC sprint car race at the high banks of Winchester. - Jim Morrison Photo

Winchester, Ind. (April 21, 1974) – Duane “Pancho” Carter of Huntington Beach, Calif., won the first United States Auto Club sprint car feature of the year on asphalt Sunday afternoon.

A brief rain shower, timing light problems, and three uneventful accidents slowed the program down somewhat, but the crowd of nearly 5,000 waited it out in fine fashion.

Carter, who started fifth, had chased the fast-moving Tom Bigelow of Whitewater, Wis., from the 14th lap and finally moved under him coming off the final turn on the 37th circuit.

Carter’s win moved him into second place behind point leader Jan Opperman, who finished 12th in his first -ever appearance at Winchester. The victory netted the popular driver $1,250 out of a total purse of $8,449.

Bigelow just missed breaking the one-lap qualifying record held by Lee Kunzman at 16.23 seconds, with an official clocking of 16.30 seconds. However, on Tom’s second trip around the high-banked half-mile, the clock malfunctioned and missed his fastest time.

Several watches clocked him at 16.19 seconds, which would have been a new track record.

Roger Holman, president of Winchester Speedway, gave Bigelow a $100 bill and his sincerest regrets that Tom was unable to be the official world’s half-mile record holder. Holman announced he would give $500 to the driver who breaks the record and will give $1,000 to the first driver to break the 16-second barrier.

Bigelow did, however, set a new 8-lap mark with a time of 2 minutes and 15.98 seconds, eclipsing the old mark held by Larry Dickson since 1969.

Bill Engelhart also set a new track record in the consolation, breaking Bigelow’s old 10-lap mark in 2 minutes and 43.64 seconds.

All eyes, however, were on the USAC point leader, Opperman, who had his introduction to asphalt and the high banks, all in one day.

He backed not the feature when two other cars scratched from the field. When cars dropped out through the race, he found himself finishing in 12th. Most observers agreed that “Opp” would need more seat time on pavement.

Results –

1. Pancho Carter
2. Tom Bigelow
3. Sam Sessions
4. Joe Saldana
5. Don Nordhorn
6. Bill Engelhart
7. George Snider
8. Bill Puterbaugh
9. Gordy Lee
10.Greg Leffler
11.John Toth
12.Jan Opperman

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

1974 - Niffenegger tops West Liberty opener

Mike Niffenegger of Kalona, Iowa (left) is shown here with car owner Chuck Smith, also of Kalona, prior to Niffenegger winning the season opener at West Liberty Raceway.

West Liberty, Iowa (April 20, 1974) – The rains held off until the finish Saturday night and so did Mike Niffenegger’s Camaro, as he waited until the white flag waved, then passed leader Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, to capture the late model season opener at the Muscatine County Fairgrounds.

The program was under the supervision of Super Stocks, Inc., with Dale Gegner at the helm.

The capacity crowd witnessed a lot of action throughout the evening, but the thrill of the night was Niffenegger on the bumper of Weedon for 19 circuits in the feature event, then when the white flag was dropped by starter Engel DeKock, Niffenegger knew it was now or never, and took to the inside of Weedon and led the remainder of the way to capture the checkers.

Weedon and Niffenegger also had the top two times in qualifying, with Weedon setting fast time on the half-mile oval at 25.23 seconds. Niffenegger’s time was 25.30 seconds with Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids third quickest at 25.39 seconds.

Bill Hopp of Muscatine took home honors in the first heat while Niffenegger won the second heat. Bill McCardle, coming all the way from Shullsburg, Wis., took home the victory in the third heat.

The Australian Pursuit saw John Connolly of Delhi grab the victory while Ken Walton of Cedar Rapids was tops in the semi-main.

The street stocks saw Dave Birkhofer of Muscatine take the win over Don Sterba of Iowa City and Willie Dee of West Liberty.

Results –

Time trials – Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley (25.23)
Heat #1 – Bill Hopp, Muscatine
Heat #2 – Mike Niffenegger, Kalona
Heat #3 – Bill McCardle, Shullsburg, Wis.
Australian Pursuit – John Connolly, Delhi
Semi-main – Ken Walton, Cedar Rapids
Feature –
1. Mike Niffenegger
2. Ron Weedon
3. Darrell Dake, Cedar Rapids
4. John Connolly
5. Ken Walton
6. Ron Prymek, Iowa City
7. Leon Plank, Eau Claire, Wis.
8. Perry Beckler, Tiffin
9. Duane Steffe, Moline, Ill.
10.Tom Hearst, Wilton

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

1975 – Hansen Fears Flat, Then Wins Opener

Curt Hansen 

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (April 19, 1974) – Curt Hansen was more concerned about finishing the race, let alone winning the late model stock car feature at Hawkeye Downs on Friday night.

At least that’s the way the 29-year-old chauffeur from Dike felt at the midway point of the 25-lapper on the half-mile dirt.

“Right then I thought I had a flat tire and would have to drop out the race,” Hansen explained. “It turned out it wasn’t a flat, but it may have been a loose spring or a broken shock.”

Hansen had his 1974 Laguna in third place at that point and had been pushing leader John Connolly of Delhi and Bob Kosiski of Omaha, who was in second place.

Four laps later, on lap 16, Hansen went to work.

First, he slipped by Kosiski on the high side, coming out of turn four. He stayed in that groove and almost alongside Connolly going into the first turn of lap 17. He was then able to pull ahead of Connolly and his 1973 Nova coming out of turn two.

After that move, it was easy sailing for Hansen and his brand-new machine.

“The frame on the card felt like it was sliding, but that baby was working good anyway and I found out I could work well on the high side of the track.”

“Kosiski as hard to pass because he was running both grooves. Once I got by him, I didn’t have much trouble with Connolly because he was racing down low.”

Hansen, who won only one feature at the Downs in 1973, and finished fifth in the point standings, was amazed at the condition of the track.

“I’ve never seen a track any better on opening night,” he remarked. “It was smooth as glass. Someone did a lot of work on it.”

The triumph was worth $550 to Hansen, who has appeared to be on the cusp of greatness that last couple of years.

Connolly settled for second while Darrel Dake of Cedar Rapids finished third. Dake was also fastest in qualifying, with a time of 25.14 seconds.

Kosiski finished fourth, followed by Verlin Eaker of Cedar Rapids. Ed Sanger of Waterloo, last year’s point champion, finished seventh.

Despite the chilly weather, a crowd of 3,542 was far and away the best crowd for a season opener in nine years.

“I think the fans were anxious for the racing season to start,” said promoter Dale Gegner. “It was great turnout, and the fans definitely got their money’s worth.”

Results –

Time trials – Darrel Dake, Cedar Rapids (25.14)
Heat #1 – John Connolly, Delhi
Heat #2 – Red Dralle, Evansdale
Heat #3 – Art Nesteby, Dubuque
Semi-main – Karl Sanger, Waterloo
Feature –
1. Curt Hansen, Dike
2. John Connolly
3. Darrel Dake
4. Bob Kosiski, Omaha, Neb.
5. Verlin Eaker, Cedar Rapids
6. Red Dralle
7. Ed Sanger, Waterloo
8. Al Mayner, Winthrop
9. Mike Niffenegger, Kalona
10.Cal Swanson, Reinbeck

Monday, April 18, 2022

1970 – Stott Unstoppable at Tri-County

Ramo Stott celebrates in victory lane after winning the ARCA 100-lapper at West Chester.

West Chester, Ohio (April 18, 1970) – Ramo Stott, driving a new 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner, walked away with the 100-lap Auto Race Club of America (ARCA) feature and four other events at Tri-County Speedway Saturday.

Stott, of Keokuk, Iowa, turned the 50 miles on the half-mile dirt in 38 minutes and 8 seconds, winning by 20 car lengths. He took the lead on lap 13 and never relinquished the top spot.

He was also the fastest qualifier, won the fast dash, the first heat and the Australian pursuit all of the events that he competed in. He expressed doubt about how he would race before the event because he was driving the car for the first time.

Iggy Katona of Willis, Mich., driving a 1969 Dodge, finished second and was followed by Bobby Watson of Louisville, Ky., in a 1969 Dodge. Andy Hampton, also of Louisville, finished fourth in a 1970 Dodge.

Results –

1. Ramo Stott
2. Iggy Katona
3. Bobby Watson
4. Andy Hampton
5. Ron Grana
6. Bill Kimmel
7. Paul Wensink
8. Wayne Trinkle
9. Bill Clemons
10.Jerry Norris

Saturday, April 16, 2022

1961 – White Cops First in Staley Memorial

South Carolina's Rex White (left) won the 250-mile Gwyn Staley Memorial. 

Wilkesboro, N.C. (April 16, 1961) – Rex White escaped the mechanical trouble that plagued many other drivers and won Sunday’s 250-mile Gwyn Staley Memorial stock car race at North Wilkesboro Speedway with ease.

The Spartanburg, S.C., veteran won by over three laps after challengers Junior Johnson, Fred Lorenzen, and Curtis Turner were forced out because of car troubles.

His average speed, slowed by four caution flags, was 83.249 miles per hour.

Johnson led until the 61st lap until Lorenzen took over and stayed out front until he dropped out on lap 126. White then led until lap 241 when Turner powered ahead. But Turner called it quits with mechanical issues on lap 296, White took over again, and no one could catch him. White drove a 1961 Chevrolet, Johnson a 1961 Pontiac, and Lorenzen and Turner piloting 1961 Fords.

White, who earned $2,455 with the victory, eased off the last 100 laps because of slick tires and negotiated the 5/8-mile track in 3 hours and 11 seconds.

Tommy Irwin, also of Spartanburg, S.C., finished second in a 1960 Chevrolet and won $1,150. Richard Petty of Randleman, N.C., driving a 1961 Plymouth was third, and Glenn “Fireball” Roberts of Daytona Beach, Fla., was fourth behind the wheel of 1960 Pontiac.

Johnny Allen of Atlanta, Ga., was deprived of second place money when a tire on his 1961 Chevrolet blew on lap 387 and he smashed into the guardrail, demolishing the car’s rear end. He was credited with fifth place.

Results –

1. Rex White, Spartanburg, S.C.
2. Tommy Irwin, Spartanburg. S.C.
3. Richard Petty, Randleman, N.C.
4. Glenn Roberts, Daytona Beach, Fla.
5. Johnny Allen, Atlanta, Ga.
6. Emanuel Zervakis, Richmond, Va.
7. Buddy Baker, Charlotte, N.C.
8. Fred Harb, High Point, N.C.
9. Herman Beam, Johnson City, Tenn.
10.Reb Wickersham, Long Boat Key, Fla.

Friday, April 15, 2022

1983 - Swindell tops 'Outlaws' field at Lakeside

Sammy Swindell

Kansas City, Kan. (April 15, 1983) – Sammy Swindell of Bartlett, Tenn., became the first repeat winner of the World of Outlaws National Challenge Series Friday night at Lakeside Speedway.

Swindell bounced the Raymond Beadle/Old Milwaukee #1 sprinter over the rutted half-mile oval in a real “rib-cage rattler” of a win over Keith Kauffman o Mifflintown, Penn., who was expertly driving the Stanton #75.

Due to the track conditions of the first and second turns, the feature was shortened to 20 of the scheduled 25 laps. World of Outlaws officials made the decision after five cars became airborne in the first and second turns during preliminary action.

Swindell’s win came from advancing from an outside second row starting spot. The two-time World of Outlaws’ champion gained the lead on lap 9 from early pacesetter Doug Wolfgang. Wolfgang went on to finish third in the event ahead of current National Challenge Series point leader Steve Kinser.

Jeff Swindell crossed the finish line fifth, but the lead-footed lad had jumped a position on a restart and was penalized tow spots. Jac Haudenschild and Bobby Allen were awarded fifth and sixth respectively, while the younger Swindell reluctantly settled for seventh.

Brad Doty broke the World of Outlaws jinx, that being the fast qualifier crashing. Doty established fast time in qualifying, touring the half-mile in 18.62 seconds for the evening. Although he didn’t crash, Doty didn’t stop his car to avoid one of the turn one melees and was restarted at the rear of the tail.

Results –

1. Sammy Swindell
2. Keith Kauffman
3. Doug Wolfgang
4. Steve Kinser
5. Jac Haudenschild
6. Bobby Allen
7. Jeff Swindell
8. T.J. Giddings
9. Rick Hood
10.Brad Doty
11.Tim Gee
12.Rick Ferkel
13.Cliff Woodward
14.Danny Lasoski
15.Danny Smith
16.Jerry Richert
17.Tod Bishop
18.Shane Carson
19.Randy Smith
20.Junior Parkinson
21.Ron Shuman
22.Jack Hewitt

Thursday, April 14, 2022

1968 - Dick Sutcliffe captures Topeka Opener

Dick Sutcliffe

Topeka, Kan. (April 14, 1968) – A chilly April evening didn’t cool the spirits of the racing fans as the 1968 race season opened at the MId-America Fairgrounds under the promotion of Jerry Weld.

The fairgrounds came to life with drivers from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. They put on one of the best racing programs in Topeka in years.

Dick Sutcliffe of Greenwood, Mo., driving the Gary Hanna #29, grabbed the 25-lap feature win. Thad Dosher of Topeka, the 1967 Knoxville Nationals champion, took second, driving Jack Cunningham’s #14. Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., in the Hitchcock #82 Chevy out of Des Moines, nabbed third place.

Blundy won the B-feature while Kenny Weld, formerly of Kansas City, now out of Pennsylvania, won the trophy dash.

All in all, it was a great first night for Jerry Weld in his first effort as the promoter of the half-mile track.

Sutcliffe ripped off a time of 24.59 seconds in time trials to earn the eighth starting position under the new rule which inverts the fastest eight cars for the feature.

The husky veteran won his heat race, proving it is possible to move from eighth to first in a hurry.

Blundy was unable to get his machine functioning for time trials and had to settle for starting in the rear of the field for both his heat and B-feature.

In the B-feature he started tenth to first in five laps and won going away. In the main event, he got up to sixth in seven laps and was in third by lap 12. However, his momentum stopped there, as he was unable to get by Dosher and Sutcliffe.

Results –

Time trials – Dick Sutcliffe (24.59)
Heat #1 – Ralph Blackett
Heat #2 – Grady Wade
Heat #3 – Dick Sutcliffe
B-main – Jerry Blundy
Trophy dash – Kenny Weld
Feature –
1. Dick Sutcliffe
2. Thad Dosher
3. Jerry Blundy
4. Grady Wade
5. J.L. Cooper
6. Kenny Weld
7. Bob Williams
8. Bud Marsh
9. Roy Hibbard
10.Jon Backlund

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

1969 – Derr Takes Big Money in the Mud

Ernie Derr is congratulated by Verna Winkley, president of International Auto Racing, Inc., and Nick Nachicas, IRA secretary, after he successfully defended his Pelican 200 title. – Bill Causey Jr. Photo

Shreveport, La (April 13, 1969) – The annual Pelican 200, which was run Sunday afternoon at State Fair Speedway, was another case of the rich getting richer.

Ernie Derr, to no one’s surprise, won again.

The field was cut short due to heavy rains. Only 13 cars competed.

Derr turned the 100 miles in 1 hour, 56 minutes and 3 seconds, a relatively slow time ordinarily, but not bad considering the track conditions.

Lewis Taylor of Shawnee, Kan., finished second and held that position all the way, and one point held the lead briefly when Derr pitted.

A rookie out of Kansas City, Dave Wall, driving a Chevelle, took third place in his very first IMCA-sanctioned race, but never seriously challenged Taylor for second place.

In fact, Wall didn’t make the third spot until Ron Hutcherson of Keokuk, Iowa, pitted with 10 laps left in the contest.

Derr, driving a 1969 Dodge Charger, won $750 for his first-place finish, $100 for his 5-lap trophy dash, $100 for an appearance and $100 for driving a 1969 model car to victory.

Taylor pocketed $500 for his runner-up effort while Wall collected $400.

In all, it was a good day for the veteran from Keokuk, Iowa, who is the winningest stock car driver in the history of racing.

The race was delayed an hour while crews worked on the track. But the IMCA officials, headed by Bill Hitz and Nick Nachicas, were determined to give the 6,500 fans who came out in poor weather a show.

Results –

1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Lewis Taylor, Shawnee, Kan.
3. Dave Wall, Kansas City
4. Dale Keeling, Dixon, Mo.
5. Ron Hutcherson, Keokuk, Iowa
6. James McFadden, Dallas, Tex.
7. Leon Bowman, Wichita, Kan.
8. George England, Dallas, Tex.
9. Joe McIntyre, Dallas, Tex.
10.Dean Huckaby, Kansas City
11.Sandy Sandstrom, Kansas City
12.Howard Hart, Kansas City

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

1981 – Shear Wins at Rockford in ’81 ARTGO Opener

ARTGO Spring Classic winner Joe Shear is joined by Rockford Speedway’s Hugh Deery. – Stan Kalwasinski Photo

By Stan Kalwasinski

Loves Park, Ill. (April 12, 1981) – Joe Shear took the lead on the 47th circuit and then withstood the challenges of Larry Detjens to win the ARTGO Racing’s season-opening 81-lap late model feature at Rockford Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

It was the third ARTGO triumph for Shear, a former six-time Rockford driving king.

Detjens crossed the finish line in second place, ahead of three-time ARTGO champion Dick Trickle, Jim Sauter and Fred Campbell.

Pat Schauer, who started on the outside of the front row of the 20-car field, opened up a commanding lead which he maintained despite the appearance of three yellow flags during the initial 25 laps.

Schauer was still on top with 26 laps down, but then his mount lost oil pressure, sending the young charger to the sidelines.

Campbell, who had been running second, inherited the lead when Schauer departed. However, Trickle, Shear, Sauter and Larry Detjens were rapidly moving towards the front of the pack.

Detjens, the afternoon’s fastest qualifier, saw his bid for the lead sour on two occasions when he looped his Camaro in minor incidents.

Campbell kept his Camaro in front until lap 47 when Shear powered underneath him to take the top spot.

Detjens, who twice had to come from the rear of the field, set his sights on the number one position, taking fourth from Campbell on lap 53, third from Sauter on lap 55 and second place from Trickle on lap 57.

The final 24 circuits saw Shear and Detjens wage a fierce battle for first place, rubbing fenders with one another numerous times.

When the checkered dropped, Shear had a car-length advantage over Detjens with Trickle a like distance behind Detjens.

Results –

1. Joe Shear, South Beloit
2. Larry Detjens, Wausau, Wis.
3. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
4. Jim Sauter, Necedah, Wis.
5. Fred Campbell. Battle Creek, Mich.
6. Larry Schuler, New Lenox, Ill.
7. Willie Goeden, Kewaskum, Wis.
8. Jim Weber, Roseville, Minn.
9. Dennis Vogel, Manitowoc, Wis.
10.Jim Pierson, Janesville, Wis.
11.Dave Price, Panora
12.L.J. Lines, Indianapolis
13.Bobby Dotter, Chicago
14.John Knaus, Rockford
15.Tom Jones, Northbrook
16.Wayne Lensing, Rockford
17.Pat Schauer, Watertown, Wis.
18.Tom Reffner, Rudolph, Wis.
19.Fran Prestay, Silver Lake, Wis.
20.Burt Weitemeyer, Lansing

Monday, April 11, 2022

1971 – Raceway Opener to Larson

Shakopee, Minn. (April 11, 1971) – “It was by all odds the best opening date we’ve ever had on the Tri-Circuit,” exclaimed Raceway Park owner-operator Phil Stewart following last Sunday’s highly competitive series of races that saw Dwight “Dinky” Larson of Bloomington, Minn., edge defending track champion Bob Jusola for late model honors in front of 3,021 screaming fans.

Stewart’s elation had many reasons for being evident. Fans took to the remodeled features of Raceway Park and race cars were out in record numbers with 27 late models and 64 hobby stocks signing in for a total of 91 machines.

The afternoon program was practically accident-free causing Stewart to note, “Drivers appeared to be in mid-season form and there was no question everyone was faster than a year ago.”

The Larson-Jusola duel set the stage for Sunday afternoon’s first meet of the season at Raceway Park. It all started when Larson, driving the UnCola 1970 Monte Carlo, made famous last year by Bud Helm, outlasted Bob Jusola’s early heat race challenge that brought the huge crowd to its feet. Jusola returned later to sweep the trophy dash.

In the 25-lap finale Larson had the pole position with Jusola starting two positions back and converted hobby stock driver Leon Duda in between.

Duda, the pride of Hopkins, Minn., racing fraternity, managed run second for 10 laps in his 1964 Ford Fairlane before slipping back to third-place.

But the race, for all practical purposes, was between Larson and Jusola with the two drivers racing side-by-side, bumper-to-bumper the entire time with only the length of a fender separating Larson advantage at the finish.

Behind the threesome was Larry Smith of Shakopee, Dick Grave of Bloomington, Minn., Bill Oas of Bloomington, Dan Prizborowski of Savage, Minn., Dick Stang of Prior Lake, Minn., and Bill Mueller of Minneapolis.

Prizborowski took the 15-lap semi-feature after coming from the back of the pack to first place. Larson, Duda and Graves won late model heat races.

A great field of hobby stocks found Mylan Erickson of Minneapolis the feature winner with Arlo Lempke of Hutchinson, Minn., taking second and Joe Ritchie of Minneapolis in third.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

1955 – Hoyt Nabs First in Big Car Race

Jerry Hoyt relaxes with his fiancé Diane Baker before the start of the AAA big car race in Oklahoma City. Tragically, Hoyt would lose his life at the same track only three months later.

Oklahoma City, Okla. (April 10, 1955) – Jerry Hoyt of Indianapolis came from behind twice Sunday night to win a muddy decision in the AAA big car feature at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds.

A crowd of 5,250 patiently sat for more than nine hours while track workers struggled to get the racing surface back in shape after morning rains had made racing impossible.

The seven-race card was scheduled for Sunday afternoon but because of the conditions, officials were forced to postpone time trials until 7 pm.

Hoyt, one of the youngest drivers on the AAA circuit, grabbed the lead on lap 11 of the feature only to lose it two laps later when he narrowly avoided a flip in the north turn.

Mike Nazaruk, North Bellmore, N.Y., and Bob Sweikert of Indianapolis ran one-two from the start of the race until Hoyt took the lead. Two laps later they were back in front as Hoyt came out of the turn too fast and bounced up into the crash wall.

After straddling the wall for some 50 feet, Hoyt’s car careened back onto the track and zig-zagged down the front straightaway before he could bring it back under control.

However, he again put pressure on the leaders and once again, got around both Nazaruk and Sweikert on lap 18 to go ahead and stay there the remaining 12 circuits.

Nazaruk finished second and Sweikert third, followed by AAA national champion Pat O’Conner of North Vernon, Ind., and veteran Johnny Parsons of Van Nuys, Calif.

Hoyt started the night on the right foot by setting a new track record in time trials with a time of 24.82 seconds. He qualified for the feature by finishing third in the opening heat race, won by Nazaruk.

Don Freeland of Los Angeles won the second heat and O’Conner was victorious in the third heat. Duane Carter of Speedway City, Ind., won the consolation. O’Conner also won a special 3-lap match race between himself and local favorite Jimmy Reece of Oklahoma City.

The crowd sat patiently throughout the afternoon as workmen, drivers and officials graded and tested the track. Three graders bladed all afternoon long and on two occasions, volunteers came out of the grandstands to drive passenger cars around the track in an endless procession.

Late in the afternoon, several drivers made trial runs on the track and decided it still wasn’t safe for competition. By this time, it was 5:15 and officials begged the indulgence of the customers and postponed the time rials until 7 pm.

The reaction of the crowd to this decision was mild and AAA dignitaries here for the race were prompted to call Sunday’s audience “the most patient crowd we’ve ever seen.”

Results –

1. Jerry Hoyt, Indianapolis
2. Mike Nazaruk, North Bellmore, N.Y.
3. Bob Sweikert, Indianapolis
4. Pat O’Conner, North Vernon, Ind.
5. Johnny Parsons, Van Nuys, Calif.
6. Bob Slater, Kansas City
7. Don Freeland, Los Angeles
8. Andy Linden, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
9. Bill Homeier, Pacoima, Calif.
10.Jimmy Reece, Oklahoma City

Sunday, April 3, 2022

1960 – Derr Cracks Record in Pelican Triumph

Pelican winner Ernie Derr receives his trophy from George Gallagher after smashing the 125-mile world record at Shreveport. 

Shreveport, La. (April 3, 1960) – Defending IMCA national champion Ernie Derr of Keokuk, Iowa, chopped nearly half a minute off the world record as he wheeled his 1957 Pontiac to victory in the 250-lap Pelican championship race for late model stock cars Sunday at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds.

With neighbor Ramo Stott pushing him to the finish, Derr covered the 125 miles in 2 hours, 2 minutes, and 49.68 seconds. The former mark of 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 13.12 seconds was set by Johnny Beauchamp at the Minnesota State Fair on September 30, 1956.

The crowd of 9,638 – the largest in the history of the event – looked on as Derr’s steady #1 car started from the back row of the 16-car field and steadily moved to the front.

The 39-year-old Derr grabbed the lead for the first time at the wire winding up lap 133 when another Keokuk neighbor, Dick Hutcherson ducked his 1957 Pontiac into the pits for gas.

From that point on, Ernie never relinquished the lead, but his two mighty Keokuk neighbors made it mighty tough.

Hutcherson lost a little time in the pits but charged right back. At that point it was a three-car race between Derr, Stott, driving a 1960 Ford convertible, and Hutcherson.

It looked bad for Derr, who had not made his stop for gas yet. But then – on the140th lap -Derr got a break. Phil Cronin’s 1957 Ford lost a wheel in the third turn and the yellow flag came out.

That was all Derr needed. He shot into the pits, gassed up in less than 15 seconds, and slipped back on the track; his absence practically unnoticed.

And with the slow pace that ensued until lap 145, when the green flag finally fell again, Derr wasn’t hurt a bit.

First place honors were worth $600 in prize money to Derr, with Stott hauling off $400 for second place and Newt Bartholomew of Carlisle, Iowa, hanging on for third and $300 in his ’57 Chevrolet.

No less than seven cars held the lead at one time or another during the grind.

Sonny Morgan of Beaumont, Tex., got off fast and held the top spot for the first 13 laps. When Morgan’s ’59 Chevrolet went dead after the 13th circuit, Dub Rollins of Corpus Christi, Tex., took over. Rollin’s reign was brief, and Hutcherson overhauled him at the start of lap 17.

Hutcherson and Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, got tied up in a duel and Dake would power his ’60 Chevrolet past Hutcherson on the back straightaway on lap 42. But Hutcherson would regain the lead a lap later and hold Dake back, this time until lap 69. This time Dake meant to keep the lead and did – until lap 101 when his engine overheated, causing hm to take a pit stop which would cost him nine laps.

Stott moved ahead of Hutcherson on lap 105 and was showing dazzling speed in his shiny black convertible. But on lap 111, Stott spun coming down the front straightaway, with Hutcherson and Derr bearing down on him. Miraculously, Stott was able to get his car off the track and he used the unscheduled interlude to gas up. But he never saw the lead again.

Hutcherson took over, then moved aside at the 133rd when he stopped for gas.

That’s when Derr took over. But Hutcherson got back into the thick of the battle and overhauled Stott for second on lap 157. They ran 1-2-3 until lap 193 when “Hutch” spun out and bounced off the fence, heading into the grandstand. That was the end of the race for him.

Dake was the fastest qualifier in time trials, turning the half-mile in 28.18 seconds.

Results –

1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
3. Newt Bartholomew, Carlisle, Iowa
4. Royce Whitlock, West Monroe
5. Art Brady, Peoria, Ill.
6. Dick Hutcherson, Keokuk, Iowa
7. Billy Worthy, Shreveport
8. Dub Rollins, Corpus Christi, Tex.
9. Darrel Dake, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
10.Eddie Harrow, Corpus Christi, Tex.
11.Gerry Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
12.Wayne Lee, Burlington, Iowa
13.Phil Cronin, Houston, Tex.
14.Herb Shannon, Peoria, Ill.
15.Red Dowdy, Dallas, Tex.
16.Sonny Morgan, Beaumont, Tex.

Friday, April 1, 2022

1973 – Snider Plows to Sprint Win

George Snider

Rossburg, Ohio (April 1, 1973) – George Snider is known for his love of dirt track racing, but Sunday afternoon at Eldora Speedway he proved he is a rather good mudder as well.

Driving with a stiff upper lip, compliment of a stray rock he picked up early in the race, Snider passed troubled Johnny Parsons on lap 38 and went on to edge Parsons by a scant nose in the United States Auto Club 40-lap sprint car feature.

Eldora promoter Earl Baltes April Fooled the weatherman in this one.

Two days of rain preceded Sunday’s event, and the track looked it. The pit area resembled the Okefenokee Swamp.

But “Earl the Pearl” hopped on his trusty grader and had the track looking like a baseball diamond after two days of rain.

In other words, the racing surface still was not the greatest, but it was raceable.

The track, though, soon started developing aggravating ruts from the constant pounding of the cars. And the races had all the appearances of a rodeo with the sprinters jostling the drivers as though they were trying to buck them.

One almost did.

Billy Cassella hit the wall in turn two of the second lap of the feature and his car flipped twice. Cassella was unhurt. But the race was reflagged and had to be restarted.

Sammy Sessions, the defending USAC sprint car king took the lad from Parsons on the second lap of the restart and began pulling away from the field in impressive fashion.

Former titlist Gary Bettenhausen then found the right groove and stormed into second place on lap 15 and began bearing down on Sessions. On the next lap, however, Bettenhausen bored down on the pits stayed there the rest of the afternoon with mechanical woes.

Sessions, meanwhile, began smoking on lap 20 and was finally black-flagged on lap 22. This put Parsons back into the lead.

Although his car was coughing badly, Parsons somehow managed to fend off the challenge of Rollie Beale, who ate too much mud and got indigestion.

Finally, here came Snider, passing Beale on lap 35. Then between turns one and two, Snider took the high ground and got past Parsons.

There was no beating the hard-charging Snider after that, although Parsons gave it a good try, coming within what starter Ray Chakie said, “must have been two feet” at the finish.

Results –

1. George Snider
2. Johnny Parsons
3. Rollie Beale
4. Joe Saldana
5. Larry Dickson
6. Lee Kunzman
7. John Toth Jr.
8. Chuck Booth
9. Jim McElreath Jr.
10.Tom Bigelow
11.Don Nordhorn
12.Sonny Ates
13.Sammy Sessions
14.Gary Bettenhausen
15.Jerry Nemire