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.”
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
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