Tuesday, May 31, 2022

1967 – Foyt Wins Fastest ‘500’ Ever

A.J. Foyt of Houston, Tex., celebrates his third Indianapolis 500 victory with his wife Lucy.

Indianapolis, Ind. (May 31, 1967) – A.J. Foyt, the “Texas Tornado,” won his third 500-mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday afternoon after Parnelli Jones’ turbine car quit running on the 197th lap when the transmission failed.

The 32-year-old Foyt, only the fourth man in Speedway history to win the prestigious race three times, charged from second place after Jones retired to capture the 51st running speed classic.

In an incredible windup toa bizarre race, which was postponed by rain on Tuesday, Foyt – who ostensibly settled for second place behind the record-smashing Jones – suddenly was handed victory when the sleek red turbine quit and limped into the pits.

Foyt, who had previously won the 1961 and ’64 race, snaked through a spectacular five-car homestretch crash on the last lap.

Although the yellow light was on for 1 hour and 4 minutes, Foyt managed to set a new record for the 500 miles. His speed in the #14 Sheraton-Thompson Special was 151.207 miles per hour. The old record of 150.686 miles per hour was set by Scotland’s Jim Clark in the 1965 contest.

Had Jones, whose wonder car was stricken by a broken gear box, been able to finish, the record would have been smashed by about an average of two or three miles per hour. His “Silent Sam” turbine relentlessly had re-written the Indy record book, lap after lap until his stunning breakdown.

Finishing second to Foyt was Al Unser of Albuquerque, N.M., driving the #5 Retzloff Special. Trailing Unser was Joe Leonard of San Jose, Calif., in another Sheraton-Thompson Special #4.

Foyt built both the winning car and Leonard’s. they will receive a major share of the Speedway purse of approximately $750,000.

Other top contenders to finish in the big money included Australian Dennis Hulme, a rookie who finished fourth in the #69 Daytona Beach Special.

Fifth place went to Jim McElreath of Arlington, Tex., who was making his sixth run at the “500” in the #2 John Zink Special.

Graham Hill of England, last year’s winner, had miserable luck and washed out of the race after only 75 laps.

Results –

1. A.J. Foyt
2. Al Unser
3. Joe Leonard
4. Dennis Hulme
5. Jim McElreath
6. Parnelli Jones
7. Chuck Hulse
8. Art Pollard
9. Bobby Unser
10.Carl Williams
11.Bob Veith
12.Gordon Johncock
13.Bobby Grim
14.Bud Tingelstad
15.Larry Dickson
16.Mel Kenyon
17.Cale Yarborough
18.Jackie Stewart
19.Roger McCluskey
20.Jerry Grant
21.Dan Gurney
22.Arnie Knepper
23.Ronnie Duman
24.Jochen Rindt
25.Johnny Rutherford
26.George Snider
27.LeeRoy Yarbrough
28.Al Miller
29.Wally Dallenbach
30.Mario Andretti
31.Jim Clark
32.Graham Hill
33.Lloyd Ruby

1964 – Larson Winner at New Bremen

Eugene "Jud" Larson

New Bremen, Ohio (May 31, 1964) – It was A.J. Foyt Day here Sunday. Nothing official, but the 5,300 race fans in attendance at New Bremen Speedway gave the Indianapolis 500 winner a rousing welcome.

Foyt, in return, made sure the crowd got its money worth, as his famed #2 sprint car ran away from every car on the track in the USAC sprint car race.

Although most of the 30 cars entered in Sunday’s event had finished with warm-up laps – Foyt’s blue and white sprinter had yet to arrive from Indianapolis.

The champ prowled the pit area in the infield, intently watching the gate in the retaining wall. Finally, the gate swung open to admit a station wagon, which pulled a fancy trailer. The sight of the car and trailer brought much of the crowd to their feet.

While the time trials got under way, Foyt's crew poured over the car, and the champion checked the plugs and adjusted linkage, with still no announcement whether or not he would drive.

Don Branson, another veteran of Indianapolis racing, turned the half-mile oval in 19.25 seconds for the fastest time of the day. Johnny White, who finished fourth in the 500, ran the second-best lap in time trials at 19.36 seconds, well off Parnelli Jones’ 1962 record of 19.12 seconds.

When the Foyt car finally made its run for the timer, the rugged veteran of the dirt track circuit, Jud Larson, was at the wheel, and the big redhead roared to the third fastest time – 19.48 seconds.

Starting the first heat race was Larson, White, Jim Hurtubise (in Johnny Rutherford's car), Don Branson. Mario Andretti and Mickey Rupp. All had turned time trial runs of less than 20 seconds. Larson ran away from the field, setting a new track standard for the 8 laps (2 minutes and 39.41 seconds), eclipsing the mark of Roger McCluskey (2 minutes and 40.15 seconds) that stood for nearly two years.

Andretti, a rookie on the USAC circuit, came on strong in the second heat, finishing ahead of Branson. Arnie Knepper of Belleville, Ill., driving a Chevy-powered car, sped to the win in the third heat.

The 10-lap semi-feature followed, with Gordon Johncock in the Fetter’s Special speeding to victory ahead of Chuck Arnold and Chuck Booth.

Lining up for the 14-car feature, Larson sat on the pole. Foyt took the wheel of the pace car, and after a couple of false starts, the race got underway. Larson immediately jumped to a healthy lead, followed by Andretti, and the pair lapped nearly the half of the field in the 30-lap main event.

Time for the event was 10 minutes and 28.26 seconds, about seven seconds off of Parnelli Jones’ mark of 10 minutes and 20.95 seconds.

Larson was awarded $850 in prize money.

Results –

1. Jud Larson
2. Mario Andretti
3. Don Branson
4. Chuck Engel
5. Mickey Shaw
6. Arnie Knepper
7. Steve Stapp
8. Chuck Arnold
9. Davis Norris
10.Chuck Booth
11.Gordon Johncock
12.Jim Hurtubise
13.Johnny White

Monday, May 30, 2022

1959 – Ward Wins Indianapolis Classic in Record Time

Rodger Ward waves to the crowd after winning his first Indianapolis 500. 

Indianapolis, Ind. (May 30, 1959) – Rodger Ward, 38, the Beau Brummel of Auto Racing, gunned his Leader Card Special to a record-breaking triumph in the 43rd annual 500-mile race.

Ward’s first Speedway victory in nine starts came with a masterful display of consistent driving by the Los Angeles veteran, who controlled the race from the 82nd lap of the 200-lap grind.

The defending champion, Jimmy Bryan, left the post late and had to quit in the second lap of the thrilling speed contest.

In beating out runner-up Jim Rathmann of Miami by 23 seconds, Ward tromped the throttle of his sleek white racer at a 135.857 miler per hour average. This broke the 1957 record of 135.601 miles per hour set by Sam Hanks.

Johnny Thomson of Boyertown, Penn., who sat on the pole position, was third in a race that had five accidents with two injuries.

Tony Bettenhausen, Tinley Park, Ill., was fourth and Paul Goldsmith, St. Clair Shores, Mich., rounded out the top five finishers.

The victory unofficially was worth $100,000 to Ward’s car. The driver normally receives 40%.

Only 16 of the 33 starters were still running at the finish of the race, held in warm, humid weather, which threatened rain at the start, but wound up with the sun shining as the checkered flag waved on Ward.

Ward required only three pit stops – of 23, 24 and 26 seconds – as he moved ahead of Rathmann in their battle for the national championship point lead.

Ward, a quiet man with wavy hair who doesn’t smoke or drink, received the customary victory smack from movie star Erin O’Brien.

The crowd of some 150,000 saw the only two former champions fail to finish.

Bryan, whose Belond Special had won two previous 500s and set the old mark of 135.601 miles per hour, couldn’t get his car fired when the pace car lined up the 11 rows of racers and sent them through the parade lap.

Finally, Bryan’s car got moving, but after circling the 2.5-mile track twice, began smoking badly from and oil leak and had to be withdrawn from the race.

The other former champion, Pat Flaherty of Chicago, the 1956 winner, was forced out of the race after hitting outside wall on the brick main stretch and careening across the track to the head of the pit area. Flaherty, who was nearly killed in a Springfield, Ill., crash soon after his ’56 victory, hopped out his car after running in strong contention for 167 laps.

At the start, Jim Rathmann, Ward, Thomson and Flaherty took turns charging into the lead. Thomson started the record-breaking tempo by holding the 150-mile lead with a 135.38 mile per hour average. Thomson also led at 200-mile mark, but the flying Scotsman later began to get a rough ride from his car when he broke a torsion bar.

After that, Ward, a former Army pilot, took charge of the roaring field, with Rathmann and Thomson taking occasional runs at him. However, Thomson’s four pit stops hurt him while Rathmann took only three pit stops but they required a total of 1 minute and 26 seconds. That was 13.4 second slower than Ward’s three stops.

Ward got a break against Rathmann when Flaherty’s crash blocked the entrance to the pits. Ward had signaled he was coming in for a pit stop, his third, just before the yellow light flashed on. Ward subsequently went into the pits, but the caution light prevented Rathmann from taking full advantage of Ward’s stop.

While most drivers were near exhaustion after the 500-miler, Ward was bubbling over and even hopped into the pace car with Sam Hanks and toured the track to the immense crowd jammed all around the course. Ward’s wife, Jo, and their little terrier joined him the car.

Results –

1. Rodger Ward, Los Angeles
2. Jim Rathmann, Miami
3. Johnny Thomson, Boyertown, Penn.
4. Tony Bettenhausen, Tinley Park, Ill.
5. Paul Goldsmith, St. Clair Shore, Mich.
6. Johnny Boyd, Fresno, Calif.
7. Duane Carter, Indianapolis
8. A.J. Foyt, Houston, Tex.
9. Bob Veith, Oakland, Calif.
10.Al Heran, Allentown, Penn.
11.Eddie Johnson, Cuyahoga Falls, N.Y.
12.Paul Russo, Webster Groves, Mo.
13.Jim McWithey, Anderson, Ind.
14.Jimmy Daywalt, Indianapolis
15.Chuck Arnold, Stafford, Conn.
16.Gene Hartley, Indianapolis
17.Eddie Sachs, Center Valley, Penn.
18.Al Keller, Green Acres, Fla.
19.Bill Cheesbourg, Tucson, Ariz.
20.Pat Flaherty, Chicago
21.Dick Rathmann, San Gabriel, Calif.
22.Don Freeland, Indianapolis
23.Ray Crawford, Pasadena, Calif.
24.Don Branson, Champaign, Ill.
25.Bob Christie, Grants Pass, Ore.
26.Bobby Grim, Indianapolis
27.Jud Larson, Tampa, Fla.
28.Jack Turner, Seattle
29.Red Amick, Muncie, Ind.
30.Chuck Weyant, Springfield, Ill.
31.Mike Magill, Haddonfield, N.J.
32.Len Sutton, Portland, Ore.
33.Jimmy Bryan, Phoenix

Sunday, May 29, 2022

1959 – Duman Cops Little 500

A grimy-face Ronnie Duman is congratulated by runner-up Bud Tingelstad.

Anderson, Ind. (May 29, 1959) – Ronnie Duman of Detroit, Mich., with blue flames spouting from the exhaust of his supercharged GMC all the way, took over the lead from Nelson Stacy of Cincinnati, Ohio, on the 153rd lap, and led the rest of the way to capture the sprint car classic.

Duman’s record-shattering time of 2 hours, 10 minutes and 48 seconds broke the old record of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 55 seconds set by Tom Cherry in 1955.

Some will question Duman’s mark because Anderson’s Wayne Alspaugh, last year’s winner, ran the Little 500 in two segments and turned in a 2 hour and 7-minute mark considered unofficial.

A record crowd of over 11,000 watched Stacy take an early lead in his fuel injection Chevrolet. His yellow #17 seemed to be having things pretty much his own way, though Duman was always on the same lap and lurking not too far away. Finally, Stacy developed motor issues and Duman went ahead to stay.

Rain threatened the record-breaking crowd most of the evening, but only a few raindrops fell late in the race.

Jack Rounds, of Huntington Park, Calif., was injured when his car hit the retaining wall on the 49th lap and was struck by another “gas buggy” skippered by Hugh Randall of Louisville, Ky., sending the Californian to a local hospital where he was treated and released.

Results –

1. Ronnie Duman, Detroit
2. Bud Tingelstad, Dayton, Ohio
3. Arnie Knepper, Belleville, Ill.
4. Curly Boyd, Anderson, Ind.
5. Leon Wieske, St. Clair Shores, Mich.
6. Paul Keegan, Hamilton, Ohio
7. Bill Holland, Hartford, Ct.
8. Red Renner, Woodburn, Ind.
9. Glen Rockey, Muskegon, Mich.
10.Karl Hissand, Yorktown, Ind.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

1979 - Crawford snares West Liberty special

Gary Crawford was a happy man after winning the Memorial Day special at the West Liberty half-mile. - Dick Kleindolph Photo

West Liberty, Iowa (May 28, 1979) – Steve Keppler of Marion, Iowa, made just one mistake Monday night, but that one slip was enough for Gary Crawford of Independence, Iowa, to sneak through and win the $10,000 Memorial Day special at the Muscatine County Fairgrounds’ half-mile dirt track.

Keppler and Crawford started the 50-lap feature side-by-side on the front row by virtue of their fifth and sixth fastest qualifying times with the top six inverted. Keppler, starting on the pole, beat Crawford to turn one and took the lead with Crawford tucking in behind him.

They ran that way for the first 24 laps when the race was red flagged after Rollie Frink of Davenport, Iowa and L.D. O’Brien of Letts, Iowa, tangled in the first turn and hit the cement retaining wall. Although neither driver was injured, both cars were totaled.

On the restart, Keppler’s car began smoking badly as he entered each turn, but the smoke was of no apparent consequence as he was able to continue the rest of the way.

A few laps later after the Frink-O’Brien accident, however, Keppler got high in turn four, barely brushed the wall, and Crawford got shot past into the lead. From that point on, it was a four-car train to the finish with Crawford and Keppler, leading Tom Hearst of Wilton, Iowa and Ken Walton of Viola, Iowa. Dave Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, was fifth, well off the pace.

West Liberty point leader and pre-race favorite, Curt Hansen of Dike, Iowa, set second fastest time, fell steadily off the pace, and finally retired during the Frink-O’Brien accident. Ken Walton, who holds the West Liberty track record, set fast time with a clocking of 24.29 seconds.

Results –

1. Gary Crawford, Independence, Iowa
2. Steve Keppler, Marion, Iowa
3. Tom Hearst, Wilton, Iowa
4. Ken Walton, Viola, Iowa
5. Dave Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa
6. Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
7. Verlin Eaker, Mechanicsville, Iowa
8. Mel Morris, West Liberty, Iowa
9. Johnny Johnson, Morning Sun, Iowa
10.Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley, Iowa
11.Ron Hemsted, Lone Tree, Iowa
12.Rick Wendling, Hazelton, Iowa
13.Craig Spetman, Council Bluffs, Iowa
14.Ron Pallister, Wapello, Iowa
15.Ken DeGood, Hills, Iowa
16.Curt Hansen, Dike, Iowa
17.Bill Breuer, Wapello, Iowa
18.Dan Dickey, Packwood, Iowa
19.Rollie Frink, Davenport, Iowa
20.L.B. O’Brien, Letts, Iowa

1972 - Earl Wagner Holds Off Hard Charges

Earl Wagner won 30-lap IMCA sprint car feature at Sedalia. - Kyle Ealy Collection

Sedalia, Mo. (May 28, 1972) – Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa, held off a fierce challenge from defending champion Ray Lee Goodwin, Dick Sutcliffe, Jerry Blundy and Roy Hibbard and copped his first International Motor Contest Association sprint feature of the season at the Missouri State Fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon.

A sparse crowd of only 4,000 watched as Wagner took the lead from Blundy, the defending IMCA sprint car national champion and current point leader, on the third lap as the Iowa pilot found a groove on the cushion and raced for the checkered flag in the annual Sedalia Jaycees Memorial Day program.

Blundy, who damaged the rear end of his racer in Saturday night’s IMCA sprint car show at Eldon, Iowa, vaulted into the lead on the first lap from his pole position.

The first five cars in the feature’s finish, stayed within two seconds of each other virtually all the way. Goodwin, winner of Saturday night’s rain-shortened program in Iowa, had Wagner set up all the way, but just couldn’t get past him.

Wagner, who saw his one-lap IMCA record broken during time trials by Goodwin, came in with the eighth fastest time of the day at 23.16 seconds, but had to place in the consolation feature to make the field in the 30-lap main event. He made it a double payoff by winning the consolation.

Goodwin turned successive laps of 22.79 and 22.81 seconds during the time trials. The former mark broke Wagner’s one-lap mark set last year at 23.03 seconds.

Wagner started on the outside of the fourth row, but by the time that the third lap had been recorded, he had passed Blundy, David James, Sutcliffe, Ron Taylor, Goodwin and Hibbard to take the lead.

The day’s activity was virtually accident free, but the yellow flag did come out twice during the feature. The first yellow flew in the 13th lap, when Tom Stassa hit the wall on the front straightaway as he lost control of his sprinter coming out of the fourth turn. Stassa rejoined the field two laps later. James spun in the first turn, bringing out the second yellow flag He, like Stassa, was able to rejoin the race.

Ralph Parkinson, Kansas City, Dean Shirley, Lincoln, Ill., and Jerry “Flea” Atkins, Holts Summit, Mo., were the three heat winners. Shirley won his heat in record-breaking time. He was timed in at 3 minutes and 11 seconds, breaking Thad Dosher’s old mark of 3 minutes and 16 seconds set at the 1971 Missouri State Fair.

One other record was established during the IMCA program; that came in the match race (trophy dash), when Goodwin was clocked at 2 minutes and 2 seconds. That shattered Grady Wade’s time of 2 minutes and 3 seconds, established in 1966.

Results –

Time trials – Ray Lee Goodwin, Kansas City (22.79)
Heat #1 – Ralph Parkinson Jr., Kansas City
Heat #2 – Dean Shirley, Lincoln, Ill.
Heat # - Jerry Atkins, Holts Summit, Mo.
Trophy dash – Ray Lee Goodwin
Consolation – Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa
Feature –
1. Earl Wagner
2. Ray Lee Goodwin
3. Dick Sutcliffe, Kansas City
4. Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
5. Roy Hibbard, Marshall, Mo.
6. Bill Utz, Sedalia
7. Dean Shirley
8. Steve Schultz, Chillicothe, Mo.
9. Ralph Parkinson
10.Ron Taylor, St. Louis
11.Tom Nordstrom, White Bear Lake, Minn.
12.David James, Garland, Tex.
13.Jerry Atkins
14.Ralph Krafve, Minneapolis
15.Jon Backlund, Kansas City
16.Ron Perkins, Wood River, Ill.
17.Dale McCarty, Independence, Mo.
18.Junior Dietzel, Jefferson City, Mo.

Friday, May 27, 2022

1967 – Parnelli Jones Wins Yankee 300

Parnelli Jones is interviewed in victory lane after winning the Yankee 300. 

Indianapolis, Ind. (May 27, 1967) - Parnelli Jones, who will drive a controversial turbine car in Tuesday’s Memorial Day 500-mile race, used conventional equipment Saturday to win the fifth annual Yankee 300 stock car race at Indianapolis Raceway Park in record speed.

He averaged 98.144 m.p.h. against the year-old mark of 93.047 set by Norm Nelson, Racine, Wis.

The Torrance, Calif., veteran beat Mario Andretti of Nazareth. Penn., one of his principal opponents in the 500 by about one mile over the 1.7-mile 7-turn road course. Both drove 1967 Fords.

The Ford was the same car with which Jones won the Riverside 500 race in California last January.

“It ran good then and ran just as well today,” he said.

Jones passed Don White of Keokuk, Iowa, who had set a qualifying record of 102.552 mph in the first lap. He gave up the lead only once, yielding briefly to Nelson in a pit stop.

Nelson, who had won the event two straight years, was stopped by engine failure.

Andretti might have made it close had he hadn’t spun into the grass apron early in the race and lost valuable time.

Paul Goldsmith of Munster, Ind., whose qualifying record of 100.476 mph was broken by White, was also sidelined with an ailing engine while running in second place for two-thirds of the contest.

Other 500 starters besides Jones and Andretti had indifferent success.

Former winner A.J. Foyt of Houston, Tex., charged from fifth to second position and then parked with a smoking engine. Al Unser of Albuquerque, N.M., tried stock car racing for the first time and spun out on the second lap, damaging his car.

The race was run in 90-degree temperatures and the hot flat turns combined with broke concrete on the course to force a parade to the pits for tire replacements.

White finished a solid third in a 1967 Dodge, followed by Jack Bowsher, Springfield, Ohio, ‘67 Ford; Gary Bettenhausen, Tinley Park, Ill., ’66 Ford; Eddie Meyer, Glenview, Ill., ’65 Dodge; Bay Darnell, Deerfield, Ill., ’65 Plymouth; Jack Martin, Kenosha, Wis., ’66 Ford; Rich Oertel, Palatine, Ill., ’66 Ford; and Dave Whitcomb, Valparaiso, Ind., ’65 Plymouth.

Results –

1. Parnelli Jones
2. Mario Andretti
3. Don White
4. Jack Bowsher
5. Gary Bettenhausen
6. Eddie Meyer
7. Bay Darnell
8. Jack Martin
9. Rich Oertel
10.Dave Whitcomb
11.Bob Coe
12.Paul Goldsmith
13.Bob Clemons
14.Terry Parker
15.Glen Bradley
16.Norm Nelson
17.Ross Smith
18.Andy Hampton
19.Roger Regeth
20.Benny Parsons
21.A.J. Foyt
22.Bill Shoulders
23.George Rondelli
24.Tom Jones

1962 – Liebe Wins Knoxville 200-Lapper

“Chub” Liebe on Oelwein won the IMCA stock car 100-miler at the Marion County Fairgrounds. Starter Jake Bozony presents the checkers. – Steven Day Collection

Knoxville, Iowa (May 27, 1962) – Chub Liebe of Oelwein won the 200-lap late model stock car race and $525 here Sunday afternoon before 3,481 fans as his nearest competitors ran out of gas in the late stages.

Liebe finished two laps ahead of Keokuk’s Dick Hutcherson in the 100-mile contest, sanctioned by the International Motor Contest Association. Both drove 1962 Fords.

Although the half-mile dirt track was heavy, Liebe drove the distance in 1 hour, 33 minutes and 49.53 seconds – an average of more than 62 miles per hour. It equaled his accomplishment of last season – a 100-lap triumph at Cresco.

There wasn’t a driver who could go the distance without refueling. Liebe refueled early, then took the lead away from John Mickey of Columbus Junction on lap 75.

Errors in judgement at the pit stops – insufficient fuel to cover the remaining distance – put Liebe’s chief challengers out of action.

Ernie Derr of Keokuk, the four-time IMCA stock car champion whose 28.55 seconds was the fastest qualifying mark on the half-mile, was running third when his tank went empty on lap 184. He coasted to the pit area, refueled, and eventually finished a disappointing seventh.

While Derr was refueling, Hutcherson moved up a notch behind Liebe and Johnny Beauchamp of Atlantic.

Beauchamp was still in second place when he ran out gas on lap 198, nearly a half-mile behind Liebe. Beauchamp exited for the pits, allowing Hutcherson to move into the runner-up position.

Mickey, who led through most of the early laps, was the victim of misfortune in the pits. After refueling on lap 135, he returned to action – only to learn that his crew had filled his tank with water, not gas. He had to settle for 15th place.

Results –

1. Chub Liebe, Oelwein
2. Dick Hutcherson, Keokuk
3. Johnny Beauchamp, Atlantic
4. Mert Williams, Rochester, Minn.
5. Gil Haugen, Sioux Falls, S.D.
6. Buzz McCann, St. Paul, Minn.
7. Ernie Derr, Keokuk
8. Bob Reynolds, Edmonds, Okla.
9. Newt Bartholomew, Carlisle
10.Roland Wilson, Bedford
11.Ramo Stott, Keokuk
12.Ken Pratt, Darlington, Wis.
13.Ray Niemier, Madrid
14.Frank Richards, Marion
15.John Mickey, Columbus Junction
16.Eddie Harrow, Corpus Christi, Tex.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

1968 - Busson Wins Rain-Delayed Little 500

Karl Busson relaxes before the restart of the rain-delayed Little 500. He would lead the last 200 circuits to win the long-distance race. 

Anderson, Ind. (May 26, 1968) – Karl Busson of Toledo, Ohio, the 1967 International Motor Contest Association driving champion, took a giant step towards defense of his title by winning the two-day, rain-interrupted, tragedy-marred Little 500 sprint car classic on Sunday.

A downpour of rain halted the race after completion of 239 laps on Saturday, just 31 laps after a four-car pileup brought the second death of a driver in the 20-year history of the race.

Harry Kern, the 42-year-old chauffeur from St. Paul, Minn., died at St. John’s Hospital less than one hour after suffering head and chest injuries in the four-car wreck.

The accident started when Steve Lehnert of North Olmstead, Ohio, got sideways coming out of the second turn on lap 208. Kern slid into Leinert’s machine and was, in turn, hit by Cy Fairchild.

Fairchild’s car careened into the infield and about that time, Chuck Lynch of Springfield, Ill., crashed into Kern’s car, rode up and over the cockpit of the Minnesota sprinter and flipped one and a half times.

Lynch’s machine came down on its side, rolled up on the wheels and burst into flames. The fire was quickly extinguished, and Lynch scrambled from the car without being burned.

Both Kern and Lynch were rushed to St. John’s where Kern died of his injuries and Lynch was treated for cuts and bruises of the left arm and shoulder.

Busson was one of four drivers involved in a heated struggle for first place on Saturday night.

Don Nordhorn of Wadesville, Ind., a rookie in the race, jumped from his outside starting position in the first row to grab the lead at the drop of starter Woody Brinkman’s green flag.

Nordhorn led for the first six laps and then he, and Ray Wright of Elkhart, Ind., the polesitter, and veteran Jerry Richert of Forest Lake, Minn., played musical chairs for the lead.

It was Wright in front on lap 7 and Nordhorn back on top one lap later on the high-banked, quarter-mile asphalt oval. Wright hit the finish line first on both of the next two laps before Richert, who finished second twice and third once in three previous appearances, got into the act and took over on lap 11.

Wright had the nose of his sprinter in front on lap 12 before Nordhorn grabbed the lead on the 13th turn of the oval.

Nordhorn began increasing his margin and Busson was steadily working his way towards the front of the field. He moved into second on lap 41, and then caught and passed Nordhorn on lap 85 to take his first lead of the race.

Busson stayed in front until he made a pit stop on lap 228 at which point, Nordhorn took over the top spot once again.

Then, on lap 238, Nordhorn blew a motor in his car and Richert took over leadership with Wright in second and Busson trailing in third.

One lap later, the skies opened, and the race was halted, and the finish postponed until Sunday.

It was Richert, Wright, Busson, Nordhorn and Wes Stafford of Vincennes, Ind., in that order when the green flag dropped Sunday evening.

Nordhorn’s crew had installed a new motor overnight which permitted the promising rookie to be back in the lineup when the racing resumed.

Busson got around Wright on lap 266, and when Richert made a pit stop after completing 300 circuits, the Toledo veteran took over a lead he would not relinquish the rest of the race.

Nordhorn moved around Wright on lap 303 to take over the second spot but was black-flagged from the race on lap 357 when his car started throwing oil.

Just 10 laps prior to that incident, Richert, the perennial bridesmaid, moved into second place, and that’s where he finished, three laps behind Busson.

Wright finished third with Darl Harrison of Tiffin, Ohio, last year’s co-champion, coming home fourth. Jim Moughan of Springfield, Ill., was fifth with Benny Rapp of Toledo, Ohio, sixth as 14 of the original 33-car field was running at the finish.

The official time for the race was 2 hours, 15 minutes, and 15.17 seconds.

Results –

1. Karl Busson, Toledo, Ohio
2. Jerry Richert, Forest Lake, Minn.
3. Ray Wright, Elkhart, Ind.
4. Darl Harrison, Tiffin, Ohio
5. Jim Moughan, Springfield, Ill.
6. Benny Rapp, Toledo, Ohio
7. Bernie Graybeal, Shelbyville, Ky.
8. Jack O’Donnell, Fullerton, Calif.
9. Wes Stafford, Vincennes, Ind.
10.Johnny Auxter, Lindsay, Ohio
11.Cliff Cockrum, Benton, Ill.
12.Steve Lehnert, North Olmstead, Ohio
13.Roger West, Joliet, Ill.
14.Ron Perkins, Bethalto, Ill.
15.Don Nordhorn, Noblesville, Ind.
16.Bill Harter, Hagerstown, Ind.
17.Bobby Black, Taylorsville, Ind.
18.John Wallace, Madison Heights, Mich.
19.Lee Kunzman, Guttenberg, Iowa
20.Gene Roehl, Chicago, Ill.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

1976 – All Hansen in Doc Hunter Classic

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (May 25, 1976) - Curt Hansen was going, going and Darrell Dake was just plain gone.

Yes, bittersweet memories of Tuesday night’s inaugural Doc Hunter Classic stock car race at Hawkeye Downs should provide racing buffs with heady conversational tonic for some time.

Hansen, the Dike hot shoe whose boyish good looks belie his 31 years and 13 seasons on the dirt track circuit, started on the pole for the 35-lapper and immediately opened a lead that sometimes stretched to an eighth of a mile.

He put so much distance between himself and the rest of the field that the ground made up by second-place finisher Roger Dolan of Lisbon and third-place Ed Sanger of Waterloo seemed paltry by comparison.

Hansen owns his own ride, a 1975 Camaro, along with his father and brother and he was quick to give them full credit for his $1,000 payoff winning the All-Iowa Fairboard’s dedication race for the new half-mile dirt oval.

“I smashed the car Sunday at Waterloo, and the frame was in terrible shape. We had it on the frame machine all day Monday and when we quit working on it late Monday night, we had almost given up hope for competing in this race,” he explained.

“In fact,” added the Dike, Iowa, flash, “we really didn’t have the car in proper working order until three o’clock this afternoon (Tuesday). We rushed around so fast that I though all through the race that we probably had missed tightening a bolt somewhere and something would break.”

“The car has been running very well and even though we haven’t won too many features this year, we’ve been more consistent and always in the top three or four finishers.”

All was not sweetness and light, however, and controversy swirled around on of the Downs’ most popular drivers, hometown hero Darrell Dake.

Dake had apparently secured himself a spot in the trophy dash by posting the eighth fastest time in trials (Hansen was the leader at 25.20 seconds) and proceeded to steam away from the field to earn that prize.

During the heat races, though, it was determined that Dake had taken three green flags in time trials and only two are allowed. Therefore, his car was stricken from the feature field because his first time trial was too slow.

Relegated to the consolation, Dake breezed away from the pack to win that 15-lapper.

“I took my first green flag trial, but on the second, she slipped out of gear and I pulled off,” explained Dake, who readily admitted that he had indeed, gone out a third time.

“Rules are rules, I guess,” said a bitter Dake. “But I won’t be back here Friday night for the regular program.”

“I’m going back to Davenport where the track is 100% better.”

Dake had missed the last two Downs’ Friday night programs attributing that to the poor physical condition of the rebuilt oval.

Ironically, the local favorite furnished a gentlemanly gesture after winning the trophy dash, presenting it to Doc Hunter himself. The race was dedicated in Hunter’s name for his longtime affair with racing at Hawkeye Downs.

Hansen disagreed that the track was as bad as Dake maintained.

“It may be a little rough but it’s going to take a year for it to settle. You can’t build a track overnight and expect it to be letter perfect. At least you can pass and that’s important from a fan’s standpoint.”

Only 15 cars started the feature and one of those was Keokuk, Iowa’s Ramo Stott, who seldom will miss an opportunity to run at the Downs. A paid crowd of 2,940 watched Red Dralle of Waterloo, Mike Frieden of Fairfax and Duane Steffe of Colona, Ill., win heat races.

Results –

1. Curt Hanen, Dike
2. Roger Dolan, Lisbon
3. Ed Sanger, Waterloo
4. Bill Zwanziger, Waterloo
5. Bill Beckman, Lisbon
6. Bill Rice, Des Moines
7. Fred Horn, Marion
8. Dan Dickey, Packwood
9. Ramo Stott, Keokuk
10.Dave Chase, Council Bluffs

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

1969 – 7,100 See Hilmer Win at Des Moines

A happy Bob Hilmer is joined by co-promoters Johnny Beauchamp (left) and Homer Melton after his victory in Des Moines. – Beetle Bailey Photo

Des Moines, Iowa (May 24, 1969) – Bob Hilmer of Dysart guided his smoking 1965 Chevelle to victory in the wild, 25-lap late model stock car main event before an estimated crowd of 7,110 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Saturday.

Hilmer developed engine trouble early on in the feature and his exhaust streamed a thick trail of white smoke throughout the accident-marred event.

However, he managed to fend off Keokuk’s Lem Blankenship in the final laps to gain the triumph.

There was a four-car pileup on the fifth lap, started when a 1967 Chevelle driven by Tom Stewart of Washington careened into an identical model drive by Joe Alsin. Stewart’s car spun out of control and flipped twice. He escaped injury.

Bill Moyer of Des Moines, driving a Corvette, and Roger Dolan of Lisbon, piloting a Plymouth Roadrunner, were the others involved in the mishap. They also escaped unharmed, but their cars were damaged extensively.

Don Hoffman of Des Moines won his second straight sportsman feature. He pulled away at the start in his 1957 Chevrolet and was never threatened throughout the 15-lapper.

Results –

Sportsman –

1. Don Hoffman, Des Moines
2. Larry Embrey, Panora
3. Lynn Komrie, Van Meter
4. Gary Jones, Des Moines
5. Ed Perryman, Des Moines
6. Dick Gustin, Des Moines
7. Carl Vander Wal, Ames

Late Model –

1. Bob Hilmer, Dysart
2. Lem Blankenship, Keokuk
3. Irv Janey, Cedar Rapids
4. George Barton, Ankeny
5. Dean Montgomery, Milan, Ill.
6. Bill McDonough, Cedar Rapids
7. Dick Oldham, Des Moines
8. Lyle Behne, Rock Island, Ill.
9. Bud Kohl, Cedar Rapids
10.Bill Schwader, Davenport

Monday, May 23, 2022

1982 – Burgess Takes Dr. Pepper Title

Steve Burgess scored his first career ARTGO victory at La Crosse. - Kyle Ealy Collection

West Salem, Wis. - Steve Burgess of Eau Claire, Wis., couldn’t have picked a better time for his first ARTGO Racing feature win.

Burgess, the 1978 ARTGO rookie of the year, won the first of two 50-lap events and took runner-up honors in the second 50-lap main to claim the overall title at the 8th annual Dr. Pepper 100 at La Crosse Interstate Speedway on Sunday.

Jim Back of Vesper, Wis., led the field of 20 cars to the green and maintained the point until lap seven when Burgess slid past Back and started building a healthy lead. On lap 12, Tom Reffner slammed the backstretch wall hard after getting tangled with Joe Shear bringing out the race's only caution.

Running in the second spot was fast qualifier and defending ARTGO champ Dick Trickle, although he was being hard-pressed by Jim Sauter of Necedah, Wis. Trickle’s charge to the front ended on lap 19 when a clogged fuel line sent him to the pits. Sauter took over the second spot but was no match for Burgess for the remainder of the race. Burgess crossed the finish line 2.7 seconds ahead of Sauter when the checkers dropped. Beloit’s Joe Shear finished third after his near miss with Reffner, Ted Musgrave of Grand Marsh, Wis., took fourth and Jim Weber of Roseville, Minn., rounded out the top-five.

Reffner managed to piece his 1981 Superamerica Camaro back together for the nightcap. Twenty-two late models took the green with Mike Miller of Wisconsin Rapids grabbing the top spot. Making his first start of the ’82 season, Miller led the first 17 laps before Burgess, fresh off his first win, passed Miller and grabbed control on lap 18.

Burgess stayed up front until lap 24 when Reffner took command. Four cautions slowed the action in the second 50 lapper. On lap 16 Jay Sauter backed into the walls between three and four with his dad Jim spinning coming off of turn four at the same time. The second caution came on lap 26 when Trickle’s fuel overflow hose came loose spilling fuel on the track

A couple of laps later Al Schill, winner of the ARTGO season opener at Rockford, smacked the wall hard in turn three. The final yellow came out on lap 37 when Jim Weber spun his Camaro in turn one while battling for position with Musgrave.

Through all the stoppages, Reffner managed to hold off a determined Burgess to claim his first ARTGO victory since 1979. Burgess held on to second, which gave him the overall title, Jim Sauter took his second third-place finish of the day, Mark Martin of Batesville, Ark., settled for fourth and Ted Musgrave rounded out the top-five.

J.J. Smith of Appleton, Steve Holzhausen of Bangor and Mel Whalen of Shakopee, Minn., took 15-lap qualifying heat wins and Jim Johnson of Bangor grabbed the 20-lap semi feature. Trickle was fast qualifier at 19.435 seconds around the 5/8-oval.

Results –

Feature #1 –

1. Steve Burgess
2. Jim Sauter
3. Joe Shear
4. Ted Musgrave
5. Jim Weber

Feature #2 –

1. Tom Reffner
2. Steve Burgess
3. Jim Sauter
4. Mark Martin
5. Ted Musgrave

Sunday, May 22, 2022

1971 – Wise wins Little 500

Herman Wise proudly displays his trophy after winning the Little 500. 

Anderson, Ind. (May 22, 1971) - Herman Wise, taking the lead on the 152nd lap, led the rest of the way to win the 23rd annual “Little 500’’ sprint car classic Saturday night at Sun Valley Speedway.

Wise took over from Chuck Amati, who had taken the original lead, and opened up a formidable gap. The Atlanta, Georgia, driver had brief relief from Bill Burks Jr. of Marion, Ill., but hopped back in the car a few laps later when the race was stopped due to an accident.

The mishap came on the 405th lap in which Bill Tennill, Shelbyville, Ky., became the second driver to die of injuries suffered in the “Little 500”. Tennille’s car collided with Chet Johnson’s machine on the third turn after Johnson had smashed the wall. Pinned in the wreckage, Tennill, 26, was pronounced dead on arrival at St. John’s Hospital.

Amati finished third behind Bill Cassella of Weirton, West Virginia. Fourth was Benny Rapp, Toledo, Ohio, who started from the pole and challenged midway through before dropping back. Johnny Albrechtsen of Winnipeg, Alberta, Canada, was fifth, followed by Buzz Gregory, Indianapolis, the only former winner in the field, with relief help from Cliff Cochran of Benton, Ill. Ray Wright of Elkhart, Ind., was seventh.

The fatal wreck was only the second in “Little 500” history. Harry Kern of St. Paul, Minn., died as a result of a collision in the second turn of the 1967 race.

Wise, driving a Chevy-powered machine, started from the fifth qualifying spot in the middle of the second row. He quickly moved into second place and trailed Amati until the early leader made his first pit stop on lap 152.

It was a rags-to-riches finish for Wise, who finished dead last in the 1970 “Little 500” chase. Wise is a former veteran of the United States Auto Club sprint car circuit.

Chuck Amati led from the first lap until he pitted on lap 152. A lengthy fuel stop put in back in the field, with Wise taking over the top spot. Wise would pit 50 laps later, getting in and out in good order and holding off Albrechtsen to maintain the lead.

Wise continued to set a blistering pace as the track started to take its toll on man and machine. Amati would have gas consumption issues, Bill Cassella blew a tire, and Bobby Kinser blew an engine, though he managed to get back into the race later.

Oil deposits on the track made the going slippery. Albrechtsen dropped out of contention before lap 350 was completed. Polesitter Benny Rapp, meanwhile, set a steady pace and moved into second place.

Rapp began losing ground on Wise around 400 laps and Cassella, Amati and Albrechtsen passed him within the next five circuits. While Wise was completing his 405th lap, Chet Johnson smashed the wall and Bill Tennill car careened up over him, pinning Tennill in the wreckage. The race was stopped while Tennill was freed from his machine and transported to St. John’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Results –

1. Herman Wise, Atlanta, Ga.
2. Bill Cassella, Weirton, W.Va.
3. Chuck Amati, Greenfield, Tenn.
4. Benny Rapp, Toledo, Ohio
5. Buzz Gregory, Indianapolis
6. John Albrechtsen, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
7. Ray Wright, Elkhart, Ind.
8. Bob Kinser, Bloomington, Ind.
9. Kenny Simpson, Bedford, Ind.
10.Dan Bowlen, Bloomington, Ind.
11.John Luderman, Reading, Mich.
12.Dick Jones, Whitewater, Wis.
13.Dave Scarborough, Largo, Fla.
14.Dick Sutcliffe, Greenwood, Mo.
15.Bobby Sitz, Arcola, Ill.
16.Bill Harter, Hagerstown, Ind.
17.Johnny Auxter, Lindsey, Ohio
18.Dick Gaines, Seymour, Ind.
19.Jack O’Donnell, Fullerton, Calif.
20.Bill Tennill, Shelbyville, Ky.
21.Chet Johnson, West Terre Haute, Ind.
22.Sheldon Kinser, Bloomington, Ind.
23.Ron Larson, White Bear Lake, Minn.
24.Jim Hines, New Castle, Ind.
25.Casey Jones, South Bend, Ind.
26.Oscar Fay, Mishawaka, Ind.
27.Elmo Smalley, Waverly, Ohio
28.Bernie Graybeal, Shelbyville, Ky.
29.Jerry Powell, Indianapolis
30.Bill Hughes, Jim Thorpe, Penn.
31.Mark Caldwell, Bunker Hill, Ind.
32.Bob Skinner, Muncie, Ind.
33.Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

1973 - Offy Engine at Knoxville

Mel Cornett

Knoxville, Iowa (May 21, 1973) - Hey sprint car buffs! Remember the good old days when Offenhauser-powered racers cackled around Iowa’s dirt tracks, making enough racket to compare with two or three of today’s stock block engines?

Bobby Grim’s almost unbeatable Black Deuce probably rattled windows for blocks around the State Fairgrounds when he competed. And if he got a good bite of the track, anything within too feet behind it was splattered with dirt.

That was back before the Offy went the way of steam locomotives and whooping cranes - as far as sprint cars are concerned. There just aren’t many around anymore. There too expensive.

Well, Offy lovers, there is at least, one still in action. But its days are numbered.

A. J. Watson, chief mechanic for Mike Mosley’s Leader Card Specials at Indianapolis, recently knocked the dust off an Offy engine he’s had around for several years and put it in a sprint car.

It will compete at the United States Auto Club races at Knoxville, Iowa’s Marion County Fairgrounds on Saturday night June 2.

Ford Motor Company had a hand in getting this Offy “back on the road.”

“I got a good deal on the engine,” Watson said in a telephone interview from Indianapolis Sunday. “When Autolite (a Ford subsidiary) went out of the business of supporting racing, I bought it for $1,500.”

“Autolite used it for testing, and it was still in good shape. It. would cost $12,000 to buy the same engine today. They’re hand made. A Chevy engine costs about $2,000.

“Mr. Wilke (Ralph Wilke, president of Leader Cards of Milwaukee, Wis.) decided he wanted a sprint car this year as well as the Indy cars.”

So, we got one and I decided to stick the Offy engine in it. As far as I know, it is the only Offy-powered sprint car in the country.”

Because it is handmade, most parts are expensive to replace. “If I had to put a new crank in it, it would cost $2,500,” Watson said. “A crank for a Chevy engine costs $75 to $100. That’s why Offenhauser motors are no longer used in sprint cars.”

“If this one blows, I won’t replace it.”

Mel Cornett, 38, of Milwaukee, Wis., is the driver. “The Offy engine has 255 cubic inch displacement,” he said. “A Chevy (the most popular and economical stock block engine used in sprint cars today) has 305 and has more horsepower.”

“But, if I can start up front and really push it. I can do all right. I’ve won heat races in our last three outings. My best finish in a feature was ninth.”

Knoxville promoter Marion Robinson says the one-half mile dirt track there should be ideal for the Offy.

“Since it’s a night race and the track will have plenty of moisture, it should be able to get a good bite up high,” he explained. “If it does, look out.”

The car’s number is 98. But, it won’t be necessary to check that identification. Just listen. You’ll know when King Offy goes by.

Editor’s note: Mel Cornett would win the USAC 40-lap feature at Terre Haute, Ind., on June 10, 1973. It would be the last time that a sprint car, powered by an Offenhauser motor, would win a USAC-sanctioned sprint car race.

Friday, May 20, 2022

1972 – 12,557 See Fairgrounds’ Opener to Hoffman

Don Hoffman

Des Moines, Iowa (May 20, 1972) – A record crowd of 12,557 watched Des Moines’ Don Hoffman pilot his 1972 Monte Carlo to the late model stock car feature victory Saturday night in the season opener at the State Fairgrounds.

Virgil Webb of Des Moines survived three restarts and a duel with Larry Embrey of Grimes to take the 15-lap sportsman feature.

The crowd – 12,557 – was the largest ever for a Saturday night weekly program.

Hoffman, who led the time trials with a 26.53-second clocking on the half-mile oval, grabbed the lead early on in the 25-lap main event and held it through two cautions to post the victory over Marion’s Fred Horn and John Connolly of Delhi.

The sportsman feature was stopped three times – all due to mishaps before the first lap was completed. The field was reduced from 15 to 11 when the race finally got past the first lap.

Bill Lundington of Des Moines and Webb were sportsman heat winners.

In the 12-lap sportsman semi-main, won by Embrey in a 1965 Chevrolet, only two cars were remaining at the finish – the winner and Ed Perryman of Des Moines in a 1956 Chevrolet.

Bob Bonzer of Liscomb and Fred Horn of Marion were late model heat winners while Joe Merryfield of Des Moines won the semi-main.

Results –

Sportsman –
Heat #1 – Bill Ludington, Des Moines
Heat #2 – Virgil Webb, Des Moines
Semi -main – Larry Embrey, Grimes
Feature –
1. Virgil Webb
2. Larry Embrey
3. Bill Ludington
4. Mike Pinckney, Des Moines
5. Dave Farren, Des Moines
6. Ken Gerhart, Des Moines
7. Cliff Van Zandt, Des Moines
8. John May, Des Moines
9. Ed Perryman, Des Moines
10.Jim Brooks, Des Moines

Late Model –

Time Trials – Don Hoffman, Des Moines (26.53)
Heat #1 – Bob Bonzer, Liscomb
Heat #2 – Fred Horn, Marion
Semi-main – Joe Merryfield, Des Moines
Feature –
1. Don Hoffman
2. Fred Horn
3. John Connolly, Delhi
4. Dick Oldham, Des Moines
5. Bob Bonzer
6. Don Davidson, Des Moines
7. Jerry Roberts, Prairie City
8. John Carlson, Ankeny
9. Lefty Robinson, Des Moines
10.Victor Dicks, Des Moines
11.Bugsy Vincent, Nevada
12.Joe Merryfield
13.Phil Reece, Des Moines
14.Larry McGee, Woodward
15.Bill Davis, Des Moines

Thursday, May 19, 2022

1974 – Trickle, Jones and Miller are Prairie State 150 Winners

Dick Trickle (left) and Tom Jones both took 50-lap feature wins during the Prairie State 150. -
Keith Vercauteren Collection

Morris, Ill. (May 19, 1974) - The Prairie State 150 Sunday afternoon saw three different winners from three different states as Dick Trickle, Tom Jones and Butch Miller carried the three checkered flags.

Wisconsin's Trickle posted fast time and won the opening 50-lapper in convincing fashion. The second race was closer with Illinois' Jones just edging Joe Shear and Michigan's Miller took the finale in a side-by-side finish with Trickle.

The overall championship of the meet turned out to be Trickle with a first, second and the fastest time.

Trickle and Jones were the class of the opening two 50-lappers as each scored wins, Jones by the closer margin in the second race.

First 50-Laps

Al Weinrich and Lee Schuler paced the first 50-lap event for three laps before tangling in the first turn and bringing out the only yellow flag of the event as Dave Clower stalled on the track and Schuler was stuck in the infield.

Don Leach took the lead at the green and opened up a substantial lead over Tom Greenlee, Ed Hoffman, Bob Roper, Miller and fast timer Trickle

Trickle picked his way through the field using lapped cars to his advantage, often going three abreast as he moved to the front.

By the half-way point Leach was running wheel-to-wheel with Trickle and shortly Trickle was in the lead for good. Leach held on for second over Greenlee, Roper, Tom Reffner and Hoffman.

Second 50-Laps

Don Marmor of Elmhurst opened up a nice lead in the second 50 lapper until the third lap when Schuler and Ray Para bumped and spun in the third turn.

When the green flew again Marmor held the lead until the 8th lap when Jones passed him for top spot in the outside groove. Joe Shear took second from Vern Schrock five laps later and the race was on between these former Rockford Speedway rivals.

Jones, popular with the hometown fans, had to survive two more yellow flags in the closing laps as first Marv Palmer blew his engine on the front straight in the front of the leaders.

Then with five laps to go Vem Browne spun in the second turn bunching Jones and Shear up for an exciting finish. Jones maintained a one-car length margin at the checkered. Bill McEnery was a distant third followed by Schrock, Al Johnson and Ray Freeman.

Third 50-Laps

Larry Schuler shot into the lead in the featured third 50-lapper which started all of the top runners. Schuler soon opened up a quarter lap lead over Dave Clower and the rest of the field under two yellow flags ate up the young Schuler’s margin.

The first yellow came on lap 11 when Bill McEnery spun and then two laps later Clower dumped his engine on the backstretch piling up a number of cars. Lee Schuler, Clower and Ed Hoffman were knocked out of competition in the melee that occurred in the third turn.

After a lengthy yellow the young Schuler held the lead until the 17th lap when Butch Miller took the lead in the second turn with Trickle in hot pursuit.

The balance of the race kept the crowd on their feet as Trickle and Miller diced for the lead Miller opening up a margin when in the open and losing it back to Trickle in traffic

When Tom Urban spun in the third turn with a flat tire in the 42nd lap, the yellow flag set up a trophy dash to the checkered in the final eight laps

Trickle went to the outside in the final laps, but Miller was the master in this case as he edged Trick le into the third groove on the final turn.

Joe Shear drove a consistent race for third money while local drivers Larry Schuler, Roper and Jones fought it out for fourth Roper took that spot in the final lap followed by Schuler and Jones. Tom Reffner was sixth.

Results –

Feature #1 –

1. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
2. Butch Miller, Benton Harbor, Mich.
3. Don Leach, Rockford
4. Tom Greenlee, Rockford
5. Bob Roper, Lombard, Ill.
6. Tom Reffner, Rudolph, Wis.
7. Ed Hoffman, Niles, Ill.
8. Paul Bauer, Garden Homes, Ill.
9. Jerry Kemperman, Blue Island, Ill.
10.Jake Arnold, Rockford

Feature #2 –

1. Tom Jones, Northbrook, Ill.
2. Joe Shear, Beloit, Wis.
3. Bill McEnery, Evergreen Park, Ill.
4. Vern Schrock, Middlebury, Ind
5. Al Johnson, Justice, Ill.
6. Ray Freeman, Crete, Ill.
7. Tom Musgrave, Mundelein, Ill.
8. Vern Browne, Wauconda, Ill.
9. Woody Church, Blue Island, Ill.
10.Don Marmor, Elmhurst, Ill.

Feature #3 –

1. Butch Miller, Benton Harbor, Mich.
2. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
3. Joe Shear, Beloit, Wis.
4. Bob Roper, Lombard, Ill.
5. Larry Schuler, Lockport, Ill.
6. Tom Jones, Northbrook, Ill.
7. Tom Reffner, Rudolph, Wis.
8. Bill McEnery, Evergreen Park, Ill.
9. Don Leach, Rockford
10.Tom Musgrave, Mundelein, Ill.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

1967 - First stock car race set for Friday night at Air-View

Monticello, Iowa (May 18, 1967) - The racing season officially opens in Monticello at Air-View Speedway Friday night at 8 o'clock, according to Independence Racing Association officials.

Races are now being held at Independence on Saturday nights and at Tunis Speedway in Waterloo every Sunday night.

The Monticello VFW will handle concessions and the drill team will be in charge of parking and policing. The Monticello Fire department will provide an ambulance and fire protection at every race.

Local drivers who will be back in action are Tom Hughes, who returns with his 1964 Ford and Al Iben, back with his 1961 Ford.

Many of the old veterans of this area will be back in revamped cars and several new cars and drivers will be showing up on the three ovals. Dave Noble is working on a 1964 Chevy and fellow Minnesotan Joe Wurst a 1963 Chevy.

Hard luck driver of 1966, John Hill, will try to change his luck in a 1966 Chevelle while Ty Burger, rookie of 1966, will open his second season of racing a 1965 Chevelle. Bob Hilmer of Dysart and Dick Heiden of Cedar Rapids will be piloting Chevrolets. Red Droste, Waterloo, will be driving a ‘66 Chevrolet also, report racing managers.

Chub Liebe of Oelwein, 1966 season champion, will be heading up the Ford operators this season along with Curt Hansen of Dike who has deserted his Pontiac for a 1964 Ford. Karl Sanger, Waterloo, a newcomer to oval racing, will move into the stock car circle from the drag strip ranks in a 1962 Ford while his brother, Ed Sanger, will be back with his Pontiac GTO.

Buzz Jensen purchased a 1962 Ford in the Chicago area and hopes to give some competition to Bill Zwanziger on the three-track circuit. Bill's 1964 Ford served him well in the last season and his mechanic, Roger Beck, says the car has been completely rebuilt and is expected to go even better than ever. Glen Martin, Waterloo, will have last year's Oldsmobile with it too being completely rebuilt from bumper to bumper.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

1953 – Snyder Sets Record in Mason City Win

Deb Snyder

Mason City, Iowa (May 17, 1953) – The 1952 king of dirt track racing doesn’t have any intention of giving up his throne.

Deb Snyder of Kent, Ohio, gave a brilliant demonstration of this fact on Sunday afternoon at the North Iowa Fairgrounds before an estimated 3,200 spectators at the International Motor Contest Association big car races.

This was Snyder’s first competition of the season in his new and powerful Offenhauser racer, and he took the only two events in which he was entered. He thoroughly shattered one record in his heat event and then won the 20-lap, 10-mile distance, the first time a feature race had been run here of that distance.

Snyder, who timed in fifth fastest in qualifying, was disgusted with his showing in time trials and then then set his mind and his throttle foot to work to make up for it in his first race. Bob Carpenter of Wabash, Ind., the big winner two weeks ago in Shreveport, La., was in the same heat as Snyder but it was no race.

He toured the seven laps in 2 minutes and 57.12 seconds to chip off more than 10 seconds off the previous track record of 3 minutes and 9.92 seconds, set by Pete Folse of Tampa, Fla., last year.

After the program, promoter Frank Winkley announced that Snyder’s time was the best ever posted in International Motor Contest Association competition. The old mark was set by the late Gus Schrader in 2 minutes and 57.99 seconds at the Minnesota State Fair in 1940.

The feature race was the standout on the program and one which had a strange twist. Mason City’s Leon DeRock was leading the field with Snyder in second and Carpenter third but on the fourth lap, Carpenter’s car quit on the east turn of the track when he accidently cut off the magneto switch and the race was stopped because of the danger.

The race was restarted with the drivers holding their places and 17 laps to go. DeRock’s car had gotten hot during the stop and water was lost but he continued to stay in front and led for 12 laps as he and Snyder waged a terrific battle for the lead.

Snyder would shoot ahead of DeRock on the homestretch and DeRock decided to pull into the pit area with the temperature rising. DeRock didn’t want to risk any further damage to his Offenhauser engine.

It was Snyder’s race in a walk for the remainder of the race. Carpenter, who was sent to the rear of the field after his car conked out, fought back from last place after the restart to finish second with Jim McWithey of Anderson, Ind., taking third.

Pete Folse of Tampa, Fla., who was running among the leaders early on, dropped out on lap 12 when a flying rock hit his arm.

Results –

Time trials – Bob Carpenter, Wabash, Ind. (24.70)
Heat #1 – Deb Snyder, Kent, Ohio
Heat #2 – Harry King, Tampa, Fla.
Heat #3 – Bill Mumford, Minneapolis
Consolation – Cecil Greenly, Webster City
Australian Pursuit – Stan Calloway, Miami, Fla.
Feature –
1. Deb Snyder
2. Bob Carpenter
3. Jim McWithey, Anderson, Ind.
4. Harry King
5. Stan Calloway
6. Clair Cotter, Austin, Minn.
7. Ernie Johnson, Christine, N.D.
8. Porky Rachwitz, Omaha

Monday, May 16, 2022

1970 – Fatality Mars Knoxville Super-Modified Card

Joe Saldana

Knoxville, Iowa (May 16, 1970) - It was Joe Saldana night at the super modified season opener at the Marion County Fairgrounds in Knoxville Saturday night. Saldana, from Lincoln, Neb., was anxious to race after pulling to Knoxville the last two weeks only to find the races cancelled due to rain. In a new car with a new number, Joe captured the 25-lap super modified feature, the trophy dash and his heat.

Saldana took the lead on the third lap and continued leading to the 25th lap and the awaiting checkered flag. Seemed that nothing could stop him as he won by a considerable margin over the rest of the field. Dick Sutcliffe from Kansas City, Mo., finished second ahead of Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., in third spot.

On the field of 31 supers, Jerry Blundy set the fastest time of 22.11 seconds around the one-half mile oval in his red #33.

The trophy dash was won by Joe Saldana. Saldana fought off the challenges of Ray Lee Goodwin of Kansas City for the trophy. Bill Utz was third and James Bond, fourth.

Saldana then put his red #2 super into the first to cop the first 10-lap heat by a wide margin. In second was Jay Woodside. Stacy Redmond of Mason City placed third followed by Flea Atkins.

Dick Sutcliffe took the lead on the first lap and was never headed to cop the second 10-lap heat. Sutcliffe was leading by one-fourth lap ahead of the second place Lennie Jensen at the checkers. Keith Hightshoe finished in a very close third.

The only flag of the evening came on the first lap of the second heat when newcomer Jay Opperman of Beaver Crossing, Neb., flipped wildly over the third turn fence, landing some 80 feet from the track. Opperman lost his life in that accident and the Van's Mobile Home Special super modified was totally demolished.

Officials said Opperman's car struck the wheel of another auto in the first lap of the second heat.

Ralph Blackett of Des Moines grabbed a good-sized lead to win the third 10-lap heat event. In the battle for second spot, it was Wib Spalding finishing second. Next across the finish line were Del Schmidt, Jerry Blundy and Bill Utz.

Bill Utz led all the way to victory in the 10-lap consolation. James Bond was second and Roger Abbott of Lincoln, Neb., in a close third. Following were Bob Fisher of Des Moines, Curt Houge of Ames, Steve Schultz of Chillicothe Mo., and Bruce Sommerfeld of Fort Dodge.

Results –

Time Trials – Jerry Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
Trophy dash – Joe Saldana, Lincoln, Neb.
Heat #1 – Joe Saldana
Heat #2 – Dick Sutcliffe, Kansas City
Heat #3 – Ralph Blackett, Des Moines
Consolation – Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
Feature –
1. Joe Saldana
2. Dick Sutcliffe
3. Jerry Blundy
4. Del Schmidt, Topeka, Kan.
5. Lonnie Jensen, Lincoln, Neb.
6. Bob Williams, Independence, Mo.
7. Jay Woodside, Kansas City
8. Ray Lee Goodwin, Kansas City
9. Bill Utz
10.Stacy Redmond, Mason City, Iowa