Jim McElreath, driving Diz Wilson’s #71, won the annual 4th of July IMCA holiday sprint car spectacular at Hawkeye Downs.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa (July 4, 1961) – It was Jim McElreath Night during the annual Fourth of July sprint car races at Hawkeye Downs.An estimated crowd of 8,000 fans watched McElreath wheel his #71 orange Offenhauser to first place in the feature event of the International Motor Contest Association speedway-type cars.
McElreath was reaping all kinds of honors on this particular 4th of July. The up-and-coming driver not only swept the main event, but he also won the main attraction at the Davenport oval earlier in the afternoon.
It was the second year in a row that the same car won the feature race as A.J. Shepherd piloted the same Offy to victory here last year.
McElreath, who earlier had won the second heat, show cased his driving ability in the feature. After starting in the 12th position, he fought his way to third after only nine laps had concluded.
On lap 10, Buzz Barton of Tampa, Fla., who had led to that point, gave way to McElreath.
Gordon Woolley of Waco, Tex., who had been in the running, was injured when his radiator hose blew up and his car caught fire. The field was given the red flag at the end of 11 laps, and all pulled into the pit area.
After a 10-minute delay, only 11 of the starting 16 cars went back on the track. At this time, McElreath and Barton were still the top contenders. But Buzz Rose of Gardenia, Calif., who hadn’t done much all evening, snatched the second spot on lap 12 and pressed McElreath all the way to the finish.
As it was, Rose wound up taking runner-up honors, two-time IMCA national champion Pete Folse of Tampa, Fla., was third, Arnold Knepper of Belleville, Ill., was fourth and Jerry Richert of Forest Lake, Minn., rounded out the top five Barton slipped back to finish sixth.
At the start of the evening’s events, it looked as the big race would come from the “Tampa Two,” as Folse and Barton went 1-2 in qualifying. Barton was tops with ta time of 22.36 seconds around the half-mile, Folse was second fastest with a clocking of 23.25 seconds.
Heat #1 – Harold Leep, Wichita, Kan.
Heat #2 – Jim McElreath, Arlington, Tex.
Heat #3 – Lou Holland, McCallsburg, Iowa
Trophy dash – Arnie Knepper, Belleville, Ill.
Consolation – Eddie Loetscher, Kirkwood, Mo.
1. Jim McElreath
2. Buzz Rose, Gardenia, Calif.
3. Pete Folse, Tampa, Fla.
4. Arnie Knepper
5. Jerry Richert, Forest Lake, Minn.
6. Buzz Barton, Tampa, Fla.
7. Eddie Loetscher
8. Jerry Shumaker, Wichita, Kan.
9. Lou Holland
10.Dan Pemble, Scranton, Iowa