Thursday, December 22, 2022

Happy Holidays!

 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Kyle Ealy & Lee Ackerman









Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The IMCA Stock Cars at the Nebraska State Fair

1959 Birds-Eye View of the Nebraska State Fairgrounds

by Lee Ackerman

Omaha, Neb. - While it is rumored that an IMCA Stock Car race may have been ran in 1947, it wasn’t until 1949 that the series held its first year of competition. One of the stops on the tour was the Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln.

On September 9, the series visited Lincoln and Eddie Anderson of Grinnell, Iowa, drove away with the win in the 100-lap event. Anderson was unofficially crowned as the first IMCA Stock Car Champion at seasons end. An interesting fact was that Anderson driving a 1949 Mercury that he restored after the car was totaled in a traffic accident. The win was Anderson’s third straight win in the car.

Anderson took the lead on lap 63 and was never headed, despite driving with a loose rear fender, the result of a brush with the wall after entering one of the turns to fast. Anderson completed the 50-mile event in one hour and 35.1 minutes and took the $500 first prize of a $2,000 purse distributed to the first 12 finishers.

Omahan Wayne Selser led the event in his Ford from lap 9 until lap 63 when he suffered a blowout and had to head pit side. Selser’s crew made quick repairs and he was able to return to action and finish the event in third place.

Herschel Buchanan an ex-Big Car pilot and future IMCA Stock Car Champion finished second. The Shreveport, Louisiana chauffeur was driving a Nash. Multi-time IMCA Big Car Champion and winner of the Big Car event the day before at the Nebraska State Fair, Frank Luptow of Detroit finished fourth in an Oldsmobile.

Norm Horn of Great Bend, Kansas brought his Packard home in fifth, Lincoln’s Woody Brinkman (later an IMCA Official) was scored in sixth in his Ford, George Christensen of Chicago seventh in a Ford, H. L. Kapke of Lincoln eighth in a Buck, Larry Wheeler of Omaha ninth in a Ford and Stan Calloway of Miami rounded out the top-10 in a Chevy.

Eddie Anderson 

On September 8, 1950, before a crowd of 21,000 fans the series returned to Lincoln and the Nebraska State Fair and things picked up right where they left off as Anderson set fast time in time trials with a lap of 33.04 seconds.

For a major part of the race Anderson kept his 1950 Mercury out front holding off the challenges of Dick Howe of Chicago, Frank Trauer of Omaha, Don White of Keokuk, Iowa and Art Combs of Emporia, Kansas. One by one Anderson has his challengers fell by the wayside.

Things started to unravel for Anderson when he and Howe tangled in the east turn on lap 69 with both cars crashing through the inside fence. By the time the crumpled fenders were sledgehammered out, Anderson was down five laps and Howe three. Fighting back Anderson gained back a lap before spinning through the infield fence in the west turn on lap 89 and retired from the event.

Trauer now leading on lap 86 despite a near spin almost tagging the fence on the west turn saw his good run ended with a blowout. Meanwhile Minneapolis’ Wally Dahl had been hanging back in his Olds playing the waiting game and during the final laps battled it out with Marv Sams of Montezuma, Iowa in Mercury and Jim Morgan of Davenport, Iowa in a Nash holding off the challengers for the win. Sams and Morgan held on for second and third.

White’s chance of winning went away with a mid-race blowout while Combs spent 18 laps in the pits after hitting a spinning car on lap 62. Following Dahl, Sams and Morgan in the final standings were Herschel Buchanan in a Nash, Carl Lilienthal of Atlantic, Iowa in a Ford with Don White hanging on in his Mercury to finish sixth.

Twenty-nine cars entered the 1950 event with fastest 20 cars qualifying for the race. Patricia Sutton of Kansas driving a Dodge was one of the entries, but it is not known if she qualified for the race.

It was noted in the Lincoln papers coverage of the race that while the stock cars were no match for the speed of the Offys (Big Cars), it should have been a great day for folks who got their kicks watching the sheet metal bent. Of the 20 cars in the field many of them 1950 models were involved in accidents and were scarcely recognizable at the end of the event.

On September 7, 1951, future Indianapolis 500-star Dick Rathmann set a new track record in qualifying with a lap of 32.53 seconds, but his day was short lived as he lost a wheel on the first lap and never reentered the race.

Eddie Anderson the second fastest qualifier in a Chrysler took the lead on the restart of the event but also lost a wheel in the west turn on lap seven. Anderson reentered the race many laps down and later retired from the event.

Herschel Buchanan then took over the lead in his Nash, leading until lap 23 when "Wild" Bill Harrison of Topeka put his '49 out front, a position he stayed in during the rest of the 125-lap event. During the race Harrison actually turned laps faster than Rathmann’s qualifying effort, recording one at 32.16 seconds.

The 41-year-old Harrison, who has been driving stocks for the past three years said the track was well suited for his 49’ Plymouth coupe. “It was a Plymouth track,” He said. “Hard and slick.”

The advantages of the track conditions were evident in the later stages of the race when Harrison had to hold off the challenges of the previous year’s winner Wally Dahl. Dahl’ Olds made up ground down the straightaways, but Harrison’s coupe gained it back in the corners. During the final laps Dahl was on Harrison’s bumper but could not make the pass.

Buchanan held on for third, Chris Skadal of Des Moines was fourth in an Olds, Ernie Derr of Fort Madison, Iowa fifth in another Olds, Chug Montgomery of Springfield, Missouri sixth in an Olds, Tilman Husets of Brandon, South Dakota, seventh in a Plymouth, Carl Lilienthal eighth in a Ford and Lincoln’s Marv Copple ninth in a Chevy.

Several accidents marred the event. On two occasions potential winners went out of the race with broken axles which ended up in near flips, a third car was forced out when a collision damaged a cars radiator forcing the driver to retire.

It was reported that during the three IMCA race dates at the Nebraska State Fair (two Big Cars and the Stock Car event) that 58,000 had attended viewed the three programs. 20,000 for each of the Big Car shows and 18,000 for the Stock Cars.

No detailed results were found for the 1952 IMCA Stock Car show at the Nebraska State Fair, but IMCA records show that Dominic “Shorty” Perlick of Minneapolis, Minnesota won the 125-lap event on September 5, 1952, driving an Oldsmobile. Perlick went on to claim the 1952 IMCA Stock Car Championship.

Ernie Derr would earn his first win at Lincoln and his first IMCA championship in 1953. 

On September 11, 1953, a driver went to the winner’s circuit at the Nebraska State Fair that would become synonymous with IMCA Stock Car racing. Ernie Derr, now racing out of Keokuk, Iowa did not overpower the field that day as he would in later years.

Derr was actually three laps down to Bloomington, Illinois’ Les Snow on lap 101 when Snow’s ‘53 Hudson Hornet blew a tire sending him pit side. By the time Snow returned to action he was two laps down and trailing both Derr and Bill Harrison.

Following Derr, Harrison and Snow to line were Lincoln’s Marv Copple who pocketed $175 for fourth, Russell Gross of Quincy, Illinois fifth, Kansas City’s Jim Page sixth, Anita, Illinois Mel Krueger seventh and Doc Narber of Cedar Rapids, Iowa eight.

In qualifying Snow turned a lap of 34.06 seconds with Derr and Herschel Buchanan tripping the clock at 34.15, Bill Harrison at 34.34 and Marv Copple at 34.92 in his Olds.

Three other Nebraskans competed in the event including Ray Fallstead of Beatrice in ninth, Pete Hoffman of Omaha tenth and Gordie Shuck of Edgar 12th. Only 13 cars finished the event. Race time was 1 hour, 10 minutes and 11 seconds.

While we could not find any detailed results for 1954, we do have some details on the qualifying and finishing positions. Don White of Keokuk, Iowa set a new track record in qualifying when his Olds turned the circuit in 31.48 seconds. Herschel Buchanan in a Hudson was second at 32.35, Bill Harrison 32.62 in a Dodge, Bob Potter of Duluth, Minnesota 33.07 with Chris Skadal in an Olds turning a 33.43 second lap.

The race appears to have completed much like the cars started the 150-lap event. White picked up the win with Buchanan second, Chris Skadal third, Harrison fourth, Potter fifth, Doc Narber sixth, Mel Krueger seventh and Dick Jepson eighth. White won the 1954 IMCA Championship (the first of three) before moving on to USAC and becoming the winningest driver in USAC Stock Car history. Time of the Race 1 hour, 40 minutes, and 29.03 seconds.

Herschel Buchanan

In 1950 and 1951 veteran driver Herschel Buchanan of Shreveport, Louisiana won the IMCA Stock Car Championship driving a Nash. In 1954 Buchanan switched to a Hudson and finished third in IMCA Stock Car points. In 1955 he switched brands again and campaigned the new Ford Thunderbird. While he finished second to Don White in the 1955 season standing the car worked flawlessly on September 9, 1955, as he had the field at the Nebraska State Fair covered.

Buchanan was so dominant that he had built up a lead of several laps over second place Johnny Beauchamp, who had pitted earlier in the race. Buchanan finally went pit side on lap 185 of the 200-lap event when the yellow waved for a crash by Russ Gross. Coming out still two laps ahead of Beauchamp, Buchanan cruised to the win. Beauchamp on the other hand had to struggle to finish second with a blown motor in his 55’ Chevrolet. Tiny Lund, Don White, and Omahan Bud Burdick rounded out the top five.

Pointing to his shredded right rear tire changed in his only pit stop, Buchanan grinned and said. “I’ve been saving that one for the Nebraska State Fair and it paid off. This is the best one to win,” as he received the winner’s trophy from National Speedways President Al Sweeney.

Dale Swanson (left) and Johnny Beauchamp were a formidable duo.

On September 7, 1956, Johnny Beauchamp of Harlan, Iowa, returned to the Nebraska State Fair behind the wheel of Dale Swanson’s ’56 Chevrolet, would win the championship in a runaway scoring 38 IMCA feature wins in 1956 led the entire 200 laps but not without a challenge the first 60 laps by Omahan Bob Burdick. Burdick, who set fast time with a new track record of 30.12 seconds was all over Beauchamp the entire 60 laps as the two but on a Chevrolet versus Ford battle before Burdick retired with mechanical problems.

With Burdick gone, Beauchamp would continue to set a torrid pace and finish the 200-lap event in a record time of I hour, 48 minutes, and 47.74 seconds. National Speedway President Al Sweeney commented that “the track was the fastest he had ever seen at the State Fair.” The race was billed as an “International” because of the presence of two Jaguars in the 25-car field, but neither were a factor. Finishing behind Beauchamp were Don White, Bud Burdick, Chub Liebe, and Glenn “Doc” Narber.

Bob Burdick (right) is joined by his father Roy (center) and IMCA's Gene Van Winkle after Burdick won the IMCA stock car 200-lapper at Lincoln. 

The 1957 race would be another Ford versus Chevrolet battle once again between Bob Burdick and Johnny Beauchamp. The race, however, would finish with a disqualification. Burdick would start things off by setting a new track record of 29.70 seconds in his dad Roy’s 57 Ford.

At the start of the race, Burdick jumped into the lead with Ernie Derr, Beauchamp and Don White following closely for the first 25 laps. The leaders ran pretty much in that order until Burdick stopped for fuel on lap 125. Beauchamp assumed the lead and led until lap 183 when with Burdick on his rear bumper Beauchamp hit a soft spot and drifted high allowing Burdick to reassume the lead. Burdick would open up a six-car length lead when a late race caution flag bunched up the field again.

On lap 198 thinking the green had waved again Beauchamp passed Burdick and the two battled side by side for the last two laps with Beauchamp crossing the finish line a half car length ahead. In fact, starter Gene Van Winkle had given the white flag and then the checkered to Burdick declaring him the winner and setting Beauchamp back to second for jumping the start. The other race judges agreed with Van Winkle and Beauchamp accepted the officials ruling. Ernie Derr, Don White, and Shorty Eberts would round out the top five.

Mother Nature would win the 1958 IMCA Stock Car race at the Nebraska State Fair. A three-inch rain the night before the race and cloudy skies on race day made it impossible to get the track in condition despite a valiant effort from race officials and the race was called at 4:30 pm.

The 1959 event held on September 11 would be a duel between Ernie Derr and Darrell Dake.

Derr driving his 1957 Pontiac would use his driving skills, a fast pit crew and a little luck to win the 200-lap, 125-mile event in 2 hours, 11 minutes, and 38 seconds before a crowd of 9,000 fans.

Dake would take the lead at the start of the race and would have his ‘57 Chevy Convertible at the front of the race for 144 laps before making his pit stop. Derr, who had made a 10 second pit stop for refueling on lap 59 took the lead and with Dake’s pit stop being 30 seconds it appeared that Derr had clear sailing.

With less than 20 laps to remaining, Derr started signaling his pit crew that he was going to be making a pit stop because he was out of oil. Just as Derr was about to pit, Dake’s luck ran out and his rear end locked up in turn one. The yellow flew for Dake and Derr was able to make a casual pit stop.

Dake got rolling again but on lap 197 had to pit for gas (he had not taken on a full load under his previous pit stop) and that allowed Frank Lies to pass Dake for second. Ramo Stott made a gamble for second trying to make the whole race without a pit stop but ran out of gas on lap 194. Stott would still manage to finish fourth two laps down. The top five were Derr, Lies, Dake, Stott and Mert Williams.

IMCA's Al Sweeney (right) and Gene Van Winkle at the 1960 Nebraska State Fair. 

As Yogi Berra is famous for saying “It ain’t over, until it’s over” and perhaps Yogi’s biggest fan on September 9, 1960, was Ramo Stott. Stott ended up in victory lane at the conclusion of the annual 200 lap race despite being in third with only 10 laps to go. That’s when trouble started striking the leaders.

First on lap 192 third running Dick Hutcherson ran out of gas. Then with only 4 laps to go race leader Ernie Derr’s day came to end when he lost all the oil from his rear end. From there on it was clear sailing for Stott who finished three laps ahead of Hutcherson who was able to refuel and run one lap to finish ahead of Derr.

For the first 35 laps of the contest, it was Deer, Stott, Hutcherson, and Bob Kosiski battling it out up front. Derr lead for two laps and then gave way to other three. Hutcherson would maintain the lead until lap 24 when Kosiski took the point for 10 laps before tangling with a lapped car and spend four laps in the pits.

Hutcherson, Derr and Stott finally pitted under caution on lap 93. On the pit stop Derr was able to come out in second ahead of Stott. Hutcherson would open a nearly half lap lead over Derr with Stott further back. Derr and Stott would start closing the gap and with only 25 laps to go Hutcherson went high in the turn and Derr slipped under for the lead. A few laps later Stott got by Hutcherson for second.

Derr seemed to have the race in hand until he experienced his problems allowing Stott to take the lead and with Hutcherson in the pits Stott was able to cruise to the win. Stott led for only four laps to Hutcherson’s 161, Derr’s 25 and Kosiski’s 10 but they were the important ones. The top five were Stott, Hutcherson, Derr, Mert Williams and Kosiski.

Ernie Derr shows off his trophy after winning the 1961 race. 

On September 6, 1961, it was Ernie Derr in a Pontiac setting a new track record of 34.25 seconds around the big five-eighths mile oval. Lenny Funk of Otis, Kansas was second in a Ford at 34.84 seconds, Bob Reynolds of Edmond, Oklahoma third at 35.08 in his Ford.

Derr defeated fellow Keokuk resident Ramo Stott to win the first heat. Another Keokuk resident Dick Hutcherson drove his Ford to win over Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s Darrel Dake in the second heat. Lenny Funk took the third heat over Topeka’s Jerry Harrison in a Ford. Derr beat Hutcherson in the dash and Don Bowles in a SIMCA won the consolation event Newt Bartholomew.

In the 50-lap feature Derr needed 28 minutes and 56 seconds to pick up the win with Funk second, Stott third, Hutcherson fourth, Reynold fifth, Dake sixth, Bartholomew seventh and Reynolds eighth. Not only did a SIMCA win the consy, but Froggy Droz finished 11th in the feature in an Allard. The race was an International which allowed Sports Cars to compete.

Over 9,000 fans were on hand on September 5, 1962, as the IMCA Stock Cars returned to Lincoln. Dick Hutcherson of Keokuk, Iowa put his Ford on the pole with a lap of 35.94 seconds followed by another Keokuk driver and defending race winner Ernie Derr at 36.11 in his Pontiac. Otis, Kansas’ Lenny Funk was third at 36.42 in his Ford.

Hutcherson won the first 10-lap heat over fellow Keokuk driver Ramo Stott with Dallas, Texan Phil Cronin third. Derr grabbed heat two over Dick Johnson in a Chevy and Gerald Harrison in a Plymouth. The dash was all Keokuk with Stott winning followed by Derr and Hutcherson. Atlantic, Iowa’s Johnny Beauchamp in a Pontiac won the Australian Pursuit over John Mickey in a Pontiac.

In the 50-lap feature, Ernie Derr repeated but it was not without a fight. Derr grabbed the lead from polesitter Hutcherson but shortly in was Stott in second but the man on the move was ninth starting Bob Reynolds of Edmond, Oklahoma getting past Stott on lap 12 for second and then from lap 20 on battling it out with Derr for the remainder of the event.

Reynolds shortening the Derr’s lead in the corner’s and Derr lengthening the lead a bit down the smooth straights of the five eighths mile oval. At the end Derr turned the 50 laps in 29 minutes and 31.63 seconds which was 34 seconds slower than the year before. Reynolds finished second breaking up a potential 1-2-3 finish by Keokuk drivers as Stott finished third and Hutcherson fourth. Topeka’s Gerry Harrison rounded out the top five.

No details of the 1963 race are available but Dick Hutcherson in a Ford set fast time of 34.67 seconds and then won the 50-lap feature on his way to winning the 1963 IMCA Stock Car Championship. Not surprising it was a Keokuk sweep with Ramo Stott second in a Plymouth and Ernie Derr third in a Pontiac.

Making it worse was the fact that fourth place Jim Washburn was from Keokuk as well. Carlisle, Iowa’s Newt Bartholomew was fifth in a Plymouth with Ralph Wilhelm of Milwaukee, Wisconsin sixth in a Ford. Time of the event was 27 minutes 0.97 seconds.

Dick Hutcherson would score back-to-back wins at the Nebraska State Fair in 1963 and '64.

Dick Hutcherson returned in 1964 to back up his 1963 win. Driving a Ford prepared in the Holman and Moody shops in Charlotte, North Carolina, “Hutch” broke Ernie Derr’s qualifying time with a run of 33.91 seconds only to have it shattered later in qualifying by Lennie Funk’s Fund at 33.41 seconds.

Roland Wilson of Bedford, Iowa in a Plymouth won the first heat over Funk and Bob Jusola of Mound, Minnesota in a Ford. Hutcherson won heat two over Ole Brua of Albert Lea, Minnesota and Arthur Schmidt of St. Paul, Minnesota. All drove Fords.

Eddie Gray of Jefferson City, Missouri won heat three in a Triumph over Cliff Sealock of Hastings and Frank Sedoris of Lincoln, both in Fords. Hutcherson won the Challenge Race (Dash) over Jusola and Funk. Starting on the outside of the front row of the 50-lap main event, “Hutch” put his 64’ Ford out front and stayed there for the entire 50 laps. Funk finished second Jusola third, Wilson fourth and Schmidt fifth. It does not appear that Ernie Derr was in attendance.

The only accident of the day came in the feature when Ole Brua slide into the wooden fence on the east end of the track early in the race taking out two sections of the fence and ending up on the guard rail. Brua climbed from his car unhurt. Hutch turned the 50 laps in 33 minutes 35.92 seconds.

1964 was an interesting year in IMCA stock car racing. The series ran 56 races and ALL 56 were won by one of three drivers from Keokuk, Iowa. Dick Hutcherson, Ramo Stott or Ernie Derr. At the end of the 1964 season Hutcherson headed south to NASCAR and became a full-time competitor on that circuit.

In 1965 there were no IMCA sanctioned stock car races at the Nebraska State Fair. The September Modified Stock State Fair races featured local drivers with Bob Kosiski winning the 25-lap feature.

In 1966 the IMCA Stock Car races at the Nebraska State Fairgrounds was moved to Sunday afternoon, July 3. Lenny Funk set fast time of 28.44 seconds on the track which was once again a half mile. The race was once again a 200-lap event.

At the drop of the green, six-time series champion Ernie Derr jumped from his outside front row starting position grabbing the lead from polesitter Funk and driving to a relatively easy win in his 1966 Dodge. Derr’s toughest competition came from Ramo Stott. Stott got by Funk for second on the second lap and by the 72nd lap was the only car that Derr had not lapped.

On lap 143 Stott (then the current IMCA point leader) spun out in his Plymouth causing damage to the fenders and lost eight laps to Derr. The mishap left Stott behind Funk and Ed Negre of Monett, Missouri in a Plymouth.

Negre had passed Funk early in the race for third put spun out on lap 72, allowing Funk to regain the position. Stott was able to get going again and maintained fourth over Ole Brua in a Ford.

The top five at the line were Derr, Funk, Negre, Stott and Brua. The time of the event; 1 hour 32 minutes 17.78 seconds. After the event Stott led Derr by only 10 points in the IMCA Standings. Derr won the 1966 championship by 173 points.

The 1967 IMCA races at the State Fairgrounds were rained out.

On June 16, 1968, the series made its last appearance in Lincoln until the fair races of 1973. It looked for a while like defending series champion Ernie Derr might have his hands full with Ole Brua. Brua set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 28.93 second to Derr’s 29.15. Then in the first heat race Brua in his Ford outdistanced Derr in his Dodge Charger.

However, when it got to be 50-lap feature time Brua was quickly eliminated from competition in a four-car pileup in the first turn of lap one. Both Brua and Butch Hall were done for the day and Derr’s day became a lot easier.

On lap five of the feature, Derr took command of the race and held off the challenges of Shawnee Mission, Kansas driver Lewis Taylor who kept his red Plymouth on Derr’s tail most of the race but was never able to challenge for the lead.

Entering the race Derr and Ramo Stott were tied for the IMCA stock car points lead but Stott’s day turned bad early. After timing in seventh he pulled in during his heat race. He came back to race in heat three but retired with a broken transmission shaft and dropped out again. Stott returned to action to win the Australian Pursuit before making the feature.

Stott was able to finish third in the feature after fixing his transmission problems and changing spark plugs, but his factory-backed Plymouth definitely wasn’t up to par. Meanwhile, Derr was pleased with his car’s performance.

“It runs nice,” said the man with few words in victory lane. Asked if he was worried about Taylor, Derr responded. “Sure, you worry about everyone. When you quit worrying, that’s when they go around you.”

Another potential challenger for Derr, Lenny Funk had problems in warmups and dropped out of competition with an apparent cracked piston. Derr turned the 50 laps in 27 minutes 17.71 seconds with Taylor, Stott, Ron Larson of White Bear Lake, Minnesota in a Ford and Freddie Whisler of Independence, Kansas in a Ford rounding out the top five.

Joe Wade

IMCA Stock car action returned to the Nebraska State Fairgrounds on September 9, 1973. Derr and others had retired from the scene and the series was running fewer and fewer races. That being said it did not stop a local driver who was a late entry from scoring a big win.

25-year-old Lincolnite Joe Wade had to overcome two formable obstacles just get in the race. First, as a fireman he had to find someone to work in his place while he was racing and second when he got to the racetrack the car he was supposed to drive wasn’t there.

However, co-owner Ron Pullman of Clatonia soon showed up with a black 1972 Chevy Chevelle much to the relief of Wade and the other co-owner Phil Durst. Wade qualified for the feature by placing second in the third heat.

There were no time trials qualifying was done by heat races and consolation event. The results were’ First Heat won by Bob Kosiski of Omaha followed by Terry Richards of David City, John Oswalt of Kansas City, and Terry Holliman of Omaha. Second Heat won by Gerry Harrison of Topeka followed by Bill Schrader of Riverdale, Iowa, Jerri Wichman of Kansas City, and Jim Anderson of Kansas City. Third Heat won by Bill Wrich of Kennard, Wade, Galen Schafer of Topeka, and Jack Golder of Hooper.

Ferris Collier of Lampe, Missouri won the consolation followed by Jim Still of Topeka, Chuck Bosselman of Grand Island and Jim Hager of Liberty, Missouri.

In the 20-car, 50-lap feature event, Terry Richards led until lap 30 when he ran out of gas handing the lead to Wade who had come from back in the pack. Wade then drove away to the win. “Only when I saw the white flag, did I think I had the race won,” said Wade. “Because so many cars were dropping out of the race with mechanical problems. I just tried to save my engine after I got the lead and keep everything together.

Wade picked up $400 for the win and then went back to the fire station and back to work. Following Wader were Jim Still, Jack Golder, Bill Schwader, Jerry Wichman and Russ Derr of Keokuk, Iowa.

A detailed report of the 1974 race is not available but the results we do have are as follows. Bill Wrich set a new track record qualifying at 26.86 seconds. Heats were won by Wrich, defending IMCA Champion Gordon Blankenship of Keokuk, Iowa, and Thurman Lovejoy of Kansas City. Gary Lindgren of Ogden, Iowa won the consolation.

The 50-lap feature event was won by Grand Island’s Chuck Bosselman. Gordon Blankenship was second, Gary Lindgren third, Grand Island’s Billy Myers fourth and Terry Richards fifth.

"Super" Joe Wallace

On September 8, 1975, the IMCA Stock Cars made their last appearance at the Nebraska State Fairgrounds. Joe Wallace of Peyton, Colorado set a new track record in qualifying with a lap of 26.53 seconds with Aurora’s Kent Tucker second at 26.61. Wallace won the first heat, Larry Stromer of Grand Island the second heat and Thurman Lovejoy the third heat. Tucker came back to take the consolation event.

It took three restarts before the feature got underway but once underway Ferris Collier took the point passing front row starters Larry Stromer and Randy Sterner of Blair. But the man on the move was Wallace and he was challenging for second by lap four and was challenging Em Fretheim of Decorah, Iowa.

On lap five both Wallace and Stromer got past Fretheim and begin to close on Collier as Collier got into lapped traffic. On lap 15 Wallace pulled even with Collier and the two ran side-by-side for five laps before Collier slipped in turn four on lap 20 and Wallace went to the front and stayed there for the remainder of the race.

“Ferris (Collier) and I always have pretty good races,” said Wallace in victory lane. “It’s awful hard to pass on the track since it’s so slick, but he was getting on the accelerator too hard coming out of the turns and ended up sliding high. I was able to run a bit smoother and take the inside line to pass him.”

Collier commented. “I didn’t even know if I was going to run in the feature because the frame on the car was bent during a crash in the heat races, and my wrist was sprained. But I’m glad I ran the race.”

Following Wallace and Collier across the line were Fretheim, Dave Chase of Omaha and Tucker.

So ended the tradition of IMCA Stock Car races at the Nebraska State Fair that had started in the series first year 1949. The IMCA competed for just two more years before fading from the racing scene. One of the three owners of the IMCA when it folded was Hawkeye Racing News Editor Keith Knaack.

Knaack created a new IMCA featuring open wheel Modified and that series has grown into the nation’s largest sanctioning body for weekly shows. Ironically, sponsored by Speedway Motors the IMCA holds their annual banquet in Lincoln.

A big thanks goes out to racing guru Bob Mays who provided the author with a great deal of research on this subject. As always, thank you Bob.

Bill Beckman (1942 - 2022)

Bill Beckman of Monticello, Iowa, passed away December 5. Beckman, known as the "Lisbon Leadfoot," started his racing career in the late 1960's and competed at Eastern Iowa tracks for over 30 years. He was a member of the Hawkeye Downs Speedway Wall of Fame and recently inducted into the Iowa Racing Hall of Fame.