Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Goodyear Missouri Nationals


Ron Jackson and Mike Niffenegger had reason to smile after each driver won one of the twin 50-lap features at the Goodyear Missouri Nationals. Joining them in the trophy presentation are (l-r) flagman Larry Koch, Jackson, race sponsor Dick Ewer, Niffenegger, and Robin Lowrey, director of competition. – Bill Haglund Photo

By Lee Ackerman

Holts Summit, Mo. - In 1977, Ed Bloom became the owner and operator of Capital Speedway in Holt Summit, Missouri. Previously Bloom had been the promoter at the Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois. During his tenure at Capital Speedway that lasted through 1987, Bloom in addition to a fine weekly show, held several special events. Perhaps the one that stands out the most is the Goodyear Missouri Nationals.

On October 10 and 11, Bloom brought the 1980 season to a conclusion with the Goodyear Missouri Nationals. Over 60 late models were on hand (actually 64 took time with 26 breaking the old track record). When they time trials were completed Viola, Iowa’s Kenny Walton had turned a lap of 20 second flat around the 3/8-mile oval.

A tick off Walton’s lap was St. Louis ace Kevin Gundaker at 20.01 seconds. Waterloo, Iowa’s Dick Schiltz clocked in at 20.17, Eau Claire, Wisconsin’s Leon Plank tripped the clocks at 20.321 with former track record holder Ron Jackson of Burlington, Iowa posted a 20.36.

Four 20-lap heats and a handicap race were held on Friday night with Fenton, Missouri’s Ken Schrader taking heat one followed by Larry Phillips of Springfield, Missouri and John Connolly of Delhi, Iowa. Billy Moyer, Jr. of Des Moines, Iowa took heat two followed by Dick Taylor of Springfield, Missouri and Dan Dickey of Packwood, Iowa.

Steve Keppler of Marion, Iowa led Ed Knaebel of Jefferson City, Missouri and Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids, Iowa to the line while Morning Sun, Iowa’s Johnny Johnson took the checkers in heat four with Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa and Eddie Gray of Jefferson City, Missouri in pursuit. Mike Niffenegger of Kalona, Iowa won the 6-lap handicap event with Kevin Gundaker, Ron Jackson, Ken Walton, Dick Schiltz and Leon Plank the race of the top six qualifiers.

Saturday night saw two 25-lap consolation races followed by twin 50-lap features. Ron Fisher of Centralia, Illinois claimed the first consolation race with Brian Leslie of Hamilton, Illinois and Leland Frank of Fulton, Missouri rounding out the top three. Dalton Walker of Curryville, Missouri won the second consy with Rick Kimberling of Slater, Missouri and Galen Schaefer of Topeka, Kansas following.

In the first 50-lap feature it was Kenny Walton jumping into the lead at the start with Kevin Gundaker right behind. On lap four, Gundaker took the point and held it until lap 15 when Walton retook the position. Gundaker charging hard, got together with Darrell Dake in turns three and four and had to be towed to the pits with front end damage.

Walton continued to lead for the next 25 laps before misfortune befell him as a broken spring caused him to slow down and Mike Niffenegger took over the lead and held to the checkers. Walton held on for second, Billy Moyer, Ron Jackson and Ken Schrader rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth went to Bill Martin of Council Bluffs, Iowa, Leon Plank, Vic Bentlage of Jefferson City, Missouri, Dick Taylor and Johnny Johnson.

The second feature saw the top six cars inverted with the other competitors filling in the field based on their finish in the first feature. When the green dropped in the second 50-lap feature it was Ken Schrader in his beautiful yellow Ford taking the lead with Ron Jackson a close second.

Ron Jackson took over on lap 4, surrendered the lead temporary to Bill Martin and then retook the lead and held it for the duration of the second feature taking home a check for $1,000 and the trophy. Mike Niffenegger posted a third-place finish with Ken Schrader and Larry Phillips rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Ed Knaebel, Steve Keppler, Galen Schaefer, Billy Moyer and Brian Leslie.

The event was not held in 1981, returning in 1982 despite rain that postponed the event from Friday and Saturday, October 8 and 9, to Saturday and Sunday, October 9 and 10. Gary Webb of Davenport, Iowa posted fast time with a lap of 21.50 seconds.

Other activity on the first night included a Cam2 Challenge of Champions race, which featured 14 track champions in a race for 14 laps. Dick Schiltz, track champion at the West Liberty Speedway in Iowa took home $300 in the winner-take-all-event. Ronnie Hoover of Fulton, Missouri finished second and Jim Leka of Illiopolis, Illinois third.

The six fast qualifiers ran a six lap trophy dash with Joe Ross of Mechancisburg, Illinois picking up the win trailed by Gary Webb, John Provenzano of Wheaton, Illinois, Rick Wages of Moline, Illinois, Duane Steffe of Colona, Illinois and Rollie Frink of Davenport, Iowa.

In the five heat races, Denny Falkos of Chicago, Illinois bested Dan Dickey and Randy McGraw of Marshall, Missouri in heat one. Jim Leka led Bobby Goulden of Independence, Missouri and Bob Menzie of Springfield, Missouri to the line in heat two. Heat three saw Dick Taylor, Ed Dixon of Washington, Missouri and Rollie Frink.

Heat four was all Iowa with Dick Schiltz posting the win following by Ed Sanger and Tom Bartholomew of Waterloo. John Seets of Brighton, Illinois posting the heat five victory followed by Mike Null of Champ, Missouri and Mark Fleischman of Jefferson City, Missouri.

Consolation action saw Ronnie Hoover take the first consolation followed by Rick Standridge of Divernon, Illinois and Martin Bennett of Des Moines, Iowa. The second consolation went to Bloomfield, Iowa’s Jerry Pilcher with Terry Gallaher of Hannibal, Missouri and Steve Fraise of Montrose, Iowa following.

This set the field for a 100-lap, 32-car field. Gary Webb showed why he was perhaps the fastest car at the Goodyear Missouri Nationals, leading 83 laps to post the win. The other 17 laps were led by Joe Ross who was forced to pit for a flat tire and finished 24th. Following Webb to the stripe were Dan Dickey, Ed Dixon, Rick Standridge and Ronnie Hoover. Sixth through tenth went to Jim Leka, Tom Bartholomew, Rick Wages, John Provenzano and Ed Sanger.

1983 Advertisement

When the Goodyear Missouri Nationals returned to Capital Speedway on September 30 and October 1, 1983, one thing was for certain. Drivers from the Hawkeye State continued to dominate the event. In time trials, Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa set quick time with a lap of 20.81 seconds followed by Dick Schiltz (Iowa) at 21.15, Missourian Ronnie Hoover at 21.32, Ed Sanger (Iowa) 21.37 and Gary Webb (Iowa) 21.38.

Dick Schiltz won the Cam2 Challenge of Champions 8-car, 8-lap race for track champions and pocketed $500. Roger Dolan took the trophy dash over Gary Webb, Ronnie Hoover, Dick Schiltz, Ed Sanger and Jim O’Connor of Kankakee, Illinois.

Iowans swept the heat race wins with Joe Merryfield of Des Moines beating Joe Ross of Illinois and Scott Sells of Waverly, Iowa in heat one. Heat two saw Tom Bartholomew best Mike Wallace of Arnold, Missouri and Ed Knaebel while Steve Fraise took the checkers in heat three ahead of Rick Wages of East Moline, Illinois and Curt Martin of Independence, Iowa.

In Saturday action, Roger Dolan won another trophy dash followed by Gary Webb, Ed Sanger, Jim O’Connor, Dick Schiltz and Ronnie Hoover. The consolation event went to Rick Kimberling of Boonville, Missouri followed by Dick Crane of Palymra and Bob Lekander of Burlington, Iowa.

When the green flag dropped in the 100-lap feature it was Hawkeye drivers at the front as Dick Schiltz took the early lead then surrendered it on lap 16 to fellow Iowan Roger Dolan. Dolan held the lead for a good share of the race although he was continually pressured by Ed Sanger who finally took the lead on lap 68 and started lapping cars on his way to picking up the win.

When the checkered flag had waved, the top five were all from the Hawkeye State. Following Sanger across the finish line were Roger Dolan, Joe Merryfield, Tom Bartholomew and Steve Fraise. Sixth through tenth went to Jim O’Connor, Gary Webb, Denny Osborn of Cedar Falls, Iowa, Dick Schiltz and Rick Kimberly.

The race was also part of the NASCAR/Winston Racing Series Central Region. Roger Dolan had already wrapped up the Central Region Championship with 17 wins coming into the Goodyear Missouri Nationals.

Iowa drivers dominated the Missouri Nationals at Capital Speedway in 1984. Pictured, from left, Jeff Aikey (consolation winner), Miss Jefferson City, Curt Martin (feature winner), CAM2 representative, Dan Dickey (third place), and Ed Sanger (runner-up). – Debbie Bohr Photo

In 1984, it became the Cam2 Missouri Nationals and a Missouri driver, Ronnie Hoover set fast time with a lap of 21.33 seconds. A 12-lap trophy dash was held for drivers based on year long performance at Capital Speedway and Sonny Findling of Kirksville took the win. Dick Crane, Ed Knaebel, Terry Gallaher, Rick Kimberling and Bill Vaughn of Hartsburg followed.

In heat race, Ronnie Hoover won the first heat followed by Ron Elbe of Augusta, Illinois and Gene Claxton of Kansas City. Andy Claiborne racing out of Stanley, Kansas claimed the second heat with Tom Frasher of Jefferson City and Dick Crane following. It was all Iowa in heat three with Steve Fraise winning over Ed Sanger and Jeff French of Mt. Ayr, Iowa. Curt Martin took the fourth heat with Kenny Walton and Bart Allen of Kirksville, Missouri in tow.

A 25-lap preliminary feature was held on Friday night and it was all Iowa with Steve Fraise leading, Curt Martin, Ed Sanger, Kenny Walton and Dan Dickey to the line.

Action on Saturday night included a consolation event won by Jeff Aikey of Cedar Falls, Iowa with Chuck Ludwig of Keokuk, Iowa and Jim Mudd of O’Fallon, Missouri trailing.

The 100-lap feature proved to be a good race with Steve Fraise taking the point at the outset and holding until lap four when Curt Martin took over the lead. Martin led through lap 46 while Ed Sanger took a turn out front and he stayed out front until lap 62 when Martin took the lead back. A lap later it was Sanger back out front until lap 69 when Martin went back to the front and stayed there for the balance of the event.

It was another all Iowa top five with Martin holding off Sanger for the win followed by Dan Dickey, Steve Fraise and Jeff Aikey up from the consolation race. Sixth through tenth were Rick Beebe of Overland Park, Kansas, Tom Frasher, Ed Knaebel, Kenny Walton and Terry Gallaher.

Packwood, Iowa’s Dan Dickey (second from left) won the Missouri Nationals in 1985. Joining him is runner-up Steve Fraise (second from right). – Debbie Bohr Photo

In 1985 the Missouri Nationals became part of the newly created NASCAR Busch All Star Tour. Despite a cold weekend in Missouri 112 race teams in several classes were on hand from Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. In late model action Iowan Dale Fischlein set fast time of 20.80 seconds and ensure himself a front row starting spot in the 50-lap Busch All Star Tour feature.

Qualifying heat race wins went to Rick Beebe, Steve Fraise, Roger Dolan, Dan Dickey and Steve Kosiski of Omaha, Nebraska. Roger Dolan won the Friday night 25-lap NASCAR feature followed by Jim O’Connor, Dale Fischlein, Donnie Cooper, Steve Fraise and Steve Kosiski.

Saturday night’s consolation event went Kevin Gundaker followed by Donnie Cooper. In the feature event it was Dan Dickey (driving Ken Walton’s car) taking the lead from the outside front row and leading the entire 50 laps to take the checkers and a check for $2,000. Following Dickey were Steve Fraise, Council Bluff, Iowa’s Dave Chase, Jim O’Connor and Steve Kosiski. Sixth through tenth were Curt Martin, Gene Claxton, rollie Frink, Omaha’s Joe Kosiski and Sonny Findling.

Track owners Ed and Donna Bloom did an outstanding job in presenting the Missouri Nationals and a number of Busch All Star Tour events were held in the following years at Capital Speedway although not necessary at the end of the racing season.

One thing stands out about this event, drivers from Iowa dominated the event and won every year that is covered in the story.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Basement Archives


July 7-11, 1995

Bob Pierce of Danville, Ill., led the entire 50 laps to win the UMP Summer Nationals event at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway on Friday, July 7. Forty-two late models were on hand, including “The Southern Gentleman” Freddy Smith of Baton Rouge, La., who set a new a new track record during qualifying. Bill Frye of Greenbriar, Ark., earned runner-up honors in the main event, followed by Rick Aukland of Fargo, N.D., Tom Rients of Streator, Ill., and Smith.

Pro stock point leader Rod Smith of Monmouth, Ill., came from the fourth row to score his fourth win of the season at Mercer County Speedway in Aledo, Ill., on Wednesday night. Jeff Morris of McCausland, Iowa, won his second open-wheel modified feature of the season while Jason Bahrs of Rock Island, Ill., was the pride of the bomber class.

Danny Young and Todd Cooney continued dominating their respective divisions at the Iowa State Fair Speedway on Friday night. Young, of Des Moines, raced to his fourth winged sprint car triumph in in six starts, while Cooney, also of Des Moines, won his third consecutive IMCA late model main. Young wheeled around Jerry Crabb of Des Moines on lap 3 and went on to win the 15-lapper with ease while Cooney squirmed past Billy Allen of Des Moines on the final lap to win in a nail-biter. Kendall Sather of Ankeny, Iowa, snared the IMCA modified feature and Glenn Gladson of Des Moines won the IMCA stock car main.

Boone McLaughlin of Mediapolis, Iowa, scored his first IMCA late model win of the season during the mid-season championships at Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, Iowa, on Saturday, July 8. McLaughlin, the late model point leader at the track, broke a streak of “bridesmaid” finishes at the track, having finished in second-place three weeks in a row. In other action, Jody Wood of Donnellson won the IMCA modified feature, Glen Ridgeway of Eldon, Iowa, was the IMCA stock car winner and Bryan Nevins of Des Moines was victorious in the hobby stock class.

Mike Belling of La Crosse, Wis., staked his claim to the NASCAR late model point’s lead after winning his fourth feature of the season on Saturday night at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Belling, in a tie with five-time track champion Kevin Nuttleman of Bangor, Wis., entering the night’s program, took advantage when Nuttleman got bottled up in traffic, and zoomed to the front of the field on lap 20, as the crowd of 4,212 roared its approval. Belling would go on to score the easy win with Brad Powell of La Crosse taking second and Paul Proksch of Stoddard, Wis., in third.

Splitting his 1995 schedule between NASCAR’s Super Truck Series and the World of Outlaws, Sammy Swindell had competed in only half of the Outlaw’s 48 events. Even so, his flag-to-flag victory at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D., on Saturday night was Swindell’s fourth straight series win. Swindell had won two World of Outlaw events at Rocky Mounty Speedway in Denver, Colo., on July 3 and 4 and a preliminary event at Red River the night before, July 7. Swindell raced like the Sammy of old, starting the 30-lap main event on the pole and dominating the 24-car field throughout. When the checkers waved, Swindell won by a full straightaway over younger brother Jeff.

Jeff Mitrisin of Oskaloosa and Bobby Greiner Jr., of Norway, Iowa, each won their third features in a row at Greenbelt Speedway in Eldora, Iowa, on Saturday. Mitrisin won a thrilling IMCA modified feature race, racing wheel-to-wheel with Dave Blankenship of Brooklyn, Iowa, throughout the 20-lap affair. Mitrisin finally secured the top spot on the white flag lap, winning by a car length over Blankenship at the checkers. Greiner Jr., the defending track champion, had to work his way through the field from his 10th starting spot but managed to take the lead with only a few laps remaining to post the victory. In other action, J.C. Nehring of Hubbard, Iowa, won the IMCA hobby stock feature, winning handily over J.T. Robinson of De Moines.

Veteran Omaha driver Joe Kosiski continued his dominance of the NASCAR late model division at Park Jefferson (S.D.) Speedway on Saturday, winning his fourth feature race of the 1995 season. The win was especially important, since it was mid-season championship night. Kosiski took the lead on lap 9 and breezed to the easy win over Mike Cooper of North Sioux City, Jim Merchant of Sioux City, Mel Zeitner of Bellevue, Neb., and Bruce Ward of Fort Calhoun, Neb. In other action, Loren Reuter of Allen, Neb., won the modified feature and Greg Golden of Sioux City won the street stock contest.

Bill Frye pulled into the lead exiting the fourth turn on the 38th lap and held the rest of the field at bay to claim the $5,000 first prize in the 50-lap UMP Summer Nationals late model feature at LaSalle (Ill.) Speedway on Sunday, July 9. Frye wrestled the lead away from Rick Aukland, who had led the first 37 laps of the contest. Don Barnhart of North Little Rock, Ark., grabbed third place while Kevin Weaver of Gibson City, Ill., took fourth. Jim Curry of Norman, Ind., rounded out the top five. Current UMP national point leader Tony Izzo Jr., of Bridgeview, Ill., struggled to a 14th place finish after starting the evening as the event’s fastest qualifier.

Randy Nygaard, Jack Byers, Randy Green and Kent Larson were winners during the “Firecracker Special” at the Clay County Speedway in Spencer, Iowa, on Sunday evening. The event was originally scheduled for July 4 but rain washed out the program. Nygaard, from Sioux Falls, S.D., led the final four laps of the WISSOTA sprint car feature to collect on the $1,200 first prize. Byers, of Spencer, led from start to finish in winning the modified feature while Green, of Granada, Minn., came from his third-row starting position to win the stock car contest. Larson, from Fairmont, Minn., grabbed the lead on lap 2 and went on to win the 12-lap hobby stock “A” main.

Mike Pearson of California, Mo., left Double X Speedway $1,000 richer after winning the winged sprint car mid-season championship on Sunday night. After winning the trophy dash, Pearson started on the outside on the front row and didn’t waste anytime in using his advantage by leading from start to finish. In the sportsman feature, Jim Kirchoff of California and Jim Turpin of Jefferson City, Mo., treated the crowd to a side-by-side duel for 15 laps with Kirchoff prevailing.

The Miller Genuine Draft Summer Nationals were held at the West Liberty Raceway on Monday, July 10, with 45 of the nation’s top late model drivers in competition. When it was over, Rick Aukland came away with the $5,000 payday. Ray Guss Jr. of Milan, Ill., moved into the lead at the start of the 40-lapper by taking to the high side of the half-mile speedway. Guss’s lead would be short-lived as Bill Frye overtook him on lap 10. Frye went the next 10 circuits until Billy Moyer Jr., of Batesville, Ark., was able to move out front. Aukland was on the move as the leaders encountered lap traffic and on lap 32, Aukland powered by Moyer for the lead and went on to score the victory. Moyer settled for second and Frye hung on to third. Bob Pierce Jr. grabbed fourth and Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, rounded out the top five.

Troy Swearingen of Thompson, Iowa, made his debut in the MAC Tools Winner Series as the IMCA stock car touring series made its first ever trip to the all-new Hancock County Speedway in Britt, Iowa, on Tuesday, July 11. For Swearingen, it was his first trip to victory lane in the series, as he dominated the event, leading wire to wire in the 24-car feature. The Thompson, Iowa, racer drew the pole position for the main event and after the green fell, that was the last anyone would see of Swearingen. Scott Williams of Steamboat Rock, Iowa, finished a distant second, Donnie Gustof of Scranton, Iowa, was third Rex Bonnett of Pleasanton, Iowa, fourth and Scott Davis of Boone, Iowa, finished fifth.


Monday, February 6, 2023

IMCA at the La Crosse Inter-State Fair

By Kyle Ealy

West Salem, Wis. – From 1957 to 1965, the International Motor Contest Association would be an integral part of the La Crosse Inter-State Fair.

The track opened in 1957 as a half-mile dirt track in West Salem as part of the relocation of the La Crosse Inter-State Fairgrounds.

Wanting to dedicate the new track in the biggest way possible, both the “speedway type” big cars and the “new model” stock cars would compete during the annual Inter-State Fair.

On August 7, 1957, the big cars were the first to make the call for a Wednesday doubleheader of racing. Before a crowd of 1,000, Johnnie Pouelson of Gardena, Calif., won the matinee while Emmett “Buzz” Barton of Tampa, Fla., won the night cap before 3,000 racing fans.

Pouelson nosed out Al “Cotton” Farmer of Dallas, Tex., in the 15-lap feature in the time of 3 minutes and 57.24 seconds. Barton won the first heat while Bob Tattersall of Streator, Ill., was the second heat winner. Pouelson grabbed the third heat and Frank McGowan of Portland, Ore., the Pacific Northwest champion, won the consolation.

The La Crosse Tribune reported the track conditions for the afternoon program was “a combination of ruts in the soft track and blinding dust that impeded fast travel.” A thorough soaking between race programs improved things considerably. There was little to no dust for the twilight performance.

Buzz Barton

Barton would take top honors in the evening program, winning the 10-lap feature over Farmer in the time of 4 minutes and 33.15 seconds. Barton also copped the first heat. Harry Kern of St. Paul, Minn., was the second heat winner and Mickey McCormick of Hutchinson, Kan., the third. Pouelson won the three-car trophy dash, and it was Ron McGowan again winning the consolation.

The stock cars would take center stage on Sunday, August 11, and defending IMCA champion Johnny Beauchamp of Harlan, Iowa, would sweep both the afternoon and evening programs during the Inter-State Fair. Beauchamp outdueled Jerry Draper of East Moline, Ill., in the afternoon 25-lapper, performed before a crowd of 4,500. In the 100-lap evening contest, Beauchamp won by a one-lap margin over Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Draper had led the first 39 circuits of the century grind before dropping out with motor issues.

In the afternoon program, Draper and Beauchamp won heat races and Beauchamp also won a three-car trophy dash. Al Warrender of Harlan, Iowa, won the consolation.

Dick Johnson of St. Paul, Minn., won the novelty race. Four cars started hub-to-hub. After one lap the drivers stop in front of the bleachers, ran around the car; after two laps, they ate a piece of blueberry pie; three laps, drank a soft drink; and finally finished the race. The crowd roared their approval.

Jack Rounds

The IMCA big cars returned again the next year, August 6, 1958. Jack Rounds, a 27-year-old auto mechanic from Los Angeles, Calif., would win both big car features. The afternoon program produced a light turnout, but the nightcap was before a crowd of 3,500.

Rounds, whose was near the top of the point standings prior to, raced his Les Vaughn Offenhauser to victory in the 12-lap afternoon feature and the 15-lap evening contest.

Vern Chamberlain of Minneapolis, the fastest qualifier in time trials, won the first heat while Jim Hurtubise of Inglewood, Calif., was the second heat winner. Mickey McCormick won the trophy dash and Jerry Richert of Forest Lake, Minn., won the Australian Pursuit race.

Hurtubise challenged Rounds in the afternoon feature but dropped out after eight laps. McCormick got by Rounds on lap 10 but Rounds regained the top spot as the starter was waving the white flag.

In the twilight program, Johnnie Pouelson and Bill Hobbs of San Francisco were heat winners, and Rounds won the trophy dash. In the feature, McCormick led the first 10 laps of the main event but experienced car trouble, giving Rounds the lead and eventually the victory.

Don White with his chief mechanic Paul Newkirk.

The stock cars returned on August 10, with Don White of Keokuk, Iowa, winning the afternoon feature and Bob Burdick of Omaha taking the 100-lap grind in the nightcap.

White raced his 1958 Ford to a new record in qualifying, touring the half-mile in 28.50 seconds. He then proceeded to dominate the 25-lap feature, winning handily over Johnny Beauchamp. Burdick finished fourth behind Ernie Derr of Fort Madison, Iowa.

White, Beauchamp and Bob Carpenter of Mechanicsville, Iowa, were afternoon heat winners, Beauchamp won the trophy dash while Burdick, having an unimpressive afternoon, took the victory in the consolation.

The 22-year-old Burdick would get it together for the evening program, and with a crowd of 3,000 looking on, drove to a hard-fought win after a race long battle with Beauchamp.

Don White picked up where he left off from the afternoon and led the first 24 circuits of the long grind. Beauchamp would power by White on lap 25 with Burdick right on his tail. For the next 65 laps, the two would race bumper-to-bumper, never more than a couple of feet apart.

Burdick would get the break he needed, on lap 88, when Beauchamp’s A-frame would snap, giving Burdick the top spot. The up-and-coming IMCA star would lead the final 12 laps to take the win. Chub Liebe of Oelwein, Iowa, would take second followed by Ernie Derr. Beauchamp would limp home in fourth.

The IMCA big cars would make a stop at La Crosse on Tuesday night, August 4, 1959, and a paltry crowd of 700 would watch A.J. Shepherd of Gardena, Calif., win the 12-lap feature over Buzz Barton. For Shepherd, driving the Abajian Offenhauser #33, it was his fourth straight feature victory since getting behind the wheel. His three other wins had come the previous week at Minot, N.D.

Four new Inter-State fair records were set, including Shepherd’s winning time of 5 minutes and 13.85 seconds in the main event. He also set a 6-lap record in the third heat and a 5-lap record in the trophy dash with times of 2 minutes and 48.65 seconds and 2 minutes and 4.90 seconds, respectively. Buzz Barton would set the other record in the 7-lap second heat race, winning in 3 minutes flat.

Bill Horstmeyer of Stoughton won the first heat while Harry Ross of Houston, Tex., won the consolation.

On August 9, 1959, the IMCA stock cars took part in another day/night doubleheader with a 25-lap feature highlighting the afternoon program and a 100-lap main event for the evening program.

A crowd of 3,000 were on hand to watch Ernie Derr, now of Keokuk, Iowa, drive his 1957 Pontiac to victory. Derr won the race when Bob Kosiskie of Omaha, who had been dominating the race, was black-flagged because of a shredded right rear tire with only a couple of laps to go.

Only 10 of the 18 starters finished the race. A couple of other contenders, Ramo Stott and Dick Hutcherson, also of Keokuk, Iowa, didn’t finish after starting strong. Hutcherson, who was running in third, broke a steering gear and was forced to retire after 10 laps. Stott, who took up third after Hutcherson’s exit and was running behind Kosiskie and Derr, went off the west turn, rolled down the bank and hit the outer fence on lap 20.

Darrel Dake, Buzz McCann of Minneapolis, Newt Bartholomew of Carlisle, Iowa, and Sonny Morgan of Beaumont, Tex., finished behind Derr.

Bob Kosiskie

Kosiskie would come back in the century grind but not without a fight from Jerry Draper. Kosiskie would lead the first 86 laps but had constant pressure from Draper throughout. A caution flag waved on lap 82 for Bruce Nystrom of Oshkosh when a rock hit his distributor, bringing his car to a halt on the backstretch.

When the green flew for the restart on lap 87, Draper shot out to the lead, much to Kosiskie’s surprise and to the delight of the 3,400 in attendance. Draper and Kosiskie battled bumper-to-bumper for 12 laps with Dick Hutcherson and afternoon winner Ernie Derr right behind the duo.

As the field was taking the white flag, Kosiskie made his move past Draper in the first turn and Hutcherson followed suit as well. Hutcherson made a last-ditch effort in the final turns to overtake Kosiskie, but the veteran held steady and grabbed the checkered. The top four cars, Kosiskie, Hutcherson, Draper and Derr, were literally nose-to-tail as the crossed the finish line.

La Crosse winner Ramo Stott receives congratulations from IMCA starter Jake Bozony. 

The IMCA stock cars would kick off the 1960 Inter-State Fair on August 9, with Ramo Stott winning every event he entered. The 26-year-old mechanic won the 4-lap trophy dash, 10-lap heat, and the 25-lap feature. He set a new track record in the trophy dash, winning in 2 minutes and 4.25 seconds. This broke the old mark of 2 minutes and 16.38 seconds set by Johnny Beauchamp in 1957, the first year for the IMCA stockers.

Stott took the lead away from fast qualifier and chief rival Ernie Derr on the second lap and was never headed. In fact, from the second lap on, the three Keokuk Kingpins, Stott, Derr, and Hutcherson – ran 1-2-3 for the remainder of the race.

IMCA had advertised a 100-lap feature for the night’s final event, but it was just as well that it only went 25 laps because a light rain fell for the final 20 laps and at the conclusion of the race, a heavy downpour ensued. The threat of rain held the crowd down to an estimated 2,000.

“I had a heckuva time when I came up on slower cars,” Stott said. His windshield wipers didn’t work to his advantage with dirt obstructing his vision. “I had to poke my head out of the window a couple of times just to see where I was going.”

A.J. Shepherd

A big car doubleheader was in store on August 14, 1960. And a couple of familiar names grabbed the headlines as A.J. Shepherd won the 12-lap feature in the afternoon and Buzz Barton copped the 10-lap sunset headliner.

The 34-year-old Shepherd’s victory wouldn’t come easy as he had to battle Bill Hobbs of San Francisco for the entire race. After passing pole-sitter LeRoy Neumeyer of Compton, Calif., on the first lap, Hobbs set a torrid pace of which only Shepherd could keep up. With the racing surface hard, slick, and dusty passing was at a premium and despite several attempts, couldn’t get around Hobbs. Finally, on lap 10, Shepherd took the high side past Hobbs for the lead and made it stick, leading the final two circuits to pick up the victory.

“I didn’t think I was going to catch him for a while,” said Shepherd afterwards. “He had been running low the whole race, so I knew the high side was my only chance, so I took it.”

Barton, driving the Lempelius Offenhauser, set a new record in his 7-lap heat race, winning in the time of 2 minutes and 50.9 seconds. That broke the mark he set last year of 3 minutes and 10 seconds.

Barton, who was also fast qualifier for the day, led all 10 laps and won handily in the nighttime program. Scheduled for 15 laps, the feature was shortened to 10 laps when the arc lights on the back straightaway went out. Hobbs, always the bridesmaid but never the bride (at least on this day), finished second Neumeyer took third.

Barton’s path to victory was made easier when afternoon winner Shepherd, on his way to a slashing victory in his heat race, skidded on the last turn and plowed into the guardrail right in front of the grandstand, incapacitating his Dizz Wilson Offenhauser.

Jerry Richert

Jerry Richert of Forest Lake, Minn., would win top honors when the IMCA big cars returned to La Crosse on August 1, 1961, but it was Bill Hobbs who would “steal the spotlight.”

Richert turned in the fastest time (24.88 seconds), win his 7-lap heat, set a new track record (1 minute and 40.89 seconds) in the 4-lap trophy dash, and capture the feature, scheduled for 15 laps. The latter was stopped after only four laps.

Hobbs would win his 6-lap heat and then crash his Offenhauser into the power plant, located in the infield. All of the lights on the back straightaway went dim. When it was discovered that the damage couldn’t be repaired, starter Jake Bozony decided to end the contest and Richert, who was leading at the time, was declared the winner.

The combination of high humidity and engine heat fogged up the driver’s goggles and it was the cause of Hobbs’ accident in turn two that shortened the feature. Richert’s lead in the abbreviated race didn’t appear likely to change even if the power had been restored. He set a strong pace right away and was way ahead of the rest of the field when the caution dropped.

The stock cars would play host to a day/night doubleheader on August 6, with Dick Hutcherson, driving his 1961 Ford “Yellow Jacket” to wins in both features. The 29-year-old building contractor won the 25-lap feature over Bob Reynolds of Edmonds, Okla., in the afternoon program and then continued his success in the evening program and won the 100-lapper with relative ease.

The afternoon race, before a crowd of 2,500, was the tougher of the two for Hutcherson, as he battled Reynolds, the day’s fast qualifier, back and forth before he was finally able to secure the lead for good on the 21st circuit. Reynolds had led the race for 19 laps.

Dick Hutcherson

The nightcap saw Reynolds take the lead right away until Hutcherson powered past him on lap 6. Reynolds stayed glue to Hutcherson’s bumper for 25 more laps until he lost control of his 1961 Ford and went over the back straightaway on the 31st lap. After that, Hutcherson was never seriously challenged and ran away from the rest of the field.

Some of the other top contenders had issues throughout the race which made Hutcherson’s run even easier. Chub Liebe of Oelwein, Iowa, lost a wheel as he pressed Hutcherson lap 39 while Darrell Dake went off the back straightaway on lap 59. Roland Wilson of Bedford, Iowa, drove off the second turn on lap 88 and Gerry Harrison of Topeka, Kan., collided into the light tower on the second turn, plunging into the darkness and causing the final yellow caution of the race.

Hutcherson won in the time of 54 minutes and 41.98 seconds – creditable considering 33 laps were run under yellow.

The other two “Keokuk Komets,” Ramo Stott and Ernie Derr, were no shows for the race. Stott had wrecked his car at Donnellson, Iowa, on Friday night and Derr had engine trouble and chose to stay at home.

The IMCA sprint cars would return to the 1962 La Crosse Inter-State Fair but instead of the usual day/night doubleheader, the open wheelers would have a back-to-back Tuesday/Wednesday tilt.

On Tuesday, July 31, Bill Horstmeyer, of Stoughton, Wis., would win the 15-lap feature in record-shattering time. Horstmeyer, driving the Ernie Johnson Offenhauser, won the race in 6 minutes and 22.32 seconds, breaking the old mark by more than a minute and a half (Jack Rounds, 7:58.34 in 1958).

When asked about breaking the record, the 31-year-old maintenance man for Oscar Mayer in Madison replied, “It helps when you have two guys hot on your tail.” Those two guys he was referring to were Jerry Daniels of St. Paul, Minn., and defending IMCA national champion Pete Folse of Tampa, Fla.

Horstmeyer’s new record would last less than 24 hours when the sprint cars returned the next night, August 1. A face very familiar to area race fans, Jerry Richert, would cut another .17 seconds off Horstmeyer’s mark en route to winning the 15-lap feature on Wednesday night.

The 29-year-old Minnesota state champion was the only driver to qualify below the 25-second mark on the hard, slick track, thus earning himself the pole position. He bolted away from the field at the start of the main event and never looked back. Jerry Daniels, Harold Leep of Wichita, Kan., and Roger Lane of Blue Springs, Mo., followed Richert across the finish line, but well behind the leader.

The stock cars would be the main headliner of August 5 with Jules “Chub” Liebe and Dick Hutcherson sharing the spotlight. Liebe, of Oelwein, Iowa, won the afternoon 25-lapper while Hutcherson drove his ’62 Ford to victory in the 100-lap nightcap.

Liebe, the 26-year-old operator of a car dealership, won the matinee fairly easily over Hutcherson, winning in 11 minutes and 40.99 seconds. “I didn’t have to push it, especially the last half of the race,” he remarked of his 1962 Ford.

Ernie Derr, the defending IMCA national champion in the stock car division, was fast qualifier during afternoon time trials, but blew a piston in his heat race and was finished for the day.

Hutcherson would turn the tables in the evening program, winning the 50-mile (100-lap) feature but not without a struggle. Lenny Funk of Otis, Kan., driving a ’62 Ford, would take the initial lead until turning over the top spot to John Mickey of Columbus Junction, Iowa, on lap 5. Funk would regain the top position on lap 17 but then relinquished it to Hutcherson on lap 21.

Following “Hutch” past Funk was Bob Reynolds and the Edmonds, Okla., driver would stay glued to Hutcherson’s bumper for the next 21 circuits until mechanical failure caught up with him and his ’62 Ford. Liebe, still running robust from his afternoon win, picked up where Reynolds left off and began hounding Hutcherson numerous times for the lead, but Hutcherson was able to fend him off every time. A car length never separated the two drivers for the remaining distance and Hutcherson was only half a car length in front of Liebe when the checkers waved.

IMCA sprint cars would stage a one-day show for the 1963 Inter-State Fair, with 21 cars entered on Wednesday, July 31. It was actually scheduled for two days but rain canceled the Tuesday night program.

Gordon Woolley of Waco, Tex., broke Jerry Richert’s one-year-old mark in the 15-lap feature. The 40-year-old mechanic won the 7.5-mile event in 6 minutes and 11.24 seconds, knocking off a little over 11 seconds off the record. Woolley, driving the Goodrich Chevrolet, also broke the 7-lap heat record in 2 minutes and 49.92 seconds, shattering Buzz Barton’s 1960 standard of 2 minutes and 50.90 seconds.

Jerry Daniels would also set two new records, winning the 6-lap heat in 2 minutes and 24.62 seconds to wipe out Jim Wegscheider’s mark of 2 minutes and 37.19 seconds set in 1960. Daniels also set a new track record in time trials, racing around the half-mile in 23.39 seconds, breaking Harold Leep’s 1962 record of 24.03 seconds.

In the main event, Woolley showed why he would eventually win the 1963 IMCA sprint car championship with a brilliant display of driving. While Daniels took the lead from his pole position, Woolley, who started eighth, had to work his way through the field to get up on Daniel’s bumper by lap 8. Two laps later, Woolley got by Daniels for the lead and at the end, was a comfortable six car lengths ahead.

Competing at La Crosse for the first time, Woolley was asked afterwards if he expected to win. In his finest Texas drawl, he replied, “Always do.”

Dick Hutcherson had come to like the La Crosse half-mile, so it was no surprise when he made a complete sweep of things on August 5. The defending IMCA stock car champion repeated his performance of 1961, winning both the afternoon and evening features. It was also his third 100-lap feature win in a row dating back to the same year.

Hutcherson drove his 1963 Ford to three record-shattering feats in time trials, 10-lap heat, and 100-lap feature. He set a new one-lap record in qualifying, touring the half-mile in 26.50 seconds, bettering Bob Reynold’s 1961 mark of 26.87 seconds. He also won the 6-lap heat race and 5-lap trophy dash before copping the 25-lap feature in 11 minutes and 31.50 seconds.

Not completely satisfied, Hutcherson came back for the twilight program and set a new record of 4 minutes and 26.80 seconds in his heat race. He easily won the 100-lapper in 49 minutes and 48.30 seconds to eclipse the old mark of 51 minutes and 10.55 seconds set by Johnny Beauchamp in 1957. The 31-year-old star took the lead on lap 5 and proceeded to lap everyone except the second-place finisher, Chub Liebe.

Ramo Stott, the current IMCA point leader, was overshadowed by Hutcherson’s dominant performance and Ernie Derr had demolished his car in Donnellson, Iowa, that weekend and was a no-show.

"Scratch" Daniels with Hector Honore.

The IMCA sprint cars would make it a two-day show at the Inter-State Fair on August 4 and 5, 1964, with two Jerry’s, Daniels and Richert, splitting the prize money.

A power failure would delay the six-event program on Tuesday, with festivities ending near midnight, but that didn’t dim the performance of Daniels, the 25-year-old mechanic, who broke his own qualifying record, won his 5-lap heat, and capped it off with a victory in the 12-lap feature.

Richert actually tied Daniels’ 1963 mark of 23.39 seconds in qualifying, but “Scratch” was next up in timing and promptly reset the standard with a clocking of 23.25 seconds. He won his heat race by catching Gordon Woolley on the final turn and winning in the time of 2 minutes and 7.78 seconds.

In the main event, Daniels, driving Hector Honore’s Black Deuce, fought off a trio of former Inter-State Fair winners that included Richert, Woolley and Bill Horstmeyer, who trailed him by a car length at the finish. His time for the 6-miler was 4 minutes and 59.85 seconds.

“The track was in real good shape,” Daniels said. “And the car ran really well.”

Just as Daniels had dominated Tuesday’s program, Richert made Wednesday night’s show his own.

Richert was the “hot” driver in more than one aspect. Besides setting fast time, winning his heat, and then taking the championship feature, a cracked header pipe was throwing flames and the 31-year-old Whirlpool repairman suffered minor burns to his legs.

Richert led all the way in the 15-lap feature, accepting the checkered flag ahead of Horstmeyer, Woolley, Jim Moughan of Springfield, Ill., and Buzz Barton of Tampa, Fla. His winning time for 7.5-miles was 6 minutes and 52.25 seconds.

Horstmeyer was runner-up to Richert for the first nine laps, but Daniels moved ahead of Horstmeyer on lap 10 for second place but a blown engine forced him out of competition on lap 13.

One record fell on Wednesday’s program as Buzz Barton, who already held the La Crosse records for 5 laps (2:01.11) and 10 laps (4:33.15), put the 7-lap mark in his own personal memoirs when he won the third heat in the time of 2 minutes and 40.38 seconds.

Weather would play its part for the IMCA stock cars as the scheduled day/night doubleheader on August 9 was affected by showers all day. The rain fell during the final two events of the matinee performance, making the track slick with mud and all but forcing cancellation of the two 10-lap heats and 100-lap feature scheduled for that evening.

Ramo Stott

The soggy track conditions didn’t slow Ramo Stott, as the 31-year-old driver from Keokuk, Iowa, piloted his 1964 Plymouth to one track record and victory in every event he entered, including the 25-lap championship feature.

Stott broke the qualifying record with a timed lap of 26.40 seconds. That broke Dick Hutcherson’s one-year-old mark of 26.50 seconds. He also won the 10-lap first heat.

Despite a muddy track, Stott almost broke the oldest stock car record their was for the Inter-State Fair in the 25-lap finale. That record of 11 minutes and 26.21 seconds was set by Johnny Beauchamp during the first appearance for the stock cars in 1957.

As it was, his winning time of 11 minutes and 29.50 seconds was only three seconds short, very impressive considering the conditions. “I eased off,” Stott said afterwards. “I thought I might break an axle.”

“The track was wavy – like a washboard,” he added. “It was really hard on the axles.”

Stott led all the way with Ole Brua of Albert Lea, Minn., driving a ’64 Ford convertible, finishing second. Gil Haugen of Sioux Falls, S.D., was third in a 1963 Plymouth and Bob Jusola of Mound, Minn., in a ’63 Ford, was fourth.

Dick Hutcherson, the defending IMCA stock car champion, Ernie Derr, the five-time IMCA champion, Bob Reynolds of Edmonds, Okla., and Ralph Wilhelm of Milwaukee were unable to appear because of car troubles at other races earlier in the week.

Dick Fries

Dick Fries of San Diego, Calif., was the upset winner when the IMCA sprint cars kicked off the 1965 Inter-State Fair on August 3. A relative newcomer to the circuit, Fries held off a pair of former IMCA national champions, Jerry Richert and Gordon Wooley, to win the 15-lap feature. Fries led the first two laps before giving way to Richert. He regained the top spot on lap 9 and held strong the remaining six laps to score the victory. A rain shower fell about a half hour before the program, making the track conditions rough going for the field.

The racing surface was in far better shape the next night, August 4, and Jerry Richert took full advantage. Utilizing his rim-riding style in which he was famous for, the 32-year-old veteran sailed to an easy win in the 15-lap feature. Richert won the race in the time 6 minutes and 12.96 seconds, not far off of Gordon Woolley’s 6 minutes and 11.64 second record set two years before.

Tuesday night’s upset winner, Dick Fries, would grab the lead at the onset but that would last only two laps as Richert, using his patented high-groove racing style, powered past Fries, and never looked back. Gordon Woolley would get by Fries a few laps later and that’s how they finished.

Richert, Tom Bigelow of Whitewater, Wis., and Roger Lane of Blue Springs, Mo., were heat winners while Ron Larson of Milltown won the consolation.

It would be a few years before the IMCA sprint cars would return…

An all-day rain on Sunday slammed the brakes on the stock car portion of the ’65 Inter-State Fair on August 8. The rain was so persistent and so heavy in the afternoon, even the fair’s midway was shut down. After the cancellation of the afternoon program, Frank Winkley and Nick Nachicas of IMCA thought that they might get the evening program in if it stopped raining early enough in the afternoon, but it never did.

Ramo Stott and Ernie Derr

The 1966 La Crosse Inter-State Fair would have the stock cars on their schedule for a one-day only, day/night doubleheader on Sunday, August 7. Ramo Stott would win the 25-lap afternoon feature while it was all Ernie Derr in the 100-lap nightcap.

Stott’s winning time in the matinee was 11 minutes and 54.10 seconds. Lenny Funk led the first lap of the feature and then Derr took over on the second go-round. Coming past the start/finish line on lap 3, Stott got past Derr and never relinquished it.

Bob Jusola of Mound, Minn., and Blaine Morrow of Mt. Joy, Ill., were upset heat winners in the afternoon.

The evening feature event saw Stott take his 1966 Plymouth into the lead at the start with Derr and his 1966 Dodge right behind. Derr would pull the same maneuver on Stott as Ramo did on Ernie in the afternoon race, powering by him on the frontstretch of lap 3 to take the lead.

The 43-year-old driver would take full command by the halfway point of the race and put it in “cruise control” from there. In the process, he would race to a record clocking of 48 minutes and 55.10 seconds, breaking Dick Hutcherson’s 1963 record of 49 minutes and 48.30 seconds. Pretty impressive considering the track conditions.

Saturday’s rain soaked the track but left the surface dry and dusty on Sunday despite efforts to keep it in good shape. Ruts made driving difficult at times. “There’s no point in running the car hard when you don’t have to,” Derr said. The track was “really hard on the suspension”” he added. There were only seven cars running at the finish.

It would be the last appearance for the IMCA stock cars at the Inter-State Fair.

The IMCA sprint cars would make one more appearance at La Crosse, now a paved track, on July 25, 1971. It would be ironic that the driver who had more IMCA sprint cars wins at La Crosse would be the last winner there as well.

Jerry Richert would win make it a clean sweep, setting fast time, winning his heat and the 25-lapper. Casey Jones of South Bend, Ind., would win his heat as well and then push Richert all the way to the finish line in the main event before settling for second place.

Ray Wright of Elkhart, Ind., would win the third heat while Bob Kinser of Bloomington, Ind., won the trophy dash. Earl Wagner of Pleasantville, Iowa, would win the consolation.

It would be the last appearance for the IMCA sprint cars at La Crosse and the last appearance ever for the International Motor Contest Association.