Friday, March 31, 2023

1974 – Howe Coasts to Louisville ASA Victory

A double-image of Ed Howe after the Beaverton, Mich., driver won the ASA-sanctioned 100-lapper at Fairgrounds Motor Speedway in Louisville. – Roger Price Collection


Louisville, Ky. (March 31, 1974) – Spectators at the Fairgrounds Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon were treated to a classic display of the Howe and Howe-not of stock car racing.

On the bill was a 100-lap American Speed Association contest, the first competitive event of the 1974 season at the 1/3-mile paved oval. Howe, a veteran driver and car builder from Beaverton, Mich., was a surprise entry, making his first-ever appearance in Louisville.

His performance was as bright as his gaudy green Camaro, which he wheeled to a track record in qualifying, and then guided home a comfortable winner in the 100-lap feature. It all looked remarkably easy.

The event was also the first at FMS in which cars were required to have mufflers.

Howe’s best qualifying lap was completed in 15.42 seconds at an average speed of 77.82 miles per hour. The old mark of 15.46 seconds was set by Kenny Reiter in 1971. Just after the track had been lengthened a quarter mile.

It was in the feature, though, that Howe really distinguished himself. He started eighth on the invert and after six laps was running eighth.

By the end of 13 circuits, though, he had passed such notables as Reiter, Bill Kimmel, and second fast qualifier Ray Young of Dolton, Ill.

That place Howe fourth behind Harold Scott – who took the lead from polesitter Elmer Davis at the outset of the race – and Louisville area stars LaMarr Marshall and John Sommerville.

Pushing hard on lap 13, Sommerville tapped Marshall and both drivers had a few anxious moments straightening out. That was all the time Howe needed to slip past both drivers and into second place.

Scott had opened up a lead of 100 yards, which Howe needed a dozen laps to overcome. On lap 27 he was on Scott’s bumper, and he took the top spot away from Scott as they completed the 35th circuit. After that, it was a Sunday afternoon drive for Howe, who said afterwards that he never had to run flat out all day.

“There’s no sense in going out and charging all the way,” Howe said. "You have to finish to win.”

Scott said he never had any illusions of holding off Howe. “I wasn’t getting any bite,” he said, referring to his ’69 Chevelle’s traction in the corners.

Scott seemed satisfied with where he was at and Howe coasted home with over half-a-lap lead. Scott withstood pressure from Kimmel and Marshall to finish second.

Kimmel took the third spot from Marshall with five laps remaining and then held on to it as Marshall pulled even with him on lap 98. Reiter finished close behind Marshall to round out the top five.

Defending ASA champion Dave Sorg, the 14th fastest qualifier in a borrowed car, drove a steady race and finished seventh.

Results –

1. Ed Howe, Beaverton, Mich.
2. Harold Scott, New Castle, Ind.
3. Bill Kimmel, Jeffersonville, Ind.
4. LaMarr Marshall, Louisville
5. Ken Reiter, Louisville
6. Andy Vertrees, Louisville
7. Dave Sorg, Fort Wayne, Ind.
8. Mike Eddy, Kawkawlin, Mich.
9. Ray Fullen, Anderson, Ind.
10.Elmer Davis, Jeffersonville, Ind.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

1954 - Johnny Thomson Wins AAA Inaugural at Reading

Johnny Thomson

Reading, Penn. (March 28, 1954) - Johnny Thomson, of Lowell, Mass., won the 15-mile feature event yesterday at the Reading Fairgrounds when he took the lead at the start and stayed there during the entire race.

A crowd of 31,689 was on hand for the Eastern AAA inaugural auto racing program and saw Thomson turn in a torrid 13 minute and 5 second performance to shatter the previous track record of 13 minutes and 10 seconds, established by the late Bill Schindler on June 18, 1950.

Thomson was driving a black Offenhauser and finished a half-lap in front of Wally Campbell, Trenton, N.J., and Jiggs Peters, Plainfield, N.J., who was third. Finishing fourth was Joe Sostilio, the 1953 Eastern AAA dirt track champion and he was followed by Mike Nazaruk, East Meadows, N.Y., and Bill Holland, 1949 Indianapolis winner, formerly of Reading and now of Indianapolis.

Both Tommy Hinnershitz and Ernie McCoy were forced out of action due to car trouble.

One accident marred the program when Bert Fleischman of Buffalo, N.Y., spun and hit the inside fence on the first turn during the second heat race. He was admitted to the Reading Hospital with fractured ribs, shock and abrasions of the chest.

Results -

Heat #1 - Jiggs Peters
Heat #2 - Joe Sostilio
Heat #3 -Joe Barzda
Consolation - Al Herman
Feature –
1. Johnny Thomson
2. Wally Campbell
3. Jiggs Peters
4. Joe Sostilio
5. Mike Nazaruk
6. Bill Holland
7. Al Herman
8. Joe Barzda
9. Dick Linder
10.Tommy Hinnershitz
11.Bert Fleishman
12.Ernie McCoy

Monday, March 27, 2023

1955 – Harrison Wins Gulf States Speed Crown


Shreveport, La. (March 27, 1955) – A spectacular accident involving Herschel Buchanan, Shreveport’s “Gray Fox of the Speedways,” set the stage Sunday afternoon for “Wild” Bill Harrison of Topeka, Kan., to take first place honors in the stock car racing Gulf States Championships at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds.

Buchanan, a former holder of national big car and stock car championships, suffered chest and facial injuries when his new Ford Thunderbird broke an axle before sailing into a series of end over end flips that demolished his new car on lap 70 of the 100-lap contest. Shreveport’s daredevil was out front and appeared to be headed for a new track record when the mishap occurred.

A crowd of 8,457 racing enthusiasts witnessed the crash.

Harrison, winner of the second 15-lap heat, had overtaken Buchanan previously on lap 50 but Herschel managed to regain the lead prior to the crash.

The crash was tabbed as one of the most spectacular mishaps in the local track’s history by officials of Auto Racing, Inc., a promotion firm based out of Minneapolis, Minn., which sponsored the Gulf States Championships.

Roxy Dancy of Shreveport was runner-up to Harrison and another local ace, Snuffy Smith, took home third-place money. They piloted a Hudson and Oldsmobile, respectively.

Ralph Dyer, another Shreveport racing veteran, was running with the leaders in his 1953 Nash when his right front wheel caught fire forcing Dyer to retire on lap 74.

The program was sanctioned by the International Motor Contest Association.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

1969 - Allison Wasn't the Choice at Bristol

Bobby Allison took Mario Rossi's Dodge to victory at Bristol. 

Bristol, Tenn. (March 23, 1969) - The man with the fist full of money wearing the white cap wasn't willing to put his cash on Bobby Allison, not even with 55 laps to go in Sunday's Southeastern 500.

Allison was chugging along in third place, practically unnoticed with less than 30 miles to race in the 250-miler here at Bristol International Speedway.

The man waving the white cap with the fist full of money, and the man in the checkered shirt who called the bet was leading cheers every time David Pearson passed the grandstand.

Isaac, in a Dodge, and Pearson, in a Ford, had dominated the race, and were now engaged in a chase for the checkered flag. But with 52 laps to go, an unusual turn of events began to unfold.

Isaac's Dodge and Pearson's Ford became crop dusters. Both went up in a cloud of smoke, opening the way for Allison who rode home first.

The Hueytown, Ala. veteran, a four-time national modified champion, was driving a 1969 Dodge Charger. He led only 14 laps of the 500-lap race, taking command eight laps from the finish. He had led for six laps early in the event.

The rallying victory charge was worth $5,025 to Allison, who averaged 81.455 miles per hour, a new record for this track.

Lee Roy Yarbrough, in a Ford, was second. Pearson was third, Cale Yarborough fourth in a Ford, and Donnie Allison, a brother to Bobby, rounded out the top five in a Ford.

Isaac, who started on the pole, led a total of 269 laps, and Pearson, who started on the front row alongside Isaac, was in front for a total of 217 laps.

The race was slowed by four caution flags which brought the yellow out for 28 laps. There were no serious accidents.

The turn of events that made the race as thrilling as it was began developing back on lap 273 when Richard Petty spun in the third turn, bringing out the second caution flag. At the time, Isaac was riding along high and mighty, leading Pearson by half a lap.

Both Isaac and Pearson pitted twice under the caution and on his second stop for inside tires, Isaac was passed by Pearson.

Pearson then led the race until lap 422 when he spun coming off the fourth turn. The Ford driver had built up a good lead on Isaac when, he started into the third turn with Cale Yarborough right on his bumper. Bobby Johns was in the high-speed groove and didn't move. Pearson ducked low and there was James Hylton in the low groove. Pearson tapped Hylton and Yarborough tapped Pearson, and Pearson spun coming off the turn He didn't lose a lap, but he did lose position to Isaac who grabbed the lead.

Before the spin, Pearson had nearly a five second lead over Isaac, and on the restart Isaac held about the same lead over Pearson.

Once again Isaac was riding out front. Then, suddenly, on lap 447, as he approached the third turn, his car sent up a puff of smoke. Then a cloud of smoke followed, and Isaac was finished for the day.

Pearson took the lead, but before all the Dodge fans could make their way out of the grandstands, Pearson's Ford puffed smoke in the second turn, and it was a whole new deal. The Ford driver had a two - lap lead over Allison, but a valve had broken, and his pace was slowed. Allison passed Pearson on the track to make up one lap. Then Pearson went to the pits and Allison passed again to make up the second lap.

When the Ford driver came out of the pits he held a half lap lead over Allison, and with 10 laps to go Allison was trailing by half a straightway but catching up fast. Allison made his move and went under Pearson in the second turn with seven laps to go, taking the lead for good.

By this time the man in the checkered shirt was on the way to his car. Ford had lost. The man with the white cap wasn't any richer. Isaac had lost, too, but Dodge hadn't, and he was just as happy. The white cap went sailing down through the grandstand and landed on the track near the finish line. It was all over now.

Results –

1. Bobby Allison
2. Lee Roy Yarborough
3. David Pearson
4. Cale Yarborough
5. Donnie Allison
6. Dave Marcis
7. Richard Petty
8. Elmo Langley
9. Friday Hassler
10.Neil Castle
11.Bobby Johns
12.Jabe Thomas
13.James Hylton
14.Bobby Isaacs
15.E.J. Trivette
16.Henley Gray
17.Wendell Scott
18.Dick Johnson
19.Charlie Glotzbach
20.Bill Champion

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

1959 – Lakewood Race to Beauchamp

Johnny Beauchamp

Atlanta, Ga. (March 22, 1959) – Johnny Beauchamp, who recently lost the Daytona 500 by a few inches and a reversal of the official’s decision, was somewhat luckier Sunday, as he won the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National auto race at Lakewood Speedway.

Beauchamp, a native of Harlan, Iowa, wheeled his 1959 Ford Thunderbird around the one-mile track in 1 hour, 19 minutes and 49 seconds for an average speed of 75 miles per hour.

Had the race lasted another couple of laps, it is quite possible luck would have frowned upon him again. His car’s rear end began to smoke as he went into the last lap.

Veteran Buck Baker of Spartanburg, S.C., in a 1959 Chevrolet, finished in second-place, a mile or so back.

Trailing Beauchamp and Baker were Tom Pistone, Chicago, 1959 Thunderbird, Speedy Thompson, Monroe, N.C., 1957 Chevrolet, and Joe Eubanks, Spartanburg, S.C., 1958 Ford.

Although there were no serious mishaps, mechanical failure took a heavy toll of the starters. Among them was Lee Patty, the North Carolinian awarded late judgment over Beauchamp at Daytona. He was sitting on the back stretch with a broken axle when the race was won by Beauchamp.

Results –

1. Johnny Beauchamp
2. Buck Baker
3. Tom Pistone
4. Speedy Thompson
5. Joe Eubanks
6. Shorty Rollins
7. Billy Carden
8. Fireball Roberts
9. Tiny Lund
10.Bob Welborn
11.Jim McGuirk
12.Sam Massey
13.Roscoe Thompson
14.Cotton Owens
15.J.C. Hendrix
16.Chet Barron
17.Lee Petty
18.Johnny Allen
19.Pete Kelly
20.Charles Griffith

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Basement Archives

August 24-29, 1976

Veteran Roger Regeth of Kimberly, Wis., guided his 1973 Camaro to his sixth late model feature win of the season Tuesday night, August 24, at Leo’s Speedway in Oshkosh, Wis. Regeth, taking hiss charge from his fourth row starting spot, forged ahead of leader Willie Goeden on lap 12 and extended his lead a few feet every lap to finish with a five-car-length lead at the checkers. Goeden, Jerry Smith, Dave Conger and Roger VanRoy rounded out the top five.

A light rain fell throughout most of the ‘Furious 50’ late model special Wednesday night, August 25 at Cedarburg (Wis.) Speedway and that was just fine with Al Schill who went faster as the track got wetter, as he scored his first feature win of the season on the 1/3-mile clay oval. With the rain becoming more intense as the laps clicked off, Schill’s Camaro got the bite that it needed and the Franklin, Wis., hot shoe passed race leader Aaron Solsrud of Pewaukee, Wis., on lap 30 to grab the top spot. Once ahead, Schill built up an eight-car-length lead en route to the win. Solsrud fought off Bill Goeden of Kewaskum, Wis., in the waning laps to hod on for second. Despite the threatening weather, the crowd of 3,025 was the largest of the season.

Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., ended the 1976 racing season at State Park Speedway in Wausau, Wis., on Thursday night, August 26, the way he started it, by winning the 50-lap late model feature race. Trickle passed Tom Reffner, winner of 13 main events and the late model crown this season, on lap 23 and then using lap traffic to his advantage, skillfully maneuvered through the pack to increase his lead by half a lap at the finish. Reffner, from Rudolph, Wis., settled for second place followed by Mike Miller of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. Marv Marzofka of Nekoosa, Wis., finished fourth and Jim Back of Vesper, Wis., took fifth.

Roger Regeth of Kimberly, Wis., displaying the hard-charging style that has made him a winner on both dirt and asphalt tracks, outdueled Rich Somers of Stevens Point, Wis., in the 20-lap late model feature at Wisconsin International Raceway on Thursday night. A crowd of 2,412 viewed the final Fox River Racing Program of 1976. Regeth passed Tony Strupp of Slinger, Wis., on lap 9 and then fended off Somers for the remaining 11 circuits to seal the victory, winning by three-car-lengths. Somers, Strupp, Bill Goeden of Kewaskum, Wis., and Pete Parker of Kaukauna, Wis., rounded out the top five.

Larry Schuler’s feature win streak came to abrupt halt Friday night, August 27, at the Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill., as mechanical misfortune struck at his ‘Junkyard’ Camaro, putting Ray Young of Dolton, Ill., in the winner’s circle at the conclusion of the 25-lap late model feature. Earlier, Schuler’s car would drop a piston in a heat race, sidelining for the rest of the evening. Young drove a masterful race, passing Tom Musgrave of Mundelein, Ill., on the outside groove on lap 19 en route to his 202nd career feature win and his third victory of the season at the 1/3-mile paved oval. Musgrave would hang on for second place while Tom Jones of Northbrook, Ill., would finish third.

Veteran home state driver Bay Darnell passed Terry Ryan of Davenport, Iowa, on lap 79 and cruised to his first USAC stock car victory of the campaign in a 100-mile dirt track race at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds on Saturday, August 28. The win was Darnell’s second of his career, with his other triumph coming at a 100-mile dirt race at the Indiana State Fairgrounds two years ago. Don White of Keokuk, Iowa, was second followed by Paul Feldner of Colgate, Wis., Butch Hartman of South Zanesville, Ohio and Ken Rowley of El Paso, Ill.

Tom Steiner, the handsome 26-year-old bachelor from Orland Park, Ill., wheeled the Bob Steffes Chevy II to victory in the accident-shortened National Alliance of Midget Auto Racing (NAMAR) championship at the Sun Valley Speedway in Anderson, Ind., on Saturday night. Scheduled for 50 laps, the race was halted after 42 laps when Steve Ball of Fort Wayne, Ind., went over the main stretch guard rail and tore down more than 50 feet of the track’s safety fence.

Ed Hoffman of Niles, Ill., drove his Camaro to victory in Saturday night’s 25-lap late model feature race at Illiana Motor Speedway. It was only feature win number two at Illiana this season for Hoffman, who captured track titles here in 1971 and 1973. Hoffman passed Dave Weltmeyer on lap 16 and then wasted no time in putting some ground between himself and the rest of the field en route to the easy win. Defending track champion and current point leader Larry Schuler, who had won 14 of 15 main events at Illiana this season, was sidelined from competition by a blown engine Friday night at Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill.

Young Stan Fox made a triumphant return to the half-mile Dodge County Fairgrounds in Beaver Dam, Wis., on Saturday night, scoring a clean sweep in the Badger Midget program on Saturday night. Fox started by breaking the two-year-old track record in qualifying with a blistering time of 25.668 seconds breaking the old mark of 26.097 seconds. In the feature, the Janesville, Wis., charger steadily moved through the field and despite three cautions, won handily over Lars Lein of Cambridge, Wis. And Ken Biertzer of West Bend, Wis.

In one of the most hotly contested late model features ever seen at Rice Lake (Wis.) Speedway, Bob Lawrence put down the challenges of the area’s best drivers to walk off with the $650 first prize money in the special 30-lap invitational on Saturday night. It was the Minnesota drivers fourth feature win of the season. Lawrence and Red Steffen of Eau Claire, Wis., ran one-two for most of the feature with neither driver giving an inch. Steffen patiently waited for Lawrence to make a mistake but the St. Croix Beach, Minn., pilot drove flawlessly beating Steffen by mere feet at the finish line. Tom Steuding of Altoona, Wis., finished a bumper behind Steffen for third while Brent Laursen of Cameron, Wis., grabbed fourth and Skip Splitsdoesser of Stillwater, Minn., rounded out the top five finishers.

Don Mack, known as the “Flying Farmer” from East Grand Forks, Minn., picked up his biggest racing paycheck in 17 years of competition as he won the 200-lap Minnesota State Fair open competition sprint car championship Sunday afternoon, August 29. He collected $4,500 in a race which was viewed by 6,256 fans. Mack emerged victorious although Casey Jones of South Bend, Ind., and Marvin Carmen of Union City, Mich., dominated the event on the half-mile paved oval. It was not until after the race was finished and the lap charts had been tallied that Mack had been declared the winner.

Wayne Lensing of Rockford, Ill., wrapped up late model title with a victory in the 30-lap feature at Rockford Speedway on Saturday night. Lensing had to come from the 20th starting position for the victory. By lap 22 he was in front and charged to the win ahead of second-place finisher Bill Venturini of Chicago and Larry O’Brien of Harvard, Ill.

Starting only his second USAC Championship Dirt race, Bubby Jones of Danville, Ill., scored a narrow victory over Larry Dickson of Marietta, Ohio and Jim McElreath of Arlington, Tex., in Sunday afternoon’s 100-mile race at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds. Jones inherited the top spot on lap 58 when race leader Joe Saldana dropped out with mechanical issues. Jones then clung to a precarious advantage over Dickson and McElreath for the remainder of the race until he was finally able to pull to a five-car length margin in the closing four miles. Dickson edged McElreath for runner-up money with Larry Rice taking fourth and Johnny Parsons in fifth.

Bob Geldner took an early lead and went on to victory in the 20-lap Midwest Sprint Association finale at North Starr Speedway in Blaine, Minn., on Sunday night. Only 14 cars were on hand due to the show at the Minnesota State Fair that afternoon. Jerry Richert was runner-up in the feature and Don Mack, winner at the State Fair earlier in the day, was third.