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.

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