Ernie Derr (center) accepts his trophy after winning the Hawkeye 300 at Cedar Rapids. IMCA official Jake Bozony (left) makes the presentation while his brother-in-law Don White (right), who finished second in the race, join them in victory lane. – Bob Kerns Photo
Cedar Rapids, Iowa (May 18, 1958) – More than 12,000 fans turned out at Hawkeye Downs on Sunday afternoon to watch veteran Ernie Derr of Keokuk capture the Hawkeye 300 stock car title.In the process, the former International Motor Contest Association stock car champion rolled his 1957 Pontiac to an IMCA world record for 300 laps on a half-mile track. He negotiated the distance in 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 50.55 seconds. The old mark, set on the same track in 1957 by Bill Brown, was 2 hours, 39 minutes, and 13.91 seconds.
Despite the record, the opening race of the 1958 campaign was not as exciting as some in the past. There were early battles for position among the top three spots, but Derr was never headed and at the halfway point, really took charge.
Part of the enjoyment was eliminated by the heavier than usual dust barrage that chased some of the fans out of the box seats. Despite the weekend rains, a strong wind dried the track quickly and carried dust from the west turns directly into the stands.
The wind also curtailed the speeds by drying the track too rapidly. The best time trial was Don White’s 27.10 second as no other driver was able to break the 27-second barrier, although some cars were clocked under 27 seconds during the actual race. The 300-lap record was largely due to the fact that there were no accidents, and that speed was curtailed only briefly by two cautions.
The first came on the 86th lap when leader Jerry Roedell of Moline, Ill., lost control in the fourth turn and bumped two other cars. One spun out but all cars were able to resume under their own power. The other came on lap173 when Ramo Stott of Keokuk spun on the same turn. The pace was slowed as he was towed to the infield.
Don White, who did an amazing job of driving in finishing behind his brother-in-law, was the early leader. He took over the car that was being driven by Lenny Funk of Otis, Kan., when his auto broke down on the 46th lap. He lost four laps in the process but eventually worked his way up to second place in Funk’s 1957 Chevrolet.
When White’s car dropped out, Jerry Roedell took over and set the pace until making a pit stop on at the halfway mark and surrendering the lead to Derr. He never regained the lead but still managed an impressive third place finish despite a spinout on the 234th lap.
Roedell was the surprise of the 33-car field, while defending IMCA champion Johnny Beauchamp and Bob Burdick were the hard-luck drivers. Beauchamp’s new car wasn’t ready, and he competed in an older model. He stayed among the leaders in the early going but was eventually forced out and finished 16th.
Burdick was never in the lead but was a consistent challenger and was the only threat to Derr in the late stages before he retired due to motor issues with only 14 laps to go. Burdick had cut Derr’s lead from a full lap to less than a half-lap when he went to the sidelines.
Finishing behind Derr and the White/Funk combination was Roedell in third, Chub Liebe of Oelwein in fourth and Doc Narber of Cedar Rapids in fifth.
1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk
2. Don White, Keokuk/Lenny Funk, Otis, Kan.
3. Jerry Roedell, Moline, Ill.
4. Chub Liebe, Oelwein
5. Doc Narber, Cedar Rapids
6. Frank Richards, Marion
7. Bob Burdick, Omaha, Neb.
8. Dick Santee, Bell, Calif.
9. Bill Starr, Colona, Ill.
10.Darrell Dake, Cedar Rapids
11.Bob Hilmer, Dysart
12.Fred Voight, Peoria, Ill.
13.Bob Carpenter, Carlisle
14.Whitey Traeder, Milwaukee
15.Bob Short, Des Moines
16.John Beauchamp, Harlan
17.Ramo Stott, Keokuk
18.Murray Folsom, Cedar Rapids
19.Lloyd Jorgenson, Audubon
20.Ralph Wilhelm, Milwaukee
21.Art Brady, Peoria, Ill.
22.Clarence Bolton, Hutchinson, Kan.
23.Bruce Nystrom, Oshkosh, Wis.
24.Bob Ward, Creston
25.Jere O’Day, Fond du Lac, Wis.
26.Herb Shannon, Peoria, Ill.
27.Russ Gross, Quincy, Ill.
29.Bob Potter, Duluth, Minn.
30.Ben Prietzel, Twin Rivers, Wis.
32.Les Dykes, Davenport