Wednesday, May 10, 2023

1959 – Sonny Morgan is Gulf States Winner

Sonny Morgan

Shreveport, La. (May 10, 1959) – Sonny Morgan, a little guy with a heavy foot, charged out of the pack on the 129th lap to capture the Gulf States Championship for late model stock cars Sunday afternoon at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds before a crowd of 4,132.

Morgan whipped his 1956 Plymouth around the 200 laps in 1 hour, 38 minutes and 57.3 seconds. The world standard for 100 miles is 1 hour, 33 minutes and 16 seconds.

Morgan played the waiting game.

He sat back in third place in the early going, and let two of the “Keokuk Kids,” Ernie Derr and their ace favorite, Dick Hutcherson – fight it out for the top spot in their 1957 Pontiacs. On the 128th lap, Morgan made his bid and overhauled the second-running Hutcherson. Just as he started working on Derr and his black #1 car, Derr suddenly dropped out of the race with a broken valve. Derr had led all 130 laps up to that point.

Hutcherson made a 10-second pit stop for fuel at the completion of lap 137 but lost little ground to Morgan. After completing lap 140, Morgan made a refueling stop himself and got going again just as Hutcherson was coming around.

Hutcherson kept at him, but not quite as hard as before. After rounding lap 158, Hutcherson coasted into the pits for the keeps, explaining, “My engine just didn’t have it after I gassed up.”

That left Morgan the race if he could just manage to hang on – something he wasn’t able to do in his three previous starts this season (the Pelican 300, Phoenix, Ariz., and Hutchinson, Kan.). In all three starts, he was among the frontrunners until mechanical issues sent him to the sidelines.

Morgan’s biggest competition in the remaining laps was the third member of the “Keokuk Komets,” Ramo Stott, driving a 1958 Ford.

But Morgan poured it on in the end, winning by two laps over Stott. Morgan took home $350 for his victory while Stott collected $275. Bill Harrison of Topeka, Kan., was third and earned $200.

This was Morgan’s first major stock car victory in over three years of IMCA competition.

Results –

1. Sonny Morgan, Beaumont, Tex.
2. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
3. Bill Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
4. Jim Martin, Richmond, Mo.
5. Bob Hardy, Beaumont, Tex.
6. Bruce Nystrom, Oshkosh, Wis.
7. Charlie Merrill, Mobile, Ala.
8. Ralph Wilhelm, Milwaukee
9. Dub Rollins, Corpus Christi, Tex.
10.Bob Kosiskie, Omaha, Neb.
11.Milo Van Oudenhoven, Appleton, Wis.
12.Dick Hutcherson, Keokuk, Iowa
13.Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
14.Pete Van Oudenhoven, Appleton, Wis.
15.Roland Wilson, Bedford, Iowa
16.Lucky Mays, Mobile, Ala.
17.Red Dowdy, Dallas, Tex.

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