Friday, May 5, 2023

1973 – First Race on Track; Bjorge Wins

Dave Bjorge is congratulated by a MALCO representative after winning the season opener at Des Moines. Flagman Gus Hendricks presents the checkers. – Al Rowley Photo

Des Moines, Iowa (May 5, 1973) – Fans who attend the weekly auto races at the State Fairgrounds this summer won’t see very much of Dave Bjorge, a 35-year-old meat cutter from Austin, Minn.

But some of the area drivers already feel he’s already worn out his welcome here.

In his first competition ever at the State Fairgrounds, Bjorge led from start to finish in the 25-lap late model stock car season opener before a crowd of 11,381.

Following right behind Bjorge was another fellow Minnesota competitor, Sonny Morgan of Blue Earth. Ken Davidson of Des Moines was third and Randy Sterner of Blair, Neb., took fourth.

Ken Gerhart of Des Moines won the 15-lap sportsman feature in his 1964 Chevelle.

“I came down here twice last year to run,” Bjorge said, “but it rained each time.”

Bjorge, who drives a 1972 Monte Carlo, says he may return this season but plans to race closer to home on a weekly basis.

Problems plagued several of last year’s drivers.

Defending late model champion Bob Hilmer of Dysart was absent because his car wasn’t ready. Des Moines drivers Joe Merryfield and Don Hoffman didn’t start the feature. Merryfield said the pump on his engine in his 1971 Nova was malfunctioning and Hoffman, who drives a 1972 Dodge owned by Bill Moyer of Des Moines, said the car was not handling properly.

Stan Stover, runner-up to Hilmer in the point standings last year, finished fifth in his 1972 Nova. Normally driven by Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Stover’s Chevelle won’t be ready until next week.

Bjorge collected $550, the top prize in the new $5,000 purse.

Results –

Heat #1 – Randy Sterner, Blair, Neb.
Heat #2 – Bob Shryock, Estherville
Semi-main – Red Dralle, Evansdale
Feature –
1. Dave Bjorge, Austin, Minn.
2. Sonny Morgan, Blue Earth, Minn.
3. Ken Davidson, Des Moines
4. Randy Sterner
5. Stan Stover, Reinbeck
6. Bill McDonough, Cedar Rapids
7. Red Dralle
8. Bob Bonzer, Liscomb
9. Curt Hansen, Dike
10.Roger Dolan, Lisbon

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