Friday, June 2, 2023

1978 - Ferkel Takes Liking to Black Hills Speedway

Rick Ferkel

Rapid City, S.D. (June 2, 1978) – It was Rick Ferkel’s first time at Black Hills Speedway on Friday night, but the experienced pro had no problems adapting to the unfamiliar environment, stinging a star-studded field of competitors with two impressive victories.

Ferkel, a feature winner at least a dozen times at various tracks around the country this season, quickly found the groove and winged his expertly prepared sprint car around the famed half-mile dirt oval in near-record times, beating top-ranked hotshoes like USAC and Indy 500 veteran Jan Opperman, and local favorite’s Bill Mellenberndt, Sam Liebig, and Roger Mulder.

The soft-spoken Findlay, Ohio, driver, the current leader in the nationwide World of Outlaws point standings, powered his machine to victory in the first heat, beating Dave Engebretson and Kim Lingenfelter; then, from a back row starting position, swept through a crowded field to post his second win of the night over Mellenberndt, Opperman, and Liebig.

The evening was marred by two spectacular accidents in the main event that sent two Rapid City drivers to the hospital. John Slagle flipped his sprinter in the first turn, and although his car crashed through the steel catch fence and landed atop the concrete retaining wall, Slagle walked away, sore, and stiff, but uninjured. He was transported to a local hospital.

Nineteen-year-old Terry Henrikson, a rookie in the sprint division, and in only his second year of racing, tangled with Bill Comer on the opening lap of the feature event and flipped his car several times in the first turn, and then was clobbered again by Comer’s car again just as the battered machine was coming to a stop. The front wheel of Comer’s car slammed into Henrikson’s roll cage. Henrikson was transported to a local hospital where he was listed in critical condition with Head, neck, and chest injuries.

Results –

Time Trials – Rick Ferkel, Findlay, Ohio (20.68)
Heat #1 – Rick Ferkel
Heat #2 – Roger Mulder, Sioux Falls
Feature –
1. Rick Ferkel
2. Bill Mellenberndt, Sioux Falls
3. Jan Opperman, Noxon, Mont.
4. Sam Liebig, Rapid City
5. Roger Mulder

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