Des Moines, Iowa (August 29, 1970) – Earl Wagner of Pleasantville, Iowa, captured his first victory of the season Saturday, winning one of the most exciting afternoon sprint car races in a long time at the Iowa State Fair before an estimated crowd of 8,500.The lead changed hands six times between four drivers on the dry-slick half-mile track. Usually, there is little passing in those conditions.
Wagner, competing in his fifth sprint car program after an unsuccessful stock car venture in the United States Auto Club with a problem-plagued car earlier this season, took the lead permanently over on lap 31.
Ron Perkins of Wood River, Ill., finished second while Eddie Leavitt of Kearney, Mo., was third and Bill Utz of Sedalia, Mo., grabbed fourth.
The expected duel between Jerry Blundy of Galesburg, Ill., the current International Motor Contest Association points leader, and runner-up Jerry Richert of Forest Lake, Minn., didn’t materialize.
Richert, who won the Fair’s sprint car feature last Sunday afternoon, as well as the Hawkeye Futurity in June, was second early on in the race and led on laps 16 and 17 but dropped back because of suspension problems.
Blundy, who captured the super-modified feature at the Fair last Sunday evening, was running fourth until a spinout on lap 7 sent him to the rear of the field. He finished twelfth.
Joe Saldana of Lincoln, Neb., led the first 15 circuits before giving way to Richert. Eddie Leavitt, who gambled before the race with a knobby tire on the right rear wheel, took charge on lap 17 and led until Wagner took over the top spot.
Leavitt got results from his “knobby”. While the rest of the field were following the inside groove, he was able to get a good grip on the outside of the track and moved quickly to the front from the eighth row.
He had a lead of five car lengths over Wagner when Roger Rager of Lincoln, Neb., hit the wall on lap 27. The yellow flag was out for four laps while Rager’s ride was removed with a wrecker.
Wagner moved up behind Leavitt on the restart and when the green flag waved on lap 31, Wagner powered by Leavitt when the Missouri driver went a little too wide.
Leavitt tried to take advantage of his outside position but got a little reckless and dropped back another position.
The victory was worth $800 for Wagner.
“That’s a helluva car,” Wagner remarked about Fred Kain owned sprinter out of Des Moines. “Don’t give me any credit. It really goes.”
Heat #1 – Dale McCarty, Kansas City
Heat #2 – Dale Reed, Wichita, Kan.
Heat #3 – Cliff Blundy, Galesburg, Ill.
Consolation – Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
1. Earl Wagner, Pleasantville, Iowa
2. Ron Perkins, Wood River, Ill.
3. Eddie Leavitt, Kearney, Mo.
4. Bill Utz
5. Dick Sutcliffe, Greenwood, Mo.
6. Jerry Blundy
7. Dale Reed
8. Jan Opperman, Mechanicsville, Penn.
9. Dale McCarty
10. Joe Saldana, Lincoln, Neb.
11. Jimmy Boyd, Martinez, Calif.
12. Jerry Richert, Forest Lake, Minn.
13. Ralph Parkinson Jr., Wichita Falls, Tex.
14. Jay Woodside, Kansas City
15. Al Murie, Kansas City