Thursday, August 17, 2023

1975 - Derr Cracks IMCA Win Column

Russ Derr proudly poses next to his trophy after winning at Sedalia. 

Sedalia, Mo. (August 17, 1975) – Give him a Dodge, give him a Chevy…Give him anything with a motor in it and 24-year-old Russ Derr could probably wheel it around a track.

“I’ve managed to spin this car in every race I’ve been in, including this one,” said Derr after receiving his trophy for winning Sunday’s International Motor Contest Association stock car feature at the Missouri State Fair.

Derr was looking back to the time trials when he spun his 1972 Chevy Nova in the fourth turn, just before he got the green flag for his first of two time trial laps.

Derr pulled back into the pit area and made some adjustments before coming back out for his crack in the 44-car field.

He was clocked in at 26.12 seconds, the fastest of the day, beating George Barton’s time of 26.37 seconds. Barton came out early in the trials on the dry, slick Fairgrounds’ half-mile.

Derr’s victory, his first under the IMCA banner, was not an easy one. He had to fight off Ferris Collier and his Chevy from lap 11 to the finish. Derr got the lead on lap 8 from Mike Dibben of Kansas City. Collier moved into second place a couple of laps later. From there on, Derr and Collier staged a tremendous battle of the finish in the 50-lap feature.

“We did some adjusting after I spun out,” said Derr, the son of the famous Ernie Derr. “Fortunately, we hit it.”

This is the first year of campaigning for Derr in a Chevrolet. Prior to 1975, Russ and older brother Mike had been behind the wheels of Chrysler products.

Mike, also driving a Nova, started in the second row but failed to complete a lap after losing oil pressure right away.

“The cars (Chevrolets) are less expensive to operate,” commented Derr. “It’s taken some time to get used to how it handles.”

Sunday’s race was only Derr’s fifth time behind the wheel of the car but he put it all together to collect the $750 winner’s share.

John Oswalt of Kansas City looked like he had a sure third-place finish, but he dropped back all the way to ninth in the final few laps with some sort of mechanical issue.

Barton finished third in a Chevy while Kevin Gundaker of St. Ann, Mo., was fourth and Bud Dibben of Kansas City rounded out the top five.

Winner Derr failed to qualify for the feature through his heat race and had to come back through the consolation, which he won.

Results –

Time trials – Russ Derr, Keokuk, Iowa (26.12)
Heat #1 – Mike Dibben, Kansas City
Heat #2 – Gary Lindgren, Ogden, Iowa
Heat #3 – Kevin Gundaker, St. Ann, Mo.
Heat #4 – Jim Hager, Liberty, Mo.
Consolation – Russ Derr
Feature –
1. Russ Derr
2. Ferris Collier, Lampe, Mo.
3. George Barton, Ankeny, Iowa
4. Kevin Gundaker
5. Bud Dibben, Kansas City
6. Ken Essary, Galena, Mo.
7. Mike Dibben
8. Gerry Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
9. John Oswalt, Kansas City
10.Bill Myers, Grand Island, Neb.
11.Russell Brandidge, Ada, Okla.
12.Tom Frasher, Jefferson City, Mo.
13.Vester Cates, Lawson, Mo.
14.Jim Hanson, Des Moines
15.Gary Lindgren

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