Saturday, September 9, 2023

1972 – Hilmer, Ludington Champions at State Fair

Bob Hilmer (left) was one of the dominant drivers at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in the early 70's. - Hilmer Family Collection

Des Moines, Iowa (September 9, 1972) – Bill Ludington probably expressed it best Saturday night when he commented, “That was fun.”

Both he and Bob Hilmer of Dysart “had fun” in easily winning the season championship features – sportsman and late model, respectively, - in the final night of auto racing at the Iowa State Fairgrounds before crowd of 9,748.

Hilmer also captured the point championship, something Ludington had accomplished two weeks ago at the State Fair.

Hilmer and Stan Stover of Reinbeck, the 1971 point king, had the best opportunity going into the night’s events, with 3,235 and 3,195, respectively.

Don Hoffman and Joe Merryfield, both of Des Moines, and Dave Chase of Council Bluffs, also were within shooting distance if both Hilmer and Stover stumbled.

Transmission problems eliminated Hoffman, who was the point leader for much of the first half of the season. Chase did not compete Saturday night and Merryfield fell out of the feature with mechanical problems on lap 7.

Hilmer, with the victory, finished with 3,745 points to Stover’s 3,680.

It was the first feature triumph at the Fairgrounds this season for Hilmer, the 1970 point champion, although he had finished second four times in his 1972 Chevelle.

“It was about time I won one,” Hilmer said. “I was surprised the car ran as well as it did.”

Hilmer had started on the outside of the front row with Stover on the inside and Bob grabbed the lead at the drop of the green flag and held it all the way.

Earlier, Hilmer had pulled out of his heat race when he ran into a big hole on the track and his car had developed some gear problems. He did a great job in correcting the problem.

Stove finished second followed by Bill McDonough of Cedar Rapids.

“The car wasn’t running well tonight,” explained Stover afterwards. “I gave it all it had but it just wouldn’t go any faster.”

Ludington, of Carlisle, started on the pole position in his 1957 Chevy but it was Ken Gerhart of Des Moines taking the initial lead. Ludington took over the lead permanently, though, as they passed under the flagman’s stand at the completion of the first lap and was never headed after that.

Results –

Late Model –

Heat #1 – Bob Bonzer, Liscomb
Heat #2 – Bill McDonough, Cedar Rapids
Semi-main – Sonny Morgan, Blue Earth, Minn.
Feature –
1. Bob Hilmer. Dysart
2. Stan Stover, Reinbeck
3. Bill McDonough
4. Sonny Morgan
5. George Barton, Ankeny
6. Bob Bonzer
7. Phil Reece, Des Moines
8. Tim McDonough, Cedar Rapids
9. Randy Sterner, Blair, Neb.
10.Buggy Vincent, Nevada

Sportsman –

Heat #1 – Larry Beener, Des Moines
Heat #2 – Bob Dishman, Des Moines
Heat #3 – Lee Pinckney, Des Moines
Semi-main – Billy Geil, Des Moines
Feature –
1. Bill Ludington, Des Moines
2. Mike Pinckney, Des Moines
3. Ken Gerhart, Des Moines
4. Dave Farren, Des Moines
5. Virgil Webb, Des Moines
6. Leonard Woodard, Des Moines
7. Ed Baker, Norwalk
8. Lee Pinckney
9. Larry Beener
10.Dick Gustin, Des Moines

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