Davenport, Iowa (October 17, 1970) – Ernie Derr, IMCA’s top stock car driver for the past five years, charged into the lead on the 87th lap and breezed to the finish as he won the National Dirt Track Championship on Saturday night at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds.The win was worth $1,000 to the amiable driver from Keokuk, Iowa. Derr started the race in the seventh position in the field of 27 cars.
Bill Beckman of Lisbon, Iowa, led the race through the first 86 laps, often pulling out to a quarter-lap lead. His closest competition in the early going was John Connolly of Delhi, Iowa, and Jim Gerber of McCausland, plus Derr.
At the midway point, 50 laps or 25 miles, Beckman was being followed closely by Gerber and Derr. But on lap 59, Derr too second place from Gerber coming out of the second turn. It was then a duel between Beckman and Derr until the third turn of the 87th lap when the Keokuk Komet” swept to the inside, passed Beckman, and was never headed after that.
Twenty-seven machines were running at the onset but only 21 cars were still under power when the checkers fell.
One driver, Wayne Settles of Moline, Ill., was lapped a total of 52 times but in his defense, he was in the pit area for 30 of those laps.
The battle between Beckman and Derr for the lead of the feature thrilled the crowd of 3,000.
In a consolation race preceding the main event, John Connolly took the lead on lap 11 and won the 15-lap event going away. Stan Stover of Reinbeck, Iowa, held the lead for most of the race but Connolly outdueled him for the top spot.
1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk
2. Bill Beckman, Lisbon
3. Ed Sanger, Waterloo
4. Darrell Dake, Cedar Rapids
5. Dean Montgomery, Milan, Ill.
6. John Connolly, Delhi
7. Mel Morris, West Liberty
8. Jim Gerber, McCausland
9. Tom Hughes, Monticello
10.Jim Havill, Davenport