Monday, October 9, 2023

1983 - O'Conner Collects Fourth Santa Fe 200

Jim O’Conner won his fourth National Clay Track Championship 200 late model contest at Santa Fe Speedway. Starter Terry Kimes and Miss Old Style 200 assists in the celebration. – Dorothy and Vince Mayer Photo

Willow Springs, Ill. (October 9, 1983) – Jim O’Conner battled with Tony Izzo and John Provenzano throughout most of the race and emerged the winner of Sunday’s rain-postponed National Clay Track Championship 200 at Santa Fe Speedway. It was O’Conner’s fourth career victory in the prestigious late model event.

Izzo and Al Johnson had earned front-row starting berths for the long endurance contest by winning 25-lap features in the track’s Silver Twins Stock Car Classic on September 24. The original September 25 date was rained out. Izzo, who started on the pole position, darted out to the lead, ahead of Johnson and John Provenzano.

Izzo, Johnson, and Provenzano would continue to run 1-2-3 until Johnson retired with steering issues on lap 27. This would elevate Arnie Gardner to third with Iowan Roger Dolan in fourth.

O’Conner, who started 12th in the 28-car field, began working his way to the front. Working methodically, O’Conner worked his way to fourth place behind Gardner when the caution came out on lap 65.

When green flag racing resumed, Gardner started showing signs of mechanical problems and pulled out of the contest on the 71st circuit. O’Conner moved into third and started pressuring Izzo and Provenzano.

On the final start of the final 100-lap countdown, all-out racing resumed between Izzo, Provenzano, and O’Conner. O’Conner overhauled Provenzano on lap 110 and by the 126th circuit, Izzo and O’Conner were in door-to-door combat for the front spot.

With 23 laps remaining, the contest broke into a three-abreast fight for the front, with O’Conner finally taking possession of the lead from Izzo on lap 188. One lap later, Provenzano slipped by Izzo to take over second place.

The top running threesome remained unchanged to the checkered despite all-out efforts by Provenzano and Izzo to claim the crown.

Bob Pohlman finished fourth follow by Dolan, Brian Leslie, and Steve Lurvey.

Results –

1. Jim O’Conner, Kankakee
2. John Provenzano, Glen Ellyn
3. Tony Izzo, Bridgeview
4. Bob Pohlman, Oak Lawn
5. Roger Dolan, Lisbon, Iowa
6. Brian Leslie, Tupelo, Miss.
7. Steve Lurvey, Dousman, Wis.
8. Larry Jackson, Lyons
9. Denny Falkos, Aurora
10.Ron Gustaf, East Moline
11.Jeff Schulte, Warrenville
12.Mike Papp, Berwyn
13.LeRoy Schneiderman, Woodstock
14.Art Meining, Milwaukee, Wis.
15.Ray Guss Jr., Milan
16.Rollie Frink, Davenport, Iowa
17.Ted Dolhun, Brookfield
18.Gary Webb, Davenport
19.Dennis Erb, Carpentersville
20.Arnie Gardner, Batavia

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