Wednesday, April 24, 2024

1985 - Judd Tunis, 88, Funeral Held in Waterloo


Waterloo, Iowa (April 24, 1985) – Funeral services were held for Judd L. Tunis, 88, Waterloo, Iowa, at Memorial Park Chapel with burial at Memorial Park Cemetery.

Mr. Tunis, who was born on May 2, 1896, died April 24 at Schoitze Hospice Unit. He was born in Independence, Iowa, the son of august and Charlotte Tunis. He married Marie Fish in 1917.

At the age of 10, he was employed by Wittick Meats. In 1923, he and his wife opened up a butcher shop in the location presently occupied by Conway Civic Center in downtown Waterloo. In 1942, he opened a wholesale meat outlet in the family home on University Avenue.

He constructed a half-mile horse track at the family home and in the late 1940’s began construction of a smaller dirt track inside the horse track for automobile racing. The first races held in the late 1940’s were midget races, and the track began operating on a weekly basis in 1950, running the popular post-war “jalopies”.

Tunis Speedway operated continuously through the 1979 season when it was closed to weekly events because of several reasons – foremost, the development of the area around the track with new homes, and the Waterloo Noise Control ordinance.

In addition to horse and auto racing, Mr. Tunis supported numerous entertainment events, including car stunt shows, circuses, and parades.

He was an expert horseman and spent hours training his horses on the large track.

Mr. Tunis was active in the Waterloo Masonic Lodge No. 105, served as an officer in the White Lodge Shrine of Jerusalem No. 9 of Cedar Falls, and was a long-time member of the High 12 Club.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

1982 – Long, Schreiner nab ‘Twin 50s’

Roger Long won the first of the Twin 50’s at East Moline Speedway. Promoter Bobby Toland joins Long in victory lane.

East Moline, Ill. (April 23, 1982) – After three weeks of bad Friday weather, the East Moline Speedway held the finest Twin 50’s ever on record.

Thirty-three cars lined the pits and with such drivers as Johnny Johnson, Pete Parker, Leon Plank, Ed Sanger, Tony Izzo, Roger Long, Gary Webb and a young sensation to the area, Ron Schreiner from Eleva, Wis., the crowd was in for more than they had gambled for.

The top four in qualifying automatically made the feature with Johnson putting his J&J Steel Corvette in the 14-second bracket at 14.92. The other three qualifiers were Ray Guss Jr., Mike Chasteen and Ron Gustaf.

The top four in each heat, who were not qualified, then made the feature.

Ray Guss Jr. of Milan, Ill., won the first heat with his father Ray Guss Sr. taking the win in the second heat. Mike Chasteen of Peoria, Ill., was the third heat winner while Rollie Frink of Davenport, Iowa, won the semi-main and Bob Helm of Andalusia, Ill., grabbed second to also qualify for the main event.

The first 50-lap showdown saw Johnny Johnson of Morning Sun, Iowa, and Ray Guss Sr., setting the pace in the front row. As soon as the green dropped, Johnson was introduced to the wall, nose first, which sidelined him until the second 50-lapper.

Guss Sr. would lead from lap 1 through lap 23 when he encountered mechanical issues, allowing Jim Sandusky of Coal Valley, Ill., to motor by for the lead. It appeared that Sandusky was on his way to victory when his engine exploded on lap 41. Roger Long, the “Flying Farmer” from Fithian, Ill., would take advantage and lead the remaining nine circuits to seal the win. Pete Parker of Kaukauna, Wis., was second followed by Gary Webb of Davenport, Iowa.

The second 50-lap feature would be truly unbelievable. Dave Hammond of Camanche, Iowa, and Ed Sanger of Waterloo, Iowa, occupied the front row with Sanger getting the jump on the green and leading the first five laps. Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, would scoot past Sanger for the top spot and hold that spot until lap 27 when Rollie Frink would take the lead.

Weedon would regain the lead on lap 28 as the race would see multiple leaders for the next few laps. Guss Sr. would get past Weedon on lap 33 but hold it for only one more lap as Weedon regained it again on lap 35.

As those two veterans battled it out, Ron Schreiner had come out of nowhere and was making his presence known. On lap 40, Schreiner got past Guss Sr. to take over second and three laps later, powered past Weedon for the lead.

But Schreiner wasn’t going to just pull away as now Gary Webb had moved past Guss Sr. and Weedon and was in second behind the Wisconsin hot shoe. Webb would make several challenges in the remaining laps, but Schreiner would hold on for the victory.

Weedon would hold on for third while Herschel Roberts of East Moline would get past Guss Sr. on the last lap to take fourth. Guss Sr. would be content with fifth.

What made Schreiner’s victory all that more impressive is the fact that he turned in the 32nd fastest time, didn’t qualify in his heat, finished fifth in the semi and was called upon as an alternate and started at the rear of the field.

Results –

Feature #1 –

1. Roger Long
2. Pete Parker
3. Gary Webb
4. Rollie Frink
5. Keith Remley

Feature #2 –

1. Ron Schreiner
2. Gary Webb
3. Ron Weedon
4. Herschel Roberts
5. Ray Guss Sr.

Ron Schreiner won the second 50-lapper of the Twin 50’s at East Moline. Flagman Doyle Bennett joins Schreiner in the winner’s circle.

1971 – Reinbeck Driver Wins Season Opener

Cal Swanson takes a victory lap after winning the MCRA season opener at Davenport. 

Davenport, Iowa (April 23, 1971) – Cal Swanson of Reinbeck led all the way in the 25-lap feature on Friday night in the Mid-Continent Racing Association season opener at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds.

Swanson, who also won the late model semi-main, never was in any serious trouble. He won by 200 yards over last year’s point champion, Ron Weedon of Pleasant Valley.

Gary Kerres of Edgington, Ill., won the first sportsman feature of the season over Chuck Lukemyre of Tipton. Kerres took the lead on lap 10 and stretched his margin from there.

Weedon, driving a bright blue 1971 Mustang, couldn’t come close to Swanson in the main event, settling for second. He also finished second to Swanson in the semi-main.

Roger Dolan of Lisbon and Ron Perdock of Washington were late model heat winners. Lukemyre won the sportsman heat while Don Roberts won the semi-main.

Results –

Heat #1 – Roger Dolan, Lisbon
Heat #2 – Ron Perdock, Washington
Semi-main – Cal Swanson, Reinbeck
Feature –
1. Cal Swanson
2. Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley
3. Terry Ryan, Davenport
4. John Connolly, Delhi
5. Lem Blankenship, Keokuk

Monday, April 22, 2024

1979 – Bartholomew Tops Sunset Invitational

Tom Bartholomew

Omaha, Neb., (April 22, 1979) - A little “luck o’ the Irish” played a part for Sunset Speedway promoter Larry Kelley for the 7th Annual Spring Invitational. The two-day show with a purse of over $10,000 was slated for Friday and Saturday but heavy rains postponed the event until Saturday and Sunday.

Even though the track dried out by the start on Saturday, the pit area and infield was a quagmire of mud. None the less, the $2,000 winner’s share and the early date drew some of the best pilots from around the Midwest.

When the final tally was taken, 50 late models and 44 sportsman cars checked in for what had become a Nebraska tradition. A grandstand full of race fans was nestled in ready for some high-speed action. As mentioned, some of the top name drivers were on hand.

Headlining the cornhusker contingent were Al Druesdow, Jerry Wancewicz, Glenn Robey, Bob and Joe Kosiski from Omaha, Dean Ward from Grand Island, Jay Stearns from Lincoln, and Al Humphrey from Giltner. Iowans who made the trip over included Bill Rice, Don Hoffman and Joe Merryfield from Des Moines, Bob Shryock from Estherville, Ed Sanger and Tom Bartholomew from Waterloo, Mike Niffenegger from Kalona, and the defending champion Bill Martin of Council Bluffs.

Making the trip from up north was Bobby Saterdalen of Oronoco, Minn. and Leon Plank of Mondovi, Wis. South Dakota was represented by “Wild Bill” Liebig of Rapid City while North Dakotan’s included Bob Moody of Williston, Paul Schultz of Washburn, and Bob Simmers of Jamestown.

Saturday’s events were mainly qualifying events including heats, non-qualifier races, “A” and “B” consolations and a special last chance heat. In late model action, Al Druesdow got the hometowners off to a great start with the win in the first heat; however, the next three went to Leon Plank, Ed Sanger, and Don Hoffman. The sportsman heats went to all Iowans, Folkerts, Bentley and Joe Gascoigne of Council Bluffs and Jim Andersen Des Moines.

On Sunday, the main attraction was the 50-lap late model feature with Iowans dominating the action. Plank would take the lead before giving way to Niffenegger. The “Flyin Dutchman” would lead the next 27 circuits before surrendering the point to Tom Bartholomew.

Bartholomew, driving brand new Sanger-built Camaro moved away from the field and eventually won by more than half a lap. Merryfield, Sanger, Niffenegger and Wancewicz were your top-five finishers.

The defending champ, Bill Martin finished sixth, which was a miracle in itself. During Saturday night’s qualifying races, Martin tangled with the front stretch cement wall, mounting the barrier, and eventually ending up on its lid. Martin was shaken but not stirred and worked feverishly all night. He qualified for the feature by winning a non-qualifier heat on Sunday.

The sportsman feature was no contest with Duane Bentley of Fairbanks, Iowa, taking the victory over Jim Andersen of Des Moines. Three Nebraskan’s Steve Kosiski of Omaha, Rex Nun of Lincoln, and Mel Sorenson of Omaha finished out the top five.

Results –

1. Tom Bartholomew, Waterloo, Iowa
2. Joe Merryfield, Des Moines
3. Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
4. Mike Niffenegger, Kalona, Iowa
5. Jerry Wancewicz, Omaha
6. Bill Martin, Council Bluffs
7. Don Hoffman, Des Moines
8. Bobby Saterdalen, Oronoco, Minn.
9. Leon Plank, Mondovi, Wis.
10.Bill Rice, Des Moines
11.Bob Shryock, Estherville, Iowa
12.Dean Ward, Grand Island
13.Paul Schultz, Washburn, N.D.
14.Bill Lebig, Rapid City, S.D.
15.Al Druesdow, Omaha

Sunday, April 21, 2024

1978 – ‘Northerners’ Invade K.C. Opener

Omaha's Bob Kosiski won the 20-lap late model feature at Lakeside Speedway. 

Kansas City, Mo. (April 21, 1978) – The first of a year of regular combination program race for 1978 at Lakeside Speedway for 1978 were dominated by the “way up north” contingent Friday night as Doug Wolfgang of Des Moines and Bob Kosiski of Omaha captured wins in their respective super sprint and late model 20-lap features.

The late model stock car feature left the cold fans numb, with many of them calling it the best feature they’ve seen in a while. The four cars of Bill Rice, Shelby Steenhouse, Bill Martin, and Kosiski put on a 20-lap, blanket cover, lead swapping duel the entire distance, with Kosiski passing two cars from his third-running position to take the lead and win on the fourth turn of the final lap.

Rice came out of the shuffle in second, with Steenson third and Martin taking fourth. Kosiski’s son, Joe, rounded out the top five finishers.

National sprint champion Wolfgang, returning to the half-mile dirt oval after a car-crunching flip last weekend, started the night on a sour note by failing to finish his qualifying heat due to mechanical issues.

The hard-charging driver soon had things sorted out, as he qualified for the main event by winning the 10-lap “B” main after starting dead last in that field.

The main event, which saw Wolfgang start at the tail end of the 22-car field, was only three laps old when Eddie Hickey climbed the fence in the fourth turn to bring out the red flag.

On the restart, Oklahoma City’s Shane Carson, last week’s “Spring Spectacle” winner, Lakeside sprint champion Bobby Layne, and Gene Gennetten continued the front-running battle for the lead.

The red flag waved again on lap 8 for Rick Weld of Kansas City as his engine let go at full speed on the back straightaway, resulting in his car being totally engulfed in flames. The quick thinking youngster spun the car backwards at high speed into the infield and quickly exited, suffering minor burns on his hands and legs.

When the battle resumed, Wolfgang had worked his way up to mid-field, while Gennetten and Layne touched wheels coming out of the second turn on lap 11, resulting in Gennetten’s exit from the race with a damaged front end.

Wolfgang, having to compete against the small block “winged” sprint with his wingless big block machine, used the high groove cushion to motor around the rest of the field one by one to capture the lead for good on lap 14. Layne would hold on to place second while veteran Bill Utz would nip Dick Howard for third place at the checkered. Carson would hold on to finish fifth.

Results –

Late Model –

1. Bob Kosiski, Omaha
2. Bill Rice, Des Moines
3. Shelby Steenhouse, Abilene, Kan.
4. Bill Martin, Council Bluffs, Iowa
5. Joe Kosiski, Omaha
6. Bud Dibben, Kansas City
7. Bill Moyer Jr., Des Moines
8. Perry Kadous, Topeka, Kan.
9. Jim Hager, Liberty, Mo.
10.Gene Claxton, Kansas City

Sprints –

1. Doug Wolfgang, Des Moines
2. Bobby Layne, Kansas City
3. Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
4. Dick Howard, Kansas City
5. Shane Carson, Oklahoma C
6. Dave Dwyer, Columbia, Mo.
7. Dave Rupard, Kansas City
8. Darryl Dawley, Sioux Falls, S.D.
9. Johnny Johnson, Independence, Mo.
10.Gene Kester, Bates City, Mo.

Doug Wolfgang was all smiles after winning the 20-lap super sprint main event at Lakeside. 

Saturday, April 20, 2024

1990 - Fraise Wins Busch All-Star Opener

Steve Fraise is joined by his crew after winning the NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour season-opening event at Moberly Motorsports Complex. – Dennis Krieger Imagery

Moberly, Mo. (April 20, 1990) – Steve Fraise nipped Steve Kosiski by less than a foot to claim Friday’s NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour season opener at Moberly Motorsports Complex. The win was the Montrose, Iowa driver’s first-ever triumph on the prestigious dirt late model tour and was worth $3,000.

“We’re just tickled to death to finally get a Busch Tour win,” Fraise said following the 50-lap battle on the high-banked speedway. “Steve drove a great race and I knew he was gaining on me, but we had just enough to hold him off.”

Fraise led 45 of 50 circuits, taking the top spot from Johnny Johnson. After a spirited battle with Gary Webb, Kosiski, Johnson and pole winner Ray Guss Jr. for several laps, Fraise began to stretch his advantage. By the halfway point, Fraise enjoyed a straight-away lead, leaving Kosiski and Webb to do battle for second.

But Kosiski broke away from the pack by lap 30 and began a furious charge that saw the 1987 series champion pull to Fraise’s rear bumper on lap 40. On lap 41, Webb made contact with the second turn wall to bring out the event’s final caution and set up a nine-lap dash to the checkers.

With the crowd on its feet, Fraise and Kosiski raced side-by-side for several laps while weaving through traffic. Kosiski tried the low groove around Fraise frequently, but the eventual winner closed the door with power on the straightaways.

As the white flag waved, Kosiski tried in vain to pass Fraise both high and low through turns one and two. As the duo raced through the final two turns, Kosiski went to the low side and the twosome sped under the checkered flag in a virtual dead heat with Fraise beating Kosiski by a fender.

Following Fraise and Kosiski to the checkers were Guss, Bob Hill and Joe Kosiski, nearly half a lap behind the two frontrunners.

Results –

1. Steve Fraise
2. Steve Kosiski
3. Ray Guss Jr.
4. Bob Hill
5. Joe Kosiski
6. Johnny Saathoff
7. Gary Webb
8. Sonny Findling
9. Ed Kosiski
10.Jeff Hinkemeyer
11.Jim Swank
12.Dick Crane
13.Junior Shickel
14.Kyle Berg
15.Bubba Harvey
16.Lem Blankenship
17.Terry Huziel
18.Donnie Cooper
19.Roger Dolan
20.Tom Guithues
21.John Hampel
22.Johnny Johnson
23.Randy McGraw
24.Rollie Frink
25.Chuck Rankin
26.Rick Wendling

Friday, April 19, 2024

1968 – Ohioan Tops Heidelberg Sprints

Larry Dickson

Heidelberg, Penn. (April 19, 1968) – Larry Dickson, who arrived here as one of the hottest drivers on the United States Auto Club sprint car circuit, left the same way after he won the 30-lap main event at Heidelberg Speedway on Friday night.

The Marietta, Ohio, driver started on the pole position and led from start to finish. Dickson’s winning time was 10 minutes and 15.18 seconds.

The only serious challenge to Dickson was offered by Sonny Ates of Sellersburg, Ind., who moved into the runner-up spot in the early going and remained a car-length behind as the duo circled the half-mile track.

Mike Mosley of Los Angeles, who started eighth, finished third, heading a large group of cars about half a lap back from Dickson and Ates.

Rollie Beale of Toledo, Ohio, was fourth followed by Bob Pratt of Union City, Ind., rounding out the top five finishers.

Dickson show in time trials he would be the man to beat when he turned in the fastest qualifying time – 19.60 seconds. He followed up with a victory in the first heat for the fast cars, then sat back to await the feature.

Lee Robinson of Spring Valley, Calif., Beale, Tom Bigelow of Whitewater, Wis., and Jerry Poland of New Carlisle, Ohio, won the other preliminary races.

Qualifying started almost two hours late because of a power outage and other problems, causing the feature to be completed shortly after midnight.

Results –

1. Larry Dickson, Marietta, Ohio
2. Sonny Ates, Sellersburg, Ind.
3. Mike Mosley, Los Angeles
4. Rollie Beale, Toledo, Ohio
5. Bob Pratt, Union City, Ind.
6. Bill Puterbaugh, Roxana, Ill.
7. Lee Robinson, Spring Valley, Calif.
8. Bud Tingelstad, Indianapolis
9. Wib Spaulding, Granite City, Ill.
10.Tom Bigelow, Whitewater, Wis.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

1960 – Reading Sprint Won by Foyt

A.J. Foyt unstraps his helmet while being interviewed by Chris Economaki after winning the season-opening 30-lap USAC sprint car feature at the Reading Fairgrounds. 

Reading, Penn. (April 17, 1960) – A.J. Foyt of Houston, Tex., sent his Offenhauser roaring around the Reading Fairgrounds oval to victory in the 15-mile sweepstakes race. His winning time was 18 minutes and 20.41 seconds.

Foyt took the lead on the first lap and was never passed by any of the other 15 competitors. It marked the opening of the 1960 United State Auto Club Eastern sprint car season.

Two drivers escaped with minor injuries after running cars off the half-mile track. Art Plas of Elyria, Ohio, hit a concrete retaining wall during time trials. His Offenhauser flipped over in the air and landed on all four wheels. Plas walked away bruised but uninjured.

Jim Hemming of Bedford, Ind., hit a pole and a fence. He cut his chin.

Finishing behind Foyt were Jim Hurtubise of Lennox, Calif., Jiggs Peters of Neshanic, N.J., Don Branson of Champaign, Ill., and Bob Tattersall of Streator, Ill.

Results –

1. A.J. Foyt
2. Jim Hurtubise
3. Jiggs Peters
4. Don Branson
5. Bob Tattersall
6. Wayne Weiler
7. Roger McCluskey
8. Jerry Blundy
9. Al Herman
10.Bud Tingelstad

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

1972 – Janey Establishes Three Pelican Records

Irv Janey

Shreveport, La. (April 16, 1972) – Take it from Irv Janey – stock car racing requires teamwork just like any other sport.

And thanks to some great teamwork from Janey’s pit crew that “gave 110 percent,” the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native breezed in his 1970 Plymouth to the Pelican 300 title on Sunday afternoon at the Louisiana State Fair Speedway.

And that teamwork helped Janey smash not one, but two International Motor Contest Association records in the circuit’s season opener.

“You can’t win a race by yourself,” Janey said, whose 1 hour, 58 minutes and 7.04 second timing broke Ray Putnam’s 1971 Pelican 300 mark of 1 hour, 59 minutes and 38.02 seconds by over a minute.

Janey also established a new 75-mile (150 lap) mark of 57 minutes and 57.51 seconds which erased Ernie Derr’s old mark 58 minutes and 2.33 second record set in last year’s Pelican.

Janey’s first pit stop was on lap 125 and took only 30 seconds. Not bad when you consider that his crew not only filled up his tank but changed the two right-side tires.

Then on the 254th lap, Janey’s second and last stop took a mere 20 seconds to refill the gas tank. “they checked all the tires, cleaned the windshield and even gave me a drink of water,” he chuckled.

“So, we only took 50 seconds for pit stops, which is excellent,” said Janey, who praised the crew of Marty Sixt, Jim Peterson, Dave Stodola, Vince Wolrab, John Moss, and Gary Beck.

Buzz McCann of Webb Lake, Wis., took the early lead in the race but was overtaken by Warren Hughes of Baton Rouge, Lou., on the 3rd lap.

Hughes led by as much as three-quarters of a lap in his 1968 Camaro until he made his initial pit stop for gas on lap 167. Janey took the lead during Hughes’ pit stop and never relinquished it.

Hughes’ attempt to regain the lead fell short when a broken oil line forced him to make another pit stop only 13 circuits after his first. That stop cost Hughes six and half minutes. He still managed to finish third despite lost oil and no brakes.

Don Simpson of Kentwood, Lou., finished second in the race driving a Chevelle. Gerry Harrison of Topeka, Kan., finished fourth despite not having any brakes for most of the race.

Joe Plowman of La Marque, Tex., turned in the fastest qualifying time with a clocking of 22.26 seconds on the half-mile. Unfortunately, he withdrew from the race on lap 126 due to transmission failure.

Results –

1. Irv Janey, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
2. Don Simpson, Kentwood, Lou.
3. Warren Hughes, Baton Rouge, Lou.
4. Gerry Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
5. Gene Newsome, Monroe, Lou.
6. Verne Covert, Topeka, Kan.
7. Vern Mondry, Lake Elmo, Minn.
8. C.H. Cave, Oklahoma City, Okla.
9. Tommy Taylor, Dallas, Tex.
10.Joe Plowman, La Marque, Tex.
11.Bill Meazell, Lufkin, Tex.
12.Freddy Cook, Monroe, Lou.
13.Bob William, Jackson, Miss.
14.Buzz McCann, Webb Lake, Wis.
15.Billy Hagan, Lafayette, Lou.

Monday, April 15, 2024

1984 - Green Roars to Victory at I-70

Tim Green

Odessa, Mo. (April 15, 1984) — Race fans at I-70 Speedway knew that Sunday’s World of Outlaws sprint car feature was not going to be just another 30-lap race when “The Wolf,” Doug Wolfgang, Sioux Falls, S.D., rolled his sprinter in turn three before he even crossed the starting line. One hour and 19 minutes later, Tim Green, Sacramento, Ca., had his first World of Outlaw victory since 1980, and a check for $6,000.

Brad Doty, Orrville, Ohio, jumped into the lead on the first lap followed by Steve Kinser, Bloomington, Ind., Ron Shuman, Mesa, Ariz., and Green. The yellow flag came out on lap 12 as Sammy Swindell, Bartlett, Tenn., spun in turn one.

On the restart, Swindell spun again, this time in turn three. As Swindell was spinning he was clipped by Linus Mack, East Grand Forks, Minn., who did a series of barrel rolls.

As the cars were lining up for the restart the rains came. After the rain delay, the sprinters returned to the track with Green passing Doty on the restart. On lap 18, Kinser got around Doty for second and set his sights on Green.

Kinser caught Green in traffic on lap 25 and moved into first Green who was running with no brakes the last six laps of the race, had to back off in traffic. Lapped traffic behind them, Green went back into first place on the next lap.

“Once I got by the lapped cars, I knew I had it won,” said Green. But it wasn’t over yet. Bobby Davis Jr., Memphis, Tenn., blew a right rear tire coming out of turn four, doing a series of flips along the front straight away wall. The red flag brought the race to a halt setting up a two-lap trophy dash to the finish. The dash was all Green’s as he was pulling away from Kinser as the checkered flag fell.

Rounding out the top five were Doty, Shuman, and Rocky Hodges, Des Moines, Iowa. Rick Ungar, Memphis, Tenn., won the B-feature with the heat races going to Hodges, Sammy Swindell, Jeff Swindell (driving the B&E Electric Sprinter from Clinton, Iowa), and Mike Peters, Wichita, Kan.

Green edged out Sammy Swindell for fast time with a clocking of 16.64 seconds compared to 16.65 for Swindell.

Results –

1. Tim Green
2. Steve Kinser
3. Brad Doty
4. Ron Shuman
5. Rocky Hodges
6. Randy Wolfe
7. Mark Kinser
8. Danny Smith
9. Lee Osborne
10.Rick Unger
11.Mike Peters
12.Terry Gray
13.T.J. Giddings
14.Bobby Davis Jr.
15.Jeff Swindell
16.Sammy Swindell
17.Greg Wooley
18.Todd Bishop
19.Linus Mack
20.Tim Gee
21.Bobby Allen
22.Doug Wolfgang

Sunday, April 14, 2024

1984 – Chandler Wins Oklahoma IMCA National

Merv Chandler topped a field of 40 IMCA modifieds to win the inaugural Oklahoma IMCA Modified National event at Thunderbird Speedway. Promoter Jim Ozment presents the trophy. – Bill Haglund Photo

Muskogee, Okla. (April 14, 1984) – Merv Chandler of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, posted the biggest win of his career Saturday night as he topped a 24-car feature field to win the first Oklahoma IMCA Modified National at Thunderbird Speedway.

The 30-year-old Chandler started the 25-lap feature on the inside of the second row and ran with the lead pack until taking over the top spot on lap 16 when Gary Jellison of Topeka, Kan., tagged the backstretch wall while leading the contest.

From that point on, it was a three-car battle with Chandler holding off Mike Cothron of Moline, Ill., and Denny Pittman of Jefferson, Iowa, to take the win by two-car-lengths.

The late-race mishap occurred midway down the backstretch as the four leaders worked their way through slower traffic. Jellison and Chandler went to the high side and Cothron and Pittman ducked low. Jellison, a former two-time national karting champion, claimed his was hit.

“If he was hit, it wasn’t by me.” Chandler said. “He had been running loose for several laps and it looked to me he lost it – but he could have been tapped by a slower car. I did bump him earlier in the race and I apologized for that, but I didn’t hit him when he wrecked.”

The victory was only Chandler’s second-ever IMCA win, the other coming late last season in a fair race at Bethany, Mo.

Chandler finished fifth in last year’s IMCA modified national point standings and used his $700 point share winnings to get a good start on a new car.

“This is the first new car I’ve ever raced,” said Chandler, who came into IMCA modified racing from the ranks of street stocks. “I didn’t have a lap on this car when I got here but it handled beautifully.”

Rounding out the top five finishers were Steve Mettlin of Cambridge, Ill., and Bernie Juliar of Hudson, Iowa.

Gary Reinhart of Moline, Ill., won the B-feature with Jim Mettlin of Cambridge, Ill., finishing second. Heat wins were registered by Pittman, Jellison, Chandler, and Cothron.

Chandler pocketed more than $500 in cash and took home a trophy for his efforts.

Results –

1. Merv Chandler, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
2. Mike Cothron, Moline, Ill.
3. Dennis Pittman, Jefferson, Iowa
4. Steve Mettlin, Cambridge, Ill.
5. Bernie Juliar, Hudson, Iowa
6. Dean Schroeder, Iowa Falls, Iowa
7. Gerald Thompson, Dawson, Minn.
8. Terry Walker, Muskogee
9. Ross Krieger, Jefferson, Iowa
10.Terry Thornton, Clinton, Mo.

1978 – Morris Captures Race Debut

A dapper-looking Ed Otten waves the checkered flag during stock car racing action at Davenport. All of the officials wore tuxedos for the season opener.

Davenport, Iowa (April 14, 1978) – It was like a “Who’s Who,” in small track auto racing from the Midwest Friday night at Davenport’s Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, with top stock car drivers from four states heading the field for the season opener.

In the end, nearly 4,000 fans were cheering the heated battle for the checkered flag between Rock Island’s John Simenec and West Liberty’s Mel Morris.

Morris came under the flag first after the leading the 50-lap event from nearly the start. It was Simenec who drew the biggest applause for his valiant effort as he ended up with second place money.

It was an amazing exhibition by the Rock Island firefighter who is in only his second year of late model competition. He hadn’t qualified for the 20-car field, but he got a chance to start in the 20th and last starting position when Bill Zwanziger of Waterloo had to pull out because of mechanical issues.

Morris quickly moved into the lead at the drop of the green flag after starting in the second row, but it was a different story for Simenec. He worked his way through the field against the likes of Darrell Dake, Verlin Eaker and Ken Walton of Cedar Rapids; Pleasant Valley’s Ron Weedon; Ed Sanger of Waterloo; Tom Hearst of Wilton and many other top name drivers.

Bill Martin of Council Bluffs challenged Morris on several occasions and Weedon also came close through the opening 30 laps. During this time, Simenec was moving up, taking over second place from on lap 38 when Martin retired to the pits with an overheated engine.

Simenec stayed low on the half-mile dirt oval in his attempt to overtake Morris. On a couple of occasions, Simenec pulled even with Morris on the curves, but the West Liberty veteran took advantage of his powerful machine to pull away on the straightaways.

Chasing Morris and Simenec across the finish line were Eaker, followed by Weedon and Hearst.

A total of 62 cars turned out for the season opener, marking the promotional debut of Bill Schwader of McCausland.

Mike Niffenegger of Kalona showed up with two 1978 Camaros and used them both. Driving his backup car in the third heat, he took the checkered flag in front of Joe Merryfield of Des Moines and Davenport’s Rollie Frink.

The larger-than-expected field of cars and the fact that the show started a half-hour late led to the elimination of the consolation in order to abide by the 10:30 curfew.

Results –

Heat #1 – Roger Long, Fithian, Ill.
Heat #2 – Dennis Hovinga, Pocahontas
Heat #3 – Mike Niffenegger, Kalona
Heat #4 – Mel Morris, West Liberty
Heat #5 – John Connolly, Delhi
Semi-Main – Bill Zwanziger, Waterloo
Feature –
1. Mel Morris
2. John Simenec, Rock Island, Ill.
3. Verlin Eaker, Cedar Rapids
4. Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley
5. Tom Hearst, Wilton
6. Dennis Hovinga
7. Dave Birkhofer, Muscatine
8. Roger Bruggeman, Dubuque
9. Ron Jackson, Burlington
10.Bill Martin, Council Bluffs

Saturday, April 13, 2024

1985 - Miller Opens ASA Season with Queen City 250 Win

Butch Miller won the ASA Racing Series’ Ford Taurus 250 at Queen City Speedway. Making the trophy presentation to Miller are Missy Balsbaugh (left) and Trish Barton. – Don Thies Photo

West Chester, Ohio (April 15, 1986) – Butch Miller of Coopersville, Mich., likes two-groove racetracks and Queen City Speedway was especially to his liking Sunday afternoon as he held off Mark Martin in the season-opening Ford Taurus 250, an ASA Racing Series stock car event.

Both were in the hunt for the entire race but when it came down to the end, Martin and his Ford couldn’t catch Miller and his Chevrolet.

“It was a two-groove track today,” Miller told the standing-room-only crowd. “The track got a little slick and that made it ideal for racing.”

For the last 20 laps, though, all Miller saw in his rear view mirror was the front bumper of Martin’s car, getting closer and closer. Despite losing his power steering just 60 laps into the race and fighting engine oiling system woes, Martin, the three-time ASA champion, was coming on strong to challenge for the lead.

“I knew I could catch him,” Martin said. “I just didn’t think I could pass him.”

Martin’s presence was felt.

“You bet I was worried about him. I didn’t need a 255-lap race,” Miller added.

Another 20 laps and perhaps another driver would have been involved in the battle. ASA fan favorite Tom Jones of Northbrook, Ill., turned in a sparkling performance to take third place, his highest ASA finish in nearly three years.

Following the top three were a host of drivers who helped make the long-distance grind one of the most competitive Queen City races in years. A total of six different drivers led laps with 13 lead changes during the 250-lap event.

Results –

1. Butch Miller
2. Mark Martin
3. Tom Jones
4. Dick Trickle
5. Mike Eddy
6. Mark Malcuit
7. Russ Urlin
8. Harold Fair
9. Bill Stephenson
10.Dave Jackson
11.Gary St. Amant
12.John Wilson
13.Kenny Wallace
14.Dave Jensen
15.Ken Lund
16.Kent Stauffer
17.Bob Senneker
18.Gene Harsch
19.Grant Wilson
20.Ray Fullen

Friday, April 12, 2024

1981 – Hovinga, Venenga, Swarts Tops at Vinton

Denny Hovinga of Pocahontas won the open competition late model feature at Vinton Speedway. 

Vinton, Iowa (April 12, 1981) – For the second straight week, a race car driver from Northwest Iowa won the open competition late model race at Vinton Speedway.

Denny Hovinga of Pocahontas had raced in Cedar Rapids on Saturday night and was planning on competing a special in East Moline, Il., on Sunday when it was rained out. Hovinga stopped at Vinton on the way home and captured the feature event. The season opener last week was won by Bill Kirk of Salix.

However, the late models took a backseat to the feature races in the roadrunner and IMCA divisions, which both provided plenty of action – both on and off the track.

Defending roadrunner point champion Dave Swarts of Cedar Falls won the main event despite he wasn’t the first to receive the checkered flag, and Dave Venenga of Grundy Center won the modified feature but lost both his engine and $300 that was put up to claim it.

Swarts won in spectacular fashion, actually. On lap 3 of the feature, with the cars still tightly bunched, Swarts got sideways entering the first turn, was hit by several cars and flipped wildly twice off the end of the track. The car landed right-side up and Swarts was uninjured.

After determining that all four wheels were okay, Swarts got a push and restarted the event. He crossed the finish line second behind Mike Fitzpatrick of Grundy Center, last week’s winner. However, the engines of the cars driven by Fitzpatrick, Swarts and third place finisher Ron Fare of Hiawatha were all claimed. Fitzpatrick and Fare declined to sell and forfeited their positions and winnings. Swarts sold and was awarded first place.

Swarts later talked his engine’s purchaser into buying the car as well. Swarts left with the lion’s share of the winnings, the claim money and more for his car but he was left with no ride for next week.

Venenga suffered a worse fate.

He won the feature race and his engine was claimed. He agreed to sell the engine for the $3000 claim price and had more than $450 with his prize for the night. However, the engine blew later in a powderpuff event and the claim deal was called off.

“I’m really out,” Venenga said. “Not only don’t I have the $450 in my pocket, but I also don’t have an engine either.”

Venenga took the lead from Larry Druschel of Vinton, last week’s winner. Druschel stayed with Venenga and mounted a challenge to regain the top spot but spun off the track on the backstretch with two laps remaining and was out of the race.

Jack Mitchell of Cedar Falls finished second behind Venenga followed by Bernie Juliar of Hudson.

Finishing behind Swarts in the roadrunner feature was Craig Coventry of Independence and Gary Kaune of Waterloo.

Hovinga won the late model 20-lapper over Keith Braun of Cedar Falls and 16-year-old Curt Martin of Independence.

Results –

Late Model –

1. Denny Hovinga, Pocahontas
2. Keith Braun, Cedar Falls
3. Curt Martin, Independence
4. Mike Krall, Waterloo
5. Todd Jensen, Waterloo
6. Bob Fisher, Vinton
7. Bill Barthelmes, Troy Mills

IMCA Modified –

1. Dave Venenga, Grundy Center
2. Jack Mitchell, Cedar Falls
3. Bernie Juliar, Hudson
4. Arlo Becker, Atkins
5. Dave Kramer, Atkins
6. Daryl Stout, Vinton
7. Mike Sampson, Waterloo

Roadrunner –

1. Dave Swarts, Cedar Falls
2. Craig Coventry, Independence
3. Gary Kaune, Waterloo
4. Vince Buchholz, Cedar Falls
5. Kevin Rosteck, Waterloo
6. Dwight Harlan, Waterloo
7. Dwane Burkey, Vinton

Dave Venenga of Grundy Center won the IMCA modified feature at the Benton County Fairgrounds. 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

1987 – Johnsons 1-2 in IMCA Late Model Tilt at 34

Jay Johnson won the IMCA Late Model Summer Series season opener at 34 Raceway in Burlington. Joining him in victory lane is promoter Larry Kemp and IMCA’s Kathy Root. – Jerry Mackey Photo

West Burlington, Iowa (April 11, 1987) – Jay Johnson slipped past his father, Johnny Johnson, with three laps remaining Saturday night to win the first race of the IMCA Late Model Summer Series at 34 Raceway Park.

Jeff Aikey of Cedar Falls, Iowa, led the 35-lap event until he was forced out with a broke pin in the right rear ball-joint with only five laps to go. Aikey assumed the lead at the start and built a comfortable advantage until a lap 27 caution bunched the field once more.

Three laps later, Aikey was forced out and Johnny Johnson took the top spot. However, Jay Johnson dropped to the inside groove and raced side-by-side with his father before taking command with three circuits left.

Johnny Johnson held on to finish second, Greg Hunter of Independence, Iowa, was third. Steve Watts of Jimtown, Iowa, was fourth and Mitch Fretheim of Decorah, Iowa, rounded out the top five.

The event was the first IMCA-sanctioned late model event since Ferris Collier of Lampe, Mo., was crowned the 1976 driving champion in that division.

In the sportsman division, Jim Hollenbeck of Burlington, Iowa, posted the win with Lonnie Bailey of Quincy, Ill., Hank DeLonjay of Quincy, Terry Schlipman of Mendon, Ill., and Jack Evan of Keokuk, Iowa, rounding out the top five.

Dave Warth of Danville, Iowa, captured the pro stock feature race with Jim Mueller of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Rod Smith of Monmouth, Ill., Tom Darbyshire of Mount Union, Iowa, and Bob Jennings of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, rounding out the top five.

Johnny Johnson set fast time in qualifying, touring the 3/8-mile dirt oval in 17.83 seconds. Heat races were won by Jay Johnson and Steve Watts while Jim Burbridge of Delhi, Iowa, won the “B” feature.

Results –

1. Jay Johnson, Wapello, Iowa
2. Johnny Johnson, Wapello, Iowa
3. Greg Hunter, Independence, Iowa
4. Steve Watts, Jimtown, Iowa
5. Mitch Fretheim, Decorah, Iowa
6. Kevin Cale, Donnellson, Iowa
7. Gary Henderson, Independence, Iowa
8. Darrel DeFrance, Marshalltown, Iowa
9. Danny Breuer, Wapello, Iowa
10.Dave Goble, Burlington, Iowa
11.Jim Burbridge, Delhi, Iowa
12.Dave Getchell, Sperry, Iowa
13.Daryl Hemm, Eldon, Iowa
14.Bill Breuer, Wapello, Iowa
15.Curt Daughters, Fort Madison, Iowa
16.John Vantiger, Mount Union, Iowa
17.Jeff Aikey, Cedar Falls, Iowa
18.Bruce Hanford, Davenport, Iowa
19.Dennis Schwanke, Sumner, Iowa
20.Mark Howell, Muscatine, Iowa
21.Ted Pallister, Wapello, Iowa

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

1983 -Trickle Best at Rockford in ARTGO Lidlifter


Dick Trickle won ARTGO Racing’s Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway. – Weber Brothers Photo

By Stan Kalwasinski

Rockford, Ill. (April 10, 1983) – Dick Trickle highlighted a cold, cloudy afternoon at Rockford Speedway by kicking off ARTGO Racing’s ninth season with a victory in the sixth annual Spring Classic 83-lap late model feature.

“I think I slid into this one. If it’s your day, it’s your day,” Trickle commented following the race, which saw several contenders including Joe Shear, ARTGO champ Jim Sauter and last year’s Spring Classic winner Al Schill sidelined as a result of a red-flag producing multi-car crash on lap 4.

Outside front row starter Tom Musgrave jumped polesitter Joe Shear at the drop of the green to grab the early lead.

Shear fell in behind Musgrave and was challenging for the top spot when the engine in his mount blew entering the third turn on the fourth circuit. Drivers in the closely bunched pack behind Shear found themselves out of control when they hit the slippery, oiled surface.

Sauter, who was running sixth after three laps, slammed hard into the pit entrance wall, standing his Firebird on its nose. Another car rammed Sauter, sending the Necedah, Wis., pilot for a wild ride before his car came to a rest on it’s roof.

Rescue workers quickly freed Sauter, who walked away under how own power. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated and released.

Trickle, Mel Walen, Tony Izzo, Jim Weber, Steve Burgess, Burt Weitemeyer, Schill and Jay Sauter were also involved in the mishap with Shear, Jim Sauter, Schill, Izzo, and Walen unable to answer the call for the immediate restart.

Musgrave continued to set the pace when the action resumed and despite three yellow flags, continued to lead at the event’s midpoint followed closely by Trickle, Conrad Morgan, and Dave Weltmeyer.

The persistent Trickle, however, annexed the lead for good by slipping under Musgrave on lap 55. Weltmeyer would overhaul Morgan on the 60th circuit, and them power past Musgrave 11 laps later to take over second, where he finished, four-car-lengths behind Trickle. Musgrave settled for third followed by Morgan and Steve Burgess.

Results –

1. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
2. Dave Weltmeyer, Harvey
3. Tom Musgrave, Mundelein
4. Conrad Morgan, Dousman, Wis.
5. Steve Burgess, Eau Claire, Wis.
6. Don Leach, Beloit, Wis.
7. Jim Helland, Newark
8. Burt Weitemeyer, Lansing
9. Fred Malecki, South Bend, Ind.
10.Bob Abitz, Freedom, Wis.
11.Tony Izzo, Bridgeview
12.Terry Weatherford, Byron
13.Spike Lindley, Tomah, Wis.
14.Tracy Schuler, Lockport
15.Terry Baldry, Omro, Wis.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

1977 – Brazil Tops Western World


George Brazil waves to the crowd after winning the Western World Late Model Stock Car Championship at Manzanita Speedway. Runner-up Bill Cheesbourg (left) and third-place finisher Tom Bartholomew join the winner on the podium.

Phoenix, Ariz. (April 9, 1977) – It was the kind of race where it took 1 hour and 15 minutes to run 50 laps, five drivers led and only 11 of the starting 26-car field finished.

And George Brazil of Albuquerque, N.M., won it all in a 1976 Camaro. The Western World Late Model Stock Car Championship Saturday night had to be one of the wackiest races ever held at Manzanita Speedway.

It was also witnessed by 8,712 fans, the largest ever to watch a stock car race in Arizona.

Brazil proved that perseverance pays, considering he was in the pits with a broken tie rod right after the green flag flew to start the race and later tangled with race leader Joe Wallace of Kansas City, Mo., on the 12th lap as both spun out and had to restart at the tail of the field.

Brazil’s Camaro was struck by Tom Bartholomew of Waterloo, Iowa, the eventual third-place finisher, as the green flag flew at the start and struck the wall, “bending the tie rod completely in two.” Two other cars involved were unable to restart the contest.

Aided by his father and Phoenix driver Larry Dagley, plus a yellow flag on the first lap of the restart, Brazil made it out of the pits just in the nick of time.

Polesitter Wallace led the first 12 circuits in his 1968 Camaro before he and Brazil, plus two other cars, tangled on the backstretch.

Sonny Easley of Van Nuys, Calif., then took command in his Camaro for the next six laps before he too bit the dust, surrendering the lead to Tucson’s Bill Cheesbourg, a second row starter in a Mustang.

Cheesbourg could only hold the top spot for two laps before giving way to Red Dralle of Evansdale, Iowa, who was driving a superb race, coming from his 12th row starting position to lead laps 21 – 43 on the hard, slick racing surface which put a premium on tire selection.

But Dralle would blow a tire and hit the third turn wall which seemed to gobble up cars throughout the evening. By this time, Brazil had made his way back to the front, had worked his way to second place, and was in the right place and right time when Dralle exited the race.

And that where he stayed for the remaining seven laps, widening his lead over Cheesbourg to the checkered flag and the $5,000 payday.

Following Cheesbourg and Bartholomew to the finish line were Mesa’s Roger Adams and Randy Ogden of Woodward, Okla.

“This is the greatest thrill of my life,” Brazil said after his victory. He is a five-time New Mexico late model champion.

Phoenix’s Wayne Bennett captured the 25-lap semi-main over Mike Gibson. The 15-lap consolation took 40 minutes to complete before Tom Roberson of Cypress Calif., emerged ahead of a hard-charging Kim Jorgenson of Sierra Vista.

Monday, April 8, 2024

1984 - Queen City Opener Nets Senneker 48th Win

Bob Senneker wheeled his Camaro to victory at Queen City Speedway in the season opener for the American Speed Association. Presenting the trophy is Wendell Turley, manager for Helme Tobacco, the series’ sponsor. – Stan Kalwasinski Photo

West Chester, Ohio (April 8, 1984) – The number 84 emblazoned on Bob Senneker’s Pontiac Firebird may well prophecy “the year of 84,” as the winningest driver in American Speed Association history inaugurated the ASA stock car series at Queen City Speedway on Sunday by edging Dick Trickle in the Silver Creek 200 before a standing room only crowd.

ASA career win number 48 – four times more than any other driver – was done in stiletto-smooth Senneker style, as he led the final 82 circuits of the 200-lap race with Trickle hanging on his back porch, managing a scant one-second margin at the finish. Butch Miller was a close third.

Trickle, the fastest qualifier, sprang from his pole position to lead the first nine laps. Butch Miller knifed his way into lead on lap 10 but Senneker displayed an uncharacteristic amount of early-race eagerness by handling Miller to take over first place on lap 47.

Senneker’s day was nearly spoiled on lap 64 when Doug Klein and Dave Simko spun in his path off the fourth turn, causing Senneker to brake hard and allowing Miller back into the lead.

Miller led until another caution period occurred at lap 107 – a time when a majority of the 16 cars still on the lead lap went in for service.

With most of his pursuers working their way forward after pit stops, Senneker recorded the sixth and final lead change of the race when he passed Mike Eddy on lap 118.

Eddy had plenty of fight left, however, and challenged Senneker until lap 148 when Dennis Vogel and Joe Shear tangled and slid into the first turn collecting a hapless Kent Stauffer, who also spun into the path of Eddy’s. The machines of Vogel, Stauffer, and Eddy would be parked for the duration.

While Trickle showed his Firebird the whip for the final 50 circuits, the best he could muster was a two-car-length separation between himself and Senneker’s rear bumper.

Senneker pocketed $6,100 for the win out of a $44,975 purse.

Counted on the lead lap behind Senneker were Trickle, Miller, Mark Martin, Jim Sauter, Alan Kulwicki, and rookie Ken Lund.

Results –

1. Bob Senneker
2. Dick Trickle
3. Butch Mille
4. Mark Martin
5. Jim Sauter
6. Alan Kulwicki
7. Ken Lund
8. Joe Shear
9. Harold Fair
10.Bobby Dotter
11.Mark Malcuit
12.Tom Jones
13.Doug Klein
14.Tom Harrington
15.Jim Nussbaum
16.Don Gregory
17.Jeep Pflum
18.Dave Simko
19.Dave Weltmeyer
20.Jeff Schwister

Friday, April 5, 2024

1980 – Hoffman, Leavitt Take Home Wins at Frostbuster 10,000

Don Hoffman accepts his trophy from Karen Minor as flagman Engel DeKock presents the checkers after the Des Moines, Iowa, driver won the Frostbuster 10,000 at the Missouri State Fairgrounds. – Tony Ward Collection

Sedalia, Mo. (April 5, 1980) – Don Hoffman of Des Moines, Iowa led all but half a lap as he captured the 30-lap late model feature at the Missouri State Fairgrounds on Saturday.

The program was the afternoon half of the “Frostbuster 10,000” doubleheader which also featured sprint cars on the evening’s portion. Both divisions were sanctioned by National Speedways Contest Association and were the first races in the Midwest this season.

Iowans finish in five of the first six positions in the feature on the half-mile dirt track. Red Dralle of Evansdale, Iowa, was second, Denny Hovinga of Pocahontas, Iowa, took third, Bill Moyer Jr. of Des Moines finished fifth and Ken Walton of Viola, Iowa, grabbed the sixth spot. Darrell Mooneyham of Aurora, Mo., was fourth.

Al Urhammer of Radcliffe, Iowa, who started on the pole, took the initial lead in the race, but Hoffman, who started in the second row, took the lead coming out of turn three on the first lap. Mike Niffenegger of Kalona, Iowa, challenged Hoffman for the next 19 circuits until he fell out of contention with mechanical issues.

Hoffman, who earned $1,000 for the victory, won by 100 yards over Dralle.

In the evening’s sprint car feature, Eddie Leavitt of Kearney, Mo., passed Shane Carson of Oklahoma City on the final lap to score a $1,000 victory.

Carson, the defending NSCA sprint car champion, and winner of several features in Sedalia last season, had led from lap two until he was passed by Leavitt coming out of turn two on the white flag lap. The two veterans had been dueling for the final seven circuits.

Leavitt had started on the fifth row. Jerry Johnson of Kirksville, Mo., led the first lap until he was passed by Carson.

Jerry Potter of Kansas City, Mo., did a creditable job in finishing third after starting in the 15th position.

Results –

Late Model -

1. Don Hoffman, Des Moines
2. Red Dralle, Evansdale, Iowa
3. Denny Hovinga, Pocahontas, Iowa
4. Darrell Mooneyham, Aurora, Mo.
5. Bill Moyer, Jr., Des Moines
6. Ken Walton, Viola, Iowa
7. Joe Wallace, Kansas City, Mo.
8. Roger Thompson, Junction City, Mo.
9. Johnny Johnson, Morning Sun, Iowa
10.Al Urhammer, Radcliffe, Iowa
11.Larry Wasserfort, Waterloo, Iowa
12.Kenny Shurm, St. Charles, Mo.
13.Vic Bentlage, Jefferson City, Mo.
14.Mike Niffenegger, Kalona, Iowa
15.Mike Barbeau, O’ Fallon, Mo.

Sprint Car -

1. Eddie Leavitt, Kearney, Mo.
2. Shane Carson, Oklahoma City, Okla.
3. Ken Potter, Kansas City, Mo.
4. Ken Schrader, Fenton, Mo.
5. Jerry Johnson, Kirksville, Mo.
6. Tom Corbin, Carrollton, Mo.
7. Junior Parkinson, Kansas City, Mo.
8. Bill Utz, Sedalia, Mo.
9. Cliff Woodward, Kearney, Mo.
10.Herb Copeland, Wichita, Kan.
11.Bob Thoman, Higginsville, Mo.
12.Bill Robison, Topeka, Kan.
13.Mike Pinckney, Des Moines
14.Rick Howard, Kansas City, Mo.
15.Danny Lasoski, Dover, Mo.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

1971 – Bettenhausen First at Eldora

Gary Bettenhausen 

Rossburg, Ohio (April 4, 1971) – Gary Bettenhausen took the lead on lap 5 and won his first United States Auto Club sprint car race of the season.

Larry Dickson was second with Karl Busson coming in third and Don Nordhorn finishing fourth.

Bettenhausen started in the fifth slot alongside the day’s fastest qualifier, Johnny Parsons Jr. Just in front of Gary was the man that usually dominates the sprint car division as of late, Larry Dickson, the defending USAC national champion.

For the first few laps, it was a four-way battle for the lead between Bettenhausen, Dickson, Larry Cannon and Karl Busson. Parsons was apparently having mechanical difficulties and never threatened the leaders.

Dickson was running third when he slowed up a little for Busson, who got a little high in turn two and allowed Bettenhausen to get under him and around for second place.

Bettenhausen, the son of the late and great Tony Bettenhausen, then dipped under Cannon on the second turn and steadily increased his lead until lap 30 when a caution flag came out.

Ralph Liguori of Tampa, Fla., had some heating problems and was forced to come to a halt at the head of the front straightaway.

On the restart, Bettenhausen left no doubt who had the fastest car and steadily increased his lead until the checkered waved.

Bettenhausen also won his heat race, and it was a new track record for Eldora and the sprints. The Tinley Park, Ill., native won the second heat of the day in 3 minutes and 9.27 seconds, eclipsing the old mark of 3 minutes and 9.76 seconds set by Rollie Beale.

Johnny Parsons Jr. won the first 10-lap heat, Bettenhausen the second, while Dickson grabbed the honors in the third heat and Dick Tobias was on top in the fourth heat. Sam Sessions led all the way to win the 12-lap consolation.

Results –

1. Gary Bettenhausen
2. Larry Dickson
3. Karl Busson
4. Don Nordhorn
5. Larry Cannon
6. Joe Saldana
7. Johnny Parsons Jr.
8. Carl Williams
9. Dick Tobias
10.Jan Opperman
11.Sonny Ates
12.Bob Black
13.Tom Bigelow
14.Jim Linder
15.Duke Cook
16.Doc Dawson
17.Ralph Liguori
18.Greg Weld
19.Sam Sessions
20.Darl Harrison

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

1966 – Stott Scores Second Victory in Pelican 200

Ernie Derr (1) and Ramo Stott (0) battle for supremacy at the IMCA-sanctioned "Pelican 200" late model stock car race at the Louisiana State Fair Speedway. 

Shreveport, La. (April 3, 1966) – Rugged Ramo Stott, a guy who tries harder because he’s been second for such a long time, launched the latest International Motor Contest Association late model stock car racing schedule at State Fair Speedway under threatening skies Sunday, and you could hardly see him amidst all the smoking engines and spinning cars that littered the annual Pelican 200.

Stott, who is a garage owner and master welder by trade, gunned his 1965 Plymouth to the checkered flag in a track record time of 1 hour, 33 minutes and 57 seconds and it was more or less routine as he hauled off with the top prize of $700 of the $4,500 purse put up by promoter Frank Winkley.

Stott’s record performance averaged out to just over 65 miles per hour around the 100-mile circuit of the half-mile track, and ground into the red dust was the old standard of 1 hour, 34 minutes and 37 seconds set by Ernie Derr in October of 1961.

What made Ramo’s record-busting more impressive to the near-capacity crowd of 8,500 was that the 31-year-old veteran from Keokuk, Iowa, stashed away the record despite an enforced 30-second pit stop within the first 100 laps. The latter ruling was an innovation introduced by IMCA officials to keep a starting cast of 19 cars within striking distance of each other.

But Stott refused to follow the script. His Plymouth set the pace for all but 21 of the 200 laps and he won by at least two laps at the finish. Ernie Derr, the defending champion in this race, and another of the Keokuk “Komets,” nosed his 1965 Dodge in front on lap 67 when Ramo made his only pit stop off 30 seconds duration, but Stott swept back into the lead on lap 88 when Derr made his required stop.

Lenny Funk of Otis, Kan., last year’s third-ranked driver on the IMCA stock car circuit, finished second behind Stott while Derr coasted to a third-place finish.

Derr’s strategy backfired a bit as he tried to space his required 30-second pit stops between three lapses of 7, 12 and 11 seconds each, the last coming on lap 99. On the 93rd circuit, Ernie – who had won four of the last six Pelican races – was warned by his pit crew that he had about 15 gallons of fuel left and on lap 95, his crew signaled “Stop 11 seconds.”

But someone miscalculated because Derr’s mount ran out of gas on the final lap and Funk passed him on the fly.

It was worth an extra $100 for the wheat farmer, who was behind the wheel of a 1965 Ford. “I thought I had third sewn up,” he said. “I would have never taken him (Derr) if he hadn’t run out of gas.”

Stott, who has finished second in five of the last seven Pelican races (he won in 1961) and who has been runner-up in the point standings for the five of the last six years, said of his victory, “My car today felt really good through the corners. I thought I was generally cruising pretty fast.”

Results –

1. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa
2. Lenny Funk, Otis, Kan.
3. Ernie Derr, Keokuk, Iowa
4. Butch Hall, Minneapolis, Minn.
5. Ed Negre, Monett, Mo.
6. George Barton, Luther, Iowa
7. Bob Derringer, Houston, Tex.
8. Orvil Danderson, Fair Grove, Mo.
9. Blaine Morrow, Joy, Ill.
10.Phil Atkinson, Springfield, Mo.
11.Walt Ballard, Houston, Tex.
12.Paul Feldner, Colgate, Wis.
13.Vic Elson, Ash Grove, Mo.
14.Lewis Taylor, Shawnee. Kan.
15.Tom Roller, Independence, Mo.
16.Karl Staufer, Independence, Mo.
17.George Baxter, Ash Grove, Mo.
18.Hank Melhorn, Kansas City, Mo.
19.Ole Brua, Albert Lea, Minn.

Monday, April 1, 2024

1989 - Taylor, Crawley Tops at Macon Season Opener

Popular Dick Taylor won the UMP late model feature at Macon Speedway's season opener. - Bill Haglund Photo

Macon, Ill. (April 1, 1989) – The Mighty Macon Speedway entered its 44th season Saturday with an excellent crowd on hand and a good field of cars, despite the chilly weather. The IMCA modifieds joined the racing program this season for the season for the first time along with the UMP late models, sportsman and bomber divisions, making it the first new class in 10 years.

Jack Dowers was in the spotlight, setting an official IMCA modified rack record in qualifying at 13.313 seconds.

After a pair of cautions at the start of the UMP late model feature, Rick Standridge opened up a slight advantage over Dick Taylor at the drop of the green. Taylor poured it on, closing the gap and finally overtaking Standridge on lap 6 for the lead that he would never relinquish as he went on to victory capturing the 25-lap main event. He was followed by a had-charging Glenn Bradley, Tom Rients, Standridge and Jim Rarick.

Dennis VanderMeersch made it look easy driving his multi-colored #25 to victory leading every lap of the 15-lap sportsman feature.

Al Crawley posted his first IMCA modified main event win after passing early leader Don Kiger on the fifth circuit.

The bomber feature saw Jeff Winters capitalize on a couple of early accidents to win the 10-lap event.

Results –

UMP Late Models –

1. Dick Taylor
2. Glenn Bradley
3. Tom Rients
4. Rick Standridge
5. Jim Rarick
6. Tom Donelan
7. Dan Mahnke
8. Bill Prietzel
9. Mike Mudd
10.Butch Garner

IMCA Modifieds –

1. Al Crawley
2. Jerry Johnston
3. Don Kiger
4. Rick Crawford
5. Tom Bennett
6. Larry Rogers
7. Al Baker
8. Lance Dehm
9. Jack Dowers
10.Phil Hennington

Sportsman -

1. Dennis VanderMeersch
2. Dave Smith
3. Bruce Lessen
4. Sid Lill
5. Jerry Myers
6. Ric Trulock
7. Pat O’ Dell
8. Tom Graham
9. Scott Polen

Al Crawley won the first-ever IMCA modified feature at Macon Speedway. - Bill Haglund Photo

Sunday, March 31, 2024

1957 – Beauchamp Posts Win in ‘Pelican 300’

Johnny Beauchamp receives a kiss from Miss Physical Culture, Barbara Howell, as local oil distributor George Gallagher looks on with approval after the Harlan, Iowa, driver won the rain-shortened Pelican 300.

Shreveport, La. (March 31, 1957) – Johnny Beauchamp, the Harlan, Iowa, flash, took advantage of an early break Sunday afternoon to score an easy victory in the rain-shortened Pelican “300” at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds before an overflow crowd of 9,000 race fans.

Hailed as the “Flying Frenchman,” Beauchamp lived up to his expectations, piloting his 1957 Chevrolet in fine style, and outdistancing his closest competitor, Bob Burdick of Omaha, Neb.

Beauchamp, the 1956 International Motor Contest Association national stock car champion, copped the first feature – 150 laps – of the season’s opener without any difficulty, but was pushed for a while by Burdick in the rain-halted 45-lapper.

From the start, Beauchamp made it a point to show his skill, but Don White of Keokuk, Iowa, a former IMCA champion and solid favorite with the capacity crowd, jumped in front at the beginning. However, White’s pacesetting was short-lived as he broke an axle on his 1957 Ford after only 10 laps.

The Iowa star then proceeded to make a runaway of the first 150-lapper, getting only brief challenges from Burdick.

Burdick, however, after a slow start, just maintained a steady pace in the first half with his 1956 Ford. He attempted an all-out bid to get Beauchamp in the second feature, but the rain put a quick end to it.

Finishing behind Beauchamp and Burdick were Bob Hardy, Jerry Draper, and Jimmy Martin.

IMCA officials shortened the second race when a steady drizzle quickly made the track a sea of mud. Several drivers lost control of their cars on the sloppy racing surface.

Beauchamp started the second race at the rear of the field but rocketed into second before the first lap was even completed. White, determined to try it again his repaired Ford, led for a couple of laps before engine troubles kayoed him for a second time.

Results –

1. Johnny Beauchamp
2. Bob Burdick
3. Dick Porter
4. Bob Hardy
5. Red Dowdy
6. Jimmy Martin
7. Jerry Draper
8. Don Lawson
9. Ray Albritton
10.Dick Pellow
11.Al Warrender
12.Woody Ramsey
13.Darrell Dake
14.Doc Narber
15.Don White
16.Shorty Ebert
17.Lee Pinckney