Wednesday, January 3, 2024

The Deery Brothers One-Win Wonders


Bruce Hanford is joined by promoter Larry Kemp after winning the Red Baron Summer Series for IMCA late models at Burlington in 1987. - Dick Kleindolph Photo

By Kyle Ealy

Cedar Rapids, Iowa – The Deery Brother Summer Series for IMCA Late Models was a Midwestern tradition, starting in 1987 and going until it’s 500th show concluded in 2020.

Numerous drivers have experienced great success in the series, Jeff Aikey of Cedar Falls, Iowa, is far and away the all-time leader in wins with 70, followed by Ray Guss Jr. of Milan, Ill., with 31, Justin Kay of Wheatland, Iowa, with 28, Curt Martin of Independence, Iowa, with 27 and Mark Burgtorf of Quincy, Ill., with 26.

There are seven other drivers in double-digit totals with feature wins and 46 drivers with at least two or more victories.

But I want to talk about the drivers with one win…

Some of these drivers who have one Deery Brother Summer Series victory to their credit were with the series for multiple seasons while some only raced one or two races. Some driver’s Deery Brothers wins came at a weeknight show, while some won on racing’s biggest stages.

Let’s explore the Deery Brothers’ “One-Win Wonders” …

It all starts in the first year of the series (then called the “Red Baron Summer Series”) on May 19, 1987, in Burlington, Iowa. Bruce Hanford of Davenport, Iowa, the winner of the late model main event was a driver more associated with modifieds than late models.

 Denny Osborn is joined by Deanna Fretheim and the "Red Baron" Del Carolus after Osborn's victory at Independence in 1988. - Marnee Mackey Photo

The next season, two drivers would find victory lane for the “one and done”, veteran Sonny Findling of Kirksville, Mo., would tame the Mahaska County Fairgrounds’ big half-mile in winning the feature event on Memorial Day, May 30, and Denny Osborn of Cedar Falls, Iowa, would win the 40-lap “Mitch Fretheim Memorial” at the Buchanan County Fairgrounds in Independence on August 13, 1988.

Gary Pedersen is joined by Kris Tisor after winning the J&J Steel Summer Series at Mason City in 1989. - Kathy Root Photo

Two drivers would become one-win wonders in the 1989 season (now named the “J&J Steel Summer Series”). Gary Pedersen of Rutland, Iowa, would win a Deery Brothers feature at the North Iowa Fairgrounds in Mason City on July 3 and two weeks later, July 16, Kirk Shaw made the long trip from Batesville, Ark., to win the Deery Brothers only appearance at a paved track at Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids.

A name long associated with the historic half-mile at West Liberty, Iowa, was the winner on August 8, 1990. Dave Birkhofer of Muscatine would be the first of the Birkhofer family to be a Deery Brothers one-win wonder.

The 1991 season would see a one-win wonder as well when Steve Watts of Jimtown, Iowa, grabbed the win in the 40-lap feature at the Wapello County Fairgrounds in Eldon, Iowa, on July 4.

Frank Shickel receives the checkers from flagman Doug Haack after winning the Deery Brothers Summer Series feature at East Moline in 1992. - Al Larsen Photo

The 1992 season (the Deery Brothers Summer Series) would see an explosion of one-win wonders, four in all. Frank Shickel Jr., of Bloomington, Ill., would start the hit parade, winning at the Rock Island County Fairgrounds in East Moline, Ill., on July 5. Three days later, Kevin Cale of Donnellson, Iowa, won the Deery Brothers main event at 34 Raceway in Burlington. As the season wound down, two other drivers would add their name to the list. Ed Kosiski of Omaha, Neb., would make the short trip to Corning, Iowa, to score a Deery win on September 12 and a week later Bryan Wanner of Winfield, Iowa, would win at Burlington on September 19.

John Hampel won the Deery Brothers Summer Series race at Corning in 1993. - Doug Sheckler Photo

Three new one-win wonders would join the list in 1993. A driver with hall of fame credentials would surprisingly have only one Deery Brothers win to his credit, Gary Crawford of Independence, Iowa. He scored his only career Deery win at Marshalltown, Iowa, on Memorial Day, May 31. Another late model pilot with hall of fame credentials to win only one career Deery Brothers race was Steve Boley of Oxford, Iowa, when he led from start to finish in scoring the victory at Oskaloosa, Iowa, on July 28. John Hampel of Nodaway, Iowa, joined the exclusive one-win club when he grabbed the Deery Brothers feature win at Corning on August 12.

Dan Forsyth had a popular win at West Union in 1994. - Jim Stannard Photo

A pair of one-win wonders joined the list during the 1994 season. As was with our first-ever one-time winner, Bruce Hanford, Bob Dominacki of Bettendorf, Iowa, is more associated with racing modifieds than late models but he has a Deery Brothers feature victory to his credit after winning at Hawkeye Raceway in Blue Grass, Iowa, on June 29. Dan Forsyth of Oelwein, Iowa, is probably one of the least known of the one-win wonders, but he’s one of the few and not the many, winning practically in his own backyard, the Fayette County Fairgrounds in West Union, Iowa, on July 10.

The one-win wonders would seemingly slow to a crawl for the next four years with only one winner each season grabbing their only career Deery Brothers win.

Darin Burco of Hazelton, Iowa, would win his first race on asphalt and his first (and only) Deery Brothers Summer Series race, leading all 40 laps at Hawkeye Downs on August 1, 1995.

The second member of the Birkhofer family would join the exclusive one-win club when Brian grabbed the Deery Brothers feature win at Hawkeye Raceway in Blue Grass on June 25, 1996.

IMCA Super Nationals winner Dean Wagner is joined by Kathy Root and flagman Toby Kruse at Boone in 1997. - Margaret Gardner Photo

Dean Wagner II of Waterloo, Iowa, is one of those one-win wonders who saved his only Deery Brothers win for the big stage. On September 5, 1997, Wagner won the 40-lap feature at the IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa.

Todd Bennett of Peoria, Ill., would make the short trip to East Moline and tame the quarter mile for his only career Deery Brothers victory on May 24, 1998.

It would be a little over two years before another one-win wonder prevailed. Billy Tuckwell of Washington, Ill., would make his way across the Mississippi River and grab a Deery Brothers victory at Marshalltown, Iowa, on Memorial Day, May 29, 2000.

Dennis Erb Jr. won the Susan Pallister Memorial at Burlington in 2003. - Craige Gheer Photo

Almost three years would go by until another one-win wonder would prevail. The 2003 season would see two new one-win wonders. Brent Slocum of Burlington, Iowa, would win the 40-lap Memorial Day special at Boone, Iowa, on May 26. Dennis Erb Jr., of Carpentersville, Ill., who has had most of his late model success with United Midwestern Promoters (UMP), decided to give IMCA try and scored his only Deery Brothers win at one of the tour’s biggest races, the USA Late Model Nationals at 34 Raceway in Burlington on August 14.

2005 would see two new members to the club. Bobby Toland of Hillsdale, Ill., would score his only victory at 34 Raceway in Burlington on April 9 and Kevin Blum of Colona, Ill., would become a “members-only” when he took home honors at I-35 Speedway in Mason City on June 7, 2005.

 Johnny Spaw scored the hometown win at Cedar Rapids in 2007. - Chris Damitz Photo

It would take almost two years before another one-win wonder would surface. Mark Preston of Port Byron, Ill., would win the 50-lapper on the Davenport quarter mile on April 20, 2007. Johnny Spaw of Cedar Rapids would dedicate his only Deery Brothers feature win to Darrell Dake, who passed away a few days before. Spaw would lead all 35 laps to win at Hawkeye Downs on August 8, 2007.

Yet another season would see an explosion of one-win wonders as four new drivers added their names to the list. The Deery Brothers Summer series kicked off the 2008 season “out west” so to speak. Mike Collins of Council Bluffs, Iowa, won the Ice Breaker at Eagle, Nebraska on April 6 for his only Deery victory. Justin Reed of Quincy, Ill., would lead all 40 laps to win his first and only Deery Brothers race at Highway 3 Raceway in Allison, Iowa, on May 21. Marty Diercks of Bettendorf, Iowa, scored his only Deery Brother win by default. Diercks finished second to Ray Guss Jr., at Davenport on July 22 but Guss was disqualified in post-race inspection, giving Diercks his only career Deery victory. Matt Strassheim of West Burlington scored what was probably one of the more stunning one-win wonders when he won the USA Late Model Nationals at 34 Raceway on September 28.

Matt Bailey was #1 at Quincy in 2011. - Hulett Photography

Matt Bailey of Quincy, Ill., decided to win his first and only Deery Brothers feature win before his hometown crowd, on April 10, 2011.

The 2012 season would see two more one-win wonders added to the list. Kevin Kile of Nichols, Iowa, would lead all 40 laps in winning at the Cedar County Fairgrounds in Tipton, Iowa, on June 12, 2012. Luke Goedert of Holy Cross, Iowa, would win his first and only Deery feature at his hometown track of Dubuque, Iowa, on July 15, leading all 35 circuits.

Chad Simpson won the Yankee Dirt Track Classic for his lone Deery Brothers victory in 2013. - Dan Busch Photo

Chad Simpson of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, was another late model driver who hadn’t raced IMCA much, preferring the super late model shows. But Simpson decided to give it a try, and at the Yankee Dirt Track Classic on September 13, 2013, Simpson earned his only victory of the series. He truly earned the “one and done” victory as he had to win the B-main and then come from the rear of the field to win the A-main.

The 2015 season would have a trio of first (and last) timers. Corey Zeitner of Bellevue, Neb., won the Deery Brothers series opener at Crawford County Speedway in Denison, Iowa, on April 4. Jason Rauen of Farley, Iowa, won his first and only Deery Brothers feature at Marshalltown on June 2 while Tyler Droste of Waterloo led all 50 laps to score his only Deery win at East Moline on July 22 (Note: Droste would become the youngest Deery winner at age 19).

Richie Gustin is joined by flagman Grant Oskvig at Independence in 2017. - Scott Swenson Photo

Three more drivers would join the few and not the many for the 2017 season. Richie Gustin of Gilman, Iowa, would split time between his modified and late models that season and on April 22, he would score his only Deery Brothers win at the Independence (Iowa) Motor Speedway. A little over one month later, Jesse Sobbing of Malvern, Iowa, would win his one and only Deery feature at a Memorial Day special on May 29. Ironically, Sobbing would go on to win Rookie of the Year and the Deery Brothers Summer Series championship for 2017.

Chad Simpson had a Deery win so why shouldn’t his brother Chris not have one as well. On September 3, 2017, Chris, like his brother, won his only Deery feature at the big arena, the Yankee Dirt Track Classic at Farley, Iowa. Simpson earned $10,000 with his 100-lap victory on September 2, 2017.

Two drivers would achieve wonderous one-win status during the 2019 season.

Eric Pollard won the 40-lapper at West Union in 2019. - Zakzry Kriener Photo

Eric Pollard of Peosta, Iowa, would lead all 40 laps in winning his only Deery Brothers feature at West Union, Iowa, on July 24, while the very last Deery Brothers Summer Series one-win wonder would save it for the biggest stage of all. Ricky Thornton Jr., of Adel, Iowa, borrowed Todd Cooney’s late model and won the 50-lap IMCA Super Nationals on September 3.

All totaled, there were 500 Deery Brother Summer Series events with 43 one-time winners.

Gary Crawford is all smiles after winning at Marshalltown in 1993. Toby Kruse joins him in victory lane. - Dale Danielski Photo

Bob Dominacki scored the win at Blue Grass in 1994. - Rick Haefner Photo

Bobby Toland won at Burlington in 2005. - John Vass Photo

Kevin Blum celebrates his one and only Deery Brothers Summer Series victory with Toby Kruse at Mason City in 2005. - Chad Meyer Photo

Mike Collins won the "Ice Breaker" at Eagle, Neb., in 2008. - Barry Johnson Photo

Corey Zeitner is joined in victory lane by his family and flagman Grant Oskvig after his Deery Brothers win at Denison in 2015. - Dave Schraeder Photo

Chris Simpson joined his brother Chad as "One and Done's" after winning the Yankee Dirt Track Classic at Farley in 2017. - Tom Macht Photo

Ricky Thornton Jr.  was the last of the "One-Win Wonders" of the Deery Brothers Summer Series. He's shown here after winning at the IMCA Super Nationals in Boone in 2019. - Tom Macht Photo

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all the work assembling this list of winners. Little did I know where it would go when I joined my Red Barron Pizza series with IMCA.