Tuesday, April 30, 2024

1972 – Walkup Captures Hulman Classic

Bruce Walkup

Terre Haute, Ind. (April 30, 1972) - Bruce Walkup survived a wreck-prone start Sunday to win the rain-delayed Tony Hulman Classic for United States Auto Club sprint cars at Action Track.

The purse exceeded $22,000, according to reports at the track race day. Walkup was a happy winner as he spoke to the crowd following the 40-lap feature race.

The race on the half-mile oval was postponed Saturday by rain only to be stopped on the second lap Sunday when defending USAC national sprint car champion Gary Bettenhausen of Tinley Park, Ill., flipped three times after colliding with Carl Williams of Kansas City.

Bettenhausen had moved from 16th to ninth in only two laps. He was not injured. Walkup held the lead intermittently through the event but outdueled George Snider of Bakersfield, Calif., on the final lap. Sam Sessions of Nashville, Mich., was third.

Dick Tobias of Lebanon, Penn., also crashed but escaped injury. He flipped several times on lap 18.

Snider took last year’s initial running of the Classic by running past Don Nordhorn – just as the white flag waved – on the final lap. The same script was nearly followed Sunday before a good-sized crowd.

Walkup had led 17 laps and then Snider took the lead. He kept it until lap 23 when young USAC sprinter Billy Cassella ran into some traffic, slowing Snider just enough for Walkup to slip by for the top spot.

Walkup maintained the top spot until the third turn of the 40th and final circuit, when Snider passed him – just a few yards from where he made his 1971 move.

But Walkup wasn’t to be denied the victory, and he passed Snider in the final turn and held last year’s winner off by a hair to triumph.

The St. Paul, Ind., resident didn’t have a great 1971 season but if Sunday’s results were any indication, 1972 will be a different story for Walkup.

Results –

1. Bruce Walkup
2. George Snider
3. Sam Sessions
4. Lee Kunzman
5. Larry Cannon
6. Jim McElreath
7. Tom Bigelow
8. Don Nordhorn
9. Bill Puterbaugh
10.Larry Dickson
11.Carl Williams
12.Bill Cassella
13.Dick Tobias
14.Duane Carter
15.Gary Bettenhausen

Sunday, April 28, 2024

1984 - Gennetten Tops Springfield

Gene Gennetten waves to the crowd after winning the USAC National Midget Series 40-lap feature at Lil’ Springfield. – Bryan Gapinski Photo

By Bryan Gapinski

Springfield, Ill. (April 28, 1984) – Gene Gennetten won the 40-lap feature in the USAC National Midget Series program, Saturday night at the Springfield Speedway.

Polesitter Don Tyler, set the early pace followed by Gennetten, Alan Brown, and Steve Knepper.

The evening’s first caution was displayed when Art Knepper’s car stalled. On the restart, Tyler and Gennetten pulled away from the field and waged a torrid battle for the lead, until lap 14 when Russ Gamester spun in turn four.

Only one lap later another yellow flag appeared when Sam Isenhower’s car stalled in turn three. Tyler’s bid for his first-ever USAC win, ended when he retired with mechanical problems. One lap later, the final caution occurred when a infield tire was knocked from the racing surface.

The final 22 laps saw Gennetten pull away from the field, finishing straightaway ahead of Kevin Olson, who was looking for a clean sweep after setting fast time, and winning his heat. Olson staged a brilliant charge from the back of the field, after pitting to change a tire under caution.

Steve Knepper, Brown, and Jerry Nuckles rounded out the top five.

Results –

1. Gene Gennetten
2. Kevin Olson
3. Steve Knepper
4. Alan Brown
5. Jerry Nuckles
6. Sherwin Armstrong
7. Mack McClellan
8. Dick Pole
9. Kenneth Nichols
10.Sherman Armstrong

1972 – Stott Cops Grand Memorial

Ramo Stott 

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (April 28, 1972) – A pair of red flags were about the only serious moments Ramo Stott had Friday night, en route to capturing the 50-lap Iowa Grand Memorial Race of Champions at Hawkeye Downs.

An estimated 4,000 braved chilling temperatures and the threat of rain to see the season-opener for late model stock cars at the Downs.

Ramo didn’t disappoint them…

The Keokuk dandy – the biggest name in the star-studded field – took the lead in his 1970 Dodge on the initial lap and was never headed as he copped the top prize of $600.

However, Stott, the two-time ARCA national champion, who will begin racing full-time on the USAC stock car circuit starting Saturday night at Knoxville, Iowa, had his anxious moments.

Like, when the first of two red flags halted the action on the recently resurfaced half-mile dirt oval. To that point, Ramo had a comfortable lead over second-running Fred Horn of Marion in a ’70 Plymouth Roadrunner.

With Horn on Stott’s rear bumper on the restart, it was a question of who could outrun who. Not for long, though.

Eight laps later, Horn went out when he lost a header and Ed Sanger of Waterloo charged into second place in his ’70 Monte Carlo that he drove to four track titles last season.

Another red flag, this one on lap 26, brought the field together again, but Ramo wasted no time in putting some daylight between him and Sanger.

“I didn’t know if he (Sanger) was going to turn it on or not,” Ramo drawled. “So, I stuck my foot into it. I wanted to stretch my lead, but still keep the same pace.”

Ramo said the track, “held up better than I thought it would. In fact, it held up beautifully.”

Sanger pocketed $450 for his runner-up finish. Another car from Sanger’s stable, a ’69 Chevy driven by Red Dralle of Evansdale, took third place and $300.

Ron Perdock of Washington, in a Monte Carlo, finished fourth and Ron Prymek of Iowa City, was fifth piloting a Ford Torino.

Stott, Dr. Al Mayner of Winthrop, Cal Swanson of Reinbeck, and Glen Martin of Independence won heat races. Bill Zwanziger of Waterloo won the 20-lap semi-main.

Results –

1. Ramo Stott, Keokuk
2. Ed Sanger, Waterloo
3. Red Dralle, Evansdale
4. Ron Perdock, Washington
5. Ron Prymek, Iowa City
6. Cal Swanson, Reinbeck
7. Bill Barthelmes, Troy Mills
8. Phil Reece, Des Moines
9. Don Hoffman, Des Moines
10.George Barton, Ankeny

Saturday, April 27, 2024

1975 – Sessions Set Salem Mark

Sam Sessions

Salem, Ind. (April 27, 1975) – Sam Sessions, driving the Gene Hamilton sprinter, captured the 40-lap USAC sprint car feature at the high-banked Salem Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

Sessions started on the outside of the front row and charged into the lead on the first lap’s first turn. He took a commanding lead over Bill Cassella, Joe Saldana and Larry Dickson and stayed in front all the way to the checkered flag. The 40 laps were run caution free and Sessions was able to establish a new track record of 12 minutes and 4 seconds, for a speed of 99.425 mile per hour.

Cassella, Saldana, Dickson and Bill Engelhart were locked into a tight battle the entire distance with Dickson slowly picking off each one to take runner-up honors. Cassella was running fourth on lap 39 but lost an engine with less than half a lap to go. He would coast across the finish line in eighth place.

The win for Sessions was his first since July of 1974 when he copped a feature win at New Bremen, Ohio. The win moved Sessions into fifth place in the point standings.

Dickson, with his second-place finish, catapulted to first place in the point standings with 147 points to Joe Saldana’s 146.

Defending point champion Pancho Carter, who passed up Salem in favor of a race in Trenton, N.J., fell from second to fourth in the standings.

Results –

1. Sam Sessions
2. Larry Dickson
3. Bill Engelhart
4. Joe Saldana
5. Sheldon Kinser
6. Chuck Gurney
7. Bruce Walkup
8. Bill Cassella
9. George Snider
10. Bob Frey

Friday, April 26, 2024

1986 - Fenn, Banks, Spilman Win at Eldon

Denny Banks of Washington is joined by his 5-month-old son Brandon after winning the IMCA modified feature at Eldon Raceway. Ron Potts presents the checkers. – Kathy Root Photo

Eldon, Iowa (April 26, 1986) – Kenny Fenn, Denny Banks, and Mike Spilman opened the 1986 racing season at Eldon Raceway with victories in their respective divisions.

Fenn, of Washington, put his late model out front at the drop of the green flag and held on to capture the feature win. Chasing him hard the entire way was Sonny Findling of Kirksville, Mo. Fenn and Jim Brown of Ottumwa were heat winners.

Denny Banks of Washington continued his winning ways of last year when he scored nine feature wins at the “Super Half-Mile.” Banks survived four red and yellow flags to win the 12-lap feature, Nipping at Banks’ heels was Randy Schroeder of Sigourney. Banks and Schroeder were heat winners.

Mike Spilman of Hedrick, the 1985 street stock champion, opened up a successful defense of his title with a feature win over Aaron Brown of Fremont. Spilman and Allen Reed of Washington were heat winners.

Results –

Late Model –

1. Kenny Fenn, Washington
2. Sonny Findling, Kirksville, Mo.
3. Keith Allen, Eldon
4. Harley Harrelson, Brashear, Mo.
5. Lynn Monroe, Memphis, Mo.
6. Jim Brown, Ottumwa
7. Daryl Hemm, Eldon
8. Jerry Asher, Kirksville, Mo.
9. Ted Pallister, Wapello

IMCA Modified –

1. Denny Banks, Washington
2. Randy Schroeder, Sigourney
3. Dan Jay, Centerville
4. Bill Shipman, Oskaloosa

Street Stock –

1. Mike Spilman, Hedrick
2. Aaron Brown, Fremont
3. Kim Spees, Selma
4. Mike Payne, Sigourney
5. Marion Sherman, Tracy

Veteran Kenny Fenn won the late model season opener at Eldon Raceway. Flagman Ron Potts joins Fenn in victory lane. – Kathy Root Photo

1981 – Dirt Champs Make Debut at Eldora

Steve Kinser

Rossburg, Ohio (April 26, 1981) – A first time ever was recorded with the appearance of the United States Auto Club’s Dirt Championship Cars.

Well known racer Tom Bigelow turned in a fast-qualifying time of 17.113 seconds, which will stand as track record for future races at Eldora Speedway. The 24 entries were broken into two heat races, won by Tom Bigelow and the King of the Outlaw's, Steve Kinser.

A change in rules now makes it possible for drivers who are not sanctioned with USAC to compete on the Dirt Champ circuit.

The 100-lap feature was dominated by Steve Kinser, who took the lead with the drop of the green flag and held it the entire 100 laps.

The red flag was brought out on the 41st lap when Bobby Olivero hit the cement retaining wall in the fourth turn, sending his sprinter end over end, until finally coming to rest back on its wheels at the bottom of the track. Olivero escaped injury.

Larry Rice and Larry Dickson were also taken out of the action by separate accidents.

Sheldon Kinser, who was in the tangle with Rice, managed to escape damage, but was forced to return to the tail of the field, where as he was in second position.

Gary Bettenhausen, the defending Dirt Champ qualified his car, but put Steve Chassey in his place for the feature race, which meant by USAC rules that Steve would also start on the rear.

The end result of the feature was Steve Kinser in victory lane, then came Jack Hewitt, Steve Chassey, Paul Pitzer, and cousin to the winner, all-time favorite Sheldon Kinser.

By securing the second position, Jack Hewitt now leads the Silver Crown Series in points.

At the close of the activities Sunday, promoter Earl Baltes was given an award in appreciation of all he has done for this area's racing and in recognition of the fact that over $1 million dollars has been handed out in prize money since 1965.

Results –

1. Steve Kinser
2. Jack Hewitt
3. Steve Chassey
4. Paul Pitzer
5. Sheldon Kinser
6. Leland McSpadden
7. Steve Cannon
8. Chris Cumberworth
9. Bill Compton
10.Tom Bigelow
11.Larry Dickson
12.Bud Wilmot
13.Bobby Olivero
14.Billy Vukovich
15.Greg Leffler
16.Joe Saldana
17.Larry Rice
18.Lennie Waldo
19.Bill Tyler
20.Bill Engelhart

1970 – Droste is Big Winner at Vinton

LaVern "Red" Droste

Vinton, Iowa (April 26, 1970) – Hard-charging Red Droste of Waterloo, Iowa, made a clean sweep of the racing action to take the Spring Championship at the Benton County Fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon.

Droste won the third heat and then charged from his tenth starting position in the 25-lap feature to snare the title.

Ed Sanger of Waterloo took the early lead in the main event and held it until Curt Hansen charged by Sanger on lap 10. Sanger would be forced out of the running on lap 16 with mechanical issues.

Droste would methodically work his way through the pack and take over the second spot by lap 13. Droste would power by Hansen on lap 19 and then withstand several challenges from the Dike, Iowa, youngster for the remaining six circuits.

Hansen hung on for second while Glen Martin of Independence, Iowa, took third. Skip Kennedy of Dubuque, Iowa and Bill Barthelmes of Walker, Iowa, rounded out the top-five.

Sanger, Hansen and Droste won heat races while Skip Kennedy was the semi-main winner. Dick Oldham of Des Moines won the consolation.

Results –

Heat #1 – Ed Sanger, Waterloo, Iowa
Heat #2 – Curt Hansen, Dike, Iowa
Heat #3 – Red Droste, Waterloo, Iowa
Semi-main – Skip Kennedy, Dubuque, Iowa
Consolation – Dick Oldham, Des Moines
Feature –
1. Red Droste
2. Curt Hansen
3. Glen Martin, Independence, Iowa
4. Skip Kennedy
5. Bill Barthelmes, Walker, Iowa
6. Ed Brown, Dubuque, Iowa
7. George Barton, Ankeny, Iowa
8. Paul Uhlenberg, Garwin, Iowa
9. A.E. Mayner, Winthrop, Iowa
10.Jim Havill, New Liberty, Iowa

Thursday, April 25, 2024

1982 – Sauter and Hanley Star in ARTGO Grundy 50’s

Junior Hanley won the second of two 50-lap features for the ARTGO late models at Grundy County Speedway. - Bob Elman Photo 

By Stan Kalwasinski

Morris, Ill. (April 25, 1982) – Jim Sauter and Junior Hanley each captured a main event as ARTGO Racing presented a twin 50-lap late model special at Grundy County Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

Both Sauter and Hanley piloted 1981 Camaros in recording their first ARTGO feature triumphs of the year.

A field of 22 cars started the first 50-lap main, with Steve Burgess grabbing the early lead from his front row starting position.

Pressed hard by Ron Bloomberg, Burgess was still in front on lap 8 when Larry Cooper and Wayne Para tangled in turn four necessitating the event’s first yellow banner.

Before the entire field could taking the ensuing green, the yellow light flashed again as Dave Weltmeyer tagged the frontstretch wall after a shock absorber in his mount gave way.

Burgess paced the restart but another caution came out on lap 10 when Joe Shear, who was running third, blew the engine in his machine, dropping oil all over the track.

With Burgess still in command, the yellow flew as the leaders attempted to complete the 17th circuit when Burt Weitemeyer and Dave Tomczak got together between turns one and two.

At the halfway mark, Burgess was still the leader but then Sauter entered the battle for first place, trailed by Dick Barker, Tom Jones, Jim Weber, and Tom Reffner.

Sauter, the 1981 ARTGO champion, took over first place on lap 30 and was still on top on lap 38 when the final yellow waved for Woody Pool’s Maverick, which had stalled on the frontstretch.

The final 12 laps saw Jones challenge Sauter but the Necedah, Wis., pilot was equal to the test and crossed the finish line a couple of car lengths ahead of Jones. Burgess was third, followed by Reffner and Hanley.

A total of 23 cars started the second 50, with Curt Cheshire pacing the field at the drop of the green.

Only three laps were complete when the race’s first yellow appeared as Burgess spun in turn one while running sixth, sending the rest of the field behind him scattering.

Cheshire led the first seven laps but surrendered the top spot the next time around, as he and second running Frank Gawlinski spun between turns one and two, again scattering the flowing pack.

Inheriting the lead, Hanley quickly built a strong advantage, putting daylight between himself and the runner-up Barker.

Another yellow slowed the battle on lap 16when Gawlinski backed hard into the third turn wall.

The green flag remained out the rest of the way, with Hanley on top at the 25-lap mark trailed by Barker, Reffner, Sauter, Jones, and Tracy Schuler.

A real battle ensued for third place between Reffner, Sauter, Jones, and Al Schill, winner of the 1982 ARTGO season opener at Rockford, diced lap after lap.

Sauter then began to make his move, slipping by Reffner on lap 36 and then snaring second place from Barker on lap 44.

Moving up on Hanley for the final six circuits, Sauter saw his time run out before he could complete a charge from the outside groove.

Hanley took the checkered only a few car lengths ahead Sauter, who was followed by Jones, Schill, and Reffner.

Results –

Feature #1 –

1. Jim Sauter, Necedah, Wis.
2. Ton Jones, Northbrook
3. Steve Burgess, Eau Claire, Wis.
4. Tom Reffner, Rudolph, Wis.
5. Junior Hanley, Oakville, Ont.
6. Jim Weber, Roseville, Minn.
7. Dick Barker, Detroit, Mich.
8. Frank Gawlinski, Lynwood
9. Kevin Stepan, Mosinee, Wis.
10.Curt Cheshire, Hickory Hills

Feature #2 –

1. Junior Hanley
2. Jim Sauter
3. Tom Jones
4. Al Schill, Franklin, Wis.
5. Tom Reffner
6. Dick Barker
7. Tracy Schuler, Lockport
8. Dave Weltmeyer, Harvey
9. Rich Bickle Jr., Edgerton, Wis.
10.Burt Weitemeyer, Lansing

1975 - Hansen Wins Columbus Junction Opener

Curt Hansen 

Columbus Junction, Iowa (April 25, 1975) – Curt Hansen of Dike started on the outside pole position and ran away with the late model feature at the season opener at Columbus Junction.

Hansen took the lead at the start of the 20-lapper with Mel Morris of West Liberty breathing down his neck the whole way. Despite constant pressure from Morris, Hansen was able to take the checkers. Bill Rice of Des Moines took third, Steve Keppler of Marion was fourth and Ron Prymek of Iowa City took fifth.

Rice set fast time in time trials, touring the half-mile in 25.83 seconds.

Three heats were run on the cold and windy night, with Tom Hearst of Muscatine walking away with honors in a bumper-to-bumper finish with Prymek in the first heat. John Moss of Iowa City, back in the saddle after a couple of years layoff from racing, easily won the second heat. Mel Morris won the third heat over Larry “Poo” Rummelhart of Riverside.

Dave Birkhofer of Muscatine won the semi-main after earlier going over the berm on the first lap of the first heat. Ron Hemsted of Lone Tree and Bud Darting of Wilton Junction followed.

Results –

Time trials – Bill Rice, Des Moines (25.83)
Heat #1 – Tom Hearst, Muscatine
Heat #2 – John Moss, Iowa City
Heat #3 – Mel Morris, West Liberty
Semi-main – Dave Birkhofer, Muscatine
Feature –
1. Curt Hansen, Dike
2. Mel Morris
3. Bill Rice
4. Steve Keppler, Marion
5. Ron Prymek, Iowa City
6. Tom Hearst
7. Stan Stover, Reinbeck
8. Ed Mellecker, Iowa City
9. John Moss
10.Larry Rummelhart, Riverside

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