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. 

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