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. 

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