Wednesday, May 15, 2024

1977 – Trickle’s Brand-New Firebird Outruns Field in Spring 50

Dick Trickle accepts congratulations from starter Bill Gronley after winning the Spring 50 at Wisconsin International Raceway. Trickle’s wife Darlene joins them in victory lane. – Gary Vercauteren Photo

By Gary Vercauteren

Kaukauna, Wis. (May 15, 1977) – Dick Trickle, driving a newly built 1977 Firebird, scored a one-car-length victory in the Spring 50 for late models at Wisconsin International Raceway Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 4,283.

It was an impressive debut for the Wisconsin Rapids driver with the gleaming white racer, which was just completed Saturday night.

Trickle took the lead on the 20th lap when he slipped to the inside of Jimmy Pierson of Janesville. Tom Reffner of Rudolph, wheeling his 1977 Hornet, quickly moved past Pierson but could not close in on Trickle.

On the 32nd lap Pierson was able to repass Reffner and finish second. Reffner placed third, followed by Roger Regeth of Kimberly, Jim Back of Vesper, and Stevens Point’s Rich Somers.

Before a lap could be completed, the race was stopped twice due to pileups in the third turn. The first stoppage came when Gene Coleman, Larry Nipple, and Arnie Christen crashed. Coleman and Nipple were both eliminated.

On the restart, Regeth and Gary Hemmerling locked bumpers in the first turn with Al Schill also spinning.

Regeth took the lead when the green flag was dropped with Jerry Eckhardt locked on his rear bumper as the pair fought for the lead.

Pierson advanced his drive to the front when he slipped to the outside of Eckhardt on the backstretch of the 10th lap and powered past Regeth on the front chute as the drivers entered the 11th lap on the half-mile paved oval.

Trickle, meanwhile, threaded his way to the front, passing Regeth for second place on lap 13 with Reffner breathing down his tailpipe.

A yellow flag on lap 17 tightened the field behind Pierson, Trickle was able to take the lead on the 20th round.

Two more cautions periods were required before the race’s conclusion. On lap 24, Eckhardt’s motor blew on the backstretch and on the 47th circuit, Gordy Mudlaff spun in the fourth turn. On each occasion, the field tightened up behind Trickle, but both times he was ready for the challenge and held off Pierson and Reffner for the victory.

Results –

1. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids
2. Jim Pierson, Janesville
3. Tom Reffner, Rudolph
4. Roger Regeth, Kimberly
5. Jim Back, Vesper
6. Rich Somers, Stevens Point
7. Bob Gunn, Madison
8. Fred Bender, Sun Prairie
9. Al Schill, Franklin
10.John Speer, Janesville
11.Roger Paul, New London
12.Gordy Mudlaff, Wind Lake
13.Larry Nipple, Albany
14.Jim Sauter, Necedah
15.Jerry Eckhardt, Watertown

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