Friday, June 28, 2024

1953 – Keokuk’s Derr Clips Record in 125-Mile Race

Ernie Derr, winner of the 125-mile stock car race at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, receives a kiss from his wife Mary.

Des Moines, Iowa (June 28, 1953) – Ernie Derr, the 31-year-old auto parts manager in Keokuk, spent another profitable weekend, this time in Des Moines, winning the 125-mile stock car race Sunday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

The slender stock car pilot who races only on weekends picked up $625 in cash in wheeling his 1953 Oldsmobile around the 250-lap course in the record-breaking time of 2 hours, 22 minutes, and 37.64 seconds.

The former International Motor Contest Association mark of 2 hours, 25 minutes, and 58.11 seconds was set by Dick Rathmann of Daytona Beach, Fla., at the 1951 State Fair.

Taking second place money in the $3,000 event was Ralph Dyer of Shreveport, La., driving a 1953 Nash, who assumed the lead briefly when Derr stopped at the end of the 169th lap for fuel and tire inspection.

The Keokuk driver had nearly a two-lap edge on Dyer when he interrupted his grind and reassumed command when Dyer halted for a tire change on lap 186.

Herschel Buchanan, another Shreveport pilot, went all the way without a pit stop in his 1953 Nash to finish third, with Chris Skadal of Des Moines fourth in a 1950 Olds.

There were only two minor crackups in the race, a tribute to the driving skill of the contestants over the track which dried fast once the cars began moving.

Sonny Helms, one of two Des Moines drivers among the Iowans entered, blew a tire, and slapped the wall at the end of 238 laps after making three stops because of an overheated motor.

The other mishap happened when Eddie Anderson of Grinnell lost a wheel after running 48 circuits. Anderson, originally scheduled to pilot a 1953 Dodge, was forced to race in a borrowed 1949 Oldsmobile after IMCA officials ruled his car was a hard-top convertible, banned from stock car racing for safety reasons.

Don White of Keokuk, brother-in-law of Derr, blew a tire on the 185th lap and finished out of the money although he got back into the race. He had previously halted for a tire change on lap 175.

Tubby Harrison of Topeka, Kan., the winner here last summer, was plagued with motor trouble and was the first to drop out of the race.

Some 10,000 fans paid to watch the event.

Results –

1. Ernie Derr, Keokuk
2. Ralph Dyer, Shreveport, La.
3. Herschel Buchanan, Shreveport, La.
4. Chris Skadal, Des Moines
5. Bill Harrison, Topeka, Kan.
6. Doc Narber, Cedar Rapids
7. Mel Krueger, Anita
8. Shorty Ebert, Smithville, Mo.
9. Scotty Scovill, Kansas City
10.Walter Shy, Topeka, Kan.
11.Sonny Gross, Quincy, Ill.
12.Art Combs, Emporia, Kan.

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