BCRA History Pg. 5

The 1971 season saw more influence by the Southwest drivers as Bill Powell, Roy Hicks, car owner Bill Rausch and Will Schmink began competition at Erie and the High Banks at Belleville. Kansas City’s Jon Backlund, one of the most versatile and competitive drivers ever, would take home the honors after a hard fought season against the best drivers ever including Ralph Parkinson Jr, Lloyd Beckman and Keith Hightshoe.

The Swanson Chevy with Lonnie Jensen would again upset the BCRA ranks as they came through at Belleville and won their second Championship in ’72 against Leo Tucker, Billey Ager, Dick Sutcliffe, Buddy Taylor, Lloyd Beckman, Kansan Davey Ross and a host of others.

The Texans came North in ’73 and after another spectacular circuit of thrills, Edd French of Waco Texas won the BCRA title driving his Hank Henry built sprinter. The invasion of National Class drivers continued with Chuck Amati, John Hollansworth, Eddie and Jimmy McVay, Roger Rager, Doug Wolfgang, Cliff Sealock and Jim Moughan who all ran with the BCRA. The Colorado team of Owner Ken Slocum and driver Steve Troxell won a championship, the first for a Colorado driver since 1963, during one of the toughest schedules to date on the BCRA circuit in 1974.

The competition on the BCRA continued to get faster every time they were pushed off. During this time several had traveled to the west to run with Dale Reed, Steve Troxell, Lloyd Beckman and Gordon Woolley exploiting the West Coast tracks and each winning races in the area. The Speedway Motors team with Opperman at the wheel repeated as BCRA Champs in ’75 as Opperman won two back to back thrilling features at Belleville and would go on to outrun the best USAC drivers at the Tony Hulman Classic at Terre Haute, leading every lap to a monumental victory in Indiana.

The BCRA lost two directors in 1975 as long time President Don Budy stepped down due to health issues. Don had brought the BCRA to a new level of competition with his integrity and dedication. Secretary/Treasurer Andy Anderson took the opportunity to vacate his position at the same time. Anderson had been involved in racing since the late ‘40’s.

1976 brought the anquish of another casualty on the BCRA circuit as up and coming driver Doug Gjermstad of Minot N.D. was killed at Belleville in a freak accident. This would be the last non-winged Sprint race on the High Banks for some time. Larry Clark of Tollefson Arizona took over driving for Frank Marcell in ’76 and the new fit was profitable as Clark not only won a feature at the High Banks, but also broke Lloyd Beckman’s record set 8 years before, and the ’76 BCRA title for Frank. The team left Belleville and traveled to Sedalia Mo, where Clark won another Feature with the IMCA.

During the 1977 season Erie Colorado hosted the “Roger Mauro Gold Cup Classic”. The weekend of racing included Sprints and Midgets. The field of competitors were from several mid and southwest states and Tennessee’s Sammy Swindell, in his first Midget ride ever in the John Notary Edmunds VW, won the first night of the Midgets and both Sprint features for Bobby Davis. Many remember Swindell and Bobby Unser Jr battling throughout the Saturday Feature with Swindell the winner in one of the most exciting duals in the clubs history. A young Sammy Swindell was the final Champion of the Big Car Racing Association back on a fast dirt oval in Colorado, where it all started twenty seasons before. Both the Big Car Racing Association and the International Motor Contest Association would end competition after the 1977 season. Interesting to note that the BCRA has run more Sprint races on the High Banks at Belleville than any other club in the History of the venue.


The Author

Gary Wolfe

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