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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release May 28, 2010

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

Sprint cars pit stop this summer at Historical Museum

Cars, artifacts explore history of sprint car racing in Iowa

(DES MOINES) – Three sprint cars from the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum in Knoxville are making a pit stop this summer at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines.

The cars and several racing-related artifacts from the museums’ collections are on display this week through September in honor of the Knoxville National Sprint Car Championships, held each August since 1961 at the Knoxville Raceway.

“Auto racing has become the most popular spectator sport in the country, and people can see these cars and artifacts up close this summer at the Historical Museum,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Cyndi Pederson said. “This is a terrific opportunity for racing fans and others to get a greater understanding of the history of sprint car racing in Iowa.”

Following is description of the sprint cars now on display at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines:

  • A winged sprint car built in 2010 by Barry Jackson of JEI Chassis and owned by Lonny Parsons of Parsons Motorsports. The 1000-pound, 900-horsepower machine features an engine built by Paul Kistler of Kistler Engines and it competes full-time on the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series nationally. The car is sponsored by Casey’s General Stores, which has been a proud supporter of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum through its leadership team of Don Lamberti and Bob Myers. Jack Housby, through his VOCON auctions company, is an associate sponsor. Danny Lasoski, Lonnie Parsons and the entire Casey’s General Stores team will compete in the 50th annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville Raceway, Aug. 11-14, 2010, with an identically-prepared car.
  • A “big car” built in 1932 by Gene Dodd of Rockford, Ill. Dodd was a stone mason by trade, but he learned casting and machining from his father and was able to manufacture his own parts. This car raced with the Mississippi Valley Auto Racing Association (MVARA) on many dirt tracks on both sides of the Mississippi River. The car was driven by many drivers, including Darvin “Shorty” Burkholder, Danny Kladis, Ray Duckworth, Quent Cowles and Allen “Dutch” Morehouse, who tragically lost his life in the car on Aug. 2, 1953, at the Henry County Fairgrounds dirt track in Mount Pleasant. The car was donated to the museum by Robert and Dr. Barbara Woodward of Dubuque.
  • A super-modified car built in 1959 by National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Earl Wagner and powered by Harold “Slim” Gutknecht-prepared 364- and 401-cubic-inch engines. The car, which features a home-made intake manifold, was driven by Earl Wagner of Pleasantville and raced at numerous tracks in Iowa, including Knoxville, Des Moines (Iowa State Fairgrounds), and Oskaloosa. The Earl Wagner/“Slim” Gutknecht combo finished the Knoxville Raceway season points as champion in 1959 and runner-up in 1960 with “The Pink Lady.”

In addition, the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum and the State Historical Museum have several racing-related artifacts on display, including posters and promotional materials from the movie “Fever Heat,” which was filmed in Iowa in 1968.

“Fever Heat” starred Nick Adams and Jeannine Riley, whose credits include the popular television program “Petticoat Junction.” The movie was written and filmed by Heartland Productions of West Des Moines.

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The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.

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