By Stan Kalwasinski
West Salem, Wis.—The October 7, 1971 issue of Midwest Racing News carried the headline “Oktoberfest a Tricklefest” right above the story that described Dick Trickle’s victory in the second annual Oktoberfest 200 on Sunday afternoon, October 3, at the La Crosse Interstate Speedway.
Trickle, the Wisconsin Rapids racer, wheeled his 1969 Ford Torino No. 99 to the win, scoring his 56th feature race victory of the season. Promoter Bob Morris posted an $8,000 purse for the two-day event with Trickle taking home the biggest share of the prize money.
Coming from his 30th starting spot in the 33-car field, Trickle, who was the event’s fastest qualifier, led 138 of the 200 laps around the 0.545-mile paved oval and finished ahead of Marv Marzofka of Nekoosa in another Trickle-built ’69 Torino. Trickle and Marzofka, who grew up together in racing, were the only drivers to complete 200 laps.
Beloit’s Don Leach, who led some laps in his ’70 Chevelle, finished third with Tom Reffner, in a borrowed ’65 Chevelle, taking fourth. Reffner’s regular ride, a ’69 Mercury Cyclone, was torn up the weekend before during the National Short Track Championships at Illinois’ Rockford Speedway. Hailing from Rudolph, Reffner had won last year’s inaugural Oktoberfest 200 at the fairgrounds oval.
Rounding out the “top 10” finishers were Alan Ward (Elba, Minn.), John Brevick (Fairchild, Wis.), Dick Graves (Bloomington, Minn.), Dick Schultz (Wausau, Wis.), Larry Behrens (Northfield, Minn.) and Dan Prziborowski (Savage, Minn.).
A field of 47 cars was on hand with Trickle grabbing fast time on Saturday with a lap of 20.78 seconds in his Lyle’s Auto Laundry-sponsored FoMoCo product, coming real close to breaking his LaCrosse qualifying record of 20.74. Things didn’t get underway too well for Trickle on Saturday as he blew an engine in practice. Replacing the engine, Trickle, in what would become typical fashion in the years to come, was the last car to qualify, posting quick time.
LaCrosse late model champion for the 1971 season, Jim Sauter, from Necedah, looked to be a strong challenger to Trickle only to see transmission problems sideline his ’69 Chevelle with Sauter being credited with a 28th place finishing position.
Third fastest qualifier – Beloit’s Joe Shear, a perennial favorite at his home track, the Rockford Speedway, blew a tire on his ’69 Chevelle early in the race and hit the main straightaway wall, giving him 30th in the final rundown.
Engine problems ended Bill Rettalick’s day with the Madison driver and his ’69 Chevelle in the pits before the race ended. Rettalick had won the 200-lap National Short Track Championships at Rockford the previous Sunday with Trickle finishing second.
Schultz, who started in row three, had the lead by the end of the first lap. Schultz stayed out front for the first four laps with Brevick and his ’69 Torino leading the way till lap 35 when Trickle, after cutting through heavy traffic, took the lead. Trickle was on the point until he pitted for fuel and gave up the lead to Rettalick on lap 129 with Leach taking over the top spot on 133. Leach held the number one position until Trickle came back from his pit stop and regained the lead on lap 157.
Three 20-lap non-qualifiers races on Saturday saw Reffner, Mike Murgic and Greg DeLapp score wins. Ken Mann won Sunday’s 20-lap consolation race and gained a starting position in the ‘200’ after DeLapp blew an engine in a practice session before the afternoon’s main event.
The rules for the 1971 Oktoberfest were pretty simple: all late models eligible (1957-1971), one carburetor and pump gas and no tire, wheel or wheelbase restrictions. The entry fee was $10.00 with a pit pass costing $3.00. A special admission price that Sunday was $3.00 if you were wearing an Oktoberfest button! The admission for children, ages six through 15, was $1.00.
Thanks to Midwest Racing News and The LaCrosse Tribune for covering this event.