Jan opperman sprint car racing, dirt track cars, old. Jan got a 15% commission on each sale, but it was his promise to car owners that he would drive the car for. In 1976, he won the hulman classic at terre haute,ind. Alas, his illustrious career ended in 1981 after a united racing club sprint car accident at the halfmile asphalt jennerstown pa. In march of 77, opp attempted to make his comeback at indianas salem speedway, but it was clear that he wasnt ready. Kenny weld was a great driver but his true talent was as a car builder and mechanic. Jan opperman february 9, 1939 september 4, 1997 1973 sprint car track champion. After a long recovery, jan opperman who was now living in noxon, montana, and working with troubled youths returned to racing in 1978.
Goodwin suffered an eye injury which ended his driving career in that crash. Sprint car driver jan opperman, left, mechanic ralph heintzelman sr. It had all the ingredients for the creation of a great race car driver, including a generous helping of a. This 8 mm film from the grove belongs to kenny hall and is not for sale by strawser video, however we do have over 100 videos from central. Jan opperman, born february 9, 1939 is a former sprint car driver from beaver crossing, ne. Bills biggest win of his career came on may 1, 1976 when opperman steered the car to win the nationally televised, tony hulman classic over a. The maxwell sprint car, designed by opperman was a top seller around the country in the mid and late 1970s.
Janssen brought jan to lincoln and oppermans career took off. Jan opperman had been critically injured in the 1976 hoosier hundred, when he and bobby hillins longhorn racing no. Opperman was pronounced dead shortly alter being taken to collins memorial hospital. Jan oppermans 4x sprint car speedway motors museum of. Two weeks later, he returned to the car for the southern 500. He was my idol, the recipient of my teenage crush, and my uncle dick bogars race car driver. At the opperman homestead, boyd met his future wife, betty, the widow of jay opperman. In 1973, i quit college, took the money id saved from a construction job and bought a 64 vw micro bus. A winner of over 125 main events across 11 states between 1964 and 84, boyd is a member of the national sprint car hall of fame in knoxville. See more ideas about sprint cars, race cars and sprint car racing. I knew he was a famous race car driver, but i didnt really like racing. With little experience in nascar, opperman told cronkite to find another driver.
Wanderlust had taken hold and i needed a place to live on the road. The first thing jan did was go find ted swiontek pictured in glasses, next to opperman above, a great sprint car mechanic from pennsylvania who had been working on indy cars as well in the early 1970s. From a teenage street fighter, motorcycle flat track racer and california hippie to respected sprint car driver and indy 500 racer jan oppermans story is remarkable, entertaining and difficult to put down. The famous jan opperman california hippie sprint car. Sure, anyone can say that now, 41 years after the greatest show on dirt lifted its curtain. Sprintcar star opperman suffers violent usac crash.
Jan opperman last updated april 11, 2019 opperman driving at williams grove speedway in the 1970s. Jan opperman was one of the most colorful characters in the history of auto racing. Browse hundreds of tracks for news, events, photos, and more. Opperman was plucked from obscurity in 1968 when a speedway motors employee, jerry janssen, spotted him in california racing a ranger airplane engine sprint car. Please practice handwashing and social distancing, and check out our resources for adapting to these times. It was my great fortune to meet jan opperman one night at williams grove speedway. Jan opperman interview from terre haute, indiana on august 3, 1980. Jay was jans younger brother, and jay had been killed in a crash at knoxville, iowa, on may 16, 1970. Bills biggest win of his career came on may 1, 1976 when opperman steered the car to win the nationally televised, tony hulman classic over a stellar field. The following from the internet column on 10 dirtiest drivers. Checkered past history jan opperman kevin eckert sammy swindell sprint car series steve kinser ted johnson world of outlaws sprint car series i knew this world of outlaws thing would stick. He won the 1971 knoxville nationals, the premiere event in sprint car racing.
Speedway that required him to be under roundtheclock care for the. If having a mechanical advantage is cheating, weld dominated the category. Unfortunately for jan, he blew an engine on his qualifying attempt and missed the race. The event was the season opener, and was postponed 24 hours due to dust and rain storm. Unfortunately, i never got to meet jan opperman i wish i had. Opperman, the quintessential outlaw sprintcar racer, was battling for the lead in the nations most prestigious dirttrack race when he was involved in a fivecar crash that left him in critical condition. Jan opperman became known as one of the original outlaws.
Jan opperman sprint car racing news, schedules, results. The race happened in 1974, when opperman competed at pocono raceway. Dale earnhardt in cronkites car in 1978, opperman drove the car in 1979 im just not used to these cars. Jan opperman february 9, 1939 september 4, 1997, was an american racecar driver. February 9, 1974 longhaired jan opperman won his second consecutive imca winternationals sprint car feature at the florida state fair on saturday, but it wasnt easy. A man of strong spiritual belief, jan opperman was very popular with his fellow drivers, the media and fans. While jan opperman was a legend to so many, he was even more than that to me. Jan went out, ran a couple of laps and told ted the car was really nervous from the middle of the corner out and the car lacked straightaway.
News, photos, results, and more from dozens of associations. Starting 14th in the event, opperman drove a solid race and came home four laps down. Customers who bought this item also bought langhorne speedway throwback tee. Race car track sprint car racing dirt track racing old race cars auto racing outlaw racing racing baby classic race cars vintage race car. As with most racing legends, jan opperman had an interesting childhood. Mar 1, 2012 jan opperman, best sprint car driver of all time.
Rick ferkel wins his first cra sprint car race at manzanita speedway on march 9, 1975. Jan partnered with don maxwell to design and build sprint cars. Get the best deals on jan opperman when you shop the largest online selection at. Jan opperman speedway motors museum of american speed. Born in long beach, california, opperman died in fountain, florida, 16 years after suffering critical injuries from a crash during a race in jennerstown, pennsylvania. He had to contend with a tricky track, but more important, he had to contend with a charging driver most of the way. Known primarily as a sprint car driver, he also drove in the usac championship car series, racing in the 1974 and 1976 seasons. Opperman, weld, allen,and paxton early 70s youtube. Opperman, who competed in one sprint cup event, died on september 4, 1997.
Danville, illinois, is a former driver in the usac sprint car series, with 22 victories, and a member of the national sprint car hall of fame, inducted in 1998. Opperman, the quintessential outlaw sprintcar racer, was battling for the lead in the nations most prestigious dirttrack race when he was. Two time starter of the indianapolis 500, finishing 21st in 1974 and 16th in 1976. Empa hall of famejan opperman eastern motorsport press. Kevin gman gobrecht may 2, 1969 september 25, 1999 sprint car driver april 16, 2000. I headed for central pennsylvania to check out the legendary sprint car racers and tracks. All content on this site is the property of selinsgrove speedway management or the entity that provided it. Smith hired jan opperman to take over driving duties and they did very well together. Jan opperman racing career profile driver database.1000 1253 1362 710 446 1305 944 1094 976 115 522 317 1142 959 817 1133 1651 267 1039 301 317 59 1173 60 1256 251 709 532 1130 1155 288 175