KNOXVILLE: Through The Years

Brad Sweet celebrates in victory lane after winning his first Knoxville Nationals A-Main at Knoxville Raceway. (Frank Smith Photo)

This year marks the 59th running of the NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. SPEED SPORT, one of the few motorsports properties with a longer history than the Nationals, has covered every one of them.

From Roy Robbins in 1961 to Steve Kinser’s 12 victories, to Donny Schatz’s 10 triumphs and finally to Brad Sweet’s dramatic victory last August, we’ve been there for them all.

As SPEED SPORT celebrates its 85th anniversary, we felt it appropriate to look back at the Knoxville Nationals through the SPEED SPORT archives:

1961: Roy Robbins earned $1,000 for winning the first Super Modified National Championship. Robbins’ car carried an “air scoop,” which was similar to the wings we are familiar with today. The following week, wings were banned.

1962: Jerry Richert romped from 14th on the grid to pocket the $1,200 top prize.

1963: Greg Weld outran his older brother, Jerry, and earned $1,500 for the victory.

1964: Eighteen-year-old Kenny Weld led a one-two finish for the family, as Greg Weld came home second.

1965: Kenny Weld became the first two-time Nationals winner, while his father Taylor Weld was the winning car owner for the third straight year.

1966: Jay Woodside won the rain-plagued event and took home the $2,500 winner’s check.

1967: Thad Dasher held off Bob Williams to win the seventh annual Knoxville Nationals.

1968: Ray Lee Goodwin led every lap to top the first $3,000-to-win Nationals feature.

1969: Kenny Gritz passed Jan Opperman to secure one of the biggest upsets in Nationals history. Gritz was killed two weeks later at the Nebraska State Fairgrounds.

1970: The 10th running of the event saw Joe Saldana lead all 30 laps.

1971: Opperman led every lap to redeem a heartbreaking loss in 1969.

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