LOOKING BACK: The First Turkey Derby


In advance of Saturday’s running of Turkey Derby XLVII, we dove into the archives to find SPEED SPORT’s race report from the first Turkey Derby held at Wall Stadium Speedway in 1974. Below is that race report. 

Watch Turkey Derby XLVII live via SPEED SPORT TV affiliate Dirt Track Digest TV this Saturday.

WALL TOWSHIP, N.J. — It was called the first annual Turkey Derby and not “See Gil Run.”

But it was Gil Hearne who did the running. In fact, he led for 107 laps of the 150-lap modified stock car race at Wall Stadium Saturday and pocketed over $2,000 for his effort.

The race began with 26 cars in the field and when the checkered flag dropped only 11 were running. Hearne was the only driver to complete the 150 laps.

Richie Evans was the polesitter by virtue of his incredible 13.838-second run for a single lap during time trials.

However, Evans developed engine trouble early and retired. Charlie Kremer Jr.,  who had the second spot in the outset, inherited the lead and stayed there for 42 laps.

After Kremer limped into the pits, Hearned took over with Charlie Jarzombek a close second. Jarzombek eventually had a tire go out after brushing the fence and finished 14th. Dick Dunn, who had the third fastes time, was involved in a violent flip, along the backstretch and totaled his car. Fortunately, Dunn walked away from the wreck.

Finising second was Freddy Harbach with Jerry Bartlett third, Tom Baldwin fourth and Ken Bouchard fifth.

Sixth through 12th spots went to Jack Ely, Tom Cornerford, Kremer, Bill Brice, Geoff Bodine, Dick Robbins and Ron Bouchard.

A special 15-lap consolation for the modifieds was captured by Jim Hendrickson.

The 30-lap sportsman main event went to Al Voorhees with John LaVance second and Jamie Tomaino third.

The 20-lap modern stock car feature was won by Neil Rutt.