Stock Car Spotlight: Ernie Derr
Stock car legend Ernie Derr was the dominant driver in the IMCA Stock Car series from 1952 through 1971, amassing twelve IMCA series titles and posting 339 IMCA race wins as documented by Auto Racing Analysis from microfilmed IMCA records, National Speed Sport News, Illustrated Speedway News, and Speed Age. All told, from 1951 through 1975, Ernie Derr amassed a total of 358 race wins, with his 339 IMCA victories joined by eleven wins in ARCA (first known as MARC), three in USAC Stock Car series competition, and five unsanctioned non-series wins.
Derr won at least one race every year from 1951 through 1955 and from 1957 through 1975, giving him twenty-four total years with at least one race win and a streak of nineteen consecutive years (1957-1975) with at least one race victory. Although the vast majority of his race wins came on dirt, he scored nine paved track victories as well.
Derr was a double-digit racewinner (ten or more wins) in seventeen seasons, won twenty or more races in a season ten times, and won thirty-one races in a season twice (1959 and 1962)!
Ernie Derr’s wins were achieved on sixty-four tracks in eighteen states. Derr won 157 races driving Dodges, 137 at the wheel of Pontiacs, scored 48 wins driving Oldsmobiles, won fifteen times in Plymouths, and scored one win piloting a Mercury. By corporation, he won 185 races wheeling GM products, took 172 races driving MOPAR products, and won once in a FOMOCO brand.
Derr achieved seventy-three win streaks during his career! He posted one astounding fifteen-race win streak, two eight-race win streaks, two seven-race win streaks, one six-race win streak, five five-race win streaks, eight four-race win streaks, twenty-four three-race win streaks, and thirty two-race win streaks!
1950 marked the beginning of Ernie Derr’s racing career; he ranked seventeenth in 1950 IMCA Stock Car points. In 1951 Derr scored his first win on July 1 in an IMCA Stock Car 250-lapper at the Des Moines, Iowa State Fairgrounds driving a Mercury. The victory was to be his only triumph driving a FOMOCO product! Derr finished 1951 fifth in IMCA Stock Car points.
Derr won eight 1952 IMCA Stock Car races driving an Oldsmobile, achieving his first two-race win streak and later a three-race win streak. He finished second in 1952 IMCA Stock Car points to champion Dom Perlick, also driving an Oldsmobile. Perlick won sixteen races in 1952.
Ernie Derr won the 1953 IMCA Stock Car championship title, scoring sixteen wins in the 59-race season at the wheel of his Oldsmobile. Derr achived three two-race win streaks in 1953. Derr’s brother-in-law Don White, also driving an Oldsmobile, was runnerup for the title. White posted seventeen race wins but only one in the final nineteen races of the season compared to six wins during the period for Derr.
In 1953, Derr made his only start in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition, contesting the August 2 Davenport Speedway race in Iowa. He placed eleventh.
In 1954, Don White won the IMCA Stock Car title with Derr placing second in points. White won twenty-eight races of the 55-race season in his Oldsmobile while Derr drove his Oldsmobile to “only” twelve wins! Derr achieved two three-race win streaks in 1954.
In 1955, Ernie Derr expanded his efforts and ran MARC (now ARCA) races in addition to IMCA. IMCA retaliated by stripping Derr of his points and thus he has no ranking in the 1955 IMCA Stock Car point standings although he won six IMCA races driving his Oldsmobile. Derr won six MARC (ARCA) races in 1955 wheeling his Oldsmobile, taking victory at Lakewood in Atlanta, Georgia, scoring four wins in Ohio (twice at the Ohio State Fairgrounds plus single wins at Toledo Raceway Park and Dayton Speedway) and a win at Heidelberg Raceway in Pennsylvania. His final win of 1955, on August 17 at the Louisa County Fairgrounds in Iowa in IMCA competition, was the 49th of his career and his 48th and final victory at the wheel of an Oldsmobile.
1956 produced no race victories for Derr as a mixed schedule of IMCA, MARC (ARCA) and USAC Stock Car racing saw him rank thirteenth in USAC points and thirtieth in IMCA. Derr did post some notable runnerup race finishes including seconds in the Dayton and Canfield MARC (ARCA) races and runnerup IMCA finishes at the Missouri, Minnesota, and Iowa Fairgrounds events.
June 23, 1957 produced the fiftieth win of Derr’s career, the victory coming at the wheel of his new mount, a 1957 Pontiac, at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Minnesota. Derr scored five 1957 IMCA race wins, finishing the season fourth in IMCA Stock Car points behind champion Johnny Beauchamp (runnerup finisher in the 1959 Daytona 500!), Bob Burdick, and Don White. Beuchamp dominated the 1957 IMCA season in his 1957 Chevrolet, taking thirty-four wins!
Ernie Derr returned to double-digit win status in 1958, taking fourteen wins in the 59-race IMCA season. Ernie posted two three-race win streaks and won the long-distance events at Hawkeye Downs, the Minnesota Fairgrounds, and at Shreveport’s Louisiana State Fairgrounds in his Pontiac. Derr finished second in 1958 IMCA Stock Car points to champion Don White. Driving Fords, White won twenty-five races including eight in a row before Derr ended the streak with his own three-race win streak at season’s end.
Ernie Derr began a streak of four consecutive IMCA Stock Car championship titles in 1959 with his second title. Derr won thirty-one races in the 55-race 1959 IMCA season at the wheel of his Pontiac, and with his November 1, 1959 win at Shreveport’s Louisiana State Fairgrounds, his thirty-first win of 1959 ran his career total to 99 wins and his IMCA career total to 93. Derr amassed eleven win streaks in 1959 including four three-race win streaks. Dick Hutcherson, another Pontiac pilot, won five times and was the runnerup for the point title.
The 1960 IMCA Stock Car season began April 3 at Shreveport’s Louisiana State Fairgrounds and Derr scored the victory, win #100 of his career! Derr went on to wheel his Pontiac to twenty-two wins, amassing six win streaks during the 46-race season. Ford driver Ramo Stott was the runnerup for the title, taking ten wins.
Ernie Derr took his third consecutive IMCA Stock Car title in 1961, driving his Pontiac to another twenty-two IMCA wins, this time in a 52-race season. Derr achieved four win streaks, including two three-race streaks and six consecutive wins at the conclusion of the season! Ford drivers Dick Hutcherson and Ramo Stott finished second and third in points. Stott won twelve races, Hutcherson eight as the Ford duo combined for twenty wins, two short of Derr’s twenty-two for Pontiac!
Derr concluded 1961 with a MARC (ARCA) victory in a 250-lapper at Birmingham International Raceway in Alabama. The win counted for the 1962 MARC season. He then won the March 4, 1962 Lakewood Speedway MARC race, giving him his first-ever win streak in MARC (ARCA) competition. On March 18, 1962 Derr scored his first Auto Racing Analysis-documented paved track win, taking the MARC (ARCA) series victory at Meyer Speedway in Houston, Texas!
The 1962 IMCA Stock Car season opened April 29 at Shreveport’s Louisiana State Fairgrounds, and Derr drove his Pontiac to victory for his seventh consecutive IMCA win, and won again at Hawkeye Downs on May 6 to run his victory skein to eight! Derr won twenty-eight 1962 IMCA races during the 51-race season to achieve his fourth consecutive IMCA Stock Car title. Along the way he ran his career victory total to 175 and his IMCA win total to 165. As in 1961, Dick Hutcherson finished second in 1962 points and Ramo Stott third. Ford drivers Hutcherson and Stott each achieved six race wins and their twelve wins for Ford again fell short of Derr’s twenty-eight for Pontiac!
Derr also took victory in the October 14, 1962 ARCA race at Lakewood Speedway in Georgia in a race counting for the 1963 ARCA season. The win was his tenth in ARCA competition. Earlier in the year, Derr competed in ARCA’s April 1, 1962 Virginia International Raceway road course event, placing twelfth!
Dick Hutcherson ended Ernie Derr’s IMCA Stock Car title streak at four seasons by taking the 1963 IMCA Stock Car title. Hutcherson drove his 1963 Ford to thirty-one race wins during the 60-race season, putting away the title with a ten wins in eleven races stretch from August 3 through August 18. Derr, in his final year driving Pontiacs, won eleven races and ranked second in points. Derr’s 137th and final win driving a Pontiac came in the September 21, 1963 IMCA race at Hutchinson Fairgrounds in Kansas. The win was the 186th of his career and his 176th in IMCA competition.
1964 began a new era for Ernie Derr as he switched to MOPAR products. Ernie drove a 1963 Dodge in ARCA competition at Daytona, finishing fourth in his qualifying race and second in the 250-mile main event to NASCAR star Nelson Stacy’s 1964 Ford! ARCA great Iggy Katona finished third behind Derr.
Derr won the March 22, 1964 ARCA event at Meyer Speedway in Houston (his second career paved track win) driving a Dodge. Derr then won the 1964 IMCA season-opener April 19 at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds in a Dodge. Ernie then switched to 1964 Plymouth entries, scoring his first Plymouth victory in the May 17, 1964 Hawkeye Downs 250. Derr won fifteen 1964 IMCA races, achieving three win streaks including one four-race win skein. Ernie fell to third in IMCA points in 1964, behind champion Dick Hutcherson and runnerup Ramo Stott. Hutcherson won thirty races (including a nine-race win streak) in the 57-race 1964 season in his 1964 Ford. Stott won twelve races in a 1964 Plymouth as the Stott-Derr MOPAR combination racked up twenty-seven wins to Hutcherson’s thirty Ford victories. Derr achieved a milestone, the 200th win of his career, with his second victory of August 16, 1964 in the Northern Iowa Fairgrounds event.
After a year of familiarization with the MOPAR products, Derr, aided by the support of fellow Auto Racing Analysis profile subject Ronney Householder, now a top racing executive with Chrysler Corporation, bounced back to win the 1965 IMCA Stock Car title, the beginning of a seven-year streak of Ernie Derr IMCA Stock Car titles driving Dodges!
Derr won twenty-one of the thirty-eight 1965 IMCA Stock Car races driving 1965 Dodges. Ernie opened the season with two wins, amassed six two-race win streaks and one three-race win streak, and won the season finale! Derr ended 1965 with 223 career victories and 212 wins in IMCA competition. Ramo Stott was the runnerup for the 1965 title; Stott won fifteen races in a 1965 Plymouth as MOPAR dominated the series.
Derr contested the 1966 Daytona ARCA race in a Dodge, finishing fourth behind winner Jack Bowsher, runnerup Ramo Stott, and Andy Hampton.
Ernie scored twenty-one IMCA wins in the 38-race season for the second consecutive year in 1966 en route to his second consecutive and seventh total IMCA title. Derr achieved a five-race win streak in July and a seven-race September-October win streak. On September 3 he scored his first IMCA paved track victory by taking the 300-lap event at the Minnesota Fairgrounds. He then won the September 5 Minnesota Fairgrounds 500-lap classic for his fourth career paved track win. Ramo Stott again was runnerup for the title, again winning fifteen races in a Plymouth.
Ernie Derr’s 1967 IMCA Stock Car title-winning season was comprised of twenty-six race wins in the 40-race season at the wheel of his Dodges. Derr won the season’s first three races and later achieved three-race, five-race, three-race, and six-race win streaks before winning the final three races of the season! He scored two 250-win milestones, in overall wins and in IMCA Stock Car wins, during 1967, and ended 1967 with 270 career wins and 259 IMCA Stock Car race victories. Ramo Stott was again the runnerup for the title, this time with nine wins in his Plymouth stockers.
Ernie Derr’s 1968 IMCA Stock Car title, his fourth consecutive, featured nineteen race wins in a 36-race season. The season started slowly for Derr, as Ramo Stott won the season-opener at Devils Bowl with Derr taking the season’s second race before Stott won the next two events. Derr then won the season’s fifth race but Verlin Eaker then won race six and Stott race seven so that after seven races Stott had four wins to Derr’s two. Derr then won five consecutive races, from June 16 through July 21! Derr posted a four-race win streak from August 31 through September 5 and another four-race win streak from September 22 through October 20. Stott ended the season with seven wins.
Derr’s 1968 win total was augmented by two nonsanctioned Late Model wins at the Iowa Fairgrounds in Des Moines on May 4 and May 11, 1968.
Ernie Derr’s fifth consecutive IMCA Stock Car title, earned in 1969, was the result of an amazing twenty-five race wins in a thirty-race season, or 83.33%! Derr and his Dodge racers achieved 1969 win streaks of four, seven, and twelve races as he won the final twelve races of the 1969 IMCA season! Ford pilot Fred Horn was points runnerup; he won only one race! The other four races of the 1969 season were won by Ole Brua (two wins), Verlin Eaker, and Marv Marzofka (winner of the August 24 Minnesota Fairgrounds 300 driving a 1967 Mercury Cyclone). Derr ended 1969 with 317 career race wins and 304 IMCA Stock Car race victories.
Derr began the 1970 season with three consecutive IMCA Stock Car race wins, running his IMCA Stock Car win streak to 15 consecutive race victories, from August 30, 1969 through May 17, 1970! Fred Horn ended the streak by winning the May 30, 1970 Mid-America Fairgrounds race in Topeka, Kansas! Derr won twenty of the thirty 1970 IMCA Stock Car races en route to his eleventh IMCA title and sixth consecutive! He achieved two four-race and one five-race 1970 IMCA Stock Car race win streaks. Ron Hutcherson took the runnerup spot in 1970 points, driving his Ford to three race victories. Fred Horn also took three wins. Freddy Fryar took four wins, all at the Louisiana Fairgrounds.
Ernie Derr’s twelfth and final, and seventh consecutive, IMCA Stock Car title came in 1971. Ernie won sixteen races during the 31-race season. Derr achieved 1971 IMCA win streaks of four races twice, one of three races, and also posted one two-race win streak. He ended the season with 353 career race victories and 339 IMCA Stock Car race wins, the final IMCA victory coming in the 1971 season finale on October 31, the Louisiana Fairgrounds 150 in Shreveport!
Ron Hutcherson was the point runnerup for the second consecutive year in 1971 with five wins in his Fords. Ernie Derr’s son Mike scored his first IMCA victory on August 22, 1971 at the Missouri Fairgrounds in Sedalia as the torch passed to the next generation of the Derr family in IMCA Stock Car racing.
Ernie Derr broke new ground in 1972, however, taking his first USAC Stock Car win as he drove a Dodge to victory in the May 7 Missouri Fairgrounds event. Derr also won a 75-lap nonsanctioned Late Model race at Ozark Empire Fairgrounds in Springfield, Missouri on August 13.
Derr’s USAC Stock Car efforts in 1973 were more extensive, and while not producing a race win did place Derr eighth in the point standings. Notable finishes included runnerup results in races at the Missouri Fairgrounds and Hawkeye Downs and third-place finishes at Knoxville, the Indiana Fairgrounds, and DuQuoin.
Derr’s sole 1973 race win documentable by our research came in an unsanctioned September 23 race at Twin City Speedway in Champaign, Illinois in the track’s inaugural race program!
Ernie Derr’s 1974 USAC Stock Car campaign was his most extensive yet in that series and resulted in a sixth-place point ranking. Derr won the July 28 Terre Haute race in a Dodge and posted runnerup race finishes at Knoxville, the Missouri Fairgrounds (twice), Terre Haute (June 2), and the Shawano Fairgrounds.
1975 saw Ernie Derr put his final race win in the record book as he won the July 3 Iowa State Fairgrounds 150-lap USAC Stock Car race driving a Dodge. This 358th win of his career was also his third and final USAC Stock Car win. Derr ranked twenty-fourth in 1975 USAC Stock Car points.
Ernie Derr won races on sixty-four (64) tracks! He won the most races, thirty-six, on the Louisiana State Fairgrounds in Shreveport. Twenty-seven wins were posted on the Iowa State Fairgrounds track in Des Moines. Derr won eighteen races at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and won eighteen races at the Minnesota Fairgrounds in St. Paul. Derr scored sixteen wins at Madison Speedway in Minnesota and sixteen victories at the Mid-America Fairgrounds in Topeka, Kansas.
As always, Auto Racing Analysis welcomes any additional information regarding race wins or point standings information.
Ernie Derr on the Internet:
ERNIE DERR RACE WINS BY TRACK
|Louisiana State FG||Shreveport, Louisiana||36|
|Des Moines FG||Des Moines, Iowa||27|
|Hawkeye Downs||Cedar Rapids, Iowa||18|
|Minnesota FG||St. Paul, Minnesota||18|
|Madison Speedway||Madison, Minnesota||16|
|Mid-America FG||Topeka, Kansas||16|
|Burlington FG||Burlington, Iowa||15|
|Lee County FG||Donnellson, Iowa||15|
|Dakota FG||Huron, South Dakota||13|
|Hutchinson FG||Hutchinson, Kansas||12|
|Missouri FG||Sedalia, Missouri||12|
|Wisconsin Valley FG||Wausau, Wisconsin||12|
|Howard County FG||Cresco, Iowa||11|
|Oklahoma City FG||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||11|
|Northern Iowa FG||Mason City, Iowa||10|
|Red River Valley Speedway||West Fargo, North Dakota||8|
|Lincoln FG||Lincoln, Nebraska||7|
|Muskogee FG||Muskogee, Oklahoma||7|
|Nodak Speedway||Minot, North Dakota||7|
|Clay County FG||Spencer, Iowa||6|
|Louisa County FG||Columbus Junction, Iowa||5|
|Southern Iowa Speedway||Oskaloosa, Iowa||5|
|Grand Forks Speedway||Grand Forks, North Dakota||4|
|Knox County FG||Knoxville, Illinois||4|
|Central Wisconsin FG||Marshfield, Wisconsin||3|
|DePere FG||DePere, Wisconsin||3|
|I-70 Speedway||Odessa, Missouri||3|
|LaCrosse Speedway||West Salem, Wisconsin||3|
|Lakewood Speedway||Atlanta, Georgia||3|
|Ozark Empire FG||Springfield, Missouri||3|
|Bloomfield Speedway||Bloomfield, Iowa||2|
|Crawford County FG||Denison, Iowa||2|
|Davenport Speedway||Davenport, Iowa||2|
|Hamilton County Speedway||Webster City, Iowa||2|
|Jackson VFW Speedway||Jackson, Minnesota||2|
|Meyer Speedway||Houston, Texas||2|
|Northwest Missouri FG||Bethany, Missouri||2|
|Ohio State FG||Columbus, Ohio||2|
|Sioux Empire FG||Sioux Falls, South Dakota||2|
|Steele County FG||Owatonna, Minnesota||2|
|Tulsa FG||Tulsa, Oklahoma||2|
|81 Speedway||Wichita, Kansas||1|
|Allentown FG||Allentown, Pennsylvania||1|
|Belleville Highbanks||Belleville, Kansas||1|
|Birmingham Intl Raceway||Birmingham, Alabama||1|
|Dayton Speedway||Dayton, Ohio||1|
|Decorah Speedway||Decorah, Iowa||1|
|Heidelberg Raceway||Carnegie, Pennsylvania||1|
|Hibbing Raceway||Hibbing, Minnesota||1|
|Knoxville Raceway||Knoxville, Iowa||1|
|Kossuth County FG||Algona, Iowa||1|
|Lakeside Speedway||Kansas City, Kansas||1|
|Luxemburg Speedway||Luxemburg, Wisconsin||1|
|McLeod County FG||Hutchinson, Minnesota||1|
|Memphis FG||Memphis, Missouri||1|
|Mower County FG||Austin, Minnesota||1|
|Peoria FG||Peoria, Illinois||1|
|Phoenix FG||Phoenix, Arizona||1|
|Rapid Speedway||Rock Rapids, Iowa||1|
|Rice County FG||Faribault, Minnesota||1|
|Riverside Stadium||North Kansas City, Missouri||1|
|Terre Haute||Terre Haute, Indiana||1|
|Toledo Raceway Park||Toledo, Ohio||1|
|Twin City Speedway||Champaign, Illinois||1|
ERNIE DERR DRIVER POINT STANDINGS
|1952||IMCA||STOCK CARS||2||Dom Perlick champion|
|1953||IMCA||STOCK CARS||1||Don White 2nd|
|1954||IMCA||STOCK CARS||2||Don White champion|
|1957||IMCA||STOCK CARS||4||Johnny Beauchamp-Bob Burdick-Don White 1-2-3|
|1958||IMCA||STOCK CARS||2||Don White champion|
|1959||IMCA||STOCK CARS||1||Dick Hutcherson 2nd|
|1960||IMCA||STOCK CARS||1||Ramo Stott 2nd|
|1961||IMCA||STOCK CARS||1||Dick Hutcherson 2nd Ramo Stott 3rd|
|1962||IMCA||STOCK CARS||1||Dick Hutcherson 2nd Ramo Stott 3rd|
|1963||IMCA||STOCK CARS||2||Dick Hutcherson champion|
|1964||IMCA||STOCK CARS||3||Dick Hutcherson champion Ramo Stott 2nd|
|1965||IMCA||STOCK CARS||1||Ramo Stott 2nd|
|1966||IMCA||STOCK CARS||1||Ramo Stott 2nd|
|1967||IMCA||STOCK CARS||1||Ramo Stott 2nd|
|1969||IMCA||STOCK CARS||1||Fred Horn 2nd|
|1970||IMCA||STOCK CARS||1||Ron Hutcherson 2nd|
|1971||IMCA||STOCK CARS||1||Ron Hutcherson 2nd|