Darreld Bunkofske – Driver

Darreld Bunkofske

The late Darreld “Bunny” Bunkofske is shown after winning a main event in the early 1970’s. (photo courtesy of Doug Bunkofske)

Darreld “Bunny” Bunkofske’s entry into the sport of racing was seemingly inevitable as he spent his formidable years tagging along with his father. Vernie Bunkofske raced motorcycles and later lent a hand to several local race drivers.

Darreld’s itch to race grew and in 1965 he set his career in motion. The first race car was a lavender colored Hudson and Bunkofske set out to tame the race tracks in Algona, Clarion, and Belmond. After getting his feet wet, he then raced a car owned by his friend Leonard Pesicka, Sr.

Bunkofske’s racing career began to take off when he hooked up with Kenny and Bill Holcomb who operated the DX service station in Algona. Steve Canaday plus Fritz Harris joined the Holcomb’s and Bunkofske to create a formidable team that helped shape the racing scene at the Algona and Boone tracks.

They achieved plenty of success at the Algona speed plant, with their crowning achievement occurring in the 1968 season. At the conclusion of that year, the Bunkofske team out-gunned Gene Schattschneider and many others to win the Algona track championship. The competition during that era was intense at Algona, and the team always looked back on that championship as one of their proudest moments.

Darreld BunkofskeBunkofske found success at other venues too. Even with his accomplishments at Algona, he listed the track in Boone as his favorite. At the time, the Grand National event held at the Boone Speedway was the area’s biggest race. In 1969 he qualified on the outside of the front row for the $750 to win event. Racing against the likes of Bill Moyer, Darrell Dake, Dennis Hovinga and Wisconsin’s Dick Trickle, Bunkofske scored a third place finish, behind race winner George Barton and Jerry LeCroy.

A year later, he backed that performance up with a top four finish in the 1970 Boone Grand Nationals, finishing behind fellow Kossuth County Racing Hall of Famer’s Butch Householder (winner), and Dennis Hovinga. Greg Davis finished third.

The Memorial Day holiday in 1970 was a big one for Bunkofske as he recorded a big double win weekend. During the regular run at Algona, he won the main event over a stout field. Bunkofske backed that win up by conquering the Memorial Day Sunday special at Boone.

Darreld BunkofskeOther racing highlights for Bunkofske included earning a top four finish in the 1969 Iowa State Fair race in Des Moines. He was also fast across the border as well, setting the track record at the Fairmont Raceway. His speed record there stood strong until sprint cars made their return to the fast Minnesota half-mile. He also competed in a special ‘match-race invitational’ at Fairmont that pitted the stars of Algona, against the top dogs of Fairmont.

His family recalls a couple more stories about Bunkofske’s storied career. They recall one summer weekend in which the races at Algona were cancelled due to rain. Bunkofske, Bob Shryock and Dennis Hovinga decided to all head to Boone to race. When they arrived in Boone, Mother Nature stepped in and Darreld Bunkofskepromptly rained out the night. The group decided to continue heading south, attempting to race in Des Moines. They once again found rain, having their third race of the weekend rained out.

The group of Bunkofske, Shryock, and Hovinga decided to venture on, traveling all the way out to a track in Indiana to find a race to run. In his first time on the track, Bunkofske set the pace, by posting fast time and establishing a new track record on the paved track.

His son Doug recalls another story, one in which that got him started in the sport at an early age. Darreld posted a clean sweep at the Mason City speed plant, just hours before Doug was born at hospital not far from the track.