Dave Erpelding – Driver

Dave Erpelding and crew after winning his first career IMCA Modified win, the National Series event at Mason City, IA. (all photos from Erpelding collection)

By Chad Meyer

It took a little convincing, but once Dave Erpelding and his cousin Tim Erpelding started racing in 1986, they were quickly on their way to success. “It was me, Tim and Ron Forburger who all got a car together and we took turns racing it in ’86,” remembers Dave. “We started in a street stock and I raced a little that year.”

By 1987 though, both Tim and Dave had their own cars to race with at the track in Algona, IA. “I recall that TIm raced in the Econ Stock class and I was in the class above that [hobby stock]. I remember racing against [Richard] Simpson, Gene [Schattschneider], Ricky Joe Smith and the others [that were big names of that era].”

Erpelding got off to a fast start in his first full year of racing, winning the annual Race Days event in only the second night out at Algona in ‘87. He went on to win four more times, and earned the season championship race trophy on his way to the point title that year.

Erpelding after collecting his second career IMCA Modified and his second National Series win at Alta.

Another successful year awaited the Algona driver in 1988. He again won the Race Days event at his home track and won five features. He lost out in the season point’s battle though to his cousin Tim. Around the same time, Erpelding also competed at Mason City, earning multiple wins in the Pro Stock class.

When 1989 rolled around Erpelding made another change, building Harris Auto Racing IMCA modified. Though it didn’t seem like it to Dave, he got off to a fast start to what turned out to be an amazing rookie season. His first ever IMCA modified win came in the IMCA National Modified Series “Tour of the Northlands” event at the I-35 Speedway in Mason City.

Erpelding led the final 17 laps and he earned it by holding off a determined charge put forth by Kelly Shryock in the final laps. Shryock ran him down on lap 24 but couldn’t get around Erpelding in the remaining 6 trips around the half-mile.

At speed at Mason City.

“I got a good draw and the car worked real good,” Erpelding said. “It meant quite a bit to win that race. It happened in June and we had been racing a bit but hadn’t won that year. It was a big event. Winning your first race in a modified, beating [Kelly] Shryock and the others was everything.”

After winning his first modified feature in such a big race, Harris Auto Racing’s Wayne Redmond gave Erpelding a hard time after. “Redmond told me the next week that he was surprised I could still get my hat on after winning that race,” laughed Erpelding.

Erpelding’s hot rookie year continued in August, sweeping a 44-car field at another IMCA Modified Nationals event, this one at the Buena Vista Raceway in Alta, IA. He claimed one of the six heat race wins, the trophy dash and ran away from a fast field, overtaking Denny Hovinga in the 30-lapper.

“I am undefeated at Alta. I had only ever been there one other time, and we won then too. In 1987 we won our heat and feature. To go back in ’89 and clean sweep them again, that was something. I never lost there and I’m not going back,” laughed Erpelding.

November 25th at IMCA’s National Banquet in Kansas City, MO, Erpelding was crowned IMCA Modified Rookie of the Year, one of 13 drivers across the country to earn the honor in that division.

After a tremendous debut in the IMCA Modified division, suddenly the first part of his racing career was over. “We just stopped racing,” he said. “Between the time it took racing and we now had kids, it was hard to keep going.”

Erpelding after an IMCA Stock Car win at Algona.

Nine years later he returned to racing. When asked why he started again, his reply was, “Good question. I don’t really know. But we had two boys and it was something to get us out of the house. I just decided to try it again.”

In 1998, in his first year back he opted to race in the IMCA Stock Car class. Just like in the modifieds, he found victory lane early in his stock car debut, winning the first weekend in June at Algona. His feature win on season championship night helped secure his second point title at his home track.

He won features at Algona in 1999 and in 2000 he scored his biggest win at the Algona speed plant, the then annual Schattschneider Memorial.

“Everyone loved Gene [Schattschneider], he was a great guy. That was big deal to win that race, too,” said Erpelding.

Erpelding concluded his career in the IMCA Modifieds in 2001, driving for Algona’s Steve Krapp. Again it was time and the work involved that got to be too much to continue, he said.

Asked what else he looks back fondly on, Erpelding is quick to bring up the friends he made along the way. “Al & Mike Hejna used to come around here and they’d usually bring their dad. Wayne Redmond was around. Denny Anderson would bring his son Bone [Brian] along. I remember Joe Hiscocks and his dad Jon and Uncle Donny. They were a hoot!”

“They always talk about the thrill of victory, that’s what kept us going. And there’s the agony of defeat. When you win it makes it all worthwhile though. I appreciated my crew. They put in a lot of time too. When you beat [Denny] Anderson and [Kelly] Shryock, it’s a good feeling.”

Erpelding ready for Pro Stock action at Mason City.

What he lacked, perhaps, in total years of racing, Erpelding made up for with winning early, often and on some of the biggest stages in motorsports. Collecting two IMCA Modified National Series wins as your first two trophies in your rookie year? Not many can say that.

Today, Erpelding still stays plenty busy. “Farming is my real job,” he says. He and his wife Cindy are also co-owners of the Water Connection in Algona, with Kyle Sidles (current IMCA Hobby Stock driver) and his wife Danielle.

On August 8th, Erpelding joined four other individuals as inductees into the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame located in Algona, an honor he was very grateful for.

More information about the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame can be found at www.kossuthmuseum.com.