Dave Nutt – Driver


The first race car for Dave Nutt

By Chad Meyer

After spending a part of his childhood working at Fairmont Raceway, it was during his senior year in high school in 1982 that he first took to the track.

“I worked at the Fairmont track during high school, cleaning up, taking tickets and other jobs. I got the itch to race and we bought a 1963 Chevelle with a big block engine that Rick Oskerson had raced. That car was probably ahead of its time, it was all gutted out and was a fast car,” Nutt recalls.

Nutt’s first race was at Fairmont and he recalls that Northrup’s Doug Peterson was also in his first year of competition in ’82. “To get to the track, we had to buy a $300 trailer from a guy in Welcome. My first race was also the first time I had ever driven a stick shift,” he laughed.

A former Rick Oskerson-Bob Weber late model, became Dave Nutt’s second car. Dave Nutt collection.

“I made it out on to the track and turned a few laps. Gary Shumski was racing street stocks then too, and he came over and asked if I had ever driven before. It was a boost of confidence when he said that he thought I was pretty smooth for just starting out,” Nutt said.

In that first race, Nutt remembers that Shumski and Dave Goeke both crashed, leaving three cars in the race. “Doug Peterson won over Barry Sharp that day. I couldn’t continue because the toggle switch broke on the car and I couldn’t get it started after the red flag for that wreck.”

“The driver was just as green as my pit crew that first year. I stopped on the front stretch one night with a flat tire. My crew ran up to see what was wrong and I told him I had a flat. He left and ran back, wheeling a Coast-to-Coast air compressor to blow the tire back up. After I told what actually had to be done, I tried to sit down in the seat as far as I could, I was so embarrassed,” laughed Nutt.

Dave Nutt’s first modified. Nutt collection.

The team got better though, winning a couple trophy dashes that first year. “Getting my photo taken with Doug Clark, who was the flag man then, was a very big deal to me,” Nutt said.

Nutt raced that street stock for two years before jumping head first into to a late model. “We bought that car from Rick Oskerson, it was the #17 that Bob Weber had raced. It had a big block engine and a leaf spring rear suspension. We won a feature with it, but I was in over my head at the time.”

1985 came around and Nutt was unsure what he wanted to race. “I had a conversation with Kelly Shryock about it and he really encouraged me to get an IMCA modified, which were just starting in our area.”

“So we bought Ed Nygaard’s modified, one that Denny Fuller had built. It was the only red car I ever had. We had some challenges with that car, it seemed I was spun out as much as I went straight,” he remembers.

Nutt racing Pat Graham at Algona Raceway. Nutt collection.

In 1986, Nutt purchased a one year old Harris Chassis that Keith Strunk raced the prior year. This change got his career headed in the right direction. “Strunk won the championship the year before with this car and we were fast with it too, up until the point I had it upside down and on fire.”

After the Harris Chassis, Nutt raced cars from Larry Shaw Race Cars with Keith Strunk for the next four to five years, before ending his career with Kraft Kars products.

Nutt raced Fairmont weekly and ventured to other tracks including Jackson Speedway. How he ended up racing at Algona is an interesting story.

No Dave Nutt photo display would be complete without a bikini shot of the car! Dave Nutt collection.

“In 1989 and 1990 I worked for Denny and Mike Carlberg at Dirt Track Products and they were friends with Daryl Brayton who was promoting Algona. Brayton invited me to the Algona track banquet. At the banquet, Daryl introduced me to the crowd and then said I was racing Algona the next year. I didn’t have much choice but to race there after that,” laughed Nutt.

Though Algona was known for being a tough place for outsiders to race, Nutt said he fit in right from the start. “I really focused on keeping my nose clean and we seemed to hit it off with everyone. Brayton was a great promoter and the people around Algona became a second family to us.”

The highlight of his time at Algona was earning three track championships in 1993, 1994 and 2000.

“Winning those championships back-to-back meant the most to me,” Nutt recalled. In 1993, Fairmont was under IMCA sanction and Algona was under their own sanction, called NCAR. With different tire rules and different engine claim rules, it created a lot of extra work for drivers that raced both tracks.

Dave Nutt after winning the 1993 track championship at Algona Raceawy. Nutt collection.

“I couldn’t have done it without my dad maintaining the motors and Ed Nygaard taking care of the rest. We would race Fairmont with our IMCA tires and motor. Ed would stay overnight and on Saturday morning we’d each start on an end of the car and replace the engine and tires to race Algona. It was a lot of work, but we both wanted to win that championship bad,” Nutt said.

“We battled Mike Hejna all season that year and it was a thrill to earn that solid-oak trophy and the point fund money that Brayton put up. The next year, I battled Al Hejna to win the championship in Algona. Joe Ringsdorf was the promoter then and he had a limo bring the top 10 drivers to the front straight for introductions on season championship night. That was really cool too!”

Algona turned out to be a special place for Nutt to race. Half of his sponsors ultimately were from the Algona area. In addition to Ed Nygaard, they had a crew that showed up at Algona that was a big help. “Ed’s sons Neal and Curt plus friends Mark Spaulding, Jess Welter and Jason McKibben were there every Saturday, as were Matt Conklin, Bob VanNote and Jim Miedke.”

Nutt’s last season full-time in a race car was 2004. He ended the year as track champ at Fairmont. “Things changed at Fairmont after that and I guess I didn’t agree with them, so we sat out 2005 and never got going again. My last race was in 2005 at McCool Junction in a Kraft Kar customer’s car. I ended the race with my left rear passing me and that was that,” he said.

Fairmont Raceaway, Bikini Night win. Nutt collection.

In addition to back-to-back championships at Algona, Nutt fondly remembers the Bikini Night race at Fairmont. After judging the contest, Nutt suffered a brake line failure in the feature. “Denny Anderson and Gary Shumski both wrecked and they were fighting on the front stretch. While they were fighting, we pushed the car back to the pit and fixed the car without anyone noticing and then passed Mike Isder for the win,” laughed Nutt.

“Another memory is winning the 1990 5-Star Classic at Mason City. We were the first modified to win on McCreary tires and earned $1200 plus another hundred from Boubin Tire. That was my biggest payday in racing.”

He also recalls a race in the early 2000’s in which he didn’t win at Mason City. “We were terrible the first day and had no idea why. I called Willy Kraft and he couldn’t figure it out either. Finally we found that a couple grease zerks broke off and the suspension was bound up. We fixed that and raced from the tail of the main to finish second to Ron Luitjens.”

Today Nutt helps operate the Eagles Club in Fairmont along with working for the Jackson Motorplex. He is also a member of the Fairmont Raceway Hall of Fame.

Nutt and six others will be inductees into the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame in Algona this summer. More information is available at www.KossuthMuseum.com.