Denny Anderson – Driver

By Chad Meyer


Anderson celebrates in Algona’s victory lane. (Anderson collection)

Denny Anderson’s racing career started in 1970 at the track in Mason City. “My first car was a ’57 Chevy. It had no fenders, but unlike the cars of that era at Algona, we had to run with the roofs on at Mason City.”

Anderson’s father, Donald, whom everyone called Bub, was a racer. “My dad raced after the Korean conflict, racing midgets and then later stock cars. He raced at Algona some since he was sponsored by Ed’s Bar at Sexton,” Anderson recalls.

For Denny, racing early in his career was all about fun and maybe, just a little, about money. “I had $1500 in that first car and Mason City paid $3-400 to win. It seemed like we always left there with at least a hundred to hundred-fifty dollars in our pocket. I had to 40 hours a week at the cement plant to earn that kind of money.”

By the end of 1970, Anderson won his first heat race and finished third in the feature. He also piloted his dad’s car at Algona when the usual driver decided to race it one night.

Holding the checkers after a late model victory. (Anderson collection)

Holding the checkers after a late model victory. (Anderson collection)

“Racing in the ‘70’s for us was about having good time. Being from Mason City originally, we raced there mostly and traveled to a few other tracks like Cresco.”

Towards the end of that decade, Anderson purchased a Stock Car Enterprises late model from Steve Wise at Manly. “We were struggling with that car. Mike Niffenegger was in a SCE car and he was good at setups. He really helped us a lot and got us going a lot faster,” Anderson remembers.

“We later bought a late model from Bob Harris and he was another person who really helped us get things sorted out,” he said. “We were a top four or five car most nights and we finally won our only late model feature, which happened at Kasson, Minnesota.”

In the early 1980’s late models were dying out and the IMCA type modified started to grow in popularity and quickly became the top division at many tracks. After racing both a late model and modified, Anderson adapted quickly to the new style of car.

Anderson in his first modified. (Anderson collection)

Anderson in his first modified. (Anderson collection)

“We built our first modified in 1984. We won some features with that car and were really starting to have some fun racing. We sold that car to another racer and purchased our first Harris Chassis modified. Between Bob Harris and Wayne Redmond, they really helped get our modified career going,” Anderson says.

Anderson spent most of his time at the tracks in Fairmont, Mason City and Webster in the modified before venturing to Algona.

“Daryl Brayton was the promoter then and he really encouraged us to keep coming back to Algona. We started racing Algona after the year started in 1988. We went for the championship in ’89 but Denny Hovinga beat us by a few points,” he recalls. “I hated losing to Hovinga, but after that we became very close friends.”

1990 brought a disagreement with Daryl Brayton and Anderson headed further south to race on Saturday’s, competing on a regular basis at Webster City the rest of ’90 through the 1993 season.

A couple of Algona natives helped bring Anderson back to the Kossuth County track. “I met up with Steve Krapp and Mel Carlson and we decided to try Algona again in 1994. By the time ’98 came around, I had two cars and they suggested leaving one car in Algona for them to maintain through the summer,” he said.

The 'Anderson South Racing' modified used at Algona. (Anderson collection)

The ‘Anderson South Racing’ modified used at Algona. (Anderson collection)

“All I had to do was show up and race it at Algona,” Anderson said. “They kept the car at Steve’s shop and brought it to the track. It worked, because we won the Algona point championship in 1998 and finished second in points in ’99.”

Andersons’ 50th IMCA win occurred at Mason City. The 100th IMCA win came at Fairmont Raceway and the very next night he captured his 101st at Algona. “Joe Ringsdorf had banners up at each track saying ‘where will he win his 100th’ for a couple weeks before I ever noticed them. I really appreciated that Joe helped us celebrate those wins at his tracks.”

At 65 years old, Anderson still competes weekly at Fairmont and Jackson. “It’s hard to quit when fans stop by each week and tell me they appreciate that I am still racing. It means a lot and makes it hard to quit,” he says.

As of June 2016, he has 215 career wins, 115 of which are in IMCA. Anderson has earned two track championships at Mason City, one at Algona and seven at Fairmont.

“Our first championship at Fairmont was special. We really dominated that year, at one point winning five features in a row,” he said.

One race at Fairmont stands out, says Anderson. On a night when Gene Schattschneider, who was battling cancer at the time, didn’t feel well enough to race, Anderson sat in the seat of Wayne Clegg and Steve Krapp’s #56. “I raced both my modified and the stock car. What a thrill it was to win both features that night. I passed Kevin Berte late in the race to win the stock car feature,” he said.

In Fairmont Raceway victory lane with promoter Joe Ringsdorf. (Anderson collection)

In Fairmont Raceway victory lane with promoter Joe Ringsdorf. (Anderson collection)

“I remember the people most of all. Daryl Brayton was great to race for and convinced us to race in Algona. Howard Mellinger at Webster City really took care of the racers. I became close friends with Denny Hovinga because of racing in Algona,” Anderson recalls.

“I’m also grateful for those that helped me through the years. Ed Ward and I have at least 100 wins together and he’s back helping me today. Steve Krapp and Mel Carlson made our Algona effort a lot easier. Ryan Kohlhaas helped me for quite a while before he went to work for Kelly Shryock. Bob Graham has helped me a bunch over the year’s too.”

Today, he and his son Brian continue to operate the Muffler Center in Rochester, MN.

Anderson and seven others will be inductees into the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame in Algona this summer. More information is available at