Richard Simpson – Driver

Richard SimpsonBy Chad Meyer

Richard Simpson, originally of Irvington, IA, got his racing start in 1961. Simpson plus Boyd Shipler, Duane Larson and Duane Price pooled their resources to build their first race car, a 1950 Plymouth with a well-pipe roll cage. With Simpson driving in their first race, which was at the Algona track, a lug nut came loose and the car rolled in the fourth turn.

Simpson, Shipler and Larson each took a turn driving that first car, with Price opting to stay out of the seat to concentrate on fabrication. After each had a chance to drive the car in a race, Larson and Shipler decided to turn the helmet over to Simpson, who raced the car the rest of the year. In addition to racing in Algona, the group tried their hand at Figure 8 racing in Belmond. At the conclusion of the first year, the four car owners had paid a total of $33 each to build the car and race it in 1961.

Richard SimpsonWhen the 1963 racing season started, Simpson was found behind the wheel of Irvin Hildman’s race car. Hildman, who purchased Les Wildin’s #00 modified for Simpson to drive, utilized a six cylinder engine in the car when most teams had switched to the new overhead valve V8 Chevy motor. This combination proved competitive on the shorter tracks; however, the new V8 motors had a horsepower advantage on the larger half mile’s. The combination netted a third place finish in the final point standings in Algona.

In 1964 Simpson raced a 1955 Chevy in the stock car class at the tracks in Algona, Mason City and Belmond. 1965 found Simpson behind the wheel of Gary Zwiefel’s Chrysler with a motor whose previous home was in a farmer’s corn sheller. During the late 1960’s he raced Bob Lewerke’s stock car. In a testament to Simpson’s skill in the driver’s seat, the only time he drove his own race car was the first year he raced.

Richard SimpsonSimpson recalls that racing in the 1960’s had some of the stiffest competition anywhere. He counts Gene Schattschneider as one of the toughest racers he competed against. One of Simpson’s fondest memories was racing against Schattschneider at Alta during that time. Simpson was running second to his rival when Gene suddenly spun to the infield, coming to rest in a pond of water. With Simpson now the leader, he came by the next lap to see Schattschneider standing on top of his car acting like he was fishing. Simpson went on to win the race.

After the 1968 racing season, Simpson quit racing cars for nearly seventeen years. He kept busy during this break by racing go carts and snowmobiles for Howard Funnemark.

Like so many other Kossuth County racers, when the Algona track reopened in the mid 1980’s, Simpson found himself behind the wheel once again. In 1985, car owner Joe Ringsdorf purchased Norm Baker’s hobby stock and put Simpson in the seat.

Richard SimpsonHis years driving Ringsdorf’s cars were his best as a race car driver. Simpson picked up numerous wins at tracks in Algona, Mason City, Webster City and others. A favorite memory of Simpson was racing Ringsdorf’s old Chevy Nova to a win at Mason City over the Chevy Camaro’s of Al and Mike Hejna in 1986.

Another memory for Simpson was filling in for his uncle Bob Lewerke at Algona Raceway in the mid 1980’s. Lewerke had to be gone on race night so they put Simpson in the stock car. Simpson, never having driven the car, adapted quickly and went on to win the feature that night.

Richard SimpsonAfter starting in hobby stocks for Ringsdorf, they progressed to stock cars and then to pro stocks (limited late models). In his last season behind the wheel of a race car, Simpson won the 1994 Kossuth County Fair race at Algona, one of his biggest wins.

Today, Simpson, who is 70 years old, still spends his time around plenty of horsepower. He and his wife Jeanetta farm in the Irvington and Algona area with their son Barry. In his free time, he spends many weekends (and some week days) going to car shows, participating in area antique tractor rides and riding his bicycle in RAGBRAI.