Swea City Oil – Delbert Lieurance & Gene Fagerlund

By Chad Meyer

Delbert Lieurance and Gene Fagerlund first fielded the red-colored Swea City Oil Company #88 at the Kossuth County Raceway and at the Wright County Raceway near Belmond in 1962. Fagerlund was the owner and operator of Swea City Oil, a Champlin oil and fuel distribution business and service station until the time of his death.

Lieurance worked for Swea City Oil during the time they built their first race car and would later become Fagerlund’s son-in-law when he married Pamela Fagerlund in 1967. Lieurance later went on to work as a mechanic/automotive technician at Blomster Chevrolet in Buffalo Center and Peterson Chevrolet in Swea City. He finished his career owning and operating Del’s Auto Repair in Swea City.

Their first car was a 1946 or ’47 Hudson coupe, powered by a Hudson six-cylinder flathead engine with dual carburetors. Bill Williams from Fort Dodge, IA was the first pilot of the #88, rolling the car over at the track in Webster City.

For their second season in competition in 1963, Lieurance and Fagerlund were able to obtain one of the top area drivers for the 1963 season in Bud Fair from Manson. As the area track’s rules changed, so did the Swea City Oil #88. When rules changed to allow cars manufactured up to 1957, instead of 1948, a new car was designed and built by Del and Gene.

The second generation of the red #88 was a 1954 Hudson Jet bodied car, still powered by the Hudson flathead six-cylinder dual carb engine. This car was very competitive at all the area tracks. Bud Fair continued as the driver for Swea City Oil until Del and Gene decided to field a modified car at the Fairmont Raceway and the Jackson VFW Speedway in Jackson, MN. At the time, Fairmont raced on Friday nights, which caused a challenge for then driver Bud Fair. Fair’s employment then required him to work in Fort Dodge on Saturday’s, which left Fair with the difficultly of racing far from home on Friday and then making work the next day. Fair ultimately stepped away from the #88 when the switch to modified occurred.

The Swea City Oil #88 sits in the background with (left to right) Terry Smith, Gene Schattschneider, Del Lieurance and Gene Fagerlund shown in front. Lieurance and Fagerlund will be inducted into the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame August 5th. (Photo: Terry Smith collection)

In 1966, a tube-framed, Model A-bodied, Chevy V8 engine with three 2-barreled carburetors was built and campaigned at the Fairmont and Jackson tracks. The modified was also campaigned at the Clay County Fair each fall. This modified race car included an in-and-out box plus a quick-change rear end.

Algona’s Gene Schattschneider became the chauffer of the #88 modified in 1966 and drove the car through the 1968 season. In 1969, Les Wildin, also from Algona, was named the driver of the Swea City Oil car. Wildin drove the car to one of its high-points during Lieurance and Fagerlund’s career, capturing the 1969 Fairmont Raceway points championship.

1969 Fairmont MN winner in the Swea City Oil #88.

Wildin continued as the driver of the #88 during the 1970 season, which turned out to be the last for the team. The car was retired to a warehouse at the Swea City Oil Company before it was later sold.

Both Fagerlund and Lieurance have passed on, Gene passing away on August 3, 1979 and Del on March 14, 2010.

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