This is the second half of a feature on National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Jerry “Scratch” Daniels, which appeared in the September issue of Sprint Car & Midget Magazine.
All told, Hector Honore would win 10 major sprint car championships, including seven in a row with IMCA with Bobby Grim and Pete Folse, and rack up over 400 wins. In particular, 1964 was a solid year.
Scratch posted his best season, with six wins and a third-place finish in the standings, but he felt a need to move on.
“Hector was a good guy,” Daniels says. “But when I drove for him, it was the first time he had raced with a Chevy. He had always had an Offy, and by then he was a little behind the times. He ran the parallel bars and the four bars, and cross bars were coming in. If you could run that car where the track was set up to run knobs (tires), it was unbeatable. If you wanted to run a slick track or on pavement, it just wasn’t that good of a car, at least I didn’t think so.
“So, I drove for him for a year and after racing at Nashville, Tenn., I told him I wasn’t coming back.”
By the end of the 1967 season, Honore’s Hall of Fame career would come to an end and, ironically, Itch Daniels would carry the car to its final win at the Nebraska State Fair on Sept. 1 of that year.
Whatever communication issues had beset them at the end of 1963, Scratch was prepared to rejoin the WJW squad as a teammate with his pal Jerry Richert. While it would be nice to return to familiar circumstances, there was even more reason for excitement.
“In 1965, Frank Wagner decided to go run USAC,” Richert recalled. “And he sent the 63 car out to California to get rebuilt by Don Brown, and me and another guy went out to Ascot in California to buy the car that Foyt was running (the Traco Chevrolet), and we used both of them to race with USAC.”
There was a certain allure to racing with USAC, in part because it was the path to the Brickyard. It would be nice to report that the season went as planned, but issues here and there kept him out of victory lane. As a result, a decision was made to run closer to home and, remaining with WJW, he finished in the fourth position in the 1966 IMCA standings.
However, something unexpected happen along the way. The IMCA secured dates at the legendary Winchester Speedway and, unlike many, Scratch was far from intimidated.
He was frustrated when the Minnesota State Fair oval was paved in late 1964, but he found the banks to be a place where he could excel.
“My idea of racing is this,” Scratch said emphatically. “Say you are at a dirt track that is well taken care of, you could run up on the cushion and race hard. That’s how Winchester, Salem and Dayton were. You could race. It wasn’t like when they paved the Minnesota State Fair. I don’t know who decided to pave it, but they didn’t know anything about racing. Why build a flat paved track? It became a braking contest – everyone races on the bottom and follows each other. That isn’t how it was on the banks.
“Johnny White (1962 IMCA champion and 1964 Indianapolis Rookie of the Year) taught me how to run them, and how to pass people, and so on. I just loved it because you could race.”
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