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Darrell Dake – My All-Time Favorite

Darrell was driving this car at the Sterling SpeedBowl the first time I ever saw him race.

Darrell was driving this car at the Sterling SpeedBowl the first time I ever saw him race.  He gave me this photo.

 

Darrell Dake – Cedar Rapids, Iowa

My all-time favorite race car driver

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DARRELL DAKE T-SHIRT – NOW ON SALE!

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JANUARY, 2016

For years as a Darrell Dake fan I wanted to buy a t-shirt from him.  I had tons of racing t-shirts but Darrell Dake shirts were nearly impossible to find.  The only one I ever saw I bought.  However it was BLACK & YELLOW!  What was up with that?  Darrell never raced those colors.  I still have that shirt some 40 years later.  However, it didn’t have a picture of Darrell or any of his famous Ford racers.  In one of my photos of Darrell I saw him wearing another Darrell Dake racing team t-shirt.  Each time I met him I asked if he had any shirts for sale.  The answer was always no.

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That’s why I was so surprised and happy when I stumbled across a group out in Sterling, Illinois called “Precision City“.  They had decided to make a commemorative shirt remembering SpeedBowl Park.  Darrell used to dominate that track in Sterling, Illinois.  Not only was the shirt to remember SpeedBowl Park but also Darrell Dake’s famous ’62 Ford convertible (the photo pictured above that Darrell gave to me and is still my most favorite).  It’s shown on the front of the shirt from Precision City.  A picture of Darrell in a checkered flag racing shirt is on the back.  Here’s what the shirt looks like.

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Front

Dake Front

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Back 
Dake Back

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If you are interested in this shirt check out the website at www.precisioncity.com.  Tell them Randy Lewis sent you.  If you do that and use the promotion code “DAKE10” you will get a 10% discount.  

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The shirt is high-quality made by Hanes Beefy-T.  I own one and love it.  I will only wear it when I think I’ll be somewhere that Dake fans might appreciate it.  That way it will last me longer!  Whenever I wear my Darrell Dake jacket (that I had custom made) I get lots of comments.  I’m sure I this shirt will start those same conversations.

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This is your chance.  Where else will you ever get the opportunity to buy a Darrell Dake racing t-shirt?  Oh one more thing.  They make a shirt with Benny Hofer pictured as well.  Use promotion code HOFER10 for a 10% discount on this shirt.  Good luck and if I see anyone wearing this DD shirt when I’m out on the road I’m buying lunch!

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Randy Lewis – #1 Darrell Dake fan among many

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1960s DD heat shot 1

Darrell Dake……………in memory 
 
 

I had heard recently that my long-time stock car racing hero, Darrell Dake was in poor health.  Nevertheless, it was still both shocking and sad to open up the August 8, 2007 issue of the Hawkeye Racing News and learn of his passing at his home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on August 6, 2007.  He was just five days short of reaching the age of 80.

 

As I write this I have seen racing at 1,261 racetracks.  No one in the world has been to more.  I suspect that I have seen an average of at least 50 different drivers at each of these tracks.  That’s more than 63,000 different drivers.  My favorite drivers include such local legends as Dick Trickle, Rick Ferkel, Don Bohlander, Rocky Nohl and Billy Moyer. However, there can only be one number one.  My number one has always been Darrell Dake.  There was no bigger fan of his than me.

 

Although I’ve gone to the races more than 2,000 times, I suspect I probably only saw Darrell Dake race about 50 times.  He lived in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area and raced mostly around Eastern Iowa and Northern Illinois.  I grew up near Peoria, Illinois and at the age of 23 started moving around the country with corporate transfers.  This made it difficult to see Darrell race, but that meant I loved it all the more when I did.

 

Let me tell you about Darrell Dake.  I had the chance to meet him several times and it was always an intimidating time for me.  It wasn’t that Darrell wasn’t friendly, he was.  I think it was the fact he was my hero.  Even though I made my living in sales, I always felt a little tongue-tied during the few minutes I would spend with Darrell Dake.  I tried to rehearse the things I might say to him before each meeting.

 

My first memory of seeing Dake race was at the Sterling Speed Bowl in Sterling, Illinois.  Sterling raced on Sunday nights and always had all of the top Illinois and Iowa drivers at the track.  This was in 1966 and 1967 during my last two years of high school.  Back then Iowa stock car racing was the best in the country.  Iowa drivers won the World 100 four times out of seven from 1972-78 and always seemed to win the Florida dirt Speedweeks championship each February.

 

Darrell Dake drove a 1962 Ford Galaxie convertible at the 1/3-mile nearly circular dirt track in Sterling.  There weren’t very many people racing convertibles on dirt tracks in the late 60s.  There weren’t many Fords being raced against the ’57 Chevies of the day and a few Dodge Charger Hemis. Finally, no one had an engine that sounded like Dake’s as he roared out of the turns.  He would race down the straightaway sideways with one huge windshield wiper running continuously and covering nearly the entire windshield.  Yep, they had windshields back in the day.  I never understood why he needed a windshield wiper because it seemed like he was usually at the head of the pack.

 

Darrell Dake always drove #8 when I saw him, although I have pictures of him driving a few other cars with different numbers back before I first learned of him.  That ‘62 Ford convertible was painted white and carried a black “eight-ball” on the side.  His truck always carried the words, “King of the Road” on the driver’s door.  Darrel Dake was king of the road!

 

I think those years with the ’62 Ford might have been the best of his career.  He ended up selling that car to Roger Dolan.  Roger painted it pink and beat everybody’s butt, while Darrell switched to a Ford Torino that never seemed to have the success I was rooting for.

 

I met Darrell five times and can remember every one of those occasions.  I spent some time talking with him in the pit area at the Hawkeye Downs racetrack in Cedar Rapids.  A driver pulled in for one of their special events with his car decked out in full 7-Up soda colors and sponsorship.  Dake looked at me and said, “They’d have to pay me a lot of money to paint my car like that”.  I wish someone had.

 

When I first saw Darrell Dake at Sterling I thought he was a “big buck” racer.  He was beating such stiff competition, it seemed like he would have to have some money behind him.  I would come to learn that Darrell was actually a “low buck” racer.  One night I was in the Farley pits and Dake came in with a steaming engine and a broken radiator hose. He jumped out of the car, cut an eight inch piece of GARDEN HOSE and fashioned it into a make shift radiator hose and went back onto the track and finished the race!

 

I might have seen Darrel Dake race at the Freeport Raceway more than anywhere else.  Freeport replaced Sterling in the early 70s.  There a huge hill to the west of the Freeporttrack.  Cars traveling from Iowa could be seen coming over that hill for more than a mile before they got to the raceway. I was always there early and Dake usually showed up late.  I would just stare at the hill anxiously until I saw his Ford flatbed rig coming over that hill.  I wouldn’t relax until it did.

 

One night I cornered one of Dake’s pitmen.  I was outside the pit area fence and Darrell’s helper was in the pit area.  I always wanted to help out Darrell Dake financially but I didn’t have the money to do much when he was racing.  I slipped the pitman a $50 bill through the fence on this night and told him to give it to Dake.  I said, “If he could send me a picture that would be great”.  A few days later I opened the mail to find a beautiful 8” by 10” black and white photo of Darrell standing beside the first car I ever saw him race, the 1962 Ford Convertible!  That picture has been on my office wall ever since (see photo above).

 

If you know me and I’ve ever talked about Darrell Dake, then I’ve told you he raced in both the 1960 and 1961 Daytona 500s.  That’s pretty good for an Iowa farm boy back in those days.  I never got to see Darrell Dake race in some of those big IMCA races like the Iowa 300.  I’m sorry I missed that.

 

Starting in 1973, we started to move around the country.  I didn’t get a chance to see Darrell Dake race much after that. Nevertheless, I maintained my subscription to the Hawkeye Racing News.  This situation taught me to speed read.  As soon as the HRN arrived, I would turn the pages as fast as I could to see if Darrell had won a feature and what his results were.

 

In 1983, my family and I relocated to Southern California.  I had a fire engine red Cadillac Sedan Deville.  Californians were among the first to sport “vanity” license plates.  I ordered mine.  My plates simply read, “DAKE 8”.  I must have explained a million times what “DAKE 8” meant when people would ask.  Several years later, I retired that car and that license plate.  I mailed one of the plates to Darrell at his home in Cedar Rapids.

 

During my corporate career, I’ve had the chance to see the Super Bowl, several World Series games and many high-profile sporting events.  None of those outings can touch the night I spent with Darrell Dake at the Sycamore Speedway.  They were having a special Busch All-Star race during the latter part of Darrell’s racing career.  My meeting in Chicago ran late and I left for the track later than expected.

 

When I jumped in my car, I was wearing a three-piece suit. There was no time to stop, so I changed from my suit into my racing attire (t-shirt and shorts) without ever stopping the car.  I arrived in time for the show.  I bought a pit pass to get closer to the action in Dake’s pit.  When he broke for the night in his heat race, I was disappointed.  However, that disappointment turned to pure joy when Darrell said, “Let’s go up in the pit grandstand and watch the rest of the races from there”. 

 

I don’t know who your sports heroes might have been. Maybe Mickey Mantle, Larry Bird or Gayle Sayers.  What would you have given to spend an hour with your hero on a one on one basis?  As they say in the MasterCard commercial, it was priceless.

 

Darrell retired from racing in the early 90s.  I saw him a few years back when we were both watching the races at West Liberty.  He was always amazed that a guy from Californiawould show up so often at an Iowa racetrack.  We talked for a while and I bade him farewell.

 

From time to time I would get back to Eastern Iowa on business.  When I could I would drive by Darrell’s garage.  I always wanted to stop the car and knock on his door to say hello, but I didn’t want to bother him.  Now I wish I had.

 

Rest in peace, Darrell Dake. 

 

Randy Lewis

San Clemente, California

 

 

If you’ve got a favorite photo of Darrell Dake and want it to be part of this electronic collection, please email me at ranlay@yahoo.com.

 

 Randy Lewis photo collection – Darrell Dake.

1960 dd at illiana

 

Kyle Ealy photo collection, Hawkeye Racing News This is a 1959 or 1960 Chevy driven by Darrell to a win at the Illiana Speedway (dirt oval) in Schererville, Indiana on July 29, 1960. The starter is Jack Minster. Earlier in the year Darrell raced in the Daytona 500. (Stan Kalwasinski photo) Darrell finished 16th in the 1960 Daytona 500 after starting 12th. He drove car #48. Races didn't pay much back then. He earned $325 for his finish. He did beat Parnelli Jones and Fireball Roberts among others. Junior Johnson was the race winner. His first place prize was $19,600. Darrell would also race in the 1961 Daytona 500 and finish 46th out of 58 after starting 35th. Marvin Panch won that race.

Kyle Ealy photo collection, Hawkeye Racing News
This is a 1959 or 1960 Chevy driven by Darrell to a win at the Illiana Speedway (dirt oval) in Schererville, Indiana on July 29, 1960. The starter is Jack Minster. Earlier in the year Darrell raced in the Daytona 500. (Stan Kalwasinski photo)
                                                                                                                        Darrell finished 16th in the 1960 Daytona 500 after starting 12th. He drove car #48. Races didn’t pay much back then. He earned $325 for his finish. He did beat Parnelli Jones and Fireball Roberts among others. Junior Johnson was the race winner. His first place prize was $19,600. Darrell would also race in the 1961 Daytona 500 and finish 46th out of 58 after starting 35th.                                    Marvin Panch won that race.

 

Darrell Dake in the late 60s (Bob Dixon collection)

Darrell Dake in the late 60s (Bob Dixon collection)

 

Darrell Dake circa 1966. (Andy Hampton photo collection - Rock Falls, Illinois)

Darrell Dake circa 1966. (Andy Hampton photo collection – Rock Falls, Illinois)

 

Darrell wins one of his many feature events.

Darrell wins one of his many feature events.

 

Darrell Dake at Sterling Speedbowl circa 1966. (Andy Hampton photo collection - Rock Falls, Illinois)

Darrell Dake at Sterling Speedbowl circa 1966.                                                              (Andy Hampton photo collection – Rock Falls, Illinois)

 

This has to be a rare photo. Here Darrell receives his trophy from co-promoter Johnny Beauchamp. This is believed to be in Des Moines. Johnny Beauchamp was famous for running second to Lee Petty in the very first Daytona 500. Johnny also returned to the local dirt track racing wars. He won two consecutive championship point titles at the Peoria Speedway driving a 1955 Chevy sponsored by Al Baker's Kartville. (Bob Dixon collection)

This has to be a rare photo. Here Darrell receives his trophy from co-promoter Johnny Beauchamp. This is believed to be in Des Moines. Johnny Beauchamp was famous for running second to Lee Petty in the very first Daytona 500. Johnny also returned to the local dirt track racing wars. He won two consecutive championship point titles at the Peoria Speedway driving a 1955 Chevy sponsored by Al Baker’s Kartville. (Bob Dixon collection)

 

Ramo Stott and Darrell Dake take last minute instructions before starting the Pittsburgher 200 in Heidelberg, Pennsylvania in 1968. (Bob Dixon collection)

Ramo Stott and Darrell Dake take last minute instructions before starting the Pittsburgher 200 in Heidelberg, Pennsylvania in 1968.                                       (Bob Dixon collection)

 

Darrell was probably the most popular driver with the fans I ever saw at the local level. Crowds in Iowa went crazy for him. (Ron Thruman photo)

Darrell was probably the most popular driver with the fans I ever saw at the local level. Crowds in Iowa went crazy for him.                                (Ron Thruman photo)

 

Darrell Dake in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (circa 1975).

Darrell Dake in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (circa 1975).

 

I guess you could say I was a pretty big Darrell Dake fan. Check out my license plate from 1980.

I guess you could say I was a pretty big Darrell Dake fan.                                           Check out my license plate from 1980. 

 

I had this jacket made many years ago in Northern California. For the life of me, I can't remember why I bought a blue jacket when Darrell raced red and white cars. Every time I wore this jacket whether it was in Iowa, Ohio or Florida people would come and ask me about Darrell Dake.

I had this jacket made many years ago in Northern California. For the life of me, I can’t remember why I bought a blue jacket when Darrell raced red and white cars. Every time I wore this jacket whether it was in Iowa, Ohio or Florida people would come and ask me about Darrell Dake.

 

In all my years of cheering for Darrell Dake, I only saw two different t-shirts with his name on it. The first one was out of print and I bought the other one pictured here. I don't know why he had them made in yellow and black, because I never him saw him race a car with those colors.

In all my years of cheering for Darrell Dake, I only saw two different t-shirts with his name on it. The first one was out of print and I bought the other one pictured here. I don’t know why he had them made in yellow and black, because I never him saw him race a car with those colors.

 

Darrell and I chat at Hawkeye Downs, Cedar Rapids, Iowa - 1983 (Bill Virt photo)

Darrell and I chat at Hawkeye Downs, Cedar Rapids, Iowa – 1983                     (Bill Virt photo)

DD kneeling beside NOVA

 

DD in victory lane with Nova

 

Freeport Raceway, Freeport, Illinois - 1981 (Randy Lewis photo)

Freeport Raceway, Freeport, Illinois – 1981       (Randy Lewis photo)





Kenny Walton, Dake protege and former World 100 winner check out the track. (Vern Naley collection.)

Kenny Walton, Dake protege and former World 100 winner check out the track. (Vern Naley collection.)

 

Darrell with Dick Strawser.

Darrell with Dick Strawser.

 

Hawkeye Downs, Cedar Rapids, Iowa - 1983 (Randy Lewis photo)

Hawkeye Downs, Cedar Rapids, Iowa – 1983                          (Randy Lewis photo)

Darrell at Hawkeye Downs in 1984. (Randy Lewis photo).

Darrell at Hawkeye Downs in 1984. (Randy Lewis photo).

I was always asking Darrell when he was going to produce some more t-shirts. The black and yellow shirt picture near the top of this page and the one he's wearing in this photo are the only Darrell Dake racing t-shirts I ever saw. (Randy Lewis photo)

I was always asking Darrell when he was going to produce some more t-shirts. The black and yellow shirt picture near the top of this page and the one he’s wearing in this photo are the only Darrell Dake racing t-shirts I ever saw. (Randy Lewis photo)

 

Darrell and some of his many fans and friends help Darrell celebrate his special night (Kenny Walton photo collection).

Darrell and some of his many fans and friends help Darrell celebrate his special night                              (Kenny Walton photo collection).

 

In 2007, a "Legends" night was held at the Farley Speedway to honor Darrell Dake. Pictured are members of Darrell's pit crew - left to right Marv, Hubbard, Darrell and Page Lemon. (Kenny Walton photo collection)

In 2007, a “Legends” night was held at the Farley Speedway to honor Darrell Dake. Pictured are members of Darrell’s pit crew – left to right Marv, Hubbard, Darrell and Page Lemon. (Kenny Walton photo collection)

Another shot with Darrell and his team - left to right, Marv, Hubbard, Darrell, Page, Vern Naley and Ron. (Kenny Walton photo collection).

Another shot with Darrell and his team – left to right, Marv, Hubbard, Darrell, Page, Vern Naley and Ron.                                  (Kenny Walton photo collection).

Wherever Darrell went he was always surrounded by his fans. (Kenny Walton photo collection).

Wherever Darrell went he was always surrounded by his fans. (Kenny Walton photo collection).

 

Longtime crew member Vern Naley and Darrell spent some time together in front of the vintage Ford Fairlane being prepared just like the one "Double D" made famous. (Vern Naley photo collection).

Longtime crew member Vern Naley and Darrell spent some time together in front of the vintage Ford Fairlane being prepared just like the one “Double D” made famous. (Vern Naley photo collection).

 

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Fans and crew at a party in Darrell's honor.

 

Dake racing team patch (Vern Naley collection).

Dake racing team patch (Vern Naley collection).

 

 

 

 Randy Lewis photo collection – Darrell’s cars.

I will start with the earliest photos that I have of Darrell Dake and move along to 1992 when Darrell retired from active racing.  I have purchased photos from several photographers or collectors including Stan Kalwasinski, Doug Haack and Wayne Peterson.  I would like to thank Dennis Piefer for his generous approval to use several of his photos and Bob Dixon for his old-time submissions.  Several of the pictures were taken by me and my stepfather Bill Virt.  I would also like to thank Ron Thruman, Scott Hawbaker and Billy Hall for the use of their photos.  I’m trying to get in contact with each of these gentlemen as well.  If you can help me do that please email me at ranlay@yahoo.com
 
 
 
Now, let’s begin!!
 
 
 
For years Darrell operated out of this garage on Mt. Vernon Road in Cedar Rapids. (2007)

For years Darrell operated out of this garage on Mt. Vernon Road in Cedar Rapids. (2007)

 

Dake!

Dake!

 

This is the only photo I have of Darrell Dake from the "coupe" days. It comes from Bob Dixon of Waterloo, Iowa. Bob tells me this is from a 1953 Cemar Acres racing program. This track was located between Cedar Rapids and Marion, Iowa.

This is the only photo I have of Darrell Dake from the “coupe” days. It comes from Bob Dixon of Waterloo, Iowa. Bob tells me this is from a 1953 Cemar Acres racing program. This track was located between Cedar Rapids and Marion, Iowa.

Dake coupe 8

I'm not certain when Darrell started using the number 8. I do know that he occasionally, but not often picked up rides in other cars. This win in a 1955 Ford likely happened in his home state of Iowa.

I’m not certain when Darrell started using the number 8. I do know that he occasionally, but not often picked up rides in other cars. This win in a 1955 Ford likely happened in his home state of Iowa.

 

Irv Janey must have overslept! (Kyle Ealy photo collection, Hawkeye Racing News)

Irv Janey must have overslept!                                                                (Kyle Ealy photo collection, Hawkeye Racing News)

 

This is my most cherished photo of Darrell Dake in my collection. This is the first car I ever saw Darrell drive. This would have been during the 1967-69 period. He won feature after feature at the Sterling Speedbowl in this 1962 Ford. This photo is my favorite because Darrell gave it to me many years after I first saw him racing this car.

This is my most cherished photo of Darrell Dake in my collection. This is the first car I ever saw Darrell drive. This would have been during the 1967-69 period. He won feature after feature at the Sterling Speedbowl in this 1962 Ford. This photo is my favorite because Darrell gave it to me many years after I first saw him racing this car.

 

This photo of Darrell's 1962 Ford convertible might be from Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. That tin roof doesn't look too stable. (Bob Dixon collection)

This photo of Darrell’s 1962 Ford convertible might be from Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. That tin roof doesn’t look too stable. (Bob Dixon collection)

 

Darrell Dake at Sterling Speedbowl circa 1966. (Andy Hampton photo collection - Rock Falls, Illinois)

Darrell Dake at Sterling Speedbowl circa 1966. (Andy Hampton photo collection – Rock Falls, Illinois)

 

This was another case of Darrell jumping in another owner's car. The results were the same. A win!!

This was another case of Darrell jumping in another owner’s car.                             The results were the same. A win!!

 

Darrell produced some sanitary looking pieces. This car is vintage 1967.

Darrell produced some sanitary looking pieces.                    This car is vintage 1967.

 

Darrell certainly won his share of races. This victory was at the Sterling Speedbowl in 1967. I liked his black and white cars best of all. (Dennis Piefer photo)

Darrell certainly won his share of races. This victory was at the Sterling Speedbowl in 1967. I liked his black and white cars best of all. (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

This is Darrell Dake racing at Chicago's Soldier Field, home today to the Chicago Bears. It looks like a sparse crowd was on hand on a cool day. Look who came to Soldier Field before Mr. Dake took to the oval. Germany vs. Poland!!

This is Darrell Dake racing at Chicago’s Soldier Field, home today to the Chicago Bears. It looks like a sparse crowd was on hand on a cool day. Look who came to Soldier Field before Mr. Dake took to the oval.  Germany vs. Poland!!

 

I never saw Darrell Dake race on asphalt, although I did see his picture on the photo wall inside the beer garden at the Rockford Speedway. This is Dake racing at Rockford in 1968. (Dennis Piefer photo)

I never saw Darrell Dake race on asphalt, although I did see his picture on the photo wall inside the beer garden at the Rockford Speedway. This is Dake racing at Rockford in 1968. (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

I'm just guessing but I think Darrell used one car for 3-4 years. This looks like the last remnants of the car he built in 1966. Here Darrell takes the feature checkered flag at Des Moines in 1969.

I’m just guessing but I think Darrell used one car for 3-4 years. This looks like the last remnants of the car                  he built in 1966. Here Darrell takes the feature                                   checkered flag at Des Moines in 1969.

 

I bought this photo from a vendor at the Sterling Speed Bowl in Sterling, Illinois in 1970. This was the first year Darrell raced Ford Torinos. I thought this was a beautiful stock car for its time. Note the glass windshield and windshield wiper. That's Roger Dolan pitted next to Darrell.

I bought this photo from a vendor at the Sterling Speed Bowl in Sterling, Illinois in 1970. This was the first year Darrell raced Ford Torinos. I thought this was a beautiful stock car for its time.             Note the glass windshield and windshield wiper.                                                 That’s Roger Dolan pitted next to Darrell.

 

This is Darrell's Torino at Freeport in 1970. It's starting to show a little wear from when it was brand new in the above photo. (Dennis Piefer photo)

This is Darrell’s Torino at Freeport in 1970. It’s starting to show a little wear from when it was brand new in the above photo. (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

Darrell was famous at the Davenport Speedway. This is another feature win.

Darrell was famous at the Davenport Speedway.                   This is another feature win.

 

I would see Darrell blow an engine from time to time, but I hardly ever saw him wreck. This one came at the Freeport Raceway in Freeport, Illinois. (Ron Thruman photo)

I would see Darrell blow an engine from time to time, but I hardly ever saw him wreck. This one came at the Freeport Raceway in Freeport, Illinois.                (Ron Thruman photo)

 

This was the early 70s at Des Moines. The Torino was starting to show some wear and tear, but the checkered flag was still going to Darrell Dake.

This was the early 70s at Des Moines. The Torino was starting to show some wear and tear, but the checkered flag was still going to Darrell Dake.

 

This was at the Deland Speedway at the 1972 Florida Winter Nationals. That's Darrell leaning over the right rear quarter panel of the trusty Torino. He won the Florida Winter Nationals at least one year. Leading dirt short track stars from all over showed up for the multi-day open competition event. (Bill Virt photo)

This was at the Deland Speedway at the 1972 Florida Winter Nationals. That’s Darrell leaning over the right rear quarter panel of the trusty Torino. He won the Florida Winter Nationals at least one year. Leading dirt short track stars from all over showed up for the multi-day open competition event. (Bill Virt photo)

 

I believe this was 1972. Darrell's Ford years were starting to wind down. (Dennis Piefer photo)

I believe this was 1972. Darrell’s Ford years were starting to wind down. (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

I loved that Ford emblem he carried on the side of this car. He's shown racing in Des Moines here.

I loved that Ford emblem he carried on the side of this car.                                      He’s shown racing in Des Moines here.

 

I think this was 1974. Darrell had switched to a Chevy Nova. Although I was a Ford fan, I was more of a Darrell Dake fan, so I followed him over to Chevy. (Dennis Piefer photo)

I think this was 1974. Darrell had switched to a Chevy Nova. Although I was a Ford fan, I was more of a Darrell Dake fan, so I followed him over to Chevy. (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

Darrell gets weighed at Hawkeye Downs (Kyle Ealy, Hawkeye Racing News, collection)

Darrell gets weighed at Hawkeye Downs (Kyle Ealy,                                             Hawkeye Racing News, collection)

 

Darrell's #8 frequently showed the "rat" on the side of his car. (Kyle Ealy photo)

Darrell’s #8 frequently showed the “rat” on the side of his car. (Kyle Ealy photo)

 

Kyle Ealy photo collection, Hawkeye Racing News

Kyle Ealy photo collection, Hawkeye Racing News

 

Darrell races at Freeport in 1976. This was about the time of his very bad accident that occurred at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids. (Dennis Piefer photo)

Darrell races at Freeport in 1976. This was about the time of his very bad accident that occurred at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids. (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

This was probably Darrell's most serious accident. He was away from racing for some time following this wreck. (Kyle Ealy collection, Hawkeye Racing News)

This was probably Darrell’s most serious accident. He was away from racing for some time following this wreck. (Kyle Ealy collection, Hawkeye Racing News)

 

This is the trophy Darrell Dake won for the 1975 points championship at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He gave the trophy to his pit man Vern Naley. (Vern Naley photo collection)

This is the trophy Darrell Dake won for the 1975 points championship at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He gave the trophy to his pit man Vern Naley.            (Vern Naley photo collection)

 

This is Darrell's entry in the 1978 "World 100" at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. (Dennis Piefer photo)

This is Darrell’s entry in the 1978 “World 100” at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

Despite his accident, Darrell recovered to race and win again. Darrell races his Camaro in 1979 at Freeport. (Dennis Piefer photo)

Despite his accident, Darrell recovered to race and win again. Darrell races his Camaro in 1979 at Freeport.                (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

This was one of the most unusual looking cars, I ever saw come out of the Darrell Dake racing stable. It's 1980 in Davenport, Iowa. (Dennis Piefer photo)

This was one of the most unusual looking cars, I ever saw come out of the            Darrell Dake racing stable.                                        It’s 1980 in Davenport, Iowa.                                      (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

This was Darrell's new car for the 1980 season at Hawkeye Downs.

This was Darrell’s new car for the 1981 season                              at Hawkeye Downs.

 

Darrell was racing at Freeport on Sunday nights back in early 80s. (Dennis Piefer photo)

Darrell was racing at Freeport on         Sunday nights back in early 80s.                      (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

Each time I met Darrell I tried to get his photo. I took this shot at the Freeport Raceway in 1981.

Each time I met Darrell I tried to get his photo. I took this shot at the Freeport Raceway in 1981.

 

 In 1982, Darrell returned to white cars. (Dennis Piefer photo)

In 1982, Darrell returned to white cars. (Dennis Piefer photo)

This was Darrell's entry at the Dubuque Speedway in 1984. (Dennis Piefer photo)

This was Darrell’s entry at the Dubuque Speedway in 1984. (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

I never ever saw a Darrell Dake race car brought to the track in an enclosed trailer. He always had a Ford flatbed truck bringing his cars to the races. (Photo by Billy Hall)

I never ever saw a Darrell Dake race car brought to the track in an enclosed trailer. He always had a Ford flatbed truck bringing his cars to the races.             (Photo by Billy Hall)

 

By 1986, the Lighthouse Inn became a sponsor for Darrell Dake. (Photo by Dennis Piefer)

By 1986, the Lighthouse Inn became            a sponsor for Darrell Dake.                    (Photo by Dennis Piefer)

 

In 1987, Darrell returned to a red car at the Hawkeye Downs. (Dennis Piefer photo)

In 1987, Darrell returned to a red car at the Hawkeye Downs.                               (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

For whatever reason, Darrell switched back to a white car in 1988. (Dennis Piefer photo)

For whatever reason, Darrell switched back to a white car in 1988.               (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

Darrell's cars had evolved a good deal from his early 60s rides. This was at the Miller 100 in 1988. (Randy Lewis photo)

Darrell’s cars had evolved a good deal from his early 60s rides. This was at the Miller 100 in 1988. (Randy Lewis photo)

 

Darrell continued to race into his 60s. This was his 1989 ride at the Farley Speedway in Farley, Iowa. (Dennis Piefer photo)

Darrell continued to race into his 60s. This was his 1989 ride at the Farley Speedway in Farley, Iowa.                 (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

Darrell won his last feature at the West Liberty track at the age of 60. He won feature events over a span of five decades. (Dennis Piefer photo)

Darrell won his last feature at the West Liberty track at the age of 60. He won feature events over a span of five decades. (Dennis Piefer photo)

 

Darrell raced all over the Midwest. This was his ride in 1991 at the Dubuque Speedway.

Darrell raced all over the Midwest.           This was his ride in 1991                                               at the Dubuque Speedway.

The 1992 season was Darrell's last year of racing. The Lighthouse Inn sponsored car raced on this night at West Liberty. Darrell was often in the stands watching races at West Liberty after he retired. I met him there one night.

The 1992 season was Darrell’s last year of racing. The Lighthouse Inn sponsored car raced on this night at West Liberty. Darrell was often in the stands watching races at West Liberty after he retired. I met him there one night.

 

This was Darrell's car in his last year of racing in 1992. His cars were still immaculate when he retired at the age of 65. (Wayne Peterson photo)

This was Darrell’s car in his last year of racing in 1992. His cars were still immaculate when he retired at the age of 65. (Wayne Peterson photo)

 

Darrell Dake was still being remembered by his fans some 15 years after he finished his driving career. During the past year (2007), this replica car was created by an Iowa fan of his. They did a great job with the car. (Kyle Ealy photo)

Darrell Dake was still being remembered by his fans some 15 years after he finished his driving career. During the past year (2007), this replica car was created by an Iowa fan of his. They did a great job with the car.                (Kyle Ealy photo)

 

His "eights" frequently showed a rat being chewed up just as the replica car shows today. (Kyle Ealy photo)

His “eights” frequently showed a rat being chewed up just as the replica car shows today.                 (Kyle Ealy photo)

This is the replica car of Darrell's 1966 Ford Fairlane that he drove to so many wins. It was built by Keith Simmons the Farley (Iowa) Speedway promoter. (Vern Naley photo collection)

This is the replica car of Darrell’s 1966 Ford Fairlane that he drove to so many wins. It was built by Keith Simmons the Farley (Iowa) Speedway promoter. (Vern Naley photo collection)

 

The car looks race ready to me. (Vern Naley photo collection)

The car looks race ready to me.                                (Vern Naley photo collection)

 

King of the road!

King of the road!

 

 

 

 

 

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Memorial – From the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Gazette Newspaper.

 

Darrell Clair Dake, 79, of 6505 Mt. Vernon Road SE, passed away in his home of cancer on Monday, August 6, 2007. A Celebration of Life will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday at Cedar Memorial Funeral Home. A private family burial will be held at Campbell Cemetery.

Darrell is preceded in death by his parents, Wilmer Dake and Madeline Cilvick; his brother, Denny Dake; and his daughter, Diane Streeper.

Darrell is survived by his wife, LaVerle; his children, Ronnie Dake, Theron (Josie) Manson, and Pamela Boston, all of Cedar Rapids; Maureen (David) Kilfoile of Coral Springs, FL; LuAnn (Gene) Pierce of Des Moines; a son-in-law, Jerry Streeper of Maquoketa; 9 grandchildren; and 6 great grandchildren.

Darrell was born on August 11, 1927 in Palo and united in marriage to LaVerle on October 27, 1961 in Shreveport, LA. Darrell enjoyed a long and successful career in auto racing. He raced twice in the Daytona 500 in 1960 and 1961. He once said a memorable moment was in 1960 when he finished 4th in the 125 lap qualifier race for the Daytona 500 and the 5th place finisher in that race was Lee Petty.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the family.

 

 


Comments

  1. What a nice tribute to Daryl Dake. In 1968 I went to Paris Academy of Beauty Culture in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, straight out of High School. Mrs. Dake was one of my instructors. Sophie Loren look alike for sure. She worshipped her husband and was a nervous wreck on Fridays when he was off racing. I met him a few times through the school and what a nice man. They had such a loving relationship/marriage and she was devastated when he passed. Recently I had caught up with her on Facebook and enjoyed chatting with her. She always said her and Daryl were joined at the hip and she so missed him. She now has passed on as well. I guess they are both going to the races in the sky, flying high.
    Hawkeye Downs was a lot of fun in those days, get all dolled up and pick the dirt out of your teeth on the way out. HA!!!

  2. Wow, this is a great memorial to the late Darrell Dake. I too remember going to Speed Bowl Park in Sterling and watching him in that 62 Ford convertible, looked like he was out for a Sunday afternoon drive when he was out front leading in the feature, night after night. Roger Dolan also drove that car to many feature wins after Darrell sold it to him. I also remember seeing him run at Freeport Ill in that 66/67 Ford Fairlane, when Darrell pulled in you knew that Ford was going to be out front, I remember a lot of nights the wins being between him and Don Bohlander. These guys were two of the greats from the 60’s and this brings back a flood of memories.
    May they rest in peace.

  3. May 31, 2015 – This message was received from Mark Z. regarding his experiences following Darrell Dake. I thought you might enjoy reading about Mark’s remembrances. Randy Lewis

    “Thanks so much for the trip down memory lane! I grew up near Cedar Rapids, Iowa and as a young kid went with my family to Hawkeye Downs Speedway on a regular basis during the mid-to-late ’70s. Kenny Walton was my favorite driver but there were a number of other good drivers who were regulars at Hawkeye Downs and I think everyone liked and respected Darrell Dake. I wore out an 02 (Walton) t-shirt but collected plenty of Darrell Dake autographs in the pits after the races!

    I was there the night of Dake’s big crash and I remember cars tangling in the middle of the backstretch, Dake’s car rolling over and over and ending up on its roof in turn 3. I may not be remembering correctly but it seems to me that he lost fingers from his left hand in that crash, I seem to remember hearing that he tended to drive with his right hand, with his left arm resting on the door. I do remember that it was a long time before he raced again.

    The Lighthouse Inn that sponsored his later cars was a restaurant on Mt. Vernon Road not far from Dake’s shop. Whenever we were out that way we would look for DD’s car hauler as we went by the shop, and if we were lucky his car might be outside too.

    Still sad that Hawkeye Downs was paved near the close of the ’80s. I attended a number of races there in the 1990s before moving out of the state, but I much prefer dirt racing to asphalt. To each his own, as they say…”

  4. Randy—- I also remember Darrell Dake from Speedbowl Park in Sterling Illinois when I was younger. I had 2 favorite drivers and Darrell was one. The other was Benny Hofer number 50. When Darrell and Benny showed up the other drivers knew they were racing for 3rd place. I raced in Freeport myself but raced in the sportsman division and never got a chance to race against Darrell. When you say Darrell was a gentleman, that an understatement. Its one thing to be a race car driver, but when you have the repore with the fans that Darrell had you were something special. Darrell Dake was a very special race car driver and human being also. God Bless him and his family and may the number 8 with the rat live forever in the hearts and minds of the fans.

  5. It’s so great that you devote this page remembering my grandfather. As a little boy I ALWAYS looked forward to visiting Grandpa in his garage and look at his race car.

    I completely understand being ‘tongue tied’ around him. To me he was larger than life and I miss him every day.

  6. I grew up in Freeport Il.in the 1970’s I spent every Sunday night possible at Freeport Raceway,Darrell was the man! thanks so much for sharing this Randy!

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