1965 An Absolutely Perfect Weekend

Category: Ponca City Grand Prix
Published on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 13:44
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An Absolutely Perfect Weekend 

Editor's Comments: Shortly before his death, Dick Durant began an autobiography of his colorful life and racing career. Printed here are his words about winning the 1965 Ponca City Grand Prix. Hopefully Sue Durant will be publishing Dick's complete autobiography soon. Below Durant's words are the story and results as printed in the July 5, 1965 Daily Oklahoman.

"There are, however, several traditional races in the Midwest Division that are really big deals to the small towns that host and promote them, regular annual festivals. The Ponca City Grand Prix is one of these, held on the fourth of July next to Lake Ponca in this little town in hot, dry north-central Oklahoma. This was especially true in 1965, the first year I ever attended the Grand Prix with my brand new fast-as-hell Durant Special, when the fourth fell fortuitously on the Sunday of the Grand Prix to make everything just storybook perfect. I got out on the course for the first practice and started hot-dogging through the corners out among the trees through the park-like setting until I came to the obvious curving straightaway where I really stood on the gas. Further down the curve tightened up and got my attention since it had the lake right off the outside of the bend with no guard rail, I was back hard on the gas coming out of the bend when I suddenly realized that I was looking at staggered hay bales ahead of me. “Oh shit, the course must’ve turned.” as I braked hard and steered down through the bales and sort of sheepishly found my way back to the course to continue with my practice, I didn’t have to be reminded of the last hairpin turn on the course anymore. That afternoon I qualified on the pole for the big bore feature race which was the last event on Sunday afternoon. When the race finally was run late Sunday afternoon I took off from the pole position and waltzed off into the distance to an easy first overall, this was getting definitely cool! After the race I got the big trophy, a flowered horseshoe around my neck and a hug from the cute little Oklahoma trophy girl named Janie complete with flashing cameras...I felt like I had just won the Indy 500! Janie and my picture were even on the front page of the Ponca City newspaper the next day, how cool is that? I ended up winning a lot of races in my career but some of them just stand out for some reason or another and this was one of them, the whole weekend went absolutely perfect."

Missourian Wins Ponca City Race

         PONCA CITY – Dick Durant of Florissant, Mo. Set a one-lap course record of 52 seconds and averaged 103 miles per hour as he easily won the feature race Sunday at the Ponca City sports car Grand Prix.

         Durant’s modified Corvette Special was knocked out of Saturday’s feature by engine trouble, but after working all night he had the car ready to beat out second place Bill Moore of Ponca City, also driving a Corvette Special.

(Editor’s comment: The results are as posted in the Oklahoman, and are incorrect/garbled as experienced race fans will note. We are searching for more correct results and will post them if we find them. The photo below of Dick Durant was taken at Lake Afton, 1965)



Race 1. G Production – David Kiser, Overland Park, Kan, Triumph;  H Production - G. L. Henderson, Lawton, Corvette.

Race 2. GT (illegible) Denver, Volkswagon;   F Production – John Barker, Denver, MGA.

Race 3. Formula B – Chuck Trowbridge, Denver;  D Production – Vic Campbell, Tulsa, TR-4;  E Production, Larry Meyers, Denver, MGA.

Race 4. C Production, Gordon Gresham, Hubbard, Emporia Kan, Sardini

Race 5. C Production – Gordon Gresham, Wichita, Lotus XX;  Formula V - Robert Hubbard, Emporia, Kan. Sardini.

Race 6. C Modified, Dick Durant, Florissant, Mo. Corvette Special;  B Production – Mack Yates, Wichita, Mustang;  G Modified – Harvey Woodward, Kansas City, Elva Mark VI;  C Production – John Goans Jr, Liberty Mo, Lotus Elan;  A Production – Al Goldman, Oklahoma City, Cobra


Race 1. G Production – Doc Foerster, Oklahoma City, Datsun;  H Production – Thomas Huckle, Oklahoma City, Sprite.

Race 2. F Production – (illegible), Henderson City, Mo, TR3;  GT Dick Bradford, Tulsa, MGA.  

Race 3. E Production – Jim Thompson, Florence, Kan, Lotus VII;  D Production – Eddie Kimmel, Oklahoma City, TR4;  H Modified – Bob Bishop, St. Louis, Bobsy Saab.

Race 4. Formula B – Chuck Trowbridge, Denver;  Formula C – Thomas Bunn, Perton AFB, Lola Mark V;  Formula V - Robert Hubbard, Emporia, Kan. Sardini.

Race 5. C Modified, John Lively, Wichita, Lotus;  B Production- Bob Spooner, St. Louis, Sunbeam Tiger;  G Modified – Harvey Woodward, Kansas City, Elva Mark VI;  C Production – Dr. Don Ginardi, Kansas City, Lotus Super VII.