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Old 04-17-2009, 05:56 PM   #1
webby
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Post Vern “Heinie” Westphalen

Written by Bill Peratt

During the post WW II era, auto racing of all sorts in the USA was booming. By 1950, stock car racing of the local variety was becoming popular with tracks popping up seemingly everywhere.

Interest in auto racing in the tri-state area would develop as the Interstate Auto Racing Association, and included racing clubs from Cheyenne, Wyoming, Greeley, Loveland and Fort Collins, Colorado. According to the Wyoming Auto Racing Club history book, Speedway Park in Ft. Collins, a one fifth mile paved track, opened in 1950 as the first facility for stock car racing only in this tri-state area.

Among the competitors at Speedway Park was Nebraska’s Vern Westphalen, driving #13. Only black and white photos exist, but presumably this car was green and white, as his later cars were. Green during these early years, at least in stock car racing, didn’t seem to hold the same superstition that it did in other forms of auto racing.

During 1951, Vern also became one of the top drivers at the converted fairgrounds track in Sidney, Nebraska with what appears to be the same ’37 Ford Coupe that he raced at Speedway Park. Here he is on a Sunday afternoon getting his reward for a win. Devils Motor Club official Ed Bauman, still in his Sunday-go-to meetin’ clothes, looks on.



Here Vern starts in the rear of what appears to be the fast heat. #77 Bob Lafleur and #5 Curly Doggett also usually timed in the top four. Pretty good crowd for a community of only around six thousand.



Before the ’51 season was over, Vern finally tore up this car. Damage appears typical for those who first got on their side, then the massive front bumper would dig into the clay, sometimes standing the car on end. The rest of the car doesn’t appear too badly damaged, but Vern would build another for next season



For the 1952 season, Vern, now being announced as “Heinie” Westphalen, showcased a new car at the Sidney track, the only ’32 Ford in a field of still predominantly ’35-’41 models. Green and white, sponsored by the Log Cabin Bar, he’s shown here getting another trophy dash kiss in Sidney. In the background can be seen the infield pits. Heinie would consistently time in the top four and make the trophy dash. I was just a kid on a bike pedaling my way to and from the races each Sunday afternoon and don’t know if this association awarded points or not. Just supposed it was trophies and cash.



Sometime during the ’52 season, Heinie either debuted a new car, or re-painted it to this two tone variation. I never missed a race that summer, and don’t remember him tearing up his car until late in the season, so don’t know why the change. The rear fender is trimmed a little differently though, so maybe?! Same sponsor, only now referred to as a “Tavern”.



Whenever I would see Heinie in subsequent years and ask about his “next” car, he would always reply that he was still waiting for the good angel to smile on him. I never did know what happened to him after that. If anyone out there has any additional info on Vern “Heinie” Westphalen, please contact this site, ARM.
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Old 08-01-2009, 03:48 PM   #2
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Default Re: Vern “Heinie” Westphalen

From the Lou Wendzel collection circa 1951:
Great article, Bill! This crash photo was taken at Speedway Park in Ft. Collins, CO. ~VB
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