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Ernie Derr - another legend lost

Discussion in 'Historical' started by Beentherebefore, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. Beentherebefore

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    Just read over on Jayski's that Ernie Derr, a Mopar racing legend from the former IMCA stock car series (see the ARCA thread in the Historical racing section for more info/photos) passed away last Wednesday. He was 92.
     
  2. Mike V.

    Mike V. Mopar-nac The Moderator
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    That's too bad, sorry to hear that.

    Mike
     
  3. DC-93

    DC-93 Active Member

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    I am fortunate enough to have acquired Ernie's original 1968 Nichels Engineering parts catalog and a few race pieces from back then to help restore DC-93.
     
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  4. GaryS

    GaryS Well-Known Member

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    I worked at a Chrysler Plymouth dealership in North Dakota in 1964, when IMCA was very popular on the state fair short track circuit in the upper Midwest. For several years, our dealership sponsored Ramo Stott and our next door Dodge store sponsored Ernie Derr. The C-P owner always had a bet with the Dodge owner on the results of the race, and they were about even in winnings.

    Some younger readers may not realize how stock the cars were in that series during that era. Ernie had crashed and totaled his Dodge the week before and couldn't wait for a backup car to arrive, so he picked up a new Hemi 2-door hardtop from the local dealer and when he rolled it off the trailer at our lot, it was exactly the way it came from the factory. The only thing he had salvaged from his junked car was the tires and seat belt, so he changed them, gave the Hemi a race tune, opened the exhaust and headed for our half-mile dirt track. Ramo beat him quite handily, since his car had heavy duty shocks, a tach, and a few other tweaks. Unfortunately, Ramo broke an axle and ran half the race with one drive wheel and was beaten by Dick Hutcherson, the factory-backed Ford entry.

    It was fun to meet both Mopar racers and listen to their stories. Ernie was a little older and more reserved, but Ramo was funny and full of mischief. We took him and his crew...a crew chief and a do-everything mechanic...out for dinner and drinks the night before, and all were really hung over the day of the race, but I guess that was quite normal.
     
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  5. Beentherebefore

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    Thanks for those stories, Gary. Any more you have and erspecially any photos or newspaper accounts you might have in your records would be enthusiastically read by me and maybe some other regulars on this site. I used to read about Stott, Derr, and other IMCA Mopar racers in the old "Competition Press" and "Racing Wheels" papers during intermissions at our local short track events in SoCal.

    I did post some IMCA related stuff on the ARCA historical thread since Ramo Stott ran in that series also.
     
  6. GaryS

    GaryS Well-Known Member

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    This is the only picture I have of Ramo and his race car during that time.

    One little story that reveals his fun-loving nature...

    It was the day before the race at the '64 North Dakota State Fair. He'd fixed all the major damage from the previous weekend and we were sitting around the dealership garage BS-ing about racing when we saw the owner enter his office, which was located in the center of the showroom and directly behind where Ramo had his car parked. There was a window between the office and the garage area, and when the owner pulled his curtain closed, we knew he wanted to take a nap. We also knew he had been out the night before and was suffering a major hangover.

    We were joking about it and the sales manager told Ramo..."Lets wait a few minutes 'til he's asleep, then you start your car and floor the accelerator! If you do it, I'll buy you and your crew dinner and drinks tonight!" Ramo flashed the same grin as in this photo and a few minutes later, he quietly got into his car, hit the starter and quickly floored the Hemi. The sound was deafening! The building shook, the curtains flew open, and the boss stood there with his bloodshot eyes stretched wide and wearing a look as if he was going to breathe fire at us! Ramo was in hysterics, as were the rest of us. It wasn't quite so funny when the boss threw his window open and threatened to fire everyone and pull his race sponsorship. Fortunately for all of us, the boss' sense of humor eventually won out over his headache.
    ramo3web.jpg

    Some folks wouldn't believe that race cars used to have doors and real glass windows, and sheet metal that was installed in the factory. Before this race, along with cash, our dealership donated a new windshield, a grille and a hood to replace the ones damaged in the previous race. We also had the car painted when they placed the dealer's name on the quarter panel. No vinyl graphics in those days.
     
  7. Beentherebefore

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    Looks like he took that same car to Daytona one year for an ARCA race. This photo is from the "Florida Stock Cars" website but it doesn't say what year it was taken;

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Beentherebefore

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    Photo from "Racing From the Past.com" website's IMCA page showing Ramo and Ernie Derr battling at a short track. Mike Evans gets the photo credit.




    [​IMG]
     
  9. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie Valued Member
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    Ernie Derr.jpg Here are a couple of shots of Ernie..................
     
  10. Beentherebefore

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    I knew that Ernie Derr had a phenomenal record racing Mopars in IMCA, but winning 25 out of 30 races in one season???!!!

    That's INSANE!!! :D
     
  11. MoparNorm

    MoparNorm Active Jeeper
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    For those of us following racing in the 60's, it was definitely win on Sunday, sell on Monday. Look at that streak of championships from '65 to '69! 5 years, a race fan could not help but be influenced. Pair that with Petty dominating NASCAR during the preceding years and there was a Mopar in the news every week from 1962 until 1970, those were the exact years of my high school and college days. Formative years for sure!
    Those were the days when we could hold our own with the Ford and GM crowd, it was no shame to be a Chrysler fan in the '60's!
     
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  12. Beentherebefore

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    Don't forget how Mopar was dominating in NHRA and other drag racing series at the same time they were winning all those stock car series championships.

    Hold our own with GM and Ford???!!! Heck, they were both struggling to even match Chrysler's performance in US motorsports.
     
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  13. MoparNorm

    MoparNorm Active Jeeper
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    GM held 50% of the market then. The victories by Chrysler in racing only gave us a reason to exist, we were still chasing everyone in perception. Ford was kicking Ferrari's butt with Carroll Shelby and Dan Gurney, it was a great time to be an American racing fan.
     
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  14. Beentherebefore

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    :oops:
     
  15. MoparNorm

    MoparNorm Active Jeeper
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    It's true. Some of my best memories of the '60's was the Ford GT 40 program, when some California boys, took on Enzo at LeMans and kicked his butt.

    MoparBob wants to know why some of us don't warm to Ferrari and cheer for them...for me, that is why.
    My loyalties were formed early, Ferrari was the enemy and is now just a neutral entity. No way I can cheer for them when Vipers' are on the track, they are adversaries to be vanquished.
     
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  16. DC-93

    DC-93 Active Member

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    And with all that, even proper marketing of the wins and championships, Chrysler had trouble getting any more market share...
    No matter what Chrysler did, 14-15% was it for share... I remember when they'd make a few million profit
    IN A YEAR! I clearly remember the late 90s, closing in on 18%!!! Then, the takeover... :(
     
  17. Beentherebefore

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    You can correct me if I'm wrong here, DC, but IIRC, before Chrysler hit that 14 - 15% market share in the mid 60s (actually was about 16% in the '65 - '67 period according to the monthly sales figures in the WSJ which I used to study intently for my econ/marketing classes), they were down in the 10 - 11% share of the market circa 1961 and 1962. After CEO Lynn Townsend ordered that the company's engineers and performance staff create vehicles and engines that would dominate in major US racing series and attract the attention of motorsports enthusiasts, Chrysler's share of the market went UP 40 - 50%! I recall a picture of a '63 Plymouth on the cover of one of the major news magazines (TIME or LIFE - can't remember which as we got both) with the caption "Comeback Car".

    Remember, GM had a 5 year head start in the performance wars, a large part of which was due to their cheating on the AMA racing ban agreement of 1957 by continuing to develop performance parts for the sb Chevy under the guise of "export" parts for overseas racing of Corvettes. The guys running Pontiac (Knudsen & Delorean) didn't even try for a cover-up of their racing activities. Losing over 5 years of sales with no competitive entries in the performance and youth markets was something Chrysler could never really make up for.
     
    #17 Beentherebefore, Sep 22, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2014
  18. DC-93

    DC-93 Active Member

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    IMO, I think the 61-62 market share was due to ugly cars!! :eek:
    The 63s were indeed comebacks, in the styling department.

    Racing helped, but man, my dad had a 61 Seneca and, although I was only 5, even I knew it was ugly!!
     
  19. dyslexic teddybear

    dyslexic teddybear Active Member

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    Interesting......

    Would love to see Aldo's take on this......he seems to have a unique sense of the reasoning behind why sales happen.....or do not happen.

    JMHO......but it's amazing to me how many smart, sharp people......misunderstand "Win on Sun, sell on Mon"

    Richard Petty, likely the most well known Mopar driver in history, was NOT selling hemi Plymouths. He was selling Plymouths......the brand. Oh he sold a few, I'm sure, I mentioned one in another post......but he sold far more /6s and 318s to every guy that wanted to feel "My car company won Daytona"

    When Brad won the cup......no spike in Charger sales, thus proving Nascar, in the eyes of factory marketing, was a waste of money.

    But Brad wasn't marketing Chargers, he was marketing Dodge/Mopar/Chrysler the brand.

    I totally agree with you Beenthere......that's what racing does, market the brand. Every Chevy, Ford, and Toyota fan, as well as fan of every other car brand......saw a Dodge go head to head with Chevy's biggest and best......and win.

    And.....for 10 weeks they could not get away from it. Couldn't tune it out. They couldn't get up and get a snack during a Dodge ad.......it was part of the hype of the "chase".....truly was a captive audience.

    Such a waste of opportunity. The "no engine failures" alone could have made some great ads.......


    And some wonder......why many of us see "the sky is falling" for Dodge.......

    [sigh]
     
  20. Beentherebefore

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    There are those that will tell you that the '62 Mopars were the ugliest ever designed (a few comments along those lines on the NHRA thread where I posted a few photos of them).
     
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