Fred Linder celebrates winning the 1978 edition of the Kokomo Klassic at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway. (John Mahoney photo)

Mahoney’s Memories: Kokomo Klassic

Editor’s Note: In this monthly photo essay feature, National Sprint Car Hall of Fame photographer John Mahoney shares his memories and images from some of the most amazing and historic sprint car and midget races.


Open Sprint Cars, Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway, June 21, 1978

As USAC’s chief photographer for many years, the bulk of my racing activities involved the sanctioning body’s many series.

However, most seasons, I also looked forward to promoter Bill Lipkey’s Kokomo Klassic open sprint car event at Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway, where I had a chance to see many of the Midwest’s best sprint car racers, including some of Ted Johnson’s World of Outlaws competitors.

A stellar field took to the quarter-mile dirt track before a standing-room-only crowd for the June 21, 1978, edition of the annual event. Fred Linder posted fast time and started the 50-lap feature from the pole.

Fred Linder (55) bicycles in turn two as he passes Charlie Swartz (18) and Butch Wilkerson at Kokomo Speedway. (John Mahoney photo)

At the green flag, third-starter Steve Kinser grabbed the lead and appeared to be long gone. Linder, who fell to third at the start, soon moved into second and the chase was on.

Kinser had to deal with heavy traffic in the 18-car field as well as five yellow flags, which allowed Linder to close in on the pacesetter. Linder’s persistence paid off as he passed Kinser with four laps remaining for the $1,000 victory.

Ron Shuman, who started ninth, passed Kinser with two laps to go to take second place.

Third through fifth were Kinser, Charlie Swartz and Chuck Amati.

Preliminary heats were won by Ed Angle, Jim Lipkey, Gary Grissom and Danny Smith. Bob Christian paced the semi and Canadian Frank Weiss topped the consi in one of his first dirt-track starts.

Ron Shuman (106) stalks Steve Kinser en route to a second-place finish in the 1978 Kokomo Klassic. (John Mahoney photo)


This story appeared in the Nov 15, 2023 edition of the SPEED SPORT Insider.

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