WHO WAS JIM BLOUNT?

By Ron Verash:

 

When the name Jim Blount is mentioned, some folks remember his early years, racing in the Super Modified and Late Models classes in the early 1960's. Others remember the ASA years, when Jim won back to back Championships in the late 60's, early 70's. And others recall, in his latter years, winning 6 consecutive Championships in the Late Models from 1990 to 1995.

 

To the beginning, Jim's father worked on race cars shortly after WWII. One of his drivers was Mike Miser, Sr. Naturally, Jim would help also, and that sparked an interest to even drive them one day. Tracks in that time included South Bend Motor Speedway, Playland Park, Sister's Lakes, Warsaw, Elkhart Speedway, and the Osceola Speedway. Jim's first race was at Playland Park in Mishawaka in 1950, which he incidentally won. Jim would race the Open Wheel Coupes, competing against the likes of Dick Good, Dick George, Dave Paul, Oscar Faye, Ned Bloom, Bill Reitz, Bob Newton, Kenny Fry,Cecil Wells, Bob Zeigler, Rex Crofoot, and Cecil Wells. Racing 4, 5, 6, times a week, the drivers really honed their craft, and when they ventured out of the area to compete, more often than not, a top finish recorded.

To the late 1950's, a fellow driver by the name of Jerry Osborn, designed a car, that featured frame supports from the top of the roll cage down to the front suspension. A very unique idea, but racing at that time was all about ideas. Ozzie was going into Drag Racing, and he sold Jim the car. Took some time and a few races, but Jim was able to win Features with this one of a kind design. Looking back now, this was the first "Downtube" chassis racer of it's kind. 20 years later, Dirt Sprint car technology went to this design, and cars still run this to this day.

 

Through the 60's, Jim raced the "Supers",Open Wheel Modifieds, plus the "Flyers", stock cars. Racing at South Bend, New Paris, Plymouth, plus Anderson, Jim won many races in both divisions. His competition included Denny Nyari, Jiggs Myers, Leroy Skiles, Ronnie Drake, Dude Weaver, Billy Jo Havens, Carl Jack Hall, Jim Sullivan, and Ernie Nash. He took a Tri State Super's Championship in 1967, plus winning the Blueberry Specials in 1967 and 68. And in one year, Jim competed at the Oswego, New York Speedway for Super Modifieds, and raced at Knoxville, Iowa Speedway for Sprint Cars. And in the same car.

Jim won the ASA Crown, in 1969, in his own car. For 1970, Jim hooked up with a team out of Central Indiana : Saxton Racing, and ran for the 1970 American Speed Association Championship. By mid season, Jim parted ways with that team, and drove for Don Higgins for the balance of the season. He still managed to win the ASA Title for that 1970 season. This was a new Stock car group, that traveled throughout the Midwest running at venues like Dayton{Oh} Speedway, Anderson,Winchester, Salem, in Indiana, Louisville {Ky} Fairgrounds, and the races were contested up to 500 laps. A different driving strategy, as the cars had to last 4 and 5 hour races. Jim took the Redbud 400 in both 69 and 70. His top competition included Moose Myers, Dave Sorg, Gene Prosser, L.J. Lines, Denny Miles, Gene Christie, Jack Shanklin, John Sommerville, Larry Moore, Don Gregory, at that time, some of the best in the business.

With Son, Bobby, starting his racing, Jim raced mostly in Northern Indiana in the mid, late 70's. The Late Models trasitioned from Slicks, to a Pro Trac treaded tire, and Jim ran against the best in the area, and won races.

 

Both Jim and Bobby, were running Late Models at South Bend, when in 1980, the Super Modifieds would return. Many of the Veterans from the 70's returned, including Buck Cravens, Ozzie, Willie Stutzman, Walt May, Carl Szymanski, Carl Jack Hall, and Tom Jewell. Wasn't long, Jim had a red 16 out there doing battles.

At that time, Jim opened up a car salvage business called Jim Blounts Auto Parts, off Highway 6 in Lapaz. A spot for car builders, both street and racing. Jim's business was on over a dozen cars at a time, as he helped many a racer, sometimes just giving the part, so a fellow competitor could race another time.

The Supers lasted a couple more years, and soon after, Jim ran a Blue #16. He stayed at South Bend, New Paris, Avilla, and Plymouth, racking up wins at all 4 tracks. From 1990 to 1995, Jim won Championships at the Capitol {Plymouth} Speedway, before he retired at the end of 1995.

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