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Florida Governor's Cup

         Florida's Governor's Cup

The Governor's Cup -- the name stands out as the premier short track Late Model race in the sate of Florida and has once again been recognized as such by Governor bob Martinez. The race began as the Florida State Late Model Championship in 1963 at Frank Dery's Golden Gate Speedway in Tampa, where the late Dave McInnis was the first winner.

The cup itself was first awarded in 1965 ands the winner that year was Wayne Reutimann. From then until 1978, the race at the third-mile Golden Gate oval on Fowler Avenue in Tampa was an institution on the first weekend in November. Drivers from all over the country and Canada have competed for the Governor's Cup.
Golden Gate shut down for 1979 and 1980 due to EPA and political pressure to tighten noise restrictions.

Sunshine Speedway in St. Petersburg hosted the event in 1979 while no race was held in 1980. Don Nerone re-opened Golden Gate Speedway in 1981 and the cars competed there (with mufflers) for the next three years until the track was permanently closed In 1984.

Although the Florida Championship was held at Desoto Speedway in Bradenton in 84, 85 and 86, the cup was not actually competed for. Although no accurate records are available on those events, Jimmy Cope won two of those, while Leroy Porter won the other.

The Governor's Cup was brought out of the mothballs three years ago and given a permanent home at New Smyrna Speedway. Dick Anderson has won the Cup in the first two races held at New Smyrna. It remains to be seen who will be the Governor's Cup Winner for 1990.

The list of drivers who've won the Governor's Cup is impressive. Driver/Builder Ed Howe of Beaverton, Michigan heads the list with four wins. The now retired Robert Hamke, who moved his car building business from Florida to the Carolina's a few years ago is a two time winner, as is Wayne Reutimann of Zephyrhills, while Dick Anderson of Wildwood has won both races held at New Smyrna. Single winners include Mike Eddy, Don Gregory, Dick Trickle, Jim Cope, Leroy Porter, Dumont Smith, Gary Balough, Bobby Brack and Jim Fenton.

People often ask me - "What's the best Late Model race you ever saw?" - It's an easy one to answer: The 1965 Governor's Cup race at Golden Gate Speedway. I was 13 years old and it was my first visit to the Tampa Racetrack.

Qualifying was held the day before, but Bobby Allison was running a race in Georgia that night. Allison and his crew loaded up their '56 Chevy and towed all night to Tampa, arriving just in time to start dead last in his qualifier - he won.

Starting 21st in a field of 36, Allison slowly worked his way to the front and caught leader Wayne Reutimann's '57 Chevy just past halfway.

For 75 laps, the two battled side by side, Wayne on the inside - Bobby on the outside. Wayne Reutimann won the race by a fender-length over Allison. Things have changed since then as Reutimann went on to win the Governor's Cup a second time in 1973, race dirt modified successfully in the northeast and is a former sprint car champion. Allison of course went on to win Daytona 500's, countless other NASCAR races and ultimately became Winston Cup Champion.

-The above was probably written by
Dave Westerman

By John Darveau

Driving the Huey's Restaurant/Capt. Cotys Pontiac, Dick Anderson successfully defended his Florida Governor's Cup Late Model State Championship Title, worth $6,160, on Saturday night, November 4, 1989 at New Smyrna Speedway.

With 54 automobiles attempting to quality, the event was held in front of the largest crowd since the 1989 February World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Race.

But during the second half of the FASCAR-sanctioned 200-lap event, Anderson had to overcome a tremendous challenge from Leroy Porter, who was back in the hunt after a violent mid-afternoon crash, during hot laps.

With five laps to go, Anderson was just hanging on, the standing room only crowd came to its feet, as Porter really turned on the pressure "full blast", but had to settle for second at the checkers.

"Towards the end, I was looking for some lapped cars to put some space between me and Leroy, but there weren't any," said Anderson, as less than half of the 42-cars starting field was still running at the finish.

Finishing third, after leading 36 laps was Lee Faulk, of Crossville, Tennessee.

Track Champion David Russell was fourth, followed by teammate Ed Meredith, 1989 United Stock Car Alliance Point Champion Eddie King, Junior Purcell and Greg Cecil, with all these drivers completing the full distance. Rounding out the top ten were Bruce Lawrence and James Powell III.

Second fastest qualifier Steve Burgess of Minneapolis, Minnesota, in a BEMCO-built Chevy, led for the first 31 tours. At that point fast times/pole sitter David Rogers powered by, only to fall off the pace with a flat tire 14 laps later.

Anderson then moved up on the point. On lap 78, fourth place runner Jack Cook suffered a broken trailing arm and spun. The mishap brought out the caution, and the top three, Anderson, Porter and Burgess, pitted for fuel and tires.

Choosing to stay out, fourth place runner Lee Faulk assumed the lead. At the half-way mark Faulk led Greg Cecil, 1969 New Smyrna Speedway Track Champion Ray Bontrager, Ed Meredith, Stan Eads and Jimmy Cope, as Anderson was threading his way back up.

During a caution period, the leader made a long pit stop for four tires on lap 113 and fell back to the tall of the field. As for Anderson, a very quick pit stop allowed him to pull out first and regain the lead for good, as Porter immediately started to work him over, with Burgess also in the thick of the tremendous battle for the lead and the win.

With Anderson's car powered by a high compression engine, while Porter's car sported a stock motor and Burgess had a 9 to 1 engine under the hood, the new Late Model rules allowing all three types of motors seem to even up the competition.

Burgess, a pre-race favorite, dropped out on lap 191, as Anderson just barely held Leroy off for the win.


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