77 Speedway

Arkansas City, Kansas

Page 1

 

 

When it opened, 77 Speedway was a flat 1/3 mile dirt oval racetrack located on a 32-acre tract of land one mile south of the Arkansas River and ˝ mile west of (old) U. S. Highway 77 on the south edge of Arkansas City, Kansas in an unincorporated community known as “I.X.L.”  The speedway was first opened on Easter Sunday, April 10, 1955 by its co-owners Allen Carter, Elmer Ortin, Ted and Joyce Allen.  Ted Allen was the new racetrack’s manager and Paul Borror was placed in charge of novelity races and special events.  At the time, the racetrack management optimistically claimed there were enough bleachers to hold 1,800 race fans with a parking capacity of 3,000 cars.

The following year, Gene and Clara Bullard joined the Allens as partners in the venture and the racetrack was lengthened by a total of 75 feet.  The high cost of insurance and worry about the possibility of injury to the spectators sitting in cars parked along the road just outside the racetrack prompted the Allens and Bullards to lease the speedway to Paul Borror in 1957.  Borror operated the racetrack himself until the fall of 1958 when he hired “Monk” Holt of Wichita, Kansas to manage the racetrack for him.

In the spring of 1960, Jim Collins of Hutchinson, Kansas, subleased the racetrack from Borror.

The last races run at 77 Speedway were in connection with the local “Arkalalah” celibration on October 29, 1960.  Borror then closed the racetrack and returned the facility to the Allens.  The racetrack was dismantled with the bleachers being moved a short distance to a rodeo arena operated by the Arkansas City Saddle Club.

In all, 77 Speedway operated for most of six seasons,  Micro midgets were added to the program and raced at the speedway in 1957 and 1958.

Few of the cars that raced at 77 Speedway were fancy and the purses were often megar but some of the top drivers in the area competed there anyway.

Track photographer Gary Virden took each of the photographs below.

 

 

The #24, shown here leading, was owned by Bob Thackery and driven by Forrest Coleman, both of Wichita, KS.  The “8 ball” car in second place was owned by Lawrence Brooks of Arkansas City, KS.  Max Naden of Ponca City, OK was driving the #6 Ford sedan shown here in third place – Larry Brooks collection

 

 

#2 Jim McAmis of Wichita, KS driving a car owned by Elmer Ortin of Arkansas City, KS.  The #51 was owned and driven by Bob Newman of Wichita, KS – Larry Brooks collection

 

 

This photograph was taken from the infield.  The #4 car at right was owned by Joe Collins of Winfield, KS – Larry Brooks collection

 

 

“They’re Off” to a Sunday afternoon at the races – Larry Brooks collection

 

 

The #6 Ford sedan was driven by Max Naden of Ponca City, OK.  Note the flagpole at right – Larry Brooks collection

 

 

The #2 Ford coupe was owned by Elmer Ortin, of Arkansas City, KS and driven by Jim McAmis of Wichita, KS.  The “8 Ball” Ford coupe at left was owned by Lawrence Brooks of Arkansas City, KS – Larry Brooks collection

 

 

#00 Keith Jackson is shown here tangling with another competitor while #11 Buddy Quick slipped by on the inside during some tight racing action – Gary Virden collection

 

 

Racing through turns one and two on a Sunday afternoon – Gary Virden collection

 

 

Flagman Lyle Baker, of Wichita, KS, introduces Ken Jackson to the crowd before a race begins.  Ken, from Ponca City, OK, drove the #72.  That is Allen Carter’s #35 Ford coupe at left – Gary Virden collection

 

 

An unidentified group of jalopies races through turns one and two on a Sunday afternoon.  If you can indentify any of these cars, please contact Bob Lawrence at sprintguy @ cox.net – Gary Virden collection

 

 

#39 Cliff Durr leads an unidentified sedan while a car driven by Milford Martin can be seen just entereing the picture – Gary Virden collection

 

 

#4A was owned by Ernie McCoy while the “8-Ball” was owned by Lawrence Brooks.  It is unknown who the drivers of these two ford coupes were on this particular Friday night – Gary Virden collection

 

 

Do you recognize either of these cars racing through the first turn?  If you do, please contact Bob Lawrence at sprintguy @ cox.net – Gary Virden collection

 

 

#40 Leon Bowman in a coupe owned by K. O. Christian.  If you know who was driving the other car, please contact Bob Lawrence at sprintguy @ cox.net – Gary Virden collection

 

 

This Website is Dedicated to the Memory of

Gary Joe Virden

1937 – 2001

Without whose camera, foresight, and valuable assistance, another chapter of auto racing history would have been lost forever and this website would not have been possible.

 

 

 

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77 Speedway, Arkansas City, Kansas

 

 

 

 

 

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