The History of Auto Racing at

Newton, Kansas

 

 

 

This photo of Murray Earl's #4 Fronty Ford special was taken after he had wrecked it racing at Newton, Kansas in 1937.  Although injured, Earl credited his new $14 crash helmet with saving his life in the crash – Jack Earle collection

 

 

 

 

The first known auto races at Newton, Kansas took place on November 11, 1920:

 

Half-Mile Time Trial

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

Time

1

Merle Warren

Newton, Kansas

Essex special #2

1:08.6

2

Fred Lentz

Hutchinson, Kansas

Hudson special

1:10.0

3

Cliff Metcalf

Hutchinson, Kansas

Ford special

1:12.4

4

George Gass

Hutchinson, Kansas

Ford special #22

1:13.6

5

Bud Strong

Hutchinson, Kansas

16-Valve Laurel Ford special #8

1:17.0

6

Ray Merreill

Newton, Kansas

Maxwell special

1:26.6

 

 

 

 

 

First Heat Race – 1 mile

1

Fred Lentz

Hutchinson, Kansas

Hudson special

2:19.0

2

Merle Warren

Newton, Kansas

Essex special #2

2:20.4

3

Ray Merrill

Newton, Kansas

Maxwell special

DNF

 

 

 

 

 

Second Heat Race – 1 mile

1

Merle Warren

Newton, Kansas

Essex special #2

2:21.4

2

Fred Lentz

Hutchinson, Kansas

Hudson special

2:25.2

3

Ray Merrill

Newton, Kansas

Maxwell special

DNF

 

 

 

 

 

Third Heat Race – 1 mile

1

Fred Lentz

Hutchinson, Kansas

Hudson special

2:21.2

2

Merle Warren

Newton, Kansas

Essex special #2

2:22.4

3

Ray Merrill

Newton, Kansas

Maxwell special

DNF

 

 

 

 

 

15-Mile Sweepstakes Race

 

1

Merle Warren

Newton, Kansas

Essex special #2

16:14.4

2

Fred Lentz

Hutchinson, Kansas

Hudson special

 

3

Cliff Metcalf

Hutchinson, Kansas

Ford special

 

4

Ray Merrill

Newton, Kansas

Maxwell special

 

George Gass 

Hutchinson, Kansas

Ford special #22

 

Bud Strong

Hutchinson, Kansas

16-Valve Laurel Ford special #8

 

 

 

 

 

The following articled appeared on page 4 of the May 2, 1921 issue of the Hutchinson (Kansas) News:

LOCAL AUTO RACER IN NARROW ESCAPE

Fred Lentz’s Essex Turns Over Three Times But he has Only Minor Injuries

            “Fred Lentz, local auto racer, had a narrow escape yesterday at Newton when his Essex racing car, which was being given its first trial on the track there, turned over three times.  Lentz received a broken finger and was lacerated on the chin and hands.  He also suffered considerable from the shock but word from Newton this afternoon was to the effect he probably would return home this evening.

            “Lentz was alone in the car when the accident occurred.  He lost control of the machine when it hit a deep rut in the track made by vehicles in crossing into the infield.  He had been around the track several times with a companion prior to the accident.

            “The racing car was not seriously damaged according to advice from Newton.”

 

 

 

 

The following excerpt appeared in the front page of the Fairfield Daily Ledger Journal, Fairfield, Iowa on August 6, 1921 but nothing more is currently known about the race mentioned therein:

“(Fred) Lentz has just recovered from injuries which he received in a race three weeks ago at Newton, Kansas.  While leading in the free-for-all race, his car suddenly plunged through the fence and turned completely over.  He was unconscious for over twenty-four hours, the result of a crash (sic) on the head, but he pulled through without any serious injuries.”

 

 

 

 

The next known races in Newton took place on September 8, 1921 in conjunction with the semi-centennial celebration there.  The races were run on the ˝ mile dirt oval Athletic Field racetrack.  The total advertised purse was $1,000.  2,000 fans witnessed the events.  The newspaper reported that the track condition “could have been better.”

 

 

This is the Essex special #2 that Merle Warren drove in the races at the Athletic Field in Newton – Wichita Eagle

 

 

Entry List 

Driver

From

Automobile

 

Fred Lentz

Hutchinson, Kansas

Essex special

 

Bud Strong

Hutchinson, Kansas

16-valve Laurel Ford special #8

 

Bill Bryant

Hutchinson, Kansas

16-valve Hudson special

 

James I. “Toots” Higgins

Newton, Kansas

Essex special

 

Johnnie Mais

Dodge City, Kansas

16-valve Dodge special

 

Harold Peterson

Wichita, Kansas

Lassen special Dodge

 

Fritz “Fraty” Willard

Ponca City, Oklahoma

Hudson special

 

Johnnie Lee

Salina, Kansas

16-valve Dodge special

 

Bob Fife

Blackwell, Oklahoma

Dodge special

 

Merle Warren

Newton, Kansas

Essex special #2

 

J. F. Jones

Alva, Oklahoma

Overland 90 special

 

Hart H. Bowman

Wichita, Kansas

Bowman’s Squaw

 

A. C. Mallory

 

Chevrolet special

 

 

Time Trials – 2 Laps

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

Time

1

Harold Peterson

Wichita, Kansas

Lassen special Dodge

1:10.0

2

Bill Bryant

Hutchinson, Kansas

16-valve Hudson special

 

3

James I. “Toots” Higgins

Newton, Kansas

Essex special

 

4

Merle Warren

Newton, Kansas

Essex special #2

 

5

J. F. Jones

Alva, Oklahoma

Overland 90 special

 

 

First Heat Races – 3 cars – 4 Laps

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

Time

1

Harold Peterson

Wichita, Kansas

Lassen special Dodge

2:25.4

2

James I. “Toots” Higgins

Newton, Kansas

Essex special

2:29.0

3

Bill Bryant

Hutchinson, Kansas

16-valve Hudson special

DNF

 

Special race between around the oval between Merle Warren and an Airplane – 4 laps

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

Time

1

Merle Warren

Newton, Kansas

Essex special #2

2:23.0

2

Charles Mayse

Tucson, Arizona

Airplane

 

 

FreeforAll – 4 cars – 6 Laps

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

Time

1

Harold Peterson

Wichita, Kansas

Lassen special Dodge

3:40.0

2

Merle Warren

Newton, Kansas

Essex special #2

3:44.0

3

James I. “Toots” Higgins

Newton, Kansas

Essex special

3:47.0

4

J. F. Jones

Alva, Oklahoma

Overland 90 special

4:03.0

 

Second Heat Races – 3 cars – 4 Laps

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

Time

1

Harold Peterson

Wichita, Kansas

Lassen special Dodge

2:25.0

2

James I. “Toots” Higgins

Newton, Kansas

Essex special

2:28.4

3

Bill Bryant

Hutchinson, Kansas

16-valve Hudson special

3:05.0

 

Third Heat Races – 3 cars – 4 Laps

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

Time

1

Harold Peterson

Wichita, Kansas

Lassen special Dodge

2:31.0

2

Bill Bryant

Hutchinson, Kansas

16-valve Hudson special

2:31.2

3

James I. “Toots” Higgins

Newton, Kansas

Essex special

2:31.8

 

FreeforAll – 5 cars – 30 Laps

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

Time

1

Harold Peterson

Wichita, Kansas

Lassen special Dodge

18:00.0

2

Bill Bryant

Hutchinson, Kansas

16-valve Hudson special

18:29.0

3

James I. “Toots” Higgins

Newton, Kansas

Essex special

18:29.2

4

J. F. Jones

Alva, Oklahoma 

Overland 90 special

DNF

5

Merle Warren

Newton, Kansas

Essex special #2

DNF

The Lassen special Dodge, driven by Harold Peterson, was owned by William Henry “Bill” Lassen of Wichita, Kansas.

Jones dropped out after losing a rear wheel which came to rest near the fence on the northwest turn of the racetrack

Bryant and Higgins ran most of this race side-by-side.  Higgins was on the inside next to the rail but was unable to muster enough speed to complete the pass.

 

 

Race Officials

Merle Warren

Race Organizer

Bob Junge

Timekeeper

Herschel Hawley

Timekeeper

John Houston

Timekeeper

J. P. Oliver

Announcer

Roy Masters

Flagman / Starter

 

 

 

 

The next known races in Newton were run on a ˝ mile racetrack that circled the baseball diamond at Athletic Park in Newton on Saturday afternoon, August 1, 1931.  All that has been learned about those races do date is that Murray Earl of Hutchinson, Kansas drove a Model T Ford to victory in a 10-lap stock car race.  A post-race inspection found that Earl’s Model T engine was sporting a Fronty rocker arm head but, since the promoter had failed to state specifically what constituted a “stock car”, Earl was paid the prize money.

 

 

 

Rea Bray of Hutchinson, Kansas was the promoter of the next known races to be run on the ˝ mile racetrack at Athletic Park on Wednesday afternoon, June 1, 1932.  The known results of those races are:

 

First Heat Race of Stock Cars

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

1

Russell Moe

Scandia, Kansas

 

 

 

 

 

Stock Car Race - 3 miles – Time: 4:00.4

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

1

Mike Carrier

Hutchinson, Kansas

Model A Ford

2

Dick Graves

Hutchinson, Kansas

Chevrolet

3

Charles Carey, Jr.

Hutchinson, Kansas

Chevrolet

 

 

 

 

Big Car Race – Class B – 3 Miles – Time: 3:23.4

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

1

Charles Pauley

Herington, Kansas

Frontenac

2

Dan Brenneman

Newton, Kansas

Ford

3

Herb Hunter

Herington, Kansas

Chevrolet

 

 

 

 

Big Car Race – Class A – 3 miles – Time: 3:18.6

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

1

Rea Bray

Hutchinson, Kansas

Frontenac

2

Murray Earl

Hutchinson, Kansas

Frontenac

3

Carl Mayfield

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Rajo Ford

 

 

 

 

Big Car Match Race – 1 mile – Time: 1:15.6

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

1

Roy Lake

Los Angeles, California

Green Special

2

Carl Mayfield

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Rajo Ford

 

 

 

 

Big Car Race – B Feature – 3 Miles

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

1

Charles Pauley

Herington, Kansas

Frontenac

2

Carl Mayfield

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Rajo Ford

 

 

 

 

Big Car Sweepstakes Race – 5 Miles – Time: 4:30.4

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

1

Roy Lake

Los Angeles, California

Green Special

2

Charles Pauley

Herington, Kansas

Frontenac

3

Rea Bray

Hutchinson, Kansas

Frontenac

4

Harry H. Norris

Houston, Texas

 

According to a ledger kept by Charles Pauley, he won a total of $6.53 from the posted purse on this afternoon.

 

 

 

A half-mile dirt figure eight racetrack was built on the Ray Remp farm located one-half mile east of Kansas Avenue on First Street in 1938.  It is believed to have been the first figure-eight racetrack in the world.  Races were run there several Sunday afternoons in 1938.  Few results of those races been located but we know that Jim Roper of Halstead, Kansas claimed that he raced a 1930 Chevrolet there that year and that Murray Earl of Hutchinson, Kansas is said to have been a competitor in the races there.  We also know that Milton C. Smith of Wichita, Kansas was seriously injured in a spectacular T-bone crash in his specially built Ford racing car at the intersection on that track.  The races there in both 1938 and 1939 were promoted by Bud Ayers of Newton, Kansas.

 

It was soon recognized that a half-mile racetrack was too large to be running figure-eight races on so the track was reconfigured into a half-mile dirt oval it time for the races there in 1939.  Several races were run there on Sunday afternoons that year but, to date, the results of the races run on only two Sunday's are known:

 

 

Sunday Afternoon, May 7, 1939

Entry List

 

Driver

From

 

Howard Aten

Lyons, Kansas

 

Bill Davis

Lyons, Kansas

 

Art Nichols

Inman, Kansas

 

Jake Inns

Inman, Kansas

 

Collin's Auto Salvage

Peabody, Kansas

 

 

 

 

Feature Race

Place

Driver

From

1

Marvin Church

Whitewater, Kansas

2

Howard Aten

Inman, Kansas

3

Don Num

 

4

Ralph Fuller

 

5

Bill Markley

 

Marvin Church finished more than a half-lap ahead of the second place car in his Model-A Ford..  Bill Markley dropped out of the race with a broken engine hanger.  Ralph Fuller limped home several laps behind the winner with a broken fan blade stuck in his radiator.

  

 

 

Sunday Afternoon, May 14, 1939

Feature Race 

Place

Driver

From

Automobile

1

Paul Harris

Newton, Kansas

Model-A Ford

2

Art Nichols

Inman, Kansas

Model-A Ford

3

Marvin Church

Whitewater, Kansas

Model A Ford

4

John Burns

 

 

5

John Walls

Moundridge, Kansas

 

 

 

 

In 1948, a group of Newton businessmen pooled their resources and built the Jayhawk Amusement Park Racetrack south of Newton.