MEMORIAL DAY
May 30, 1953

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ira Woodward

 

Bill Nelson

 

Shorty Jones

 

Ralph Lies

 

Max Naden

 

Max Ritter

 

Forrest Coleman

 

 

"AND THEY'RE UNDERWAY"
    This photograph of the start of a race on May 30, 1953 at the Cowley County Fairgrounds, Winfield, Kansas was published on page 5 of the Thursday, July 2, 1953 issue of the Winfield Daily Courier.  The #3 car above was a Ford owned by Glen Martin and driven by Ira Woodward of Wichita, Kansas.  Can you identify any of these cars and / or their drivers?  If you can, please contact Bob Lawrence at:  sprintguy @ cox.net

 

 

 

 

Bob Newman

 

Willard Bodkins

 

Bill Mears

 

J. D. Cox

 

Marvin Thompson

 

Johnnie Bush

 

Mason Bullock

 

Winfield Daily Courier
Monday, June 1, 1953, Front Page:


Many Attend Car Races

An estimated crowd of 3,500 to 4,000 persons witnessed the thrilling stock car racing program at fairgrounds on Memorial Day sponsored by the Winfield Lions club.  In addition to fearless and spirited competition exhibited from start to finish by the drivers, there were several unscheduled "spot" thrillers on the program when cars crashed, flipped, and rolled over while dashing through heavy clouds of dust.  Jimmie Davenport, Winfield; and Marvin Thompson*, Wichita; went off the north curve, ripped out sections of the panel fence barricade and overturned.  Neither driver was hurt.  Some minor repairs were indicated on the car Davenport was driving and Thompson was able to drive his car away.  Both cars landed on their wheels after completely turning over.


CARS PILE UP

In the last race, five cars piled up in the south turn of the track with some damage resulting to vehicles but only minor hurts suffered by the drivers.

An unusual situation developed in one race when a car driven by Willard Bodkins, Winfield, lost a front wheel on the northeast corner of the track. He went ahead and made a full lap and a half to complete the race on three wheels.  (See photo below.)

Bill Mears, Wichita, driving a car owned by Joe Collins, Winfield, won the trophy dash on the racing program.

A relay race by three Winfield Veterans' Cab Co. and an invitation stock car race with five entries, were included among the racing events of the afternoon.


MANY DRIVERS ENTER

Starter of the races was Johnnie Autrey of Enid (and) "Red" Grantham was (the)announcer.  Joe Collins, who directed the racing program, reported that the drivers were highly pleased with the large crowd and the response of the racing fans, also by the way the track was watered down by the city sprinkler in charge of Lloyd Hankins.

The drivers who really gave fans a run for their money included Brad Daws, Lee Wilt, Willard Bodkins, and Jimmie Davenport, Winfield; Bill Mears, Marvin Thompson, J. D. Cox, Bob Newman, Shorty Jones all of Wichita; Fred Tierman and Karl Brown, St. Joseph, Missour; Tommy McGee, Muskogee, Oklahoma; Whitie Darnell, Oklahoma City; Harold Sipp, Dodge City; Max Ritter, Enid; Carl Brown, Salina; Sammie Rosline, Hutchinson; Bud Webster of Winfield; and Mike Hotmatski of Kansas City, were on hand but because of motor trouble, did not start.

Most of these drivers and others including Johnnie Bush, another outstanding stock car driver, are expected to be on hand July 4th when the Lions club again will sponsor a racing program at the fairgrounds.

 

Willard Bodkins of Winfield, Kansas, was driving car #44; Bill Simpson was driving the Bob Martin owned #B-1 (below); and Freddy Tinnemeyer, also of Wichita, was driving the #16 car.  Who was driving the other cars?  If you know, please contact Bob Lawrence at:  sprintguy @ cox.net

 

Willard Bodkins, above, after having the right front wheel break off his car, is shown here exiting the fourth (northwest) turn while running the last lap and a half on three wheels to complete a race at the Cowley County fairgrounds at Winfield, Kansas on Memorial Day, 1953.  Bodkins told the Webmaster (Bob Lawrence) that having wheels break off on the Cowley County Fairgrounds racetrack was a very common problem.  Click your mouse on the photo above to see another photo of a similar, but unidentified, car taking its time trial.  That photo is from the Willard Bodkins collection.

 

The photograph, above, shows part of the wooden railing that once circled the infield of the half-mile racetrack at the Cowley County fairgrounds in Winfield, Kansas.  The old railing did not last long once stock cars starting competing on the track, much to the dismay of horsemen.  These cars were exiting the fourth turn north of the grandstand when this photograph was taken on Memorial Day, 1953 and it was published in the Winfield Daily Courier along with a caption that read:

"MIXUPS ON THE CURVES IS NOT AN UNCOMMON INCIDENT in automobile races.  This photograph, during one of the Memorial Day races at the fairgrounds, was taken just before five cars piled up on the curve south of the grandstand.  Similar thrills are expected at the races July 4th."

     Notice the parked cars of spectators all around the third and fourth turns. The Webmaster (Bob Lawrence), remembers my father parking there the first time he took me to the races.

The 1932 Ford coupe #9 was owned by Nellis Fisher of Wichita, Kansas and driven by Gene DeWald of Winfield.  The 1932 Ford sedan #3 (actually it was #3B) was owned by Bill Walker of Arkansas City, Kansas and driven by John Watts of Wichita.  The 1933 Ford sedan #25 was driven by Bill Killion of Wichita.  The 1935 Ford coupe #77 was owned by Arnold Unger and driven by Lee Phillips, both of Wichita.  The just visible car directly behind DeWald's #9 was a 1936 Chevrolet.  Can you identify the drivers or owners of any of the other cars on this page?  If so, please contact Bob Lawrence at:  sprintguy @ cox.net

 

The 1932 Ford sedan #55 was owned by Kenny Riffel, of Herington, Kansas and driven by Frank Lies of Wichita, Kansas.  The #6 sedan was driven by Max Naden of Arkansas City, Kansas.  The 1933 Ford coupe #15 was driven by Dean Ring of Alva, Oklahoma.  The 1932 Ford sedan #24 was light yellow over brown in color and was both owned and driven by Bill Nichols of Wichita, Kansas.  The #30 coupe at far right was driven by Mason Bullock of El Dorado, Kansas.

 

Bill Mears of Wichita, Kansas at right and starter Johnny Autry of Enid, Oklahoma at left as they wait with the Joe-Collins-owned Ford coupe #4, for the trophy presentation after Mears had won the trophy dash.  Collins was from Winfield.

 

    Bill Mears of Wichita, Kansas, is pictured above on the infield at Winfield, Kansas with the yellow over blue Ford coupe that he drove for owner Joe Collins of Winfield in 1953.  The combination proved almost unbeatable and Mears said Collins' Ford coupe was the fastest car that he ever drove.  Collins was superstitious, however, and would not allow any work to be done on the car.  Mears would tell Collins what he thought the car needed but Collins would say, "Don't change anything when you're winning."  The steering finally got so bad that Mears had to tell Collins that he would not drive the car any longer.
The man standing at left in this photo with his hand on his head, is J. D. Cox of Wichita, Kansas.
     Click your mouse on the picture above to see a different view of Mears standing beside this coupe.  Both photos were taken the same day on the infield of the Winfield racetrack
Loretta Cox collection

 

Fred Potter, driving the Loren-Law-owned #8, is shown here racing an unidentified sedan down the front straightaway at Winfield.

 

Moving Toward the Starting Line

Pace Lap for the A Feature Race - May 30, 1953

Note the mostly exposed fire hydrant in the foreground.   Car #24 on the pole position was Forrest Coleman of Wichita, Kansas in the Bob-Thackery-owned #24 sedan.  Car #30, on the outside of the front row, was a 1939 Hudson coupe driven by Mason Bullock of El Dorado, Kansas.  The second car on the inside was a 1932 Hudson coupe owned by Joe Collins of Winfield, Kansas and driven by Will Forrest of Wichita, Kansas.  The third car back on the inside was the #6 driven by Max Naden of Arkansas City, Kansas.  The eighth car back on the inside was the #44 driven by Willard Bodkins of Winfield.  Click your mouse on the photo above to view a photograph of these same cars that was taken just seconds after this one was taken.

 

 

 

 

Return to page one of the History of Auto Racing at Winfield website.