Joseph Frederick “Joe” Ziobro

1902 – 1969

 

Joe Ziobro (pronounced “Zee bro”) was born January 2, 1902 at Minneapolis, Minnesota, the youngest of three children born to Francis “Frank” Ziobro (c1857-c1912), and his wife, Salomena “Selma” (Moskalik) Ziobro (1871-1912).  Joe’s sister was Mary Lucy Ziobro (1896-1972), who married Stanley John Skay and they lived most of their lives in the Minneapolis area.  Joe’s brother was Francis Vincent “Frank” Ziobro (1900-1968). who lived in the Washington, D.C. area before relocating to Alameda, California.  Joe’s parents had been born in Austria and immigrated to America in 1891 so Polish was the language spoken in the Ziobro home while Joe and his siblings were growing up in Minneapolis.

Joe was orphaned by the age of 10 and Mrs. Elizabeth (Gerck) Kiedrowski (1875-1965) was appointed legal guardian for him and his siblings.

As he grew older, Joe tried his hand at being an artist but he soon learned that, if he was not going to be a starving artist, he would have to find another means by which to support himself.

Ziobro would later claim that he got his start in the auto racing promotion business around 1923.  We do know that, by 1926, he had landed a job as an “advanced advertising man” with the International Motor Contest Association (I.M.C.A.) that was then headquartered in his hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota.  It was his job to travel to cities and towns in the Midwest where I.M.C.A. had scheduled auto races.  He would arrive a week, or two, before a scheduled race meet and setup the outdoor advertising before the event.  By the time race day rolled around, he had already moved on to the next town where I.M.C.A. sanctioned races were scheduled to be run.

The following is an incomplete list of the auto races that Ziebro is known to have assisted with the promotion of:

 

October 18, 1926 at the ½ mile dirt oval Mississippi State Fairgrounds in Jackson, Mississippi – Sanctioned by I.M.C.A.

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Feature race winner:  Emory Collins of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada in his Yale special.

 

October 26, 1926 at the ½ mile oiled dirt oval Cotton Palace Fairgrounds in Waco, Texas – Sanctioned by I.M.C.A.

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Feature race winner:  Oscar “Swede” Anderson of Chicago, Illinois in a Baby Fiat

 

October 28, 1926 at the ½ mile oiled dirt oval Cotton Palace Fairgrounds in Waco, Texas – Sanctioned by I.M.C.A.

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Feature race winner:  Ray Burr Lampkin of Kansas City, Missouri

 

Confident that he had learned the trade, Ziobro left I.M.C.A. c1930 and struck out on his own, becoming a full-fledged independent promoter of non-sanctioned (or “Outlaw”) auto races.  As such, he was in charge of organizing everything, doing his own track preparation, taking the tickets and then putting on such events throughout the Midwest.  In 1949, Ziobro even listed his occupation as “ticket taker.”  His success as an impresario has been widely attributed to both his honesty and “his knack of staging races in rapid-fire order.”  He is said to have preferred to have 16 to 18 cars entered at his races.  “More than that is a handicap and tends to make the programs too long.”  Ziobro is also said to have been “one of the men (to) whom the credit belongs for stabilizing the speed game in the Southwest” and he is also said to have “never put on a poor program.”

Joe Ziobro moved to Wichita, Kansas in the early 1930s and soon formed an alliance with another promoter / theatrical agent there named William Fred Floto (1884-1948).  Floto was a much younger brother of Otto C. Floto (1863-1929), the well-known Denver sports writer who lent his name to his employer, the Denver Post, to put on their famous Sells-Floto traveling circus.

William Floto had been an agent for Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show of Denver, Colorado and for the Miller Brothers’ 101 Ranch Wild West Show of Lamont, Oklahoma before moving to Wichita from Tulsa, Oklahoma, with his wife in 1924.  Floto became a Studebaker dealer in Wichita until he received an offer to be the public relations director for the Sells-Floto circus.  Floto served in that capacity from 1927 until 1930 when he returned to Wichita and formed the alliance with Ziobro.

For the first decade that he was an independent promoter, Ziobro served as both flagman and starter of the races he put on:

 

August 7, 1932 at the ½ mile dirt oval Bo Stearns’ Track north of Wichita, Kansas

William Floto was the promoter of record of these races while Ziobro was named as one of Floto’s “associates” in the venture.

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Attendance:  3,000

Feature race winner:  Pat Cunningham of St. Joseph, Missouri in a Fronty Ford #K-1 owned by Leonard E. Kertbs of Otis, Kansas

 

The following is an incomplete list of the auto races that Ziebro is known to have promoted on his own:

 

July 4, 1933 at the ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Kansas

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Feature race winner:  Lew Irwin of Iola, Kansas in the Lawhon special #X-3 owned by brothers George and Ernie Lawhon of St. Joseph, Missouri

 

August 13, 1933 at the ½ mile dirt oval Bo Stearns’ Track north of Wichita, Kansas

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Attendance:  4,000

Feature race winner:  Pat Cunningham of St. Joseph, Missouri in a Fronty Ford #K-1 owned by Leonard E. Kertbs of Otis, Kansas

 

July 4, 1934 at the ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Kansas

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Attendance:  2,500

Feature race winner:  Charles Pauley of Herington, Kansas in the Fronty-Ford-powered Pauley special #28 owned by Charles’ uncle, Henry Pauley of Herington, Kansas

 

July 17, 1935 at the 5/8 mile dirt oval Industrial Speedway at Dallas, Texas

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Feature race winner:  William Ben “Red” Hodges of Dallas, Texas in a #4 car owned by Les Butler, Sr. also of Dallas, Texas

 

July 24, 1935 at the 5/8 mile dirt oval Industrial Speedway at Dallas, Texas

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

          Rookie driver, C. E. Hamilton of Topeka, Kansas, received fatal injuries when he crashed his Big Car in the south turn during time trials on July 27, 1935 at the Cowley County Fairgrounds in Winfield, Kansas and he passed away several days later.  This was the first of two fatalities known to have occur at an auto race promoted by Ziobro during his 33-year career of promoting such events.

 

Joe Ziobro is shown here dressed all in white and standing in the middle of Fair Park track at the Old Oklahoma State Fairgrounds on Eastern Avenue in Oklahoma City on June 5, 1937.  He was the race promoter that day and was doubling as the flagman and official starter as well.  He was dressed all in white in an attempt be easily seen through the dust by the drivers.

Mayfield family collection

 

July 27, 1935 at the ½ mile dirt oval Cowley County Fairgrounds in Winfield, Kansas

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Attendance:  1,500

Feature race winner:  Austin E. Wetzler a.k.a. “Tex West” of Dallas, Texas in his Riley Model-A Ford #22A

 

July 28, 1935 at ½ mile dirt oval Anthony Downs in Anthony, Kansas

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Feature race winner:  Austin E. Wetzler a.k.a. “Tex West” of Dallas, Texas in his Riley Model-A Ford #22A

  

November 8, 1936 at ½ mile dirt oval San Antonio Fairgrounds at San Antonio, Texas

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

November 15, 1936 at ½ mile dirt oval San Antonio Fairgrounds at San Antonio, Texas

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

Joe Ziobro relocated from Wichita, Kansas to Oklahoma City, or “where ever I hang my hat” and continued to promote auto races.

 

August 1, 1937 at 1/5 mile dirt oval Coalgate Speedway at the Old Oklahoma State Fairgrounds on Eastern Avenue in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Type of cars:  Midgets – These were the first scheduled midget races ever run at Oklahoma City.

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

June 5, 1938 at ½ mile dirt oval Fair Park track at the Old Oklahoma State Fairgrounds on Eastern Avenue in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

  

July 3, 1938 at the 5/8 mile-high-banked dirt oval Haskell Speedway at Haskell, Texas – Sanctioned by S.R.A.

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Attendance:  1,200

Feature race winner:  Joe Termin of Dallas, Texas in a blue D.O. Hal special

 

          Joe Termin became the second person to be fatally injured in a racing program promoted by Joe Ziobro.  His car threw a right rear tire on the third lap of the first heat race on July 4, 1938.  The car then tumbled down a steep embankment and crashed through a high board fence.

 

July 4, 1938 at the 5/8 mile-high-banked dirt oval Haskell Speedway at Haskell, Texas – Sanctioned by S.R.A.

Type of cars:  Big Cars

Attendance:  1,000

Feature race winner:  Hershel Buchanan of Shreveport, Louisiana

 

Ziobro moved from Oklahoma City to Ft. Worth, Texas to begin regularly promoting midget races at Sportsman’s Park in his new hometown.

 

September 21, 1938 at the 1/5 mile dirt oval Sportsman’s Park in Ft. Worth, Texas

Type of cars:  Midgets

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

June 16, 1940 at the 1/5 mile dirt oval Sportsman’s Park in Ft. Worth, Texas

Type of cars:  Midgets

Feature race winner:  These races were canceled due to rain.

 

June 23, 1940 at the 1/5 mile dirt oval Sportsman’s Park in Ft. Worth, Texas

Type of cars:  Midgets

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

It is believed that Ziobro promoted many other midget races at Sportsman’s Park in Ft. Worth, Texas during the 1938 to 1942-time period but what races he promoted on what dates has yet to be determined.

The federal government decreed that auto racing had to cease in the United States by July 31, 1942 and such racing could not resume for the duration of World War II.  Joe Ziobro took advantage in the lull in racing activity by returning to Minneapolis, Minnesota where he joined the United States Army, rising to the rank of Technical Sargent before he was discharged at the end of the war.

Ziobro returned to Waco, Texas in 1945 to resume promoting auto races.  He leased an old gravel quarry on the south side of Waco from Mary Sickenburger and built a new 1/3 mile dirt oval racetrack that he named the ‘Suicide Bowl.”  He began promoting races there on May 26, 1946.  To reach the Suicide Bowl, one had to “drive north across Lake Waco Dam, past the golf course, or go through Bosqueville and the Municipal Airport to the southwest corner of Blackland Air Field.”

Electronic public-address systems were coming into use after World War II, so Ziobro hired Swede Lawson to be the flagman / starter of the events he promoted while Ziobro, himself, moved to the judge’s stand to announce the races.

 

May 26, 1946 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Jalopies

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

June 2, 1946 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Jalopies

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

June 9, 1946 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Jalopies

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

June 16, 1946 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Jalopies

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

June 23, 1946 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Jalopies

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

June 30, 1946 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Jalopies

Feature race winner:  These scheduled races were canceled by the promoter for an unknown reason.

 

July 7, 1946 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Midget & Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 14, 1946 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

          Ziobro subleased the Suicide Bowl after the races there on July 14, 1946.  When the facility opened again for midget and stock car races on August 4, 1946, Chick Stewart was the new promoter and R. L. Flanagan was the track manager.  The racetrack was paved by October of 1946 in an effort to keep the dust down, but it was not long before Ziobro got his lease back and it was a dirt racetrack again.

 

An aerial view of the Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

Joe & Eileen Armstrong collection, Speed Cave Museum, Axtell, TX

 

May 23, 1948 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Central Texas Speedway at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Midgets

Feature race winner:    Doc Cossey of Houston, Texas

 

May 30, 1948 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Central Texas Speedway at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Midgets

Feature race winner:  Buddy Rackley of Austin, Texas

 

June 6, 1948 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Central Texas Speedway at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Midgets

Feature race winner:  Cecil Zent of Ft. Wayne, Indiana

 

July 11, 1948 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Central Texas Speedway at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Midgets

Feature race winner:  These races were canceled due to the racetrack being too muddy.

 

July 18, 1948 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Central Texas Speedway at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Midgets

Feature race winner:    Doc Cossey of Houston, Texas

 

July 25, 1948 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Central Texas Speedway at Waco, Texas

Type of cars:  Midgets

Feature race winner:  Buddy Rackley of Austin, Texas.

 

          When Joe Ziobro received word of the passing of William F. Floto in Wichita, he immediately announced to the press that, due to a death in his family, he would not be promoting any more auto races in Waco as he had to move back “to Wichita, Kansas to carry on business there.”  He then turned the rest of the races he had scheduled in Waco, over to an experienced racing promoter, Kenneth Niles, of Dallas, Texas.

          By early 1949, Ziobro was sharing an apartment with “Mrs. William Floto” in Wichita.  (Mrs. William Floto was Mary Louise (McClurg) Floto (c1891-1968) and no family relationship among Joe Ziobor and any of the McClungs or Flotos, has been established to date.)  Later that year, Ziobro returned to Waco, reacquired the “Suicide Bowl” and prepared to promote races there in 1950.  Mary L. Floto remained in Wichita and operated the Floto Ticket Agency.  Ziobro announced that stock car racing was replacing midget racing in many cities and that he would also be promoting stock car races at the Suicide Bowl “because of the greater interest among the fans.”  Ziabro also stated that “in many cities where both are held, the stock cars races are outdrawing the midgets.”

 

April 28, 1950 – page 31

Waco News-Tribune

Waco, Texas

 

April 23, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

            Feature Race winner:  This was to be opening day at the Suicide Bowl but these races were canceled due to too few paying spectators.

 

April 30, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Attendance:  1,200

Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Horace Ritchie of Waco, Texas.

 

May 7, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Attendance:  1,400

Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Horace Ritchie of Waco, Texas

 

May 14, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature Race winner:  These races were canceled due to rain

 

May 21, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  George Larsen of Waco, Texas

 

May 28, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Attendance:  1,200

Feature race winner:  Mule Rogers of Waco, Texas in his car #15

 

The Gravel Bowl speedway opened about 38 miles away, between Temple and Belton, Texas and the promoter there scheduled races on Sunday afternoons at the same time that Ziobro was putting on his races at the Sucide Bowl, so Ziobro discontinued his weekly races until lights could be installed and the races moved to Sunday nights.

 

 

Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

Joe & Eileen Armstrong collection, Speed Cave Museum, Axtell, TX

 

June 25, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  These races were scheduled and then canceled “because of errors made in installing the lights.”

 

July 2, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Midgets

Feature race winner:  Gene Frederick of Waco, Texas

 

July 4, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Joe Boone of San Antonio, Texas

 

July 9, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Midgets

Feature race winner:  These races were canceled after only four midgets showed up to race.

 

July 16, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 23, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

            Attendance:  1,425

Feature race winner:  Frank Matthews of Dallas, Texas.

 

Crash at the Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

Leon Jackson photo scan from the Joe & Eileen Armstrong collection, Speed Cave Museum, Axtell, TX

 

July 30, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Roy Etheridge of Corsicana, Texas

 

August 6, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

Type of cars:  Hot Rods

            Attendance:  1,475

Feature race winner:  Slim Sullivan of McGregor, Texas.

 

August 13, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

Type of cars:  Hot Rods

            Feature race winner:  Gordon Woolley of Waco, Texas

 

August 20, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

Type of cars:  Hot Rods

            Feature race winner:  Gordon Woolley of Waco, Texas

 

August 27, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

September 3, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  These were the mid-season championship races and twin feature races were run.  J. T. Shackley of Dallas, Texas won the first feature race while Johnny Etheridge of Corsicana, Texas won the second feature race.  B. B. Thompson of Gatesville, Texas was crowned the mid-season champion.

 

September 10, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Bob Thorn of Dallas, Texas

 

September 17, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Raymond Albritton of Dallas, Texas

 

September 24, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature Race winner:  Slim Sullivan of Temple, Texas

 

October 1, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Johnny Etheridge of Corsicana, Texas

 

October 8, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located except that one woman received several broken fingers when she was struck by the errant wheel from a racing car.

 

October 15, 1950 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

Robert Owen of Corsicana, Texas became the official starter / flagman for the 1951 racing season.  He may have held that position with Ziobro in 1950 as well but that is uncertain at the present time.

 

May 20, 1951 at the 1/3 mil dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

            Attendance: “a capacity crowd”

Feature Race winner:  Slim Sullivan of Temple, Texas

 

Left to right:  Joe Ziobro, Gordon Woolley and Wynn’s representative Woody Wadzeck during a trophy presentation at the Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas in 1951.

Joe & Eileen Armstrong collection, Speed Cave Museum, Axtell, TX

May 27, 1951 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

            Feature Race winner:  Slim Sullivan of Temple, Texas

 

June 3, 1951 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  These races were canceled due to rain.

 

June 10, 1951 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  These races were canceled due to rain.

 

June 17, 1951 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Harley Hooper of Waco, Texas

 

June 24, 1951 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  These races were canceled due to rain.

 

June 30, 1951 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 1, 1951 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 8, 1951 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 15, 1951 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 22, 1951 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Hot Rods

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

 Starter / flagman Robert Owen, of Corsicana, Texas was injured when he was struck by a car during the races at the Suicide Bowl on Sunday night, July 22, 1951.  He spent the night in the hospital having suffered cuts and bruises, but no serious injuries, in the accident.

Ziobro suspended the racing at the Suicide Bowl after Owens’ accident and did not resume the programs until September 23, 1951 when he scheduled midget racing at the Suicide Bowl.

 

September 23, 1951 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas – Sanctioned by S.M.R.A.

            Type of cars:  Midgets

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located but it is known that few midgets entered these races.

 

Things had not been going well professionally for Ziobro in 1951.  A spectator had been critically injured during the opening day races of the season when he was struck by an errant wheel from one of the race cars.  Race car count, and with that, spectator turnout, had been disappointing all season.  Ziobro had one more program already on the schedule in 1951.  “Joie Chitwood’s Auto Daredevils” appeared at the Suicide Bowl on September 28, 1951.  At the conclusion of that program, Ziobro closed the racetrack.

That December, George Larsen of Waco, who had been a regular driver at the Suicide Bowl, was fatally injured in a stock car race at the Gravel Bowl speedway near Temple, Texas.

Disillusioned and in debt, Ziobro subleased the Suicide Bowl to Jess Radle & Son during the winter of 1951 - 1952.  The deal called for Ziobro and Johnny Jank to assist the new promotional team for the 1952 racing season to help the transition go smoothly.  Bob Walker, a personality on local KWTX radio, assumed the public address announcing duties from Ziobro for the new promoter.

  

April 13, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  These races were canceled due to the racetrack being too muddy.

 

April 20, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  These races were canceled due to rain.

 

April 27, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Jimmy Schmidt of Dallas, Texas

 

May 4, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Jimmy Schmidt of Dallas, Texas

 

May 11, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Slim Sullivan of Temple, Texas

 

May 18, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  These races were canceled due to rain.

 

May 25, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Attendance: “over 1,000”

Feature race winner:  Slim Sullivan of Waco, Texas driving a car owned by Carl Thompson of Temple, Texas

 

Jess Radle attended the 1952 Indianapolis “500” leaving the organization and promotion of the upcoming races in the capable hands of Johnny Jank and Joe Ziobro.

 

June 1, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

June 8, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

June 15, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

June 22, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

June 29, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 6, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 13, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 20, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 27, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Billy Jack Cosper a.k.a. “Billy Jack Casper” of Waco, Texas.

 

August 3, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

August 10, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Sonny Johnson of Tyler, Texas

 

August 17, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

August 24, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  John Quane Fletcher of Tyler, Texas

 

August 31, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  John Quane Fletcher of Tyler, Texas

 

September 7, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  John Quane Fletcher of Tyler, Texas

 

September 14, 1952 at the 1/3 mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

Bob Hayes took over the public address announcing duties at the Suicide Bowl beginning of the 1953 racing season.  Ziobro continued to work for Jess Radle & Son at the Suicide Bowl for 1953 and 1954.  During that time, his duties included the weekly racetrack preparation.

Ziobro got the Suicide Bowl back from Radle, shortened the racetrack to ¼ mile so that it was the same size as other racetracks in the area, resumed his position as race promoter before opening day of the 1955 racing season and named Gene McCracken as the track’s official technical advisor.  He then adopted rules for the competing cars that conformed with the Dallas, Ft. Worth and Waco Racing Association (D.F.W.R.A.) so that competitors could race at the Suicide Bowl and a number of other area racetracks without having to make changes to their cars.

 

May 1, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Jim “Buddy” Benedick of Dallas, Texas

 

May 8, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Ray Rowden of Ft. Worth, Texas

 

May 15, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Either Ray Rowden or Billy McKelvey, both of Ft. Worth, Texas, but the “Waco News-Tribune” story was not clear on this point.

 

May 22, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Billy McKelvey of Ft. Worth, Texas

 

May 29, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

June 5, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  These races were canceled due to rain.

 

June 12, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Ray Rowden of Ft. Worth, Texas

 

June 19, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  John “Sonny” Farrar of Bryan, Texas

 

June 26, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Bud Jarosek of Waco, Texas

 

July 3, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Bill White of Temple, Texas

 

July 10, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 17, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  These races were canceled due to rain.

 

July 24, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Ray Rowden of Ft. Worth, Texas

 

July 31, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

August 7, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Gordon Woolley of Waco, Texas

 

August 14, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

August 21, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Gordon Woolley of Waco, Texas

 

August 28, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

September 4, 1955 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Attendance:  3,000

Feature race winner:  Ray Rowden of Ft. Worth, Texas

 

April 29, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Attendance:  2,000

Feature race winner:  Dan Melton of Dallas, Texas.

  

May 6, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

  

May 13, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

  

May 20, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located

  

May 27, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Don Melton of Dallas, Texas.

  

June 3, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Attendance:  1,800

Feature race winner:  Gordon Woolley of Waco, Texas in a car owned by Jack Bagby who was also from Waco

  

June 10, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Gordon Woolley of Waco, Texas in a car owned by Jack Bagby who was also from Waco

  

June 17, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Gordon Woolley of Waco, Texas in a car owned by Jack Bagby who was also from Waco

  

June 24, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

  

July 1, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Gordon Woolley of Waco, Texas in a car owned by Jack Bagby who was also from Waco

  

July 8, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Results of these races have yet to be located

  

July 15, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Jim Crocker of Dallas, Texas.

  

July 22, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Gordon Woolley of Waco, Texas in a car owned by Jack Bagby who was also from Waco

  

July 29, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Billy McKelvey of Ft. Worth, Texas

 

August 5, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Gordon Woolley of Waco, Texas in a car owned by Jack Bagby who was also from Waco

 

August 12, 1956 at the ¼ mile dirt oval Suicide Bowl at Waco, Texas

            Type of cars:  Stock Cars

Feature race winner:  Gordon Woolley of Waco, Texas in a car owned by Jack Bagby who was also from Waco

Jim McElreath of Ft. Worth, Texas won the trophy dash and finished second in the feature race while Gordon Woolley won the first heat race, the third heat race, the Australian pursuit and the feature race.

While the 2,000 fans looked on, a brawl broke out after the third heat race involving two drivers and their car owners.  At the conclusion of the night’s racing, Ziobro announced that the fans had seen their last races of the year:  “If I can’t operate with peace and harmony the way it should be, I won’t operate at all.”

 

Already facing competition from the opening of the new Heart of Texas Speedway, Ziobro made arrangements to sell his lease to the Suicide Bowl to former driver, Jack Martin, of Waco and then retired from the promotional business altogether.  Martin reopened the racetrack on September 1, 1956 as the “Suicide Bowl” but “under new management.”

In 1958, Ziobro purchased just over 2½ acres of land at 1209 Loop Drive on the Dallas Highway in Waco from the City of Waco for $150 and opened “Joe’s Mobile Home Sales” where he engaged in the business of buying and selling used mobile homes.  Ziobro lived in one of the homes at the rear of the lot.

Around 4 a.m. on August 28, 1969, a local police officer was making his nightly rounds when he noticed the door standing open to Ziobro’s residence.  Upon checking further, he found Ziobro’s body inside.  John Cabaniss, a local Justice of the Peace, signed an official ruling that Ziobro had died from natural causes at 12:01 a.m. that same morning.  It is unknown if Joe Ziobro was ever married and the only surviving relative mentioned in his obituary, was his sister, Mrs. Mary Skay of Minneapolis, Minnesota.  J. A. Lipscomb, Jr. was named the administrator of Ziobro’s estate and he is buried in Oakwood Cemetery at Waco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you:

Bill Blaylock, Mike Maxton, Eileen and Joe Armstrong and the Speed Cave Museum