Clyde Rea Bray
1902 - 1941
Clyde Rea Bray was born in Kansas on January 30, 1902. He was making his home at Hutchinson, Kansas and working as a policeman there when he made his first known appearance at a Cowley County, Kansas racetrack at Winfield, Kansas by entering the July 28, 1928 auto races with a Frontenac. He set the fastest time in time trials with a one-lap track record time of 33.4 seconds, then finished fourth in the first two heats, second place the third heat, and third in the consolation race only to sit out the feature event.
4,000 racing fans watched Bray finish third in a Frontenac in the first 10-lap heat race behind winner Vern McCombs and John Boling on September 6, 1928 at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds at Miami, Oklahoma. He then finished third behind winner Harley Wells of Tyler, Texas and Earl Hovendon. Bray finished second behind Earl Hovendon of Duncan, Oklahoma in the third 10-lap heat race. Bray finished fourth behind Vern McCombs, Earl Hovenden, and Harley Wells in the 24-lap sweepstakes. Bray finished second in the consolation race that was won by Henry Donica of Cardin, Oklahoma.
Bray entered his Frontenac in the races run at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds at Miami, Oklahoma but no results from those races have been located to date.
Bray was entered as the driver of Wendell Sparling’s Superior Special Hisso at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson on both September 17, 1928 and September 21, 1928 but he did not finish in the money on either date. Bray would later purchase that car and race it himself.
In 1929, Bray either built or acquired two Frontenac racing cars and kept them both busy for the next couple of years. One carried the #4 while the other was a #7.
On August 28, 1929, Bray finished third in a 5-mile heat race at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia.
On September 20, 1929, Bray set the fastest time in time trials at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Kansas tying the track record of 31.0 seconds. He then finished 2nd in the State Fair Dash and 6th in the feature race.
On October 6, 1929, Bray ventured west to Logan County , Kansas. Although his was not the fastest car in time trials, he did win all three of the races he entered on the American Legion racetrack at Oakley, Kansas that day.
Bray returned to Cowley County on July 4, 1930 racing the Frontenac at the Arkansas City Speedway at Arkansas City, Kansas. He was second quick in time trials with a one lap time of 31.2 seconds. Despite loosing his right front tire, he still managed to finish third in the first heat but that did not qualify him for the feature. Bray replaced the tire and returned to win the second ten lap heat race in track record time of 5:17.2 and finished the day with a second place finish in the feature behind Pat Cunningham of St. Joseph, Missouri. Bray’s ten lap track record at Arkansas City is not known to have never been broken.
On July 25, 1930, Bray finished second to Pat Cunningham in a couple of races at the Bo Stearns racetrack north of Wichita, Kansas before blowing a tire in the feature race and not completing that event.
On July 27, 1930, Bray entered races at Franklin, Nebraska but it is currently unknown how he did there.
Bray entered a Fronty Ford in races run at Belleville, Kansas on August 28th and August 29th of 1930. He received a broken shoulder in the first heat race on the first day when he was involved in a four-car accident in which Ben Galiano was fatally injured. Bray did come back to win the second 5-mile heat race on the second day in 4:43 over Pat Cunningham.
On September 14, 1930, Bray won the Sweepstakes race at the one-mile American Leigon racetrack at Oakley, Kansas turning the eight miles in 6:01.
On September 15, 1930, Bray lowered his own 1-lap track record at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson with a time of 30.8 seconds. He also finished 2nd to Archie Powell in the feature race.
On September 19, 1930, Bray lowered his own 1-lap track record again at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson with a time of 30.4 seconds only to have his record broken later that same day by Archie Powell. Bray won a heat race and finished 2nd to Powell in another heat race and the trophy dash before Bray won the sweepstakes race.
Bray’s last known appearance in Cowley County was in Russell D. “R. D.” Hill’s Frontenac at the Cowley County Fairgrounds on August 1, 1931. He set another one lap track record in time trials that day only to have it broken by Tex West later that same afternoon. After winning the “three-cornered” race, Bray finished 2nd to Tex West in their heat and in the feature race.
On September 3, 1931, Bray drove Russell D. “R. D.” Hill’s Frontenac #7 to 3rd place in the first 5-mile heat race at Belleville, Kansas. He then won the 5-mile consolation race in that same car. Next, he drove a Pontiac coupe to 2nd place in the 5-mile stock car race behind Russell Moe of Scandia, Kansas.
On June 1, 1932, Bray won a 3-mile heat race and placed 3rd behind Roy Lake and Charles Pauley in the 5-mle feature race at the Newton, Kansas athletic field.
Bray won the 6-car feature race and was declared the “Southwest Champion” at Fair Park in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on July 10, 1932.
On August 7, 1932, Bray set the 11th fastest time in time trials at 33.2 seconds at the Bo Stearns Racetrack north of Wichita, Kansas. Bray also won a heat race that day.
Bray entered the races at the Mills County Fairgrounds at Malvern, Iowa on August 14, 1932 but no results of those races have been found to date.
On August 19, 1932, Bray turned in the 7th quickest time of the day in time trials of 32.5 seconds at the Shelby County Fairgrounds in Harlan, Iowa.
On September 1, 1932, Bray finished second in his #7 Rajo Ford behind Jim Smith in the third 5-mile heat race at Belleville, Kansas.
On September 2, 1932, Bray returned to finish second in his #7 Rajo Ford behind Tex West in the second 5-mile heat race at Belleville.
On July 4, 1933, Bray entered the races at Dodge City , Kansas but no results of those races have been located to date.
On August 21, 1933, Bray finished 2nd behind Red Sorenson of Milwaukee, Wisconson in the consolation race at Mason City, Iowa.
On August 31, 1933, Bray finished 4th in the 5-mile consolation race at Belleville, Kansas.
On September 1, 1933, Bray returned in his #7 Rajo Ford to finish 3rd in the fourth 5-mile heat race at Belleville.
On September 18, 1933, Bray entered the races at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson but could only muster a 6th place in the consolation race.
Bray entered the races run at Lubbock, Texas on November 11, 1934. It is unknown how he finished that day other than he did not place in the money.
By September 21, 1936, Bray had moved to Topeka, Kansas but he again raced at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. This time, he finished 8th quickest in time trials with a lap of 29.4 seconds, 5th in his heat race, second in the consolation race behind Tex West, and 8th in the feature race driving the Keyes Special #K1 from Dallas, Texas.
On August 28, 1937, Bray finished third in a 5-mile heat race at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia.
By 1939, Bray had moved Los Angeles, California where he opened his own garage. On March 26, 1939 and on April 2, 1939, he drove a car #35 in races at the Oakland Speedway at Oakland, California but no results of those races have been located.
On April 30, 1939, Bray finished fourth in a 100-mile race at Oakland Speedway at Oakland.
On September 24, 1939, Bray lead a 500-mile race at the Oakland Speedway before dropping out with mechanical trouble.
Bray compted in a 100-mile race at Oakland Speedway run on May 12, 1940 but no results of that race have been located to date.
Bray finished 5th in a 200-mile race at Oakland Speedway run on July 4, 1941.
Bray was in 7th place in a 500-mile race at Oakland Speedway on September 1, 1941 when his car crashed fatally injuring him. He is buried in the Foster Cemetery at Topeka, Kansas.
ABOVE: Rae Bray raced at the Kansas State Fair again just four days later on September 25, 1936. He is shown here in the Bray & Coulter Special #700 blown Fronty he drove that day to a time of 31.3 seconds in qualifying time trials – Don Radbruch collection
ABOVE: Rea Bray competed in at least five races at Oakland Speedway, Oakland, California between 1939 and 1941. He finished second to Ray Gardner in a 50-mile race there in 1939 and then came in fifth in the Oakland “500” that fall. His consistent finishes earned him second place in the A.R.A. points in 1939 behind champion Wally Schock. Bray is shown here at Oakland Speedway in a car he drove there c1940 – Ted Wilson photo
RIGHT: Rea Bray, standing at left, had purchased the #35 big car at right, complete with a 358 cubic inch four-cylinder Hisso engine, from Vic Felt of Denver, Colorado. For some reason, Bray replaced that engine with a heavier 272 cubic inch overhead valve six-cylinder Hispano-Suiza passenger car engine. Click your mouse on the photo at right to see a better photograph of this engine in the car - Chalmers Davies photos from the Don Radbruch collection
BELOW: Rea Bray is pictured below sailing over the south fence at the Oakland Speedway, Oakland, California on the 356th lap of a 500-mile race there on Labor Day, 1941. The heavier engine is believed to have led to shock absorber failure making the car difficult to drive and the poor handling was probably a major contributor to this accident. Bray received fatal injuries after being thrown from the car during the crash. Click your mouse on the photo below to see more photos taken after the accident - Chalmers Davies photos from the Don Radbruch collection