The History of Auto Racing on the Quarter-Mile Dirt Oval Racetrack at the Grant County Fairgrounds at Ulysses, Kansas

 

The Grant County Racing Club (later known as the Grant County Stock Car Club and still later as the Grant County Racing Association) was formed the evening of May 15, 1951 during a meeting at the office of Dr. G. C. Martin in Ulysses.  Eddie Klester was elected the first president of the club and volunteers from that organization built the racetrack early that summer.  There was already a smaller racetrack at the fairgrounds that was used for micro-midget racing.  The Grant County Racing Club started racing 1932 through 1948 model “strictly stock cars” (also known as “jalopies”) shortly after the racetrack was completed.  In those early days, any car competing was subject to be claimed by anyone posting $200.

A ticket booth, judge’s stand, and some portable bleachers were added to the racetrack the following year.  Crowds for those early Sunday afternoon races averaged around 500.  Seventeen lights were installed around the racetrack in 1953 and the racing was moved to Friday nights.

The Charles B. Hart American Legion Post 379 at Ulysses sponsored the races through 1957 while the Grant County Jaycees sponsored them in 1958 and 1959.

In 1955, Ernest Mann became president of the Grant County Racing Association, a position that he held until the racing subsided at the fairgrounds after the 1959 season.  The races proved quite popular as crowds had grown to between 800 and 1,200 by 1956.

 

“Ulysses was a real hotbed of racing for a few years when jalopies were the (in) thing and one was sitting out by nearly every service station so it seemed.  I went there one time.  It was probably 1956.  I rode in the backseat of Larry Torson’s new Lincoln with his painted-to-match Hudson jalopy in tow.  I never went anyplace off of the farm (back then as) I couldn’t afford it so it just as well been the Indianapolis “500” that Friday night!”

 

Dave Ross

“The Flying Farmer” from Jetmore, Kansas

Kansas State Modified Jalopy Champion – 1966

 

 

 

Grant County Fairgrounds at Ulysses, Kansas

The quarter-mile racetrack where the cars raced is in the upper left-hand corner of this aerial photograph.  The east / west street that is just visible along the very bottom of the picture is Patterson Avenue – Ed Neidert collection

 

 

 

This Photo was Taken on the Racetrack at Ulysses in 1955

Kneeling left to right:  Bob Murphy, Bob Elliott, Levon Turner, flagman Dean Burchfield, Charles “Chuck” Arnold, Jim Gibbs, unidentified, Clarence “Nut” Cokeley, Scott Talbert, Sr. and unidentified.

Standing left to right:  Charles “Chuck” Lucas, Bill Humphreys, Harold Farthing, Kenneth Gillette, unidentified, unidentified, Don Shumard, Bill Wilson, Harvey Main, Stanley Trahern, Duane Caldwell, unidentified, unidentified, and Lowell “Bus” Talbert – Murphy collection

 

 

   

The list below is of the races that were run at Ulysses from 1951 through 1959.  There are plans to tell about the races run on this racetrack in much more detail and to include photographs that were taken at those races or at least of cars that participated in those races.  Many of the race dates at left below are written as links.  By following those links, you will find other web pages about the racing just on those particular days.  If you have any additional information or any photographs pertaining to the races run on this racetrack, or if you can identify any of the unidentified men in the photo above, please contact Bob Lawrence.  As more information is learned, more will be added.

 

 

 

Feature Race Winners

Date

Winning

Car’s Number

Driver

Driver From

Laps in Feature

Total Purse for Entire Program

Number of Cars Participating in the Program

July 22, 1951

 

Charles “Chuck” Arnold 

Ulysses, Kansas

 

$0

 

July 29, 1951

 

Don Stout

 

 

 

 

August 12, 1951

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 25, 1951

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 20, 1952

Races canceled due to rain

 

 

 

 

April 27, 1952

4

Charles “Chuck” Arnold

Ulysses, Kansas

 

 

 

May 11, 1952

13

Cecil “Junior” Maupin

Dodge City, Kansas

 

 

 

July 4, 1952

29

Charles “Chuck” Arnold

Ulysses, Kansas

 

 

 

August 23, 1952

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 1, 1953

Races canceled due to rain

 

 

 

 

May 15, 1953

Races canceled due to rain

 

 

 

 

May 20, 1953

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 29, 1953

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 12, 1953

40

Scott Talbert, Sr.

Elkhart, Kansas

 

 

 

July 4, 1953

94

Hugh Turner

Elkhart, Kansas

25

 

 

August 22, 1953

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 11, 1954

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 25, 1954

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 4, 1954

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 23, 1954

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 6, 1954

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 20, 1954

 

 

 

25

 

 

September 6, 1954

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 19, 1954

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 30, 1955

88

Bob Champlin

Wichita, Kansas

 

$300

 

June 3, 1955

 

 

 

20

$300

 

June 17, 1955

 

 

 

20

$300

 

July 4, 1955 – Day

 

Jack Walker

Tribune, Kansas

20

$300

 

July 4, 1955 – Night

45

Levon Turner

Elkhart, Kansas

50

$300

 

July 15, 1955

88

Bob Champlin

Wichita, Kansas

60

$300

21

July 29, 1955

88

Charles “Chuck” Lucas

Big Bow, Kansas

20

$300

24

August 5, 1955

75

Charles “Chuck” Arnold

Ulysses, Kansas

20

$300

24

August 12, 1955

80

Glen McDonald*

Montezuma, Kansas

20

$300

25

August 19, 1955

34

Harvey Main

Ulysses, Kansas

20

$300

 

August 26, 1955 – Day

 

Harold Farthing

Ulysses, Kansas

20

$300

21

August 26, 1955 – Night

 

Harold Farthing

Ulysses, Kansas

50

$200

21

September 2, 1955

15

Duane Caldwell

Sublette, Kansas

20

$300

22

September 9, 1955

5

Darrell Harms

Dodge City, Kansas

20

$300

 

September 16, 1955

34

Harvey Main

Ulysses, Kansas

20

$300

 

September 23, 1955

88

Charles “Chuck” Lucas

Big Bow, Kansas

20

$300

 

September 30, 1955

 

 

 

 

$300

18

May 4, 1956

28

Don Shumard

Dodge City, Kansas

20

$400

20

May 11, 1956

18

Max Malone

Copeland, Kansas 

20

$400

22

May 18, 1956

25

Floyd “Dutch” Davis

Dodge City, Kansas

20

$400

24

May 25, 1956

80

Stanley Trahern

Ensign, Kansas

20

$400

18

June 1, 1956

72

Clarence “Nut” Cokeley

Liberal, Kansas

20

$400

24

June 8, 1956

25

Floyd “Dutch” Davis**

Dodge City, Kansas

20

$400

19

June 15, 1956

75

Charles “Chuck” Arnold

Ulysses, Kansas

20

$400

18

June 22, 1956

75

Charles “Chuck” Arnold

Ulysses, Kansas

20

$400

16

June 29, 1956

80

Stanley Trahern

Ensign, Kansas

20

$400

17

July 4, 1956

79

Dean Lewis

Dighton, Kansas

20

$400

26

July 13, 1956

79

Dean Lewis

Dighton, Kansas

20

$400

27

July 20, 1956

97

Lyle Lewis

Dighton, Kansas

20

$400

35

July 27, 1956

80

Stanley Trahern

Ensign, Kansas

20

$400

27

August 3, 1956

25

Floyd “Dutch” Davis

Dodge City, Kansas

20

$400

30

August 10, 1956

97

Dale Carter

Ulysses, Kansas 

20

$400

26

August 17, 1956

90

Max Malone

Copeland, Kansas 

20

$400

25

August 24, 1956

88

Charles “Chuck” Lucas

Big Bow, Kansas

20

$400

34

August 31, 1956

98

Cecil “Junior” Maupin

Dodge City, Kansas

20

$400

39

September 3, 1956

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 7, 1956

75

Charles “Chuck” Arnold

Ulysses, Kansas

50

$600

37

May 31, 1957

Races canceled due to rain

 

 

 

 

June 7, 1957

75

Charles “Chuck” Arnold

Ulysses, Kansas

20

$425

31

June 14, 1957

Races canceled after time trials due to rain

 

 

 

26

June 21, 1957

88

Charles “Chuck” Lucas

Big Bow, Kansas

20

$425

25

June 28, 1957

88

Charles “Chuck” Lucas

Big Bow, Kansas

20

$425

25

July 5, 1957

28

Don Shumard

Dodge City, Kansas

20

$300

21

July 12, 1957

24

Cecil "Junior" Maupin

Dodge City, Kansas

20

$300

20

July 19, 1957

89

J. D. Pflieger

Dodge City, Kansas

20

$300

28

July 26, 1957

28

Don Shumard

Dodge City, Kansas

20

$300

18

August 2, 1957

80

Stanley Trahern

Dodge City, Kansas

20

$300

19

August 9, 1957

80

Stanley Trahern

Dodge City, Kansas

20

$300

17

August 16, 1957

80

Stanley Trahern

Dodge City, Kansas

20

$300

19

August 23, 1957

80

Stanley Trahern

Dodge City, Kansas

50

$500

32

May 30, 1958

73

Paul Befort, Jr.

Garden City, Kansas

$300

16

June 6, 1958

19

Allan Fischer

Hooker, Oklahoma

15

$300

15

June 13, 1958

23

Gene Coffman

Liberal, Kansas

20

$300

15

June 20, 1958

23

Gene Coffman

Liberal, Kansas

20

$300

16

June 27, 1958

27

Clarence “Nut” Cokeley

Liberal, Kansas

20

$300

15

July 4, 1958

Feature race canceled due to rain

 

 

$500

27

July 11, 1958

27

Clarence “Nut” Cokeley

Liberal, Kansas

20

$300

21

July 18, 1958

98

Charles “Chuck” Arnold

Ulysses, Kansas

20

$300

14

July 25, 1958

12

Glenn Smith

Hooker, Oklahoma

20

$300

18

August 1, 1958

7

Merle “Rabbit” Trahern

Sublette, Kansas

20

$300

16

August 8, 1958

98

Charles “Chuck” Arnold

Ulysses, Kansas

20

$300

22

August 15, 1958

Feature race canceled due to rain

 

 

$300

12

August 22, 1958

23JR

Frank Garcia

Liberal, Kansas

50

$500

26

May 29, 1959

7

Clarence “Nut” Cokeley

Liberal, Kansas

20

$300

10

June 5, 1959

50

Bob Murphy

Ulysses, Kansas

20

$300

12

June 12, 1959

7

Clarence “Nut” Cokeley

Liberal, Kansas

 

$300

12

June 19, 1959

80

Stanley Trahern

Sublette, Kansas

 

$300

10

June 26, 1959

80

Stanley Trahern

Sublette, Kansas

11

$300

11

July 3, 1959

7

Clarence “Nut” Cokeley

Liberal, Kansas

11

$300

12

July 10, 1959

7

Clarence “Nut” Cokeley

Liberal, Kansas

15

$300

14

July 17, 1959

21

Gene Coffman

Liberal, Kansas

15

$300

16

July 31, 1959

73

Paul Befort, Jr.

Garden City, Kansas

15

$300

11

August 21, 1959

7

Clarence “Nut” Cokeley

Liberal, Kansas

50

$500

21

 

 

Major rule changes were implemented in this form of racing throughout much of the Midwest beginning in 1960.  More expensive cut down cars with modified engines were allowed to compete in this class at many racetracks.  The new cars were known regionally as “rails” and, although it was not mandated that all competitors have one, the “rails” were much faster rendering the “strictly stock cars” uncompetitive.  Some of the smaller racing organizations tried to resist the rule changes only to be faced with car shortages for their races as several car owners scrapped their “strictly stock cars” to build “rails”.  The car shortages and the inability to pay larger purses demanded by “rail” owners forced many racetracks in the smaller communities such as Ulysses to close.  It did not help that a woman was struck by an errant wheel from a jalopy at Hooker, Oklahoma near the end of 1959.  Her injuries were not serious but the lawsuit that followed and the resultant increase in liability insurance to continue racing there not only put an end to the sport at Hooker but the realization of the possible liability sent shock waves through those responsible for the other small racetracks in the area including Ulysses.

The Grant County Racing Association disburdened and its president, Ernest Mann, along with some of the other members. were instrumental in forming the new Grant County Go-Kart Club.  The old track’s lights and portable bleachers were moved first to a Go-Kart racetrack at the fairgrounds and later to baseball fields constructed on the site of the former stock car racetrack.

There was an attempt to revive grassroots auto racing in the Midwest in the mid-1960s with “modified jalopies” and “semi-late model stock cars” but the Grant County racetrack was not rebuilt.

A racetrack for cars known as the Sand Dune Speedway was built southeast of Ulysses in the mid-1970s but racing there only lasted a matter of months before it closed.

 

 

 

* Second place finisher Glen McDonald was declared the feature race winner after judges disqualified first place finisher Harvey Main of Ulysses.

 

** Second place finisher Dutch Davis was declared the feature race winner after judges disqualified first place finisher Eldon Smith of Syracuse, Kansas.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thank you to:

Phyllis and Sunny Battles, Roseann Coffman-Davis, Will Cokeley, John Grantham, Bud Lands, Charles Lucas, Bob and Janet Murphy, Bob and Ed Neidert, Dave Ross, Don Shumard, Don and Scott Talbert, Larry Torson, Wilma Weckerling, the Grant County Museum, and the Ulysses News

 

 

 

 

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