“Whirlwind”

 

Albert Jouquin “Al” Koepke

1882 – 1964

 

         

Albert Jouquin “Al” Koepke was born December 30, 1882 in Hamburg, Germany, the oldest of seven known children born to Henry Koepke (1854-1928) and his wife, Amelia “Emily” (Mohr) Koepke (1858-1941).  The family emigrated to New York City, New York via Le Havre, France in 1884.  (Henry Koepke would later become the manager of the Farmer’s Elevator at Woodbine, Kansas.)  By 1900, the Koepke family was living in Topeka, Kansas where Al attended school through the seventh grade.

A few years after that, he married Estella “Stella” A. (Baker) who was a sister of Ethel Pauline (Baker) Knox (1889-1976), who later became the wife of Harold Roller, another race car driver from Kansas.  Al and Stella became the parents of daughters, Alberta Koepke (c1910-?) and Ethel Koepke (c1913-?).

By 1910, Al had become a naturalized U.S. citizen and had taken a job as a fireman on a steam locomotive with the Rock Island railroad.  He was promoted to train engineer in 1916 and the company transferred him and Stella to Chicago c1942 where Al became the engineer of the first diesel locomotive the Rock Island railroad ever owned.

           By 1952, Al and Stella had moved to West Palm Beach, Florida where Al became a representative of the Price Construction Company.

Koepke’s competitors on the racetrack said that they liked to race when Al was on the racetrack because he was always fun to race against; he being both a good looser and a good winner.  An article on page 4 of the September 16, 1920 issue of “The Daily Guard” newspaper, Council Grove, Kansas indicates that he was already heavily involved in the sport by 1920.  That newspaper article tells that Koepke made “a business of racing, not only for fun, but for the money.  (He was) known in the middle states as (a driver) with nerve and fast cars.”

The following is an incomplete list of the auto races that Al Koepke is known to have competed in.

 

November 14, 1914 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas Free Fairgrounds in Topeka, Kansas

            [Note:  It has yet to be learned why Al Koepke competed in these races using the alias “August Kopke”.]

Car:  Koepke’s own 1909 Thomas automobile

Finish:  Koepke finished 3rd in the 4-car, 3-mile “Free-For-All” race behind Phil Billard of Topeka in his 1910 American Speedwell and Sam Lux of Topeka in his Ford.  Earl Sparling of Topeka finished 4th.

              Koepke finished 3rd in the 1st heat of the 4-car, 3-mile race limited to drivers who were from Topeka and behind Phil Billardof Topeka in his 1910 American Speedwell and Sam Lux of Topeka in his Ford.  Earl Sparling of Topeka finished 4th.

                 Koepke finished 2nd in the 4-car, 5-mile “Free-for-All Kansas Championship” race behind Phil Billard of Topeka in his 1910 American Speedwell.  C. T. Mathews of Topeka finished 3rd in a Regal and Robert Tutt Billard finished 4th in a Stutz.

Feature race winner:  Louis Philip “Phil” Billard of Topeka, Kansas in his 1910 American Speedwell

                  [Note:  The Billard Airport in Topeka, is named for Phil Billard (1891-1918).]

 

July 25, 1918 – ½ mile dirt oval – Central Kansas Fairgrounds at Abilene, Kansas

            Car:  Velie special

Finish:  7th fastest 2-lap time trial of 1:44.0.  That was slower than the times run by Glenn Breed of Salina, Kansas; Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas; Alvin M. Gallman of Van Horne, Iowa; Johnny Mais of Salina, Kansas; Rex Kent of Concordia, Kansas and Leonard Kerbs of Otis, Kansas.

Feature race winner:  Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in his 16-valve Roof Ford.

 

September 25, 1920 – ½ mile dirt oval – City Park at Council Grove, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford special

Finish:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

October 8, 1920 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds at Hutchinson, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford special

Finish:  Koepke tied with ______ Baker of Hutchinson in time trials for 9th place among the 22 cars that were entered, with a two-lap time of 1:13.6.  That was slower than the times turned in by Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas a Ford special; Leonard Kerbs of Otis, Kansas in a Ford; Johnny Lee of Wichita, Kansas in a Dodge; Jake Strickler of Enid, Oklahoma in a Hudson; James “Toots” Higgins of Newton, Kansas in a Hudson special; Fred Lentz of Hutchinson in a Hudson; Elmer Negy of Hutchinson in a Hudson and Merle Warren of Newton, Kansas in an Essex.

              3rd in the 20-lap sweepstakes race behind Harold Roller and Fred Lentz.

Feature race winner:  Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in his own 16-valve Roof Ford special

  

October 9, 1920 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds at Hutchinson, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford special

Finish:  Koepke’s name does not appear in the published results of these races.

Feature race winner:  Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in his own 16-valve Roof Ford special

 

November 11, 1920 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas Free Fairgrounds in Topeka, Kansas

Car:  Koepke’s own Ford special

Finish:  Koepke ran the 4th fastest 2-lap time trial of 1:22.5 which was slower only than to runs made by Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in his own 16-valve Roof Ford special; Leonard Kerbs of Otis, Kansas in a Ford special and Claude Aldridge of Lawrence, Kansas in a Hudson “Super-Six”.

                          Koepke competed in the 4-car, 5-mile “free-for-all” race that was won by Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in his own 16-valve Roof Ford special but no places, other than the winner, were announced.

Feature race winner:  Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in his own 16-valve Roof Ford special

 

June 14, 1921 – 1 mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own car called the “Kansas Cyclone”, powered by twin Harley-Davidson motorcycle engines.***

Attendance:  2,000

Finish:  Koepke finished 3rd in time trials, running 1-mile in 60.0 which was slower than the lap-times turned in by Johnny Mais of Salina in his Dodge special #24 and Fritz “Fraty” Willard of Ponca City, Oklahoma in a Hudson.

 Koepke finished 3rd the 6-car, 10-mile race for cars which engines of 230-cubic-inches or less.  He finished this race behind Johnny Mais of Salina in his Dodge special #24 and one of the Merle-Warren-owned Essex.**  The race for 3rd and 4th places was very close between Al Koepke and 4th place finisher, Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas.

Koepke finished 3rd the 9-car, 50-mile feature race behind Johnny Mais of Salina, Kansas in his own Dodge special #24 and Fritz “Fraty” Willard of Ponca City, Oklahoma in a Hudson.  The “Cootie” lost it’s left chain on the 20th lap and Koepke had to fight off challengers for the next 30 laps to hold onto his position.

Feature race winner:  Johnny Mais of Salina, Kansas in his own Dodge special #24

 

September 2, 1921 – ½ mile dirt oval – Riverside Park at Iola, Kansas

Car:  The “Cootie special” owned by “Cooper-Burton” of Topeka, Kansas and powered by twin Harley-Davidson motorcycle engines.****

Finish:  These races were postponed to September 3, 1921 due to rain.

  

September 3, 1921 – ½ mile dirt oval – Riverside Park at Iola, Kansas

Car:  The “Cootie special” owned by “Cooper-Burton” of Topeka, Kansas and powered by twin Harley-Davidson motorcycle engines.****

Attendance: “very large attendance”

Purse:  The prize money for these races was distributed according to each driver’s accumulated finishes for the day.  Koepke won the largest share of the purse with Barber taking home the second most money.

Finish:  Koepke ran the fastest 2-lap time in time trials with 1:14.0.  B. T. Barber of Iola ran the 2nd fastest time of 1:15.5 in his “Oildag Bug” Ford.

                  Koepke won the 4-car, 3-mile heat race in 3:52.0 over B. T. Barber of Iola in his “Oildag Bug” Ford.

                  Koepke won the 4-car, 5-mile heat race in 6:25.5 over Pete Pierce of Fredonia, Kansas in a Maxwell.  [Note:  One source states that B. T. Barber of Iola, finished 2nd in this race and that Pete Pierce of Fredonia, Kansas finished in 3rd place.]

                  Koepke finished 2nd in the 4-car, 10-mile “free for all” race to B. T. Barber of Iola in his “Oildag Bug” Ford.  There was no time recorded for this race due to a serious 1-car accident involving Pete Pierce from Fredonia, Kansas who was driving a Maxwell.

Feature race winner:  Basil T. Barber of Iola, Kansas in his “Oildag Bug” Ford

 

September 5, 1921 – 1 mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

Car:  The “Cootie special” owned by “Cooper-Burton” of Topeka, Kansas and powered by twin Harley-Davidson motorcycle engines.****  Koepke’s entry in these races was contingent on the outcome of a meeting of the other drivers on the night before these races that allowed the “Cootie special” to participate.

Attendance:  The total paid attendance was 5,252 spectators in the grandstands.  The total number that actually saw the races was estimated to be 8,000.

Finish:  Koepke finished 8th in time trials, running 1-mile in 1:01.5 which was slower than the lap-times turned in by Leonard Kerbs of Otis, Kansas in a Ford special; Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in a Ford special; William ”Bill” Lassen of Wichita, Kansas in his own Dodge special; William K. “Billy” Adolph of Salina, Kansas in a the “J.H.L. special” Dodge owned by Johnny Lee of Wichita, Kansas; William “Bill” Bryant of Hutchinson, Kansas in a Hudson special; James “Toots” Higgins of Newton, Kansas in an Essex special owned by Merle Warren, also of Newton and J. F. Jones of Alva, Oklahoma in an Overland 90 special.

   Koepke finished 4th in the 6-car Australian Pursuit race that was won by Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in a Ford special; Leonard Kerbs of Otis, Kansas in a Ford special and William K. “Billy” Adolph of Salina, Kansas in the “J.L.L. special” Dodge owned by Johnny Lee of Wichita, Kansas.

   Koepke finished 5th in the 10-mile light car race behind Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in a Ford special; Leonard Kerbs of Otis, Kansas in a Ford special; William K. “Billy” Adolph of Salina, Kansas in the “J.L.L. special” Dodge owned by Johnny Lee of Wichita, Kansas and Merle Warren of Salina, Kansas in his own Essex.

 “Koepke was making good time in the 50-mile race and was rounding the northeast turn of the track when his machine burst into flames.  Instead of abandoning the car and letting it take its course, probably sending it wild(ly) through the crowd of spectators which lined the bank at that turn, he guided it westward toward the bank at the northwest turn, gradually crawling out of the seat as he did so.  By that time, the flames were leaping over the front of the machine and around the steering wheel, almost reaching the driver’s face.  Just as he reached the edge of the bank near the point where Raymond Fry of Newkirk, Oklahoma, plunged off the track at the races in June, Koepke did a somersault over the rear end of his machine, letting the car plunge off toward the river.  He narrowly escaped death and probably saved the lives of many spectators at the races when he guided his flaming machine to the bank at the north turn, slowly backing out of his seat as he did so, and sent it spinning over the bank as he jumped backward to safety.  The presence of mind he showed in staying with his machine until it could be sent over the bank with injury only to the car, excited much favorable comment.” – From: “SENT CAR OVER BANK, ALBERT KOEPKE RISKED HIS OWN LIFE” – Page 3 of the September 6, 1921 issue of the Salina (Kansas) Evening Journal.

Feature race winner:  William K. “Billy” Adolph of Salina, Kansas in a the “J.H.L. special” Dodge owned by Johnny Lee of Wichita, Kansas.

  

September 8, 1921 - ½ mile dirt oval – Forest Park in Ottawa, Kansas

Car:  The “Cootie special” owned by “Cooper-Burton” of Topeka, Kansas and powered by twin Harley-Davidson motorcycle engines.****

Attendance:  15,000

Finish:  Koepke’s name does not appear in the published results of these races

             Feature race winner:  Johnny Mais of Salina, Kansas in his own 16-valve Dodge special #24

                                                                                                                                          

July 4, 1922 – 1 mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own 231-cubic-inch-displacement Dodge special he called “Maggie”

            Purse:  Koepke won $45 from the $2,250 total purse.

Attendance:  4,200 on July 4th

Finish:  Koepke finished 3rd in the 2nd 10-mile race for cars with engines of 230 cubic inches or less.  He finished behind Johnny Lee of Wichita, Kansas in a Dodge special and Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas, also in a Dodge special.

              Koepke finished 2nd in the 5-mile “free for all” race behind Johnny Lee of Wichita, Kansas.

  Koepke’s car threw a tire in the front straightaway in the 50-mile feature race.  The incident caused him to lose control of his car and it flew over a 6-foot bank.  He was able to drive the car back to the pits where he put on another wheel and was able to finish the race.   

Feature race winner:  W. W. Brown of Kansas City, Missouri who was driving a Duesenberg owned by George L. Wade of Kansas City, Missouri

 

August 10, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – Woodland Park (now named Brook Creek Park) in Lawrence, Kansas

Car:  Koepke’s own 231-cubic-inch-displacement Dodge special he called “Maggie”

Finish:  Koepke finished 3rd in the 3-mile “free-for-all” race behind Gus Schrader of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in a Dodge special and Louis “Lou” Scheibell of Kansas City, Missouri in the Scheibell special.

              Koepke finished 3rd in the 5-mile “free-for-all” race behind Gus Schrader of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in a Dodge special and Louis “Lou” Scheibell of Kansas City, Missouri in the Scheibell special.

Feature race winner:  Gus Schrader of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in a Dodge special

 

Koepke lost a wire wheel, tire and tube somewhere between Woodland Park in Lawrence, Kansas and his home in Topeka, while either going to, or returning from, these races at Woodland Park.  He ran ads in the Lawrence Daily Journal-World newspaper for a week offering a reward for the return of the items but it is unknown if they ever turned up.

 

September 1, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – Allen County Fairgrounds at Iola, Kansas

Car:  Koepke’s own 231-cubic-inch-displacement Dodge special he called “Maggie”

Finish:  Koepke won the 5-mile “free-for-all” race in 6:19.0.  Johnny Lee of Wichita, Kansas finished in 2nd place.

Feature race winner:  Albert “Al” Koepke in his own Dodge special he called “Maggie”

 

September 4, 1922 – 1 mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own 231-cubic-inch-displacement Dodge special he called “Maggie”

Finish:  Koepke finished “first, second or third in every event” according to an article on page 8 of the October 26, 1922 issue of the “Topeka Daily Capital” newspaper.

50-Mile Feature race winner:  Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas who was driving a Dodge special.

 

September 7, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – Forest Park at Ottawa, Kansas

            The total cost of the races, including not only the purse but such things as “prizes, premiums, free acts, music and entertainment” was estimated by the fair board to be $15,000 but, thanks to great attendance, the fair still made a profit on them.

Car:  Koepke’s own 231-cubic-inch-displacement Dodge special he called “Maggie”

Finish:  Koepke finished 3rd in the 11-car, 5-mile Free-for-All race behind William K. “Billly” Adolph of Salina, Kansas driving a 16-valve Dodge special owned by Johnny Mais also from Salina, Kansas and John Boling of Tulsa, Oklahoma in a Ford.

Feature race winner:  William K. “Billly” Adolph of Salina, Kansas driving a 16-valve Dodge special owned by Johnny Mais also from Salina, Kansas.  [Note:  According to the story about these races published in the Ottawa (Kansas) Herald, Johnny Mais won this race however, a story about these races in the Salina (Kansas) Daily Union, indicates that the reporter for the Ottawa Herald just saw that the car that won was Mais’ Dodge special and incorrectly assumed that it was Mais driving it.]

 

September 28, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – City Park  (probably at the fairgrounds) in Abilene, Kansas

Car:  Koepke’s own 231-cubic-inch-displacement Dodge special he called “Maggie”

Finish:  Koepke won the 5-mile “free-for-all” race in 6:04.25 over Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in his own Dodge special.

                 Koepke finished 3rd in the 4-car, 7-mile handicap race behind John Gerber of Meriden, Kansas in his Chevrolet special and Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in his own Dodge special.

              Koepke finished 2nd in the 10-mile “free-for-all” race behind Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in his own Dodge special.

Feature race winner:  Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in his own Dodge special.

 

October 5, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – City Park at Council Grove, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own 231-cubic-inch-displacement Dodge special he called “Maggie”

Finish:  Koepke was one of five drivers to compete in the 5-mile, 2nd heat race won by Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas who was driving a Dodge special.

Feature race winner:  Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in a Dodge special

 

October 19-21, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – Phelps County Fairgrounds at Holdrege, Nebraska

            Car:  Koepke’s own Dodge special he called “Maggie”

Finish:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

October 28, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas Free Fairgrounds in Topeka, Kansas

Car:  Koepke’s own Dodge special he called “Maggie”

Finish:  Koepke ran the 3rd fastest 2-lap time trial of 1:09.2 which was slower only than to runs made by Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in his own Dodge special and John Gerber of Meriden, Kansas in his Chevrolet special.

              Koepke won the 5-mile “free-for-race” in 5:51.4 to collect $50 from the purse.

 Koepke finished 2nd in the 7-car, 50-lap “free-for-all” race behind Glenn Royer of Council Grove, Kansas in a Buick owned by Ernest “E.C.” Miller also of Council Grove.  Royer collected $300 from the purse for the victory while Koepke won $150 for finishing in 2nd place.

Feature race winner:  Glenn Royer of Cancel Grove, Kansas in a Buick owned by Ernest “E.C.” Miller who was also of Council Grove

 

August 31, 1923 - ½ mile dirt oval – Brown County Fairgrounds at Hiawatha, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac.

Finish:  Koepke won the 3-mile race over John Gerber of Meriden, Kansas in 3:23.0.

                  Koepke won the 5-mile race over Phineas C. “Dad” Harrier of Hiawatha in 5:45.0.

Feature race winner:  Albert “Al” Koepke of Topeka, Kansas sin his own Ford Frontenac

 

August 14, 1924 – 1 mile dirt oval – Dawson County Fairgrounds at Franklin, Nebraska

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  Few results of these races have been located to date.

Feature race winner:   Walter Higley of Longmont, Colorado who was driving a Rajo Ford

  

August 15, 1924 – 1 mile dirt oval – Dawson County Fairgrounds at Franklin, Nebraska

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  The local newspaper listed Koepke’s name as being one of the winners in the preliminary races on this day but it did not report which race(s) he won.

Feature race winner: Leonard Kerbs of Otis, Kansas in a Kerbs special Ford

 

August 16, 1924 – 1 mile dirt oval – Dawson County Fairgrounds at Franklin, Nebraska

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  The local newspaper listed Koepke’s name as being one of the winners in the preliminary races on this day but it did not report which race(s) he won.

Feature race winner: Leonard Kerbs of Otis, Kansas in a Kerbs special Ford

 

August 24, 1924 – ½ mile dirt oval – Phelps County Fairgrounds at Holdrege, Nebraska

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  Koepke’s car was running in 13th position in the Grand Sweepstakes race when his car locked wheels with a car being driven by Eddie Deulen, and then overturned.  Koepke suffered a broken collarbone and a number of bruises in the accident.  He been trying to use shorter axles on the left side of his car, hoping to make it turn better in the corners, but the shorter axles just cause the car to turnover easier.

Feature race winner:  Noel Bullock of North Platte, Nebraska

 

August 3, 1925 - ½ mile dirt oval – Meade County Fairgrounds at Sturgis, South Dakota

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Attendance:  4,500

Finish:  Results of these races have yet to be located

 

August 4-5, 1925 - ½ mile dirt oval – Meade County Fairgrounds at Sturgis, South Dakota

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  Koepke’s name does not appear in the published results of these races have yet to be located.

 

September 11-12, 1925 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kiowa County Fairgrounds at Hobart, Oklahoma

            Car:  Ford Frontenac #28

Finish:  Results of these races have yet to be found.

 

May 30, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Frontier Park at Cedar Rapids, Iowa

            Car:  Ford Frontenac

Finish:  Koepke ran the 9th fastest lap in time trials of 31.5 which was slower than the laps run by Billy Arnold of Chicago; in a 16-valve Fronty Ford; John Gerber of Topeka, Kansas in his own Chevrolet #15; Gus Schrader of Cedar Rapids in a Dodge; Les Allen of Chicago in a Ford Frontenac; D.D. Morris of Chicago in a Woodbury Ford Frontenac; Burt Ficken of Sioux City, Iowa in a Dodge; Frank Schenk of Keokuk, Iowa in a Chevrolet and Ralph Eckstorm of Chicago in a Fronty Ford.  Twenty cars were entered in these races.

              3rd in the 2nd heat race behind John Gerber of Topeka, Kansas in his own Chevrolet #15 and Ralph Eckstorn of Chicago in a Fronty Ford.

Feature race winner:  The feature race was canceled due to rain.

 

August 18, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Iowa County Fairgrounds at Marengo, Iowa

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  Few results of these races have been located to date.

Feature race winner:  Floyd W. Bobzien of Leroy, Iowa

 

August 19, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Iowa County Fairgrounds at Marengo, Iowa

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  Few results of these races have been located to date but after these races, Koepke worked late into the evening under a shade tree, helping Phineas C. “Dad” Harrier of Hiawatha, Kansas fit a Hudson carburetor onto a Ford Frontenac intake manifold for Harrier’s new Fronty Ford engine.

 

Al Koepke in his Dodge special that he called “Maggie”

Page 8 of the October 26, 1922 issue of the Topeka Daily Capital newspaper

 

Feature race winner:  John Gerber of Topeka, Kansas in his own Chevrolet #15 that he called a Whippet special.

 

September 6, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Frontier Park at Cedar Rapids, Iowa

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  Koepke dropped out of the feature race after being involved in an accident.

Feature race winner:  Charles “Dutch” Bauman of Indianapolis, Indiana in a dual overhead cam Fronty Ford #2 owned by Arthur Chevrolet of Detroit, Michigan.

 

September 8, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Anamosa Fairgrounds at Anamosa, Iowa

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

September 15, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Valley County Fairgrounds at Ord, Nebraska

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  Koepke dropped out of these races after being involved in a wreck.

Feature race winner: Leonard Kerbs of Otis, Kansas in a Kerbs special Ford

 

September 16, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Valley County Fairgrounds at Ord, Nebraska

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  Koepke dropped out of these races after being involved in a wreck.

Feature race winner: Howard Wills of Portland, Oregon in a Ford Frontenac

 

September 17, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Valley County Fairgrounds at Ord, Nebraska

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  These races were canceled due to rain.

 

September 24, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds at Hutchinson, Kansas

Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac.  [Note:  The newspaper article about these races said that Koepke was from Great Bend, Kansas but, if that was true, then he only lived there for a shot time before moving back to Topeka, Kansas.]

Finish:  Koepke ran the 12th fastest lap in time trials of 37.6 which was slower than the time trial laps run by Charles Lebsack of Otis, Kansas in a Kerbs special Ford #4; Leonard Kerbs of Otis, Kansas in a Kerbs special Ford #1; Vic Felt of Deer Trail, Colorado in his own Ford Frontenac; Lawrence Hughes of Wichita, Kansas in his own Hughes special; John Gerber of Meriden, Kansas in his own Gerber special; Clyde Gilbert of Longmont, Colorado in the Fisher special owned by Lloyd Fisher also from Longmont; Delbert Ging of Hutchinson, Kansas in his own Fronty Ford; Fred Lentz of Hutchinson in his own Lentz special; Joe Hutchinson of Arkansas City, Kansas in his own Ford Frontenac; Jim White of Sharon Springs, Kansas in his own White special Frontenac #28 and Bill Bryant of Hutchinson in his own Hudson special.  

              Koepke finished 3rd in the 10-lap “B” class race behind Fred Lentz of Hutchinson and Joe Hutchinson of Arkansas City, Kansas.

              Koepke finished 2nd in the 10-lap “C” class race behind Charles Lebsack of Otis, Kansas in the Kerbs special Ford #4 owned by Leonard Kerbs who was also from Otis.

              Koepke did not place in among the 1st four finishers in the 7-car, 20-lap “free-for-all” race won by Charles Lebsack of Otis, Kansas who was driving a Kerbs special Ford #4 owned by Leonard Kerbs who was also from Otis.

Feature race winner:  Charles Lebsack of Otis, Kansas who was driving a Kerbs special Ford #4 owned by Leonard Kerbs who was also from Otis.

 

September 25, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds at Hutchinson, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac.  [Note:  The newspaper article about these races said that Koepke was from Great Bend, Kansas but, if that was true, then he only lived there for a short time before moving back to Topeka, Kansas.]

Finish:  Koepke DNF in the 8-lap race for the 1st & 2nd place finishers in each of the races held at the Kansas State Fair on September 24 & 25, 1926.

Feature race winner:  Vic Felt of Deer Trail, Colorado in his own Ford Frontenac #99.

 

October 8, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Barton County Fairgrounds at Great Bend, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 4, 1927 – ½ mile dirt oval – Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds at Davenport, Iowa

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac #15

Attendance:  3,700

Finish:  Koepke finished 4th in the 1st 8-car, 5-mile heat race behind Gus Schrader of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the Boyle Valve #1; Glenn Hiett of Rock Island, Illinois in the #300 owned by Joe Kinsey and Maynard Clark in a Chevrolet #2.

 Koepke finished 4th in the 12-car, 30-lap feature race behind Gus Schrader of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the Boyle Valve #1; Glenn Hiett of Rock Island, Illinois in the #300 owned by Joe Kinsey and Maynard Clark in a Chevrolet #2.

Feature race winner:  Gus Schrader of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the Boyle Valve #1

  

August 20, 1927 – ½ mile dirt oval – Marion County Fairgrounds in Knoxville, Iowa

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac #8

Finish:  Koepke was leading the 10-mile “free-for-race” when a rear wheel came off his car in the final turn of the final lap and he crashed into the fence.  Koepke was not injured but the errant wheel jumped the fence and struck Mildred Lorene King (1919-1927) of Everist, Iowa who was sitting about 80 feet from the point where the wheel came off Koepke’s Ford.  Miss King was pronounced dead on arrival at the Knoxville hospital.

Feature race winner:  O. Albert “Mike” Koenitzer of Topeka, Kansas.

 

August 31, 1927 – ½ mile dirt oval – Valley County Fairgrounds at Ord, Nebraska

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac #8

Finish:  Koepke’s name does not appear in the published results of these races.

Feature race winner:  Vic Felt of Deer Trail, Colorado in his own Gallivan Ford #99.

 

September 2, 1927 – ½ mile dirt oval – Allen County Fairgrounds at Iola, Kansas

Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac #8

Finish:  Koepke won the 3-car, 5-mile “free for all” race in 6:18.0.  2nd place went to Phineas C. “Dad” Harrier of Hiawatha, Kansas in his Fronty Ford #6 and “Ducky” Scott* of Topeka, Kansas in his Scott special #9.

Feature race winner:  Albert “Al” Koepke of Topeka, Kansas in his Ford Frontenac #8

 

September 5, 1927 – ½ mile dirt oval – Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds at Davenport, Iowa – Sanctioned by the Mississippi Valley Racing Association (M.V.R.A.)

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac #8

Finish:  Koepke’s name does not appear among the 1st four finishers in the 30-lap feature race.

Feature race winner:  Gus Schrader of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the Boyle Valve #1

 

 

Al Koepke is shown here in his own Ford Frontenac on the racetrack during prerace ceremonies before the races at Hobart, Oklahoma in September of 1925.  At first, the number on Koepke’s car appears to be a #22 but close examination reveals that, while the number was once #22, it had been altered later to be #28.

Jeff Adams collection

 

September 14, 1927 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas Free Fairgrounds in Topeka, Kansas – Sanctioned by the International Motor Contest Association (I.M.C.A.)

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac #8

Finish:  Koepke’s name does not appear in the published results of these races.

Feature race winner:  John Gerber of Topeka, Kansas in his own Chevrolet #15 that he called a Whippet special.

 

September 16, 1927 – ½ mile dirt oval – Forest Park (now named Walter Johnson Park) in Coffeyville, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac #8

Finish:  Koepke finished 3rd in the 1st 4-car, 5-lap class “A” heat race behind John Gerber of Topeka, Kansas in his own Chevrolet #15 and Albert “Mike” Koenitzer of Meriden, Kansas in his Chevrolet special.

                 Koepke won the 1st 4-car, 5-lap class “B” heat race in 2:04.0.  He was followed by Dusty Deines of Topeka, Kansas in his Deines special in 2nd place.

 Koepke finished 3rd in the 2nd 4-car, 10-lap class “A” heat race behind John Gerber of Topeka, Kansas in his own Chevrolet #15 and Albert “Mike” Koenitzer of Meriden, Kansas in his Chevrolet special.

                 Koepke won the 2nd 4-car, 10-lap class “B” heat race in 6:09.4.  He was followed by Phineas C. “Dad” Harrier of Topeka, Kansas in a Fronty Ford in 2nd place.

                 Koepke finished 3rd in the 4-car, 20-lap “free for all” behind John Gerber of Topeka, Kansas in his own Chevrolet #15 and Albert “Mike” Koenitzer of Meriden, Kansas in his Chevrolet

Feature race winner:  John Gerber of Topeka, Kansas in his own Chevrolet #15 that he called a Whippet special.

 

September 17, 1927 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas Free Fairgrounds in Topeka, Kansas – Sanctioned by the International Motor Contest Association (I.M.C.A.)

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac #8

Finish:  Koepke ran the 2nd fastest lap in time trials of 32.0 which was only slower than the lap run John Gerber of Topeka, Kansas in his own Chevrolet #15.

Feature race winner:  John Gerber of Topeka, Kansas in his own Chevrolet #15 that he called a Whippet special.

 

September 27, 1927 – ½ mile dirt oval – Cowley County Fairgrounds at Winfield, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  These races were postponed until October 1, 1927 due to rain.

 

October 1, 1927 – ½ mile dirt oval – Cowley County Fairgrounds at Winfield, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  These races were canceled due to rain.

 

July 28, 1928 – ½ mile dirt oval – Cowley County Fairgrounds at Winfield, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac #8

Finish:  Koepke’s name was printed in the official program for these races but it does not appear in the published results.

Feature race winner:  James F. Pickens of Arkansas City, Kansas in a Ford special #440 owned by Joe Hutchinson also of Arkansas City, Kansas

 

August 25, 1928 – 1 mile dirt oval – Missouri State Fairgrounds at Sedalia, Missouri

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  Koepke won the 10-mile heat race finishing in front of Rea Bray of Hutchinson, Kansas in his Fronty Ford special.

              Koepke won the 50-mile feature race in 47:27.2, finishing in front of Phineas C. “Dad” Harrier of Hiawatha, Kansas.

Feature race winner:  Albert “Al” Koepke of Topeka, Kansas sin his own Ford Frontenac

  

August 28, 1928 – ½ mile dirt oval – Valley County Fairgrounds at Ord, Nebraska – Sanctioned by the American Automobile Association (A.A.A.)

            Car:  white Ford Frontenac owned by John Bagley of Omaha, Nebraska.

Finish:  Koepke’s name does not appear in the published results of these races.

Feature race winner:  John Bagley of Omaha, Nebraska in his own Ford Frontenac Frost special #4.

 

August 29, 1928 – ½ mile dirt oval – Valley County Fairgrounds at Ord, Nebraska – Sanctioned by the American Automobile Association (A.A.A.)

            Car:  white Ford Frontenac owned by John Bagley of Omaha, Nebraska.

Attendance:  12,000

Finish:  Koepke’s name does not appear in the published results of these races.

Feature race winner:  Willard Prentiss of Denver, Colorado

  

August 30, 1928 – ½ mile dirt oval – Valley County Fairgrounds at Ord, Nebraska – Sanctioned by the American Automobile Association (A.A.A.)

            Car:  white Ford Frontenac owned by John Bagley of Omaha, Nebraska.

Finish:  Koepke’s name does not appear in the published results of these races.

Feature race winner:  John Bagley of Omaha, Nebraska in his own Ford Frontenac Frost special #4.

  

August 31, 1928 – ½ mile dirt oval – Valley County Fairgrounds at Ord, Nebraska – Sanctioned by the American Automobile Association (A.A.A.)

            Car:  white Ford Frontenac owned by John Bagley of Omaha, Nebraska.

Finish:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

September 4, 1928 – ½ mile dirt oval – Cass County Fairgrounds at Atlantic, Iowa

Finish:  Koepke finished 3rd in the 2nd heat race behind Emery Hansen and Harvey Peterson.

Feature race winner:  John Bagley of Omaha, Nebraska in his own Ford Frontenac special #4.

 

September 17, 1928 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac #8

Attendance:  15,000+

Finish:  Koepke finished 2nd in the 6-lap “Midwest Championship Dash” behind Rex Edmonds of Houston, Texas in the Chevrolet #77 owned by Harold “Red” Grange.  Koepke took the lead from Pat Cunningham of St. Joseph, Missouri in the Ford Frontenac special #7-11 owned by Roy McLaughlin of Hutchinson, Kansas on the final lap only to be passed by Edmonds later that same lap.

Koepke finished 2nd in the 4-car, 6-lap “Kansas Championship Dash” behind Pat Cunningham of St. Joseph, Missouri in the Ford Frontenac special #7-11 owned by Roy McLaughlin of Hutchinson, Kansas.  This race was only open to drivers who were residents of Kansas.  Koepke led this race until he was passed by Pat Cunningham on the final straightway of the final lap and managed to win the race “by a wheel.”

            Koepke fnished 2nd in the 10-car, 25-lap “Grand Sweepstakes” race behind Rex Edmonds of Houston, Texas in the Chevrolet #77 owned by Harold Edward “Red” Grange.

Feature race winner:  Rex Edmonds of Houston, Texas in the Chevrolet special #77 owned by Harold Edward “Red” Grange.

 

September 21, 1928 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Kansas

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac #8

Finish:  Koepke won the 4-car, 6-lap “Kansas Championship Dash” in 3:38.4 over 2nd place finisher Pat Cunningham of St. Joseph, Missouri in the Ford Frontenac special #7-11 owned by Roy McLaughlin of Hutchinson, Kansas.  The victory paid Koepke $150 from the purse.  This race was only open to drivers who resided in Kansas but Cunningham was determined to be eligible since he was driving a locally owned car.

 Koepke finished 2nd in the 12-car, 25-lap “Grand Sweepstakes” race behind Jim White of Sharon Springs, Kansas in his own White special Ford Frontenac #28.  The victory was worth $400 from the purse.  It was winner take all and 2nd place paid nothing.

Feature race winner:  Jim White of Sharon Springs, Kansas in his own White special Ford Frontenac #28.

 

August 29-30, 1929 – 1 mile dirt oval – Dawson County Fairgrounds at Franklin, Nebraska

            Car:  Koepke’s own Ford Frontenac

Finish:  Koepke won the 4-car, 6-lap “Kansas Championship Dash” in 3:38.4 over 2nd place finisher Pat Cunningham of St. Joseph, Missouri in the Ford Frontenac special #7-11 owned by Roy McLaughlin of Hutchinson, Kansas.  The victory paid Koepke $150 from the purse.  This race was only open to drivers who resided in Kansas but Cunningham was determined to be eligible since he was driving a locally owned car.

 Koepke finished 2nd in the 12-car, 25-lap “Grand Sweepstakes” race behind Jim White of Sharon Springs, Kansas in his own White special Ford Frontenac #28.  The victory was worth $400 from the purse.  It was winner take all and 2nd place paid nothing.

Feature race winner:  Jim White of Sharon Springs, Kansas in his own White special Ford Frontenac #28.

 

Koepke also claimed to hold track records at Chickasha, Oklahoma and Aurora, Nebraska but published results of those races have yet to be located.

Albert Jouquin “Al” Koepke, who is known to have occasionally used the name, Albert August Koepke, passed away in October of 1964 in Laurel, Maryland.

If you know anything more about Al Koepke or his involvement in auto racing, please contact Bob Lawrence at: sprintguy @ cox.net

 

 

Autograph signed in 1918

Autograph signed in 1942

 

* After his race driving career, Topeka, Kansas dairyman, “Ducky” Scott (c1906 - after 1937), said to have been a promoted Topeka dairyman, promoted several auto races in Kansas before going east to promote auto thrill shows with his “Congress of Daredevils” a.k.a. “American Daredevils” in the eastern states.  If you know anything more about “Ducky” Scott, please contact Bob Lawrence at: sprintguy @ cox.net

 

 ** James “Toots” Higgin of Newton, Kansas drove an Essex special owned by Merle Warren of Newton, Kansas.  Warren then drove a second Essex special that he owned but that confused the newspaper reporter covering the races as he apparently could not tell which of the Merle-Warren-owned Essex was being driven by Higgins and which was being driven by Warren.

 

*** In the spring of 1921, Koepke built his own race car called the “Kansas Cyclone” that was powered by twin Harley-Davidson motorcycle engines.  Each engine drove one rear wheel with a chain.  The car was “speedy” and considered to be quite an innovative novelty.

 

**** In the fall of 1921, “Cooper-Burton” of Topeka, Kansas built the “Cootie special” which was similar to the “Kansas Cyclone.”.  This car too, was powered by twin Harley-Davidson motorcycle engines.  Each engine drove one rear wheel with a chain.  Koepke drove the “Cootie special” in several races that fall but it was not as fast as the “Kansas Cyclone” had been and it never performed up to its expectations.  It is yet to be learned just what, or who “Cooper-Burton” of Topeka, Kansas, was has yet to learned.