Harold Stanley "Doc" Roller

 

Lincoln County Historical Museum, North Platte, Nebraska

 

 

  

Harold Roller was born on March 27, 1893 at Brookville, Ohio, the youngest child of Gustav Adolph Frederich Roller (1848-1920) and his wife, Sarah Jane (Fox) Roller (1853-1922).  Adolph was a first-generation German immigrant to America.  By early 1895, the family had moved to Logan, Kansas and by 1900, the family had moved to Lecompton, Kansas.  Adolph had worked as a harness maker and buggy salesman but he and Sarah separated not long after they arrived at Lecompton.  Adolph went back to Ohio while Sarah moved to Topeka, Kansas with the children and found work there as a seamstress.  Harold Roller also found work in Topeka as a chauffeur.

Harold Roller and Ethel Pauline (Baker) Knox were married on August 10, 1914 at Savannah, Missouri and were the parents of three children:  Richard Henry Knox (1907-1991) who legally changed his to “Harry Roller” after Harold and Ethel were married; Gilbert Raymond Roller, (1917-1929); and Ruth Arlene (Roller) Bracewell (1934-2004).

Roller began to participate in area automobile races early in 1917.  About all that is known about his early bobtail racing cars is that they had 4-cylinder Ford engines equipped with 16-valve Roof heads and that they were known to be reliably fast.  The following is an incomplete listing of some of the races that Roller entered:

 

August 23, 1917

˝ mile dirt oval – Central Kansas Fairgrounds at Abilene, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

Harold Roller and owner / driver Glenn Breed (1880-1960) of Chanute, Kansas in his 1916 Hudson “Super-Six” special #1 were fighting for the lead in the 15-lap feature event when “one machine hooked the rear of the other” on the ninth lap of the race.  Both cars crashed through a board fence with Breed’s Hudson breaking off an 8-inch pole.  Breed’s gas tank exploded in flames but, miraculously, neither driver was injured.  The veteran Breed was a top driver on the local racetracks at the time so it was unexpected to see him challenged for the victory by a rookie.

 

October 2, 1917

 ˝ mile dirt oval – Cloud County Fairgrounds at Concordia, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

A $500 purse was posted for these races but no results of these races have been located to date.

 

October 5, 1917

 ˝ mile dirt oval – Clay County Fairgrounds at Clay Center, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

Roller won the feature race over second place, Johnnie Mais of Amarillo, Texas.

 

Harold Roller and his bride had moved to Lincoln Center, Kansas (later known as just Lincoln, Kansas) by the end of the 1917 and found lodging with the family of August O. Bahls (1884-1974).  Harold took a job as an automobile mechanic at the local Ford garage owned by John S. Stover (1870-1942).

It is unknown just who challenged who, or who put up the money, but a rematch (grudge race?) of the race at Abilene, Kansas on August 23rd between Harold Roller and Glenn Breed was arranged complete with a substantial side bet.

 

Topeka Daily Capital

October 17, 1917 – Page 3

 

 

October 20, 1917

˝ mile dirt oval – Lincoln Fairgrounds at Lincoln, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

Glenn Breed drove his black and white 1916 Hudson “Super-Six” special #1 and collected $1,000 for winning the first two of a best two-out-of-three series of match races over Roller.  Both had been required to post $1,000 in cash with a local bank in case of forfeiture.

 

Early in 1918, Abilene, Kansas Ford agent Charles D. Cruse (1889-1965) traveled to Lincoln, Kansas and made Roller a flattering offer to move to Abilene and work as a mechanic in Cruse’s Lincoln Motor Company garage.  Roller accepted the offer and the Rollers were residents of Abilene by June of that year.

 

July 25, 1918

˝ mile dirt oval – Central Kansas Fairgrounds at Abilene, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

Seven cars were entered in these races.  Roller turned in the third fastest time in time trials running two laps in 1:16.0 which was only one second slower than fastest time turned in by both Glenn Breed and Rex Kent.  Roller then won the 3-mile feature race be winning two of the three heats that made up the event.  Glenn Breed won the third heat.  The crowd was described as being average size with the total gate receipts being $500.

 

August 23, 1918

˝ mile dirt oval – North Central Kansas Fairgrounds in Belleville, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

This race consisted of three 10-lap heat races with the finishing places in each counting toward the overall standings for the day.  A $500 purse was paid out to the overall winner.  Roller won all three heat races with his best time of 6 minutes, 9 seconds coming in the first heat.

 

August 29, 1918

˝ mile dirt oval – Brown County Fairgrounds at Hiawatha, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

            Some of the other competitors tried unsuccessfully to keep Roller from participating in these races.

Roller was one lap ahead of his nearest competitor when several other race cars crowded around his, forcing his to drive through a soft windrow of dirt.  That threw his car slightly and it locked wheels with a Chevrolet race car before crashing through the fence at approximately 75 m.p.h.  Roller’s racer crashed head-on into a Dodge roadster that was parked in the parking lot.  The Dodge was nearly demolished but Roller’s Ford was only slightly damaged in the incident and there were no injuries.

No other results of these races have been located to date.

 

September, 1918

2 mile dirt oval – Dodge City Speedway northeast of Dodge City, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

                        The exact date and the results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 4, 1919

˝ mile dirt oval Lincoln County Fairgrounds at North Platte, Nebraska

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

Roller’s name does not appear in the published results of these races.  King Rhiley of Oshkosh, Nebraska won the feature race.

 

August 27, 1919

 ˝ mile dirt oval Cloud County Fairgrounds at Concordia, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

There were only four entries in this race.  Roller finished second to Johnnie Mais in the feature race.

 

August 28, 1919

 ˝ mile dirt oval – Cloud County Fairgrounds at Concordia, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

There were only four entries in this race.  Roller won the 5-mile feature race over Johnnie Mais in 6:12.0.

 

August 29, 1919

˝ mile dirt oval – Lincoln Fairgrounds at Lincoln, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

There were only two entries in this race.  Glenn Breed drove his black and white 1916 Hudson “Super-Six” special #1 to victory over Harold Roller in the 10-mile race, finishing the event in 12:04.0.

 

 

Harold Roller and his Ford

Abilene Daily Chronicle

June 20, 1918 – Page 2

 

September 1, 1919

˝ mile dirt oval Lincoln County Fairgrounds at North Platte, Nebraska

Roller’s name does not appear in the published results of these races.

 

September 3, 1919

1-mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

Roller drove a “Double Engine” Ford special.

15,000 people saw Roller win the 26-mile sweepstakes race in 29 minutes, 39.2 seconds.  Note:  The car that Roller drove in this two-day program of races featured two Model T Ford engines welded together end-to-end.  An error in the scoring cause the race to run one mile farther than the scheduled 25-mile distance.

 

September 4, 1919

1-mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

Roller drove a “Double Engine” Ford special.

Roller was the overall winner of the two-day contest which paid him $1,000 in prize money for winning the 25-mile long final event on this, the second day.

 

September 27, 1919

˝ mile dirt oval Lincoln County Fairgrounds at North Platte, Nebraska

Roller’s name does not appear in the published results of these races.

 

January 16, 1920

8-mile Beach oval course "between Pass-a-Grille and the Casino" on St. Petersburg Beach, Florida

This race was advertised to be a 24-mile race but, at race time, the distance was announced to be 16-miles.  The Tampa Bay Times newspaper’s account states that the cars “actually raced for about 5˝ miles.”

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special #4.

            A field of thirteen cars was entered.  Roller "got off to a flying start", led the entire distance, and was declared to be the overall winner which was touted as the biggest victory of his racing career.  Roller won the race handily with “the other contestants finishing within a period of 20 minutes after the winner crossed the line.”  For the feat, Roller collected $2,500 as his share of the purse.  Little more is known of these races though.  Brief newspapers accounts do say that Harold Roller was able to average 105 m.p.h. for two miles on the beach course.  That same source also states that Roller was able to reach a speed of 115 m.p.h. later that same year on a six-mile straight stretch of that same beach.

 

 

North Platte Tribune

July 1, 1919 – Page 4

 

February 20, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval Plant Field at the South Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special #4.

Roller ran the fastest time in time trials turning two laps of the racetrack in 1:15.5.  The next best time was turned in by Dave Koetzla of Jacksonville, Florida who ran the distance in 1:21.0 in a red Buick special #2.

Roller won the first 5-mile heat race in 7:11.25 over _____ Chapman who was driving a Buick.

Roller won the second 5-mile heat race in 7:23.5 over Dave Koetzla who was driving a red Buick special #2.

Roller won the 10-mile “free-for-all” sweepstakes race over _____ Chapman who was driving a Buick.

 

February 21, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval Plant Field at the South Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special #4.

Roller ran the fastest time in time trials turning two laps of the racetrack in 1:15.25.  The next best time was turned in by Joe Hendricks of Miami, Florida who ran the distance in 1:20.0 in a Buick.

Roller won the first 5-mile heat race in 7:17.5 over Joe Hendricks of Miami, Florida who was driving a Buick.

Roller won the second 5-mile heat race in 7:07 over Dave Koetzla who was driving a red Buick special #2.

Roller won the 10-mile “free-for-all” sweepstakes race in 15:47.0 over Joe Hendricks of Miami, Florida who was driving a Buick.

 

February 28, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval Plant Field at the South Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special #4.

Roller finished second to Dave Koetzla in his red Buick special #2 in the first 5-mile heat in a best two-out-of-three match race.

Roller won the second 5-mile heat in the best two-out-of-three match race over Dave Koetzla in his red Buick special #2.

Roller won the third 5-mile heat to win the best two-out-of-three match race over Dave Koetzla in his red Buick special #2.

 

April 23-24, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval – Garfield County Fairgrounds at Enid, Oklahoma

            Roller entered his 16-valve Roof Ford special

Roller won a 5-mile heat race but engine trouble kept him from starting in the feature race.

 

April, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval – Pawnee Fairgrounds at Pawnee, Oklahoma

            Roller entered his 16-valve Roof Ford special

Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

May 15 – 16, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval – Colcord Track in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

There was a $2,000 total purse posted for these races but they were canceled due to flooding in the area.

 

June 15, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval – Barton County Fairgrounds at Great Bend, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

            Roller won the 10-mile “free-for-all” race over Leonard E. Kerbs who was driving a Ford special.

 

July 4, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval – Lincoln County Fairgrounds at Lexington, Missouri

Roller finished second to King Rhiley of Oshkosh, Nebraska in the first heat race.  Rhiley went on the win the feature race this day but there is no further mention of Roller in the published race results.

 

July 5, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval – Lafayette County Fairgrounds at Lexington, Missouri

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

August 27, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval – Brown County Fairgrounds at Hiawatha, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

            Despite breaking an axel on his Ford, Roller won the 3-mile heat race in 4:00.0.  He was unable to make repairs in time to start in the 5-mile race but he was able to win the 10-mile feature race in 12:24.0.

 

September 4, 1920

1-mile dirt oval – Galesburg District Fairgrounds at Galesburg, Illinois

 

Hutchinson News

August 19, 1919 – Page 8

 

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

There was $1,900 in total purse posted for these races put on by the Tri-State Racing Association of Keokuk, Iowa.  Roller competed in one of the two 25-mile heat races and in the 50-mile feature race that was won by Cliff Woodbury of Chicago, Illinois but Roller did not win the heat race and did not place in the first four in the feature race.  Where he did finish does not appear in the published results.

 

September 6, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval – Des Moines County Fairgrounds at Burlington, Iowa

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

There was a $1,500 total purse posted for these races put on by the Tri-State Racing Association of Keokuk, Iowa.  Roller turned in the second fastest time of 1:09.2 in the one-mile time trials, just .4 seconds behind Cliff Woodbury of Chicago, Illinois.  Roller then won the 10-mile race for Fords in a time of 13:09.4.  Next, Roller started in the 30-lap race for cars that were rated under 30 h.p. but dropped out after 9 laps with broken driveshaft housing.  That race was won by Gus Schrader of Newhall, Iowa.

 

September 9, 1920

1 mile dirt oval – Kewanee Fairgrounds at Kewanee, Illinois

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

September 10 – 11, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval – Cedar Valley Fairgrounds at Cedar Falls, Iowa

Roller was the overall winner of the two-day contest.

 

September 23, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval – Dawson County Fairgrounds at Lexington, Nebraska

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

September 28, 1920

˝ mile dirt oval Lincoln County Fairgrounds at North Platte, Nebraska

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

Leonard Kerbs of Otis, Kansas built two bobtail racing cars “sometime before the races” at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson, Kansas.  Kerbs kept one of the cars and sold the other one to Harold Roller.

 

October 8, 1920

˝ mile dirt ovalKansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Kansas

Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

Roller turned in the fastest time of the day in time trials turning one mile in 1 minute, 6.2 seconds.  The second fastest time in time trials was turned in by Leonard Kerbs who had built both cars.  For that feat, he received $50 for having the quickest time trial of the day and an additional $100 for breaking the track record for that distance.  He was also given his choice of starting places in each of the races run that day.  He won the 20-lap “Sweepstakes” race for the six fastest qualifiers turning the 10-mile distance in 11 minutes, 56.2 seconds.

 

 

1920 Newspaper ads

 

October 9, 1920

˝ mile dirt ovalKansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Kansas

           Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special.

Roller won the 30-lap “free-for-all Sweepstakes” in 17 minutes, 47.4 seconds to collect $300 from the day’s posted purse.  His only real competition was Johnnie Mais of Dodge City, Kansas and then Johnny Lee of Wichita, Kansas who pressed Roller after Mais dropped out with a flat tire.  Roller lapped all of the other competitors twice.

 

October 14, 1920

1-mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

           Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special

Roller won $25 from the purse when he ran the fastest lap in time trials of 58.0 seconds, which was a full second faster than the lap run by Johnny Lee which was the second fastest lap.

Roller won another $100 when he finished first in the 10-mile “free-for-all” race.  He went the distance in 10:27.0 and was followed in second place by Johnny Lee.

Roller won $300 by finishing second to John Mais in the 50-mile feature race.  Roller finished two-laps behind Mais after having to stop twice during the race to change damaged wheels.

 

November 11, 1920

˝ mile dirt ovalMid-America Fairgrounds in Topeka, Kansas

           Roller drove his 16-valve Roof Ford special

Poor weather made for a small crown but Roller turned in the fastest time in time trials.  His time was 1 minute, 6.2 seconds for two laps which was 6.0 seconds quicker than the second fastest time of the day turned in by Leonard Kerbs of Otis, Kansas.

Roller then won the first race which was a five-mile “free-for-all” event.  His time for that race was 6 minutes, 13.0 seconds.

 

June 14, 1921

1-mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

Roller drove an Essex

Due to his past performances at Kenwood Park and his reputation for winning races, his first appearance on the racetrack “drew a hearty cheer from the grandstand.”

In the first ten-mile “free for all” race, Roller ran in second place behind John Mais until the ninth lap when he was passed by both Raymond Fry of Newkirk, Oklahoma in a 16-valve Ford special and another Essex that was driven by Merle Warren and owned by his Warren Motor Company of Newton, Kansas.

In the second ten-mile race for cars of 230 c.i. or less, six cars started but only four finished.  Roller finished fourth behind John Mais, Raymond Fry and the Essex driven by Merle Warren.

 

September 5, 1921

1-mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

Since John Mais and his wife, Elfrieda, were the promoters of these races, Mais entered his own #24 Dodge special for Harold Roller to drive.

Roller finished second behind Leonard Kerbs in the first 10-mile “free-for-all” race.

Roller won the 10-mile Australian Pursuit in 9:55.0.

Roller won the 6-car, 10-mile “Light car” race in 9:41.0.

On the third lap of the 50-mile “free-for-all” race, the steering broke on the front straightaway on the Dodge being driven by Roy Lamb of Dunlap, Kansas.  The Mais-owned #24 Dodge special that Roller was driving, bumped into Lamb’s car in the intense dust causing the Mais Dodge to catch fire, badly damaging it. 

 

September 16, 1921

˝ mile dirt ovalMid-America Fairgrounds in Topeka, Kansas

           Roller drove Ford special owned by Leonard Kerbs of Otis, Kansas

Roller’s name does not appear in the published results of these races.

 

October 7, 1921

˝ mile dirt ovalCity Park Racetrack in Council Grove, Kansas

            Roller drove a Dodge with an experiential flathead aluminum cylinder head of his own construction

Roller turned in the second fastest time of the day in time trials behind John Mais.  Roller then finished second to Mais all three races that they competed in that day: a ten-mile sprint, three-mile race, and another ten-mile event.  In the final race of the day, a Buick driven by E. C. Miller tangled wheels with Roller’s Dodge leading to Miller’s losing control of his mount.  It sailed through a fence throwing its driver out onto a road outside the racetrack.  Miller received numerous injuries and the crash tore both rear wheels from the Buick.

 

October, 1921 (exact date unknown)

˝ mile dirt ovalMid-America Fairgrounds in Topeka, Kansas

            Roller drove a Dodge with an experiential flathead aluminum cylinder head of his own construction

                        It is unknown how Roller finished in these races but we do know he had trouble getting the cylinder head to work properly.

 

July 4, 1922

1-mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

Roller drove a Dodge in these races that paid a total purse of $2,000

5,000 spectators watched Roller finish in third place among the fifteen entries in the first 10–mile free-for-all race.  W. K. “Bill” Adolph of Salina, Kansas won that race followed by W. W. Brown of Kansas City, Missouri.

Roller finished second to Johnny Lee of Wichita, Kansas in the second 10-mile race.  Thirteen cars started that event.

Roller finished third in the five-mile race.  That race was won by Johnny Lee who was followed by Albert “Al” Koepka of Topeka, Kansas.

Roller finished second to W. W. Brown in the 50–mile race.

 

September 4, 1922

1-mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

Roller drove a Dodge in these races that paid a total purse of $2,000

Almost 4,000 spectators watched Roller run the second fastest time of 20 entries in time trials of 58.6 for two-laps.  Only Billy Adolph of Salina ram the distance in a faster time.

Roller finished third behind Billy Adolph and Albert “Al” Koepka of Topeka, Kansas in a 10-mile race for cars of 230 c.i.d. or under.

Roller finished second behind Billy Adolph in the 5-mile “free-for-all” race.

Roller won the 50-mile “free-for-all” race in 53:28.2 over Billy Adolph.  Adolph led the first ten miles of this race before being overtaken by Roller.  Adolph stayed close behind Roller and made a charge to take the lead on the final lap but his engine went sour and he had to settle for second place.

 

October 13, 1922

˝ mile dirt ovalPhelps County Fairgrounds at Holdrege, Nebraska

          Roller drove a Dodge

A crowd of 3,000 braved a “cold, chilly wind” to watch a field of 25 cars.  Roller turned in the best time in time trials with a lap of 34.0 seconds.  The second fastest time was that of “John B. Gerber of Rock Creek, Kansas”.

 

October 14, 1922

˝ mile dirt ovalPhelps County Fairgrounds at Holdrege, Nebraska

          Roller drove a Dodge

A crowd of 6,000 watched Roller finish second to Noel Bullock of North Platte, Nebraska.

 

October 28, 1922

˝ mile dirt ovalMid-America Fairgrounds in Topeka, Kansas

            Roller drove a Dodge

Seven cars, all from Kansas, were entered in these races.  Roller had the best time for two laps in time trials with 1 minute, 8.2 seconds which was .8 seconds faster that the time turned in by John Gerber of Meriden, Kansas.

Roller won the five-mile race for cars with less than 230 cubic inches of engine displacement.  His time for that was 6 minutes, 10.4 seconds and his prize was $50.

Roller also won the ten-mile “free-for-all” race in 11 minutes, 54.4 seconds to collect another $100 from the purse.

Roller and Albert “Al” Koepke, also in a Dodge, swapped the lead several times during the first ten miles of the 25-mile championship race but Roller dropped out before the event had reached the half-way point.  Late in the race, Koepke was passed by Glenn Royer of Council Grove, Kansas who was driving a Buick.  Royer held on for the victory and received $300 for his effort while Koepke came in second.  Note:  Al Koepke’s wife was a sister to Harold’s wife, Ethel Roller.

 

August 14, 1924

1-mile dirt ovalFranklin County Fairgrounds at Franklin, Nebraska

Roller finished second to Walter Higley of Coffeyville, Kansas in the first heat race.  Higley went on the win the feature race this day but there is no further mention of Roller in the published race results.

 

August 24, 1924

˝ mile dirt ovalPhelps County Fairgrounds at Holdrege, Nebraska

“A large crowd” saw Roller finish second to Bob Maze of Topeka, Kansas in the fourth heat race.  Noel Bullock of North Platte, Nebraska won the “Grand Sweepstakes” race.  Note:  Roller’s brother-in-law, Albert “Al” Koepke, was seriously injured when his car locked wheels with another and then overturned in one of these races.

 

August 25. 1924

˝ mile dirt ovalBuffalo County Fairgrounds at Kearney, Nebraska

Roller finished third in the 10-lap feature race behind Walter Higley and Guy Deulen of Bridgeport, Nebraska.

 

October 18, 1924

˝ mile dirt ovalCity Park Racetrack in Council Grove, Kansas

Roller finished second behind a Chevrolet driven by John Gerber of Meriden, Kansas in each of the four races they competed in.

 

November 6, 1924 

˝ mile dirt oval – North Central Kansas Fairgrounds in Belleville, Kansas

Roller won the “Class A” 5-mile “Professional” race over Lew Reynolds of St. Joseph, Missouri in a time of 5 minutes, 45 seconds.  He then finished second to Lou Reynolds in the “Professional” 20-lap final.

 

Belleville Telescope

September 10, 1925 – Page 3

 

 

May 30, 1925

˝ mile dirt oval – Marion Fairgrounds at Marion, Iowa

Roller drove his Ford to a second-place finish in the third 10-lap heat race behind Bert Ficken of Omaha, Nebraska who was driving a Dodge.  Much of this program, including the feature race, was canceled due to rain.

 

August 5, 1925

˝ mile dirt ovalMeade County Fairgrounds at Sturgis, South Dakota

Roller won a consolation race for non-money winners at the annual “Black Hills Auto Classic.”

 

August 21, 1925

˝ mile dirt ovalRed Willow County Fairgrounds at McCook, Nebraska

            Roller drove his Fronty Ford

Roller turned in the third quickest time in time trials running one lap at 34.75 seconds behind Guy Deulen and Walter Higley.  He then finished third in the 10-lap heat race behind Higley and Deulen to win $20 from the purse.  Roller rounded out the day by finishing third behind Higley and Hodge Willis in the 20-lap feature race.  Roller collected $40 for finishing in that position.

 

September 16 – 17, 1925

˝ mile dirt oval – Cloud County Fairgrounds at Concordia, Kansas

There was a $1,550 purse posted for these races but no results of these races have been located to date.

 

August 26, 1926

˝ mile dirt oval Plant Field at the South Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida

            Roller drove his Fronty Ford

Roller entered these races but had to drop out of the feature race for an undisclosed reason.

 

December 4, 1926

˝ mile dirt oval Plant Field at the South Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida

            Roller drove his Fronty Ford

Roller entered these races but had to drop out of the feature race for an undisclosed reason.  Howard Miller won the feature race in a Fronty Ford.

 

January 1, 1927

1 mile sand oval Daytona Beach Speedway at Daytona Beach, Florida

            Roller drove his Fronty Ford

35 cars and drivers were entered in these races but the race results have yet to be located.

 

February 1, 1927

˝ mile dirt oval Plant Field at the South Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida

            Roller drove his #7 Fronty Ford #7

                        Roller won the first heat race in 3:32.0 over Jim Angel.

Roller dropped out of the fifth race when his engine expired on the second lap.  That race was won by Lloyd “Shorty” Gingrich while the feature race was won by John de Palma in a Duesenberg owned by J. Alex Sloan.

 

February 12, 1927

˝ mile dirt oval Plant Field at the South Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida

            Roller drove his Fronty Ford #7

Roller entered these races but had to drop out of the feature race for an undisclosed reason.

 

July 4, 1927

1 mile dirt oval Pompano Park at Pompano Beach, Florida

            Roller drove his Fronty Ford

7,000 spectators were on hand.  It is unknown how Roller finished in his 5-mile heat race except that he did qualify for the 16-car, 50-mile main event.

Roller was challenging for the lead in the main event when rain began to fall.  When the racetrack got muddy, Roller pulled off of the track although the race continued on for a few more laps before it was finally called due to rain.  Officials ruled that the race was complete but Roller’s leaving the track early cost him his place in the final standings.

 

September 5, 1927

1 mile dirt oval Pompano Park at Pompano Beach, Florida

            Roller drove his Fronty Ford

6,000 spectators were on hand and the feature race was won by Lloyd “Shorty” Gingrich of Tampa, Florida but any other results of these races have not been located.

 

September 15, 1927

1 mile dirt oval Seminola Racetrack at Longwood, Florida

            Roller was the promoter of these races and drove his Fronty Ford in them as well.

900 spectators watched 16 cars participate in these races.

Roller received some damage to a rear wheel when he collided with a car driven by E. D. Capo of St. Augustine, Florida in the first turn of the 15-mile fast car heat race.  Roller was able to continue on though, becoming the only driver to finish the distance, which he did in 15:44.4.

Rolled nosed out Harry O’Neal of Daytona Beach, Florida to win the 20-mile feature race.

 

November 11, 1927

1 mile dirt oval Pompano Park at Pompano Beach, Florida

            Roller drove his Fronty Ford

Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

            Roller finished as runner-up in the Florida state championship for 1927 behind Lloyd. “Shorty” Gingrich of Tampa, Florida.

 

January 31, 1928

˝ mile dirt oval Plant Field at the South Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida

          Roller was listed as both the owner and driver of car #17

Roller’s car suffered engine failure causing him to drop out of the feature race.  Bob Green, driving a #88 Fronty Ford owned by Curley Young, was the victor in that event.

 

February 11, 1928

˝ mile dirt oval Plant Field at the South Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida

Roller entered his car #17 Fronty Ford in these races for driver Ray Moore.

Moore finished second to Bob Green in a #88 Fronty Ford in the third heat race.  Sam Hoffman of Sioux City, Iowa won the feature event.

 

April 7, 1928

1 mile dirt oval Pompano Park at Pompano Beach, Florida

            Roller drove his #17 Fronty Ford

Walter Purvis of Jacksonville, Florida won two of the races run on this afternoon but no other results of these races have been located to date.

 

May 30, 1928

˝ mile dirt oval Plant Field at the South Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida

Roller entered his own car in these races but his name does not appear in the published race results.  The feature race was won by Sam Purvis in a #7 Chevrolet owned by Hal Hill.

 

November 11, 1928

˝ mile dirt oval Plant Field at the South Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida

Roller entered his own car in these races but no results of these races have been located to date.

 

January 29, 1929

˝ mile dirt oval Plant Field at the South Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida

Roller entered a Rajo Ford in these races for driver Ray Moore.  Moore finished second to Bob Green in the consolation race.  The feature race was won by Sig Haugdahl of Jacksonville, Florida.

  

July 4, 1929

1-mile dirt oval Pompano Beach Speedway at Pompano Beach, Florida

Roller entered a Laurel special in these races but his name does not appear in the published race results.  Joe Johnson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida won the 12-mile feature race.

 

The Tampa (Florida) Tribune

Sunday - September 1, 1929

Page 10

 

Racer Who Introduced Small Car on Track Living Here 

By Harold Tyler

Harold S. Roller

Age 36

Photo by Carl T. Thoner

 

Another race driver has decided that Tampa’s balmy atmosphere is much more pleasant than the dust kicked up on the dirt tracks throughout the United States, and he has brought his family here to live.  He is Harold Roller, whose name for nine years, was known wherever racing fans gathered to watch the trim cars dash around the tracks making records and building reputations for various makes of cars.  Those nine years behind the bucking wheel of a speeding car have furnished thrills for a lifetime and Roller has definitely announced that he will not drive again.  In his machine shop, however, may be found the cars of other drivers who trust him to keep them in shape for their races.

“The game has something about it that keeps you wanting to be in it all the time.”  Roller said.  “That’s as near as I’m going to be, though.  I might be a mechanic, but I think I’ll stay away from the wheel.”

 

Created Sensation

It was exactly eleven years ago that Roller created a sensation in the racing world by appearing at the Dodge City, Kansas track with a light, for-cylinder car such as had never before been used on a speedway.  The sight of the car brought forth all the gibes of a cynical fandom and fellow drivers scoffed at the idea of the little speedster offering them any competition.  All were drivers of big cars costing thousands of dollars to build, and they expected to leave Roller far behind.  They all ate dust that day, however, and for 20 consecutive days, they repeated the performance.  For the light, cheap car, with its rebuilt motor, attained a speed of 94 miles an hour and left the higher-powered and more expensive cars far in the rear.  The spell was broken on the 21st and final day of the tournament when the little car brought in second money instead of first prize.

 

Remains in Tampa

Like the car he preferred for his racing career, Roller is an undersized chap, but he has a grip of iron and it is easy to understand how his hands guided the clumsy racers of a decade ago on the rough dirt tracks of the middle west.

“They made fun of me and my car,” Roller said, “but they soon learned to have a good deal of respect for it.  I never used any other kind after that and raced until three years ago when I decided to stay in Tampa.”

It was after the South Florida fair that Roller picked out Tampa as a good place to live and he is still here with memories of past records to remind him of the racing game of years ago.  He has made as high as 107 miles an hour in his small cars and once was given the world’s record for the speediest car without the formality of a test by the A.A.A.  That was during the 1919 season.  He also held the half-mile dirt track record for many years and was known throughout the middle west for his prowess on the track.

“But the racing game is all shot now,” Roller said.  “It is a matter of starting for glory, unless you get in a big race, so I’m going to let the other fellows have the thrills.”

 

 

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             Sports writers had referred to Harold as "Doc" Roller ever since his beginning in the sport.  He was given the moniker because of a well-known professional wrestler of that time who was also known as "Doc Roller".

            Harold Roller moved to Tampa Florida in 1926, founded the Roller Spring & Brake Company and built a new Fronty Ford race car.  (Webmaster’s note:  Fellow racing driver, Ray LaPorte, worked for Roller at the Roller Spring & Brake Company in Tampa, Florida for a time in the 1930s.)

            Roller continued to serve as a racing official for the I.M.C.A. and for some “outlaw” races, at least through the 1946.

Harold Roller passed away on October 5, 1964 and is buried in Myrtle Hill Memorial Park Cemetery in Tampa.  After his death, Ethel Roller moved to Tennessee where she passed away in 1976.  She is buried beside Harold.

 

 

 

Findagrave.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you

Bob Mays and James Taggart