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Automobile Racing at the Cowley County Fairgrounds in about 1915

Auto Racing

race cars

The race cars near center

race car

Detail of race car on the left

race car

Detail of race car on the right

grand stand

The grand stand at the left

auto racing

The audiance cuars on the right.

horse and buggy in the crowd

Detail of horse and buggy in the crowd of watchers at the right



Subject: Auto Racing at the Fairgrounds
Date: Fri, 12 May 2000
From: "Bob Lawrence"

Hi Bill,
I now believe I have pin-pointed when that photograph was taken of the auto race on your web site. An expert on those old race cars told me to check 1915-1916 newspapers as they raced cars like that just prior to World War I. I did today and found that there was a race run at Winfield on Thursday afternoon, May 13, 1915 and it appears to have been the only race run at Winfield during those two years. The feature event that day was 40 laps and was won by Sigfried Hangdahl driving a Mercer. I'll put together the whole story and have it up on my web site in a few days.


Subject: auto race at fairgrounds
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000
From: "Bob Lawrence"

Hi,
I saw your photo taken of the automobile race at the Cowley Co. fairgrounds c1915 and also saw that you were interested in comments about it. You might be interested in a story told to me by Kenny Becker (1914-1984), former Winfield postmaster. He said that, when he was a boy, a promoter brought about a half dozen race cars to the Winfield fairgrounds along with about four drivers. He staged a race and offered to let local men sign up to drive the remaining cars. He would even allow the locals to start in the front of the race. Only a couple of local men volunteered and one of those had an eye muscle condition that caused his eyes to always look down and to the left. Thus, to see straight ahead, this man had to raise his head up and turn it to the right. Driving the race car that way, it appeared as though this man was star gazing or staring up into the grandstand as he raced by. The touring race drivers, not aware of his condition, thought the man was showing off or, at the very least, wasn't paying attention to his driving and were afraid to pull along side, let along race with him, and this guy won the race.
1915 would have been before Kenny was old enough to remember any races and I don't see any of these drivers staring off into space. On the other hand, judging from all of the automobiles in the infield of the track, I'm wondering if that race might not have been run in the early 1920s instead. Before WWI, I believe that the infield would have been mostly buggies and wagons. There aren't a half dozen cars either but they might have run more than one race that day too. I don't know. It's just an interesting observation.
I made a link to that picture on a couple of other auto racing web sites so you might be hearing from some people who might be able to tell you more about it.
Bob Lawrence



Subject: Re: auto race at fairgrounds
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000
From: "Bob Lawrence"
References: 1 , 2

Bill,
No. I don't mind your posting my story and comments about the picture. I did see a couple of 'typos' that you might want to correct though, since it is going to be on the web page.

Incidentally, I drove in a stock car race on that track myself in 1967. Then Wayne Wilt and myself promoted two stock car races there on behalf of the Winfield V.F.W. in 1970 and 1971.

Your web site about Winfield is simply Awesome! Excellent work. I have long been interested in Winfield and its history. That 1878 'bird's eye view' of Winfield is one of my all time favorite pictures and I have admired it in the historical museum on a number of occasions.

In 1997, I published the 690 page hard bound book, "Births and Deaths of Cowley County, Kansas as Abstracted from the Winfield Daily Courier and Other Sources 1875-1969" containing genealogical abstracts from 7,729 birth announcements and 17,903 obituaries published in the Winfield Courier during
those years. I also included the location of each of the 129 known cemeteries in Cowley county as well as each of the names that each cemetery has been known by over the years.. There are 7,021 different surnames in the index. Although that book is out of print now, there are copies in a number of libraries around the country including both the Winfield and Arkansas City public libraries. Then, just last month, I published the second edition of that book. It's virtually the same book as the first edition (except for a few spelling corrections) but this one is only available on CD-ROM.
Bob Lawrence

 

Cowley County Historical Society Museum