raced carts at Playland. He knows a lot about the early racing days at
Playland, especially the midget racers. Hopefully, he'll
supply some stories soon.
father and grandfather before him, owned Jay B. and Sons Towing.
We all remember those familiar wreckers parked in the infield! She
used to ride to Playland in them. In the picture you see Carolyn's
granddad working at Playland.
Bob and Carolyn
provided some beautiful old Playland Speedway programs from as early as
1947. See the on the race results
and memorabilia pages.
Racing at Playland was cheap family entertainment, which everyone really enjoyed. My Grandfather and Father would take the wreckers and we always looked forward to riding to Playland on the back of the wreckers, now it would be illegal to ride on the back.
I have so many memories of Playland, one was when Bud Burdick, my brother’s favorite driver, pulled up to the gate to the stands and the announcer asked for my brother to go to the track and Bud took him for a ride around the track. Glen Robey took me for a ride in his car and the thrill of “going fast” was great. The cars that would go through the back wall, and some driving around and onto the track while others had to be towed. The long waits when the ambulance had to take someone to the hospital and they couldn’t race until they returned. During those times we would go out and ride a few rides, then return for more racing.
I’m still a racing fan, but nothing beats going to Playland and watching the “old” cars race around the track.
Ah, the Mighty Midgets!!!
There was nothing like it in the late 40’s at old Frontier Park. It was where I learned to make my numbers when I was in kindergarten. I still remember the names, Red Hoyle, Danny Kladis, John E Hobel, Larry Bunch, and Johnnie Wood.
Then in the 50’s things really got going at Playland. The sound of the Offy’s and the Ford V-8 60’s was awesome. Of course there were those who had to be different. I remember a 4-cylinder Furgesen tractor motor, an Elto outboard motor (smelled really wild). The drivers were really brave then, no roll bars or shoulder harness, no fire suits (and there were a few fires). Only old Anderson helmets and a few football helmets and other head protection of unknown origin.
Those old boys were special… Larry Wheeler (track record), Don “Zipper” Rowland, Wayne Seltzer, Bobby Slater, Vito Calia (K.C.), Bill Murphy (Sioux City), Donnie Ross, Bill Harlemen (K.C.), Walt Raines (#29 V-8 60 Ford from Alta Iowa that had a habit of beating the Offy’s), Clyde Skinner, Howard House (K.C.), Bobby Parker.
Some of the owners were old Pappy Ramer (who seemed to last forever with that white #38 Offy), Joe Nichols and Art Jacobsen and his #33.
No roll bars, shoulder harness, no torsion bars or coil overs just cross leaf springs and friction shocks. No one knew what stagger was in those days and all the tires had about the same air pressure. They just “backed ‘em in”.
Then the stock cars showed up. Fords, Mercs, Hudsons, Plymouths, Chevy’s. Coups and sedans all 32’s to 40’s.
I recall Carl Lilenthal (Atlantic, IA), Don Pash (Avoca), John ”Bud” Burdick, of course Beaucamp and Lund (Harlan), Glen Robey (still doin it). Dick Gappa, Arthur “Bud” Aitkenhead, Pete Huffman, Tom Sloboth, Chuck Riley #67, Tex Gilmore #74, Ernie Bonney (and later junior), Don Sittell (Red Oak, IA), Bob Cave #7 Chevy. Cliff Sealock (Hastings, NE), Jim Vana, Bernie Bechor, Merle Ravenstein, Wally “Meany” Thompson, and dozens more.
I attended races at Playland, Grandview Racing Bowl (south 13th St in Omaha at the drive in). The Blue Heron (South Omaha Bridge Rd in CB), Arlington, NE at the fairgrounds and Sunset when it opened (I was there the first Sunday).
All through the years I was trying to become active in racing. Did the go-cart thing, micro midgets. TQ’s, a couple rides in full midgets, from age 14 to about 20 years old. I’m still a big fan (NASCAR, Sprints and Midgets). There is no more wonderful sounds than a 110 offy coming off a dirt corner at full bore.