Happy 50th anniversary to the Fairgrounds Speedway and warmest regards to those who have shared in its past, present, and hopefully long term future.
Visit the Fairgrounds Speedway Website about the June 18, 2004 special event.
Welcome to what I hope will eventually be an informative and entertaining Website dedicated to the drivers, mechanics, car owners, family, and fans who were a part of auto racing in Oklahoma City during the 1957 to 1967 racing seasons. Although I began with focusing on just the 1957-1967 years it would be prudent to actually start in 1946.
Allow me to provide a rough outline of how this Website will evolve and what materials will be included with some of my own sources and hopefully through fellow racing enthusiast who are willing to share their photos, films, records, stories, accomplishments, etc... with all of us.
1966 Fairgrounds Speedway Flagman Johnny Hastings,1960 and 1961 Taft Stadium race program, a 1950's Lavely Racing Promotions program, a 1963, 1959 Taft program, a 1954 Taft Promo, and Lavely Racing patch.
Ollie Goodridge was THE Taft Stadium & Fairgrounds Speedway Flagman. Ollie also flagged the first race (midgets) at Taft Stadium on Monday night, July 29, 1946. Ollie Goodridge retired after over thirty years of starting/flagging races due to medical care resulting from a terrible auto accident in 1966. How many of you got the move over flag from Ollie on the road/highway going to, or returning from an out of town race?
Let's begin with some very brief historical facts prior to and including the 1957-67 racing seasons:
1937: Midgets begin racing at the Stockyards Coliseum.
Long time Father and Son racing promoters O.D. and Ray Lavely begin promoting midget races in the post WWII Oklahoma City area by clay covering (to reduce dust) and conditioning a racing surface over the track and field area of Taft Stadium. Due to the declining popularity of midget racing Jalopy races were added in 1951 to the mostly Tuesday, later Friday night racing events. The events became immensely popular and nationally renowned as word spread around and as top drivers came here to compete. Various special events such as powder puff races, demolition derbies, 100 – 600 lap events, tag events, etc… added spice to the program. It is a good bet that ANY driver worth his salt in the Country did at some time compete either at Taft Stadium or Fairgrounds Speedway. And just because winter set in that did not mean that the racing was over. Many of the drivers still competed indoors in micro-midgets at the Stockyards Coliseum until the next Taft season began.
1946: The Oklahoma City school board approves Lavely Racing to promote/operate midget races at Taft Stadium.
1947: A clay surface is applied to the running track surface at Taft to reduce dust.
1948: The Oklahoma City school board denies new contract to allow midget racing to continue at Taft.
1948: Lavely Racing moves midget racing program to the old Fairgrounds at the current Douglass High School site.
1949: Due to needed revenue the Oklahoma City school board approves midget races at Taft Stadium - again.
1951: Full body race cars (Jalopies) begin racing at Taft Stadium.
1953: With delays due to steelworkers strike and the Korean War conflict, groundbreaking finally begins on the new State Fairgrounds at the old Sandlot Baseball Park - N.W. 10th & May - with funds provided by a 1950 $ 4.7 million dollar Bond issue. The old Fairgrounds site - at N.E. 10th & Eastern - will provide the land neccessary for the new Douglass High School.
1954: The new Fairgrounds is complete. The Grandstand has a seating capacity of 10000 people, a 5/8 mile horse track, a 1/2 mile race track, and a 1/4 mile oval track.
1955: Micro-Midgets begin racing at the Stockyards Coliseum and Taft.
1956: Defending NASCAR Champion Tim Flock, along with the other stars on the NASCAR Grand National Race circuit compete against the top Taft drivers at the Fairgrounds Speedway in a 100 mile NASCAR points event.
Convertibles are banned at Taft.
1957: Bud Carson forms Mar-Car (after wife Mary Carson) to promote and coordinate auto racing operations at the new Fairgrounds Speedway. In a dispute primarily over gate share 57 members of the Oklahoma City Auto Racing Association, led by President Ray Copeland and with assistance and support from Fairgrounds director Bud Carson-along with 64 Tulsa drivers and car-owners- Oklahoma City drivers severe their ties with Lavely Racing Promotions and choose Mar-Car as the primary Oklahoma City racing venue. President Ray Copeland stated that any driver, who signs the agreement to associate only with Mar-Car and breaks that agreement, would be banned at the Fairgrounds.
1957: Ray Lavely and racing promoters from Enid, Dodge City, Wichita, and Hutchinson conceive the first National Jalopy Championship that is to be held at Taft. Frankie Lies wins the inaugural event with Garland Newsom and Harold Leep finishing 2nd & 3rd, and Charles Hiner winning the semi-final. With Ray Lavely’s departure to California the event moves to Hutchinson in 1958 and evolves into the Hutchinson Nationals.
1958: Mar-Car promotes/operates racing at both the Fairgrounds Speedway and Taft.
1961: Race scenes for the 1962 movie State Fair is shot with cast at Fairgrounds Speedway.
1963: Last year of Taft Stadium Mar-Car events.
1964: All Mar-Car events are held at Fairgrounds Speedway. More Coming
Click Bud Carson
Taft Photos Updated
Modified Action 1965 - 1967Updated
Tidbits & Stories
1964-6 Hutchinson Nationals Memories
Past Champions Page Updated
It appears that from the initial 1951 Taft Stadium full body season until 1963 that both eight cylinder (A Class) and six cylinder (B Class) race cars competed against each other. Of course, in the following years at the Fairgrounds Speedway they also became known as Modified and Rookie Class cars, and later on (1967) the familiar Super Modified and Modified divisions and they had the unique format in which each division had its own track -1/2 mile & 1/4 mile respectively.
1966 Fairgrounds Speedway Photo: (left to right) Bobby Reynolds, Stan Schoenberg, Carl Ferguson, Bob Eichor, Melvin Rodgers, Lloyd Ruby, and David Flatt Sr.
1966 Fairgrounds Speedway: Aaron Madden and Bob Brotherton having a fuel? problem with the carburetor.
1966 Fairgrounds Speedway: Bud Carson trying to get a rain soaked track ready for racing.
1966 Fairgrounds Speedway Championship Team: Howdy Young, Larry Nailon, driver Evard Humphrey, and Tom Lewis.
Carl Ferguson's 1966 Race Car.
Larry Nailon unloading Evard Humphrey's 1966 Championship ride.
Bobby Reynolds 1966.
Bobby Laden 1966.
Melvin Rodgers 1966.
Herb Lobdell 1966.
Wayne Cox 1966
As for Taft Stadium, nothing has changed much since the last race event in 1963. For those drivers who had a habit of scoring touchdowns instead of staying on the racetrack during competition a solution was provided by installing railroad ties to form an inner barrier to protect the football field. No doubt a lot of front-end rebuilding was done after the railroad ties were in place. More Coming
Several 100-600 (midget) lap races were ran at both Taft Stadium & the Fairgrounds Speedway during the 50's & early 60's. Imagine if you will 20+ full body coups & sedans racing side by side for 100 laps - or more - on a clay covered running track at Taft Stadium. If you have doubts check out Taft Photos
Again, this is just the very first rough draft of some of the events and drivers that I intend to focus on at this website. Of course, ALL drivers that competed here in ALL divisions from All points outside the Oklahoma City area will be included because it's part of their racing history also.
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Feel free to contact me if you have photos, films, memorabilia, historical information, or stories that you wish to share with all of us, or you may contact me at home (405) 685-1406 or by mail to
2520 SW 39th
Oklahoma City, OK. 73119
Special Thanks to: Bob & Shirley Brotherton, Rubye Ferguson, Shirley Ferguson, Al Bradley, Jerry Schwartz, Shane Carson, Mar-Car Inc. Photo Collection, Rick Patterson, Warren & Jane Vincent, and The Oklahoma Publishing Co. in what will hopefully be a long list of people who have assisted/permitted me to present this Website.
Some photos courtesy of Mar-Car Inc. Photo Collection
Yesterday's Racing Links:
Racing From The Past
Mid-Del Net Racing
Welcome to the Early Years Homepage
Shane Carson's Website
Jimmies Old Time Racing Photos
Last Update 11/13/2004
Web Author: Mark
Copyright ©2001-2004 by Mark Brotherton - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED