Author: Kevin Eckert

Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Indoor Outlaws

Outlaws built the Chili Bowl. Sure it was Emmett Hahn’s brilliant idea to create the world’s greatest indoor track but he required Outlaws to fill his hometown oil expo. Hahn had no business with Sammy Swindell or Doug Wolfgang prior to the first Chili Bowl Midget Nationals but Lanny Edwards did. Lanny and Beverly Edwards

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Aussie Outlaws

The day after Christmas is Boxing Day in Australia. It is a shopping festival not unlike Black Friday in America where “boxing” can mean fistfights over the last video game. Boxing Day is also the annual start of Australia’s Sprint Car Speedweek. In a year free from a global pandemic, 10 Americans would be far

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Ghost Tracks

The show “Lost Speedways” is my new old favorite. It is a collection of 30-minute stories of auto racing venues swallowed by real estate development, indifference, outrage or the trees cleared to accommodate them. Jungle Park, Macon, Asheville, Augusta, Metrolina and Hinchliffe Stadium have all been rediscovered. Each episode is a beautiful blend of photography,

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Runners Up

Winning with the World of Outlaws is the most difficult task in Sprint Car racing. In the 43 seasons since Ted Johnson conceived the international series, 143 men and one woman have attained the honor. If that number seems high, consider how it computes to fewer than four new names per year. In this virus-plagued

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: One ‘Sick’ Season

No trips to California. No swings through New York. No banquet. This was “The Year From Hell!” Historians will reflect on 2020 well past the next plague. The global pandemic, called COVID-19, brought the world to a grinding halt. Everyone was told to stay home, buy a mask. Prior to 2020, those who hid faces

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Woodruff

Kenneth Keith Woodruff was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa on November 11, 1940. At age 19, he came to Sacramento, CA. By day, he repaired cars for neighbors. By night, he tinkered on race cars. West Capital Speedway was booming with sledgehammer square tails but Woodruff wanted a stallion. He wanted a sprint car and

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Two Winners

Halfway to Indianapolis from Fort Wayne is Fairmount, IN. It is an Indiana town like countless Indiana towns, home to fewer than 3000 folks and more churches than stoplights. Yet seven decades ago, the tiny town became “The Birthplace of Cool” because James Dean lived there. The iconic “Rebel Without a Cause” was born in

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Checkered Past

CHECKERED PAST: The Port

Port Royal, Pennsylvania’s sparkling “Speed Palace” is evidence that a beautiful swan can evolve from an ugly duckling. To say that such a beautiful woman scarcely reflects her rough origins is to compare splintered oak to polished steel. The old girl had plenty of personality and atmosphere but today’s heartbreaking half-mile is superior in every

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Shark Evolution

“Original Outlaw” is no token term. Originally, auto racing outlaws were those without membership in the austere Automobile Association of America and by proxy, no honest shot at the Indianapolis 500. AAA became USAC in 1956. Rear engines replaced roadsters and sprint car drivers were as welcome as rain. Sprint cars were no longer stepping

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Checkered Past

CHECKERED PAST: Chronicles of Kansas

Kansas conjures various images: “Wizard of Oz” courage, herds of cattle, staunch conservatives, amber waves of grain, “Carry On Wayward Son.” Sunflower State grows no pro sport but college basketball at the University of Kansas holds fanatical appeal and much ESPN money. NCAA championships in 1952, 1988 and 2008 fanned those flames. “Rock chalk, Jayhawk!”

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