Friday, April 17, 2009

The Salix Speedster; Bill Kirk

by Kyle Ealy

Bill Kirk started his career in 1959 when his wife and his parents talked him into going to a local track in Onawa, Iowa. It was there that he caught the racing bug and after a few short weeks, he purchased a race car.

Even before his race career even unfolded, it was said that Bill was quite the terror on the two-lane black tops and gravel roads around his home in Sloan, Iowa. Beginning at a young age, he was fascinated with speed.

A local racer, William (Bill) Bradstreet, took the young lead foot under his wing and taught him a few tricks of the trade. As Kirk would say later, "I would follow him (Bradstreet) through the pack, trying to stay clean so I could finish. I couldn't believe some of the moves he would make on the track, psyching out the other drivers."

Eventually it was Bill Kirk who was leading the pack and psyching out the other drivers. Kirk would go on to be the most dominant drivers in the Siouxland region. He won championships at several different tracks throughout the region including:

Onawa, Iowa (1)
Soo's Speedway in Sioux City (1)
Raceway Park in South Sioux City (4)
Riviera Speedway in Norfolk, NE. (2)
Collins Field in LeMars, Iowa (3)
Interstate Speedway in Jefferson, S.D. (3)

Kirk was the only Siouxland triple crown winner in 1973 when he scored championships at Collins Field, Interstate Speedway and Raceway Park.

He was one of the few from the area who made the annual trek down to Florida for Speedweeks. He loved heading south every winter not only to compete with the very best but to proudly represent the Siouxland racing scene.

Bill was also considered a pioneer of sorts leading the industry through it's steps, from the coupes of the 50's, to the super modifieds of the late 60's and finally to the late models of the 70's.

Throughout his racing career, Kirk felt a responsibility to promote the sport he loved so much. Even after a long, hard night of racing there he was, a smile on his face, greeting race fans, young and old alike.
He was known as the "pro" of professionals. The "Salix Speedster" Bill Kirk passed away in 1988.


  1. Bill Kirk was a racer for sure and as he aged he loved it when he could beat all the young guys coming up in the sport. He was always one to stay around after the races and talk to the fans and I'm glad to have known him as a racer and a friend.

  2. I grew up in Sloan, Iowa and my family and I would goto Park Jefferson almost every Saturday night in the 80's. Bill Kirk was my favorite driver and I would head down to his shop in Sloan and talk to him. He was always a nice guy and made me love racing even more. I remember when he passed away and I went to his funeral. It was one of my saddest days. I still have my Bill Kirk pin from Park Jefferson along with some of the programs.

  3. I don't remember for sure what year Bill won the "triple crown" but it wasn't 1973. My Dad won the track championship that year at Interstate Speedway.

  4. I remember Bradstreet and Kirk going at it at Collins Field. I’m guessing this was late sixties/early seventies. Dirt track racing! It was great.

  5. When I was just a Young kid I loved watching him race in norfolk ne he was the cleanest and the fastest not even a Haase could bet him on there best day the way he handled that car was outstanding