Saturday, August 17, 2013

1963 – Billingsley killed as Barton takes Sedalia

Bill Billingsley
Armin Krueger Photo - Bob Mays Collection

Sedalia, Mo. (August 17, 1963) – Buzz Barton, a veteran 46-year-old driver from Tampa, Fla., came out of retirement on Saturday and won the 20-lap IMCA big car feature to kick off five days of racing at the Missouri State Fair.

Barton picked up all the marbles in a tragedy-stalked program which saw the first fatality recorded on the state fair track since the advent of International Motor Contest Association racing here in 1914.
Bill Billingsley, 28, of Oklahoma City died en route to a local hospital of head injuries sustained in a vicious series of flips after his car had collided with one driven by Walt Wyrembeck of Los Angeles on the first lap of the third heat.

Although several observers counted 15 sideways rolls, the front and back bars on the car held up and the car was virtually undamaged. A physician at the scene said that Billingsley’s helmet came off n the first flip and his head had struck the track surface multiple times.
Barton started second in the feature and wasted no time in moving into the lead, picking off Jerry Blundy on lap four.

Blundy finished third after a battle with Harold Leep in the Lempelius Offy, who finished second.
Favored Gordon Woolley of Waco, Tex., left the field on the fourth lap when he lost a tire and hit the fence in the fourth turn. He was not injured.

The feature was halted after 19 laps when Harvey Shane and Roger Lane both spun and Carl Williams was unable to miss their halted sprinters. No one was injured.
Results –

1.       Buzz Barton
2.       Harold Leep
3.       Jerry Blundy
4.       Jay Woodside
5.       Pete Folse
6.       Harry Ross
7.       Dale Reed
8.       Ray Lee Goodwin
9.       Don Brown
10.    Harvey Shane
11.    Roger Lane
12.    Carl Williams


  1. I was at that race when I was 13 and remember it well. I counted 13 flips (end-overs). After the race, my dad and I went down to the pits to inquire if Bill was okay, and his wife and boys were putting the car on a trailer and told me Bill was dead.

  2. Geneva, Bills wife, was my moms best friend, and we were at their house often both before and after this tragedy. They lived a few blocks from us in okc. My dad was a mechanic for several years in okc in the mar-car circuit, for Ruckman, and Madden.