first big organized auto race was held here
August 18, 1903, at the old Kokomo
Driving park, the local all-sports center at the turn of the century.
The feature race, run over the half-mile dirt track that had been installed in 1890 for horse racing, brought together Barney Oldfield and Tom Cooper, even then headliners in the still new sport of auto racing.
The two former stars of the bicycle-racing world were on an exhibition were giving thrilling speed exhibitions in their new-fangled, high-powered racing machines.
The city of
“closed up shop’
on the day of the big race and went out to the driving park, where it saw part
of the show stolen from Oldfield and Cooper. Kokomo
Drivers gave a number of special events with cars from the Haynes and Apperson factories. Their performances were only a little less spectacular than that offered by the professionals.
That was six years before the now-famous Indianapolis Speedway track was built in 1903 there were no tracks built especially for auto racing. A year after the big race at the
, Driving Park got into the racing picture with
events at the State Fairgrounds. Three Apperson cars were entered in the events
run on Indianapolis .
Elmer Apperson won the handicap race while Nelson McLain took runner-up honors
in the touring car division with another Apperson car. June 13, 1904
Thanks to the Haynes and Apperson influence, auto racing continued to hold interest here. But many events were road races instead of regular track events. During the years, a number of tracks have been constructed in various parts of the county but few of them gained an established reputation.
speedway, scene of
some of the Kokomo Midwest's best midget auto racing,
is not the first by that name. In the mid-1928, Earl Richardson was manager of
the Kokomo Speedway, the name given to a track on a 40-acre plot 2.5 miles
north and west of . Kokomo
One of the big events of that era was held
when Dutch Bauman of Indianapolis set three new records for the Kokomo Speedway
track. He made the one-lap qualification run in 32.2 seconds and then set
records for 15 miles, averaging 58.79 miles an hour, and for 20 miles,
averaging 58.51 miles, an hour. July 4, 1925
The current auto-racing period started in 1947, when Albert R. Miller and John Rose formed the Kokomo Speedway Corporation and built the quarter-mile track and stands north of
on U.S. 35. Kokomo
The undertaking was a success practically from the start. The second year the present big grandstand was constructed and on
, the attendance record was boosted to 12,856
spectators. June 21,
Now well known in the midget auto-racing world, the Kokomo Speedway attracts some of the finest drivers in the country, including many of the “big name” drivers who take part in the famous 500-mile Memorial Day race in Indianapolis.
Among the better known drivers that local fans have had the opportunity to watch are Johnny Parson, winner of the abbreviated ‘500’ this year and 1949
AAA champion, Tony Bettenhausen, the late Rex Mays,
Mel Hanson, Troy Ruttman, Jimmy Davies, Johnny McDowell, Duke Dinsmore and Sam