William Miner “Bill” Bryant

1887 – 1947

 

Mechanic, Car Owner, Driver, Race Organizer, Promoter & Official

All-Around Auto Racer, Bill Bryant did it all

                 

Bill Bryant was born April 20, 1887 in rural Stafford County, Kansas.  He was the fifth of nine children born to William M. Bryant (1854-1916) and his wife, Sylvia Ellen “Ellie” (Stringer) Bryant (1856-1922).  Bill moved to Hutchinson, Kansas in 1912 and worked at odd jobs until he took a position on the Hutchinson Fire Department in June of 1916.  After six weeks without so much as a single false alarm, let alone an actual fire, Bill resigned from the fire department.

 

Bill had married Miss Emma Mae Murphy (1895-1980) before he joined the U. S. Army on April 28, 1918.  Emma was the daughter of John F. and Lillie M. Murphy.  Bill served as a private with the 353rd Infantry, 164th D.B. Battalion, 89th Division in World War I, until he was given an honorable discharge the following April, just one year after he had joined the service.  After Bill returned to Hutchinson, he and Emma made their home at 304 Avenue “C” in Hutchinson, which was next door to Emma’s parents.  It was a home that the Bryants would share until Bill’s death in 1947.  Both Bill and Emma Bryant became active members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post (V.F.W.).

 

Bill and a local painting contractor, Harry B. Cushionbury (1886-1958), formed a partnership and opened the “Class A Garage” at 20 Sherman Avenue West in Hutchinson.  They had moved the garage to 111 Sherman Avenue East in Hutchinson by 1924.

 

This photo of Glenn M. Breed (standing on the other side of the car beside the steering wheel of his #8 Hudson “Super-Six,” special) is believed to have been taken in September of 1920 at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds at North Platte, Nebraska.  Those races were the last that Breed is known to have driven this car in before he sold it to Bill Bryant and moved, with his family, to Dallas, Texas.

Lincoln County Historical Museum, North Platte, Nebraska

 

The partnership of Bryant & Cushionbury also became active in the local automobile racing community.  Bryant purchased a #8 Hudson “Super-Six” race car from Glenn M. Breed (1880-1960) of Fredonia, Kansas in September, or early October of 1920:

 

October 8, 1920 ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson, Kansas – Bill Bryant entered his #4 Hudson “Super-Six” special, thus becoming one of the 22 entries in these races.  Bryant picked up $100 for winning a 10-lap match race over George Gass for all six of the qualifiers from time trials who were from Reno County, Kansas.

 

October 9, 1920 ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson, Kansas – Bill Bryant entered the #8 Hudson “Super-Six” special, that he had recently purchased from Glenn Breed, becoming one of the 25 entries in these races.  He then won the first 5-car, 10-lap heat race over Murl Wilson (1893-1945), for the fastest five cars from Reno, County, Kansas from time trials.  Fred Lentz (1885-1952) of Hutchinson then drove Bryant’s #8 Hudson “Super-Six” special to Victory in the 20-lap “Reno County Open” race covering the distance in 12 minutes, 7.8 seconds.  Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas won the 30-lap “Free-for-All Sweepstakes” race in his Ford special.

 

November 11, 1920 ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas Free Fairgrounds  in Topeka, Kansas – Bill Bryant entered the #8 Hudson “Super-Six” special but results of these races have yet to be located..

 

June 14, 1921 – 1 mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas – Bill Bryant entered his Hudson “Super-Six” in this non-sanctioned race but his name does not appear in the published race results.  Johnnie Mais (1888-1961) of Salina, Kansas won the 50-mile feature race.

 

September 5, 1921 – 1 mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway  at Salina, Kansas – Bill Bryant finished second in his Hudson “Super-Six” in the 50-mile feature race, behind William K. Adolph (1889-1966) of Salina, Kansas who was driving a Dodge special owned by Johnny Lee of Wichita, Kansas.  These races were not sanctioned by any sanctioning body.

 

July 4, 1921 ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson, Kansas – Bill Bryant and Harry Cushionbury promoted a non-sanctioned automobile racing program that drew 19 entries.  Bill Bryant also entered his Hudson “Super-Six” in their own racing program and set the fastest time of the day in time trials when he ran two laps of the half-mile dirt racetrack in 1:10.8.  Bryant then led the first six laps of the second 10-lap heat race before dropping out of the race when a battery cable fell off.  Roy Williamson of Castleton, Kansas won that second heat race in a Studebaker.  Bryant then completed 16 laps of the 9-car, 30-lap “Classic Race” before a valve spring let loose in his engine.  Bryant was credited with finishing in fifth place in that race which was won by Fred Lentz who was driving an Essex.

 

August 6, 1921 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kay County Fairgrounds  located a few miles northeast of Newkirk, Oklahoma – Bryant set a new track record for one-mile in time trials of 1:07.2 in his Hudson “Super-Six” in these non-sanctioned races.  He then went on the win the feature race that afternoon, taking home the largest share of the prize money.

 

September 8, 1921 – ½ mile dirt oval – Athletic Field  in Newton, Kansas – Bill Bryant ran the second fastest time in time trials in his 16-valve Hudson special behind Harry Peterson (1893-1945) of Wichita, Kansas in these non-sanctioned races.  Bryant then dropped out of the first 4-lap heat race which was won by Harry Peterson.  Bryant then ran third in the second 4-lap heat race behind Harry Peterson and James “Toots” Higgins (1895-1947) of Newton, Kansas who was driving an Essex.  Bryant finished second, just 2/10 of a second behind Harry Peterson in the third 4-lap heat race.  Bryant finished second, 29 seconds behind Harry Peterson in the 30-lap “Free-for-All” race.

 

September 23, 1921 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson, Kansas (sanctioned by - I.M.C.A.) – Bryant entered his 16-valve Hudson special in the 10-lap heat race for cars with medium size engines.  That race was won by Jess Callahan of Chicago, Illinois in 5:57.4 in a Templar special.  Al Waters (1893-1925) of Chicago, Illinois was running in second place in a Richards special when he slid wide on the final turn allowing Bryant to slip past to finish in that position.  Waters recovered to finish the race in fourth position.  Bryant then led more than half of the 5-car, 15-lap “Free-for-All” race before he was passed by Leon Duray (1894-1956) of Cleveland, Ohio in a race car known as the “Golden Submarine.”  Al Waters also passed Bryant to finish in second place in the Richards special but Bryant was able to hold on to third place, the front four cars all crossing the finish line very close together.

 

October 3-4, 1921 – ½ mile dirt oval – West Side Racetrack  in Wichita, Kansas – Bill Bryant entered his Hudson special in these non-sanctioned races that had been scheduled in connection with the International Wheat Show.  That show was held but the races appear to have been canceled, although no reason for that cancelation was given.

 

March 31, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval Anthony Downs  at Anthony, Kansas – Bill Bryant drove his 16-valve Hudson special to the fourth fastest time in time trials behind Johnnie Mais of Salina, Kansas; Johnny Lee and Harry Peterson, both of Wichita, Kansas, in these non-sanctioned races.  Johnnie Mais won the 60-mile feature race.  Between 1,200 and 1.500 spectators watched these races promoted by F. R. Dunlavy.  Due to what Mr. Dunlavy deemed poor spectator attendance, he only paid out half of the advertised purse and canceled the second day of the two-day scheduled event.

 

April 1, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval Anthony Downs  at Anthony, Kansas – These non-sanctioned races were canceled by the race promoter, F. R. Dunlavy, due to what he felt was poor spectator attendance at the races the preceding afternoon.

 

July 4, 1922 ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson, Kansas – Bill Bryant ran the second fastest time in time trials of 1:13.0 for two laps in his Hudson special, behind Bill Crow (1900-1966) of Hutchinson in his Essex.  Bryant then collected $150 from the purse for winning the first 7-car heat race over Toots Higgins of Newton, Kansas.  Bryant dropped out on the 16th lap of the 13-car, 20-lap “Free-for-All,” with a flat tire.  That race was won by Fred Lentz of Hutchinson.

 

September 3-4, 1922 – 1 mile oiled dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway  at Salina, Kansas – Bill Bryant was one of the 23 drivers who participated in time trials on September 3rd and then attended a dinner for the drivers in Salina that night before competing in these races on September 4th.  The dinner was hosted by the race promoter, Elfrieda Mais (1892-1934); the advertising manager of the Salina Daily Union, Walter L. Kelly; and the Mayor of Salina, Frank S. Dyar.  Bryant entered his Hudson “Super-Six” in this non-sanctioned race but his name does not appear in the published race results.  Harold Roller (1893-1964) of Abilene, Kansas won the 50-mile feature race.

 

September 22, 1922 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson, Kansas (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant finished fourth in the second 7-lap heat race in his 16-valve Hudson special behind Fred Horey (1884-1946) in a Frontenac, _____ Allen in a Fiat and Cliff Craft (1884-1924) of New Orleans, Louisiana in a King special.  Fred Horey of St. Paul, Minnesota won the feature event.

 

Early in 1923, Bill Bryant made a trip to Kansas City, Missouri where he purchased a Hudson “Super-Six” racing car that was said to have been raced successfully on the West Coast.

 

July 4, 1923 ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson, Kansas – Bill Bryant was the race organizer and promoter for these non-sanctioned races.  He also entered his Hudson “Super-Six” to race in his own program.  Despite a miss in his engine and high gear not working, Bryant won $75 when he finished second in the first 10-lap heat race behind Fred Lentz.  James Speer of Wichita, Kansas won the 30-lap Sweepstakes race in his Frontenac.

 

In September of 1923, Bill and Emma Bryant hosted a reunion in Hutchinson for World War I veterans of the U. S. Army’s 353rd Infantry.  103 of the veterans attended the event.

 

July 4, 1924 ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson, Kansas – Bill Bryant and Charley Crow (1893-1972), of the Hutchinson Motor Car Company, were the organizers and promoters of these non-sanctioned races.  It was the first time that Bryant had been involved in the organizing and promotion of races that there is no known record that he also entered to compete.  The 30-lap feature race was won by Charles “Butch” Lebsack (1895-1967) of Otis, Kansas who was driving a Kerbs special that was owned Lebsack’s cousin, Leonard E. Kerbs (1895-1960), also from Otis, Kansas.

 

July 4, 1925 ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson, Kansas – Bill Bryant and Murl Wilson were the organizer and co-promoters of these non-sanctioned races so Bryant got Bill Crow (1900-1966) of Hutchinson to drive his Hudson special for him.  Crow finished third in the first 6-lap heat race behind Delbert Ging (1897-1993) of Hutchinson, Kansas in a Fronty Ford special and Fred Lentz in a Dodge Brothers special.  Bill Crow then finished third behind the same two drivers in the second 10-lap heat race.  Fred Lentz won the 30-lap “Classic” race in his Dodge Brothers special.

 

July 5, 1926 ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson, Kansas – Bill Bryant and Charley Crow, of the Hutchinson Motor Car Company, were the organizers and promoters of these non-sanctioned races.  Both the 5-mile race and the 10-lap “Free-for-All” race was won by Charles “Butch” Lebsack of Otis, Kansas who was driving a Kerbs special that was owned Lebsack’s cousin, Leonard E. Kerbs, also from Otis, Kansas. 

 

September 24, 1926 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson in Hutchinson, Kansas – Bill Bryant drove his Hudson special in these non-sanctioned races, running the 11th fastest time in time trials with one lap in 36.0 seconds, which was 5.0 seconds slower than the fastest time in time trials run by Charles “Butch’ Lebsack of Otis, Kansas.  Others who ran a faster time trial than Bryant did were Leonard E. Kerbs of Otis, Kansas in a Kerbs special; Vic Felt (1901-1989) of Deer Trail, Colorado in a Frontenac; Lawrence O. “Hughie” Hughes (1899-1978) of Wichita, Kansas in a Hughes special; John Gerber (1896-1979) of Meriden, Kansas in a Gerber special; Clyde Gilbert (1902-1950) of Longmont, Colorado in a Fisher special; Delbert Ging in a Fronty Ford; Fred Lentz of Hutchinson, Kansas in a Lentz special; Joe Hutchinson (1894-1958) of Arkansas City, Kansas in a Frontenac and James E. “Jim” White (1899-1986) of Sharon Springs, Kansas in a Frontenac.  Bill Bryant then placed fourth in the 10-lap “Class B” race behind Fred Lentz, Joe Hutchinson and Al Koepke (1883-?) of Great Bend, Kansas.  Charles “Butch” Lebsack won the 20-lap “Free-for-All” race in the #4 Kerbs special owned by Lebsack’s cousin, Leonard E. Kerbs.

 

September 25, 1926 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson in Hutchinson, Kansas – (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant entered his Hudson special in these non-sanctioned races but his name does not appear in the published results of those races.  Vic Felt (1901-1989) of Deer Trail, Colorado won both the 10-lap “Free-for-All” race and the 8-lap race for the first and second place finishers from both September 24th and September 25th.

 

September 23, 1927 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson, Kansas – (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant entered his #00 Hudson special in these races and was scheduled to start in each of the first three races before the program was canceled due to rain.

 

It is unclear when the partnership between Bill Bryant and Harry Cushionbury dissolved but Cushionbury moved to California sometime after 1923 and Bill Bryant took a job as the chief mechanic for the Trembley-Moore Company when they bought out the Class

A Garage around 1926.  In the fall of 1927, Bryant and a new partner, G. T. Hensley, opened the Palace Garage at 116-118 South Main Street in Hutchinson.  In the spring of 1928, William D. Kellogg (1888-1960) of Chicago, Illinois bought out the Bryant & Hensley partnership and moved the Palace Garage to 420 North Main Street in Hutchinson where Bryant took care of the general automobile repair business.

 

August 13, 1933 ½ mile dirt oval Bo Stearns Track  north of Wichita, Kansas – (sanctioned by A.A.A.) – Bill Bryant was one of the official timers for this event.  4,000 fans saw Pat Cunningham (1903-1972) of St. Joseph Missouri, driving Leonard E. Kerbs’ #K1 Riley special, win the 15-lap Sweepstakes race in 7:53.67 over Austin E. Wetzler (1903-1962) who raced under the alias “Tex West.”

 

September 17, 1934 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson in Hutchinson, Kansas – (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant was race director and 14,000 fans were in attendance.  Sherman “Red” Campbell (1900-1937) of St. Louis, Missouri won the 9-car, 10-lap “Kansas State Sweepstakes” race in a #34 Dreyer special.

 

September 21, 1934 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson in Hutchinson, Kansas – (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant was race director, the official race starter was Aut Swenson and assistant starters were Howard Rutherford and Bob Sledge.  10,000 fans were in attendance.  Emory A. Collins (1904-1982) of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada won the 7-car, 10-lap “Kansas State Sweepstakes driving his famous #7 Cragar Ford.

 

September 20, 1935 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson in Hutchinson, Kansas – (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant was race director.  The official race starter was Aut Swenson and the public-address announcer was Jack Story.  14,000 fans were in attendance and the program was well organized as the complete racing program was run off in two hours, twenty-minutes.  Pat Cunningham (1903-1972) of St. Joseph Missouri, driving Jack Keys’ #K1 Riley special from Dallas, Texas, won the 8-car, 10-lap “State Fair Sweepstakes” race.

 

September 21, 1936 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson in Hutchinson, Kansas – (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant was race director and 14,500 fans were in attendance.  Ben Musick (1908-1966) of Dallas, Texas a.k.a. ”Bill Morris of Denver, Colorado” won the 8-car, 10-lap “State Fair Sweepstakes” race in the #3 Messer Special owned by Chelsie Johnson (1896-1942) of Lincoln, Nebraska.  Oscar Coleman of Dallas, Texas in his #1 Texas special finished that race in second place.

 

September 25, 1936 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson in Hutchinson, Kansas – (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant was race director and over 10,000 fans were in attendance.  Ben Musick (1908-1966) of Dallas, Texas a.k.a. ”Bill Morris of Denver, Colorado” won the 8-car, 10-lap “State Fair Sweepstakes” race in the #3 Messer Special owned by Chelsie Johnson (1896-1942) of Lincoln, Nebraska.  Clyde Gilbert of Longmont, Colorado finished in second place in a #15 Ford Fronty.

 

September 21, 1937 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson in Hutchinson, Kansas – (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant was race director, Aut Swenson was the starter, Jack Story was the announcer and a near capacity crowd was in attendance.  Ben Musick (1908-1966) of Dallas, Texas a.k.a. ”Bill Morris of Denver, Colorado” won the 8-car, 10-lap “Kansas Fair Sweepstakes” race in the #4 Messer Special owned by Chelsie Johnson (1896-1942) of Lincoln, Nebraska.  Ben Musick’s brother, Lyn Musick (1914-1939) of Dallas, Texas, finished in second place.

 

September 24, 1937 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson in Hutchinson, Kansas – (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant was race director, Aut Swenson was the starter and Jack Story was the announcer.  Ben Musick (1908-1966) of Dallas, Texas a.k.a. ”Bill Morris of Denver, Colorado” won the 8-car, 10-lap “Kansas Fair Sweepstakes” race in the #4 Messer Special owned by Chelsie Johnson (1896-1942) of Lincoln, Nebraska.  Ben Musick’s brother, Lyn Musick (1914-1939) of Dallas, Texas, finished in second place.

 

September 20, 1938 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson in Hutchinson, Kansas – (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant was the race director.  The public-address announcer was Jack Story.  12,000 fans attended these races and the 6-car, 9-lap “State Fair Championship” race won by Lyn Musick (1914-1939) of Dallas, Texas over his brother, Ben Musick (1908-1966) of Dallas, Texas a.k.a. ”Bill Morris of Denver, Colorado” in a Messer Special owned by Chelsie Johnson (1896-1942) of Lincoln, Nebraska.

 

September 23, 1938 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson in Hutchinson, Kansas – (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant was the race director.  The public-address announcer was Jack Story.  10,000 fans attended these races and the 8-car, 7-lap “State Fair Championship” race was won by Lyn Musick (1914-1939) of Dallas, Texas over Hal Cole (1912-1970) of South Gate, California.

 

September 16, 1941 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson in Hutchinson, Kansas – (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant was one of the official judges for this event where 14,000 fans saw Gus Schrader (1895-1941) win the 7-car, 10-lap “State Championship race” in his famous #5 Riverside Tire Offy.

 

September 19, 1941 ½ mile dirt oval Kansas State Fairgrounds  in Hutchinson in Hutchinson, Kansas – (sanctioned by: I.M.C.A.) – Bill Bryant was one of the official judges for this event where “a capacity throng” saw Ben Musick (1895-1941) win the 8-car, 10-lap “Kansas State Championship” race in the #1 Riverside Offy co-owned by John A. Sloan and Gus Schrader (1895-1941).  That car had been formerly known as the O’Day Offy.

 

Bill Bryant was an avid hunter and engaged in competitive trap shooting when he was not racing cars.  After retiring from the automotive business, Bill apparently worked for a time as an electrician.

 

Bill Bryant passed away at St. Elizabeth’s hospital in Hutchinson at 4:40 a.m. on Monday, December 1, 1947 and is buried in the Fairlawn Burial Park at Hutchinson, Kansas.  He was survived by his wife, Emma; a step-daughter, Ruth F. (Mrs. Henry) Willinger (1915-1977) and several siblings.  Bill’s widow, Emma Mae Bryant (1895-1980), married Clarence W. Givens around 1952 and moved to Wichita, Kansas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you:

Trevon Richard