Bo Stearns’ Track

Wichita, Kansas

 

          Kansas pioneer oilman and sportsman Gerson Albert “Bo” Stearns paid $45,000 for a 320-acre tract of land on the northwest corner of 101st Street and North Lawrence Highway (now U.S. Highway 81) north of Wichita, Kansas in the summer of 1928.  There, he built a horse ranch that included a half-mile flat dirt oval racetrack, it being one of the first racetracks in the nation to be equipped with floodlights for night racing.  The facility, complete with a 6,000-seat grandstand, was host to harness, automobile, and motorcycle racing events.  Organizers of the auto races included Joseph F. Ziobro, J. Alex Sloan, William Floto, Aut Swenson, W. W. Bowen, Don C. Onley, Eddie Cluxton, Joe Bennett, Capt. Billy Sink, Kay Marcus Foreman, and Tom Holden.

          Following are the known auto races that were run at Bo Stearns’ Track:

 

Race Date

Feature Winner

Hometown

Car Owner

Hometown

Car

Promoter

July 24, 1930

Lawrence Hughes

Beatrice, NE

Lawrence Hughes

Beatrice, NE

Chrysler 75 roadster

W. W. Bowen

July 25, 1930

Lawrence Hughes

Beatrice, NE

Lawrence Hughes

Beatrice, NE

Model A Ford roadster

W. W. Bowen

July 26, 1930

Matt Ward

Duncan, OK

Matt Ward

Duncan, OK

Model A Ford roadster

W. W. Bowen

June 19, 1932

Postponed one week due to rain

J. Alex Sloan

June 26, 1932

Postponed five weeks due to rain

J. Alex Sloan

August 7, 1932

Pat Cunningham

St. Joseph, MO

Leonard Kerbs

Otis, KS

Kerbs Spl. Frontenac

William Floto

August 13, 1933

Pat Cunningham

St. Joseph, MO

Leonard Kerbs

Otis, KS

Kerbs Spl. Frontenac

Joseph F. Ziobro

September 26, 1937

Les Winget

Hutchinson, KS

Les Winget

Hutchinson, KS

1936 Plymouth

Capt. Billy Sink

October 17, 1937

L. A. Martin

Wichita, KS

L. A. Martin

Wichita, KS

1937 Ford coupe

Kay Marcus Foreman

September 11, 1938

Postponed one week, reason unknown 

 

 

 

Kay Marcus Foreman 

September 18, 1938

Kay Marcus Foreman

August 27, 1939

 

 

 

 

 

Eddie Cluxton

 

          The half-mile racetrack was used for auto racing from 1930 until around 1939 although a one-fifth mile flat dirt oval racetrack was constructed on the infield early in 1938.  This shorter racetrack was primarily used for midget auto racing:

 

Race Date

Feature Winner

Hometown

Car Owner

Hometown

Car

Promoter

April 10, 1938

Postponed one week due to rain

 

 

 

 

Tom Holden

April 17, 1938

Roy Sherman

St. Louis, MO

Vic Felt

Deer Trail, CO

Hal midget

Tom Holden

April 24, 1938

Jimmie Bussard

Littleton, CO

Julius Bussard

Littleton, CO

Hudson midget

Tom Holden

August 6, 1939

Rex Woodward

Hutchinson, KS

 

 

 

Joe Bennett

 

Gerson Albert “Bo” Stearns

1881-1942

 

Midget racing on the shorter racetrack ceased after the 1939 season and Stearns moved his oil business and family home to Russell, Kansas that same year.  Although he kept the horse ranch and racetrack for a time, he was not able to spend much time there after the move.

A tornado struck the facility on the night of June 25, 1939 killing two and injuring twelve.  Included in the $100,000 in damage were the track lighting system and the surrounding horse barns.  The grandstand survived only to be destroyed by another storm later that same year.

Stearns sold the ranch and racetrack to Mr. and Mrs. O. B. Wicker of Chanute, Kansas on May 15, 1941 and passed away at Hutchinson, Kansas the following year.  The Wickers closed the racetrack to public events and only used it for their racehorses.

The Stearns Ranch has had a number of owners since the Wickers and is now owned by Bob and Ann Haley.  The racetrack has fallen into disrepair but is still quite visible today.

 

 

 

 

To View an Incomplete List of Track Records for the Half-mile Bo Stearns’ Track

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gerson Stearns

Gerson A. Stearns

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