Pink B. “Pinky” Mullens, Jr.

1931 - 2013

 

“King of the Kids”

With Bill Bookout (in the car)

1961

 

With Charlie Terpening (right)

Early 1960s

 

Mid 1960s

 

1966

 

1966

 

With C. Ray Hall (left) and Chuck

Owens (center) - 1966

 

1967

 

With Charlie Terpening (right) - 1967

 

1967

 

With Dusty Cloud (left), Charlie

Terpening (second from right),

and Dale Chase (right) - 1967

 

Following 49 Fred Corneilson

at 81 Speedway - 1968

 

With Bud Haehn (left)

K. O. Christian Memorial Victors

1968

 

1969

 

With Harold Armstrong (left),

Ed Schauf (center), and

Al Alexander (right) - 1970

 

Wiith Ed Schauf (left) in 1970

 

1970

 

1971

 

122 Charley Huskey, Sr. - 1972

1973

 

1973

 

1974

 

1975

 

111 Ron Case - 1975

 

1975

 

1976

 

1977

 

1977

 

52 John Carter and 9 John Arnce,

Late 1970s

Late 1970s

 

1980

 

1981

 

1981

 

01 Buddy Mullens, 02 Pinky Mullens,

5 Karl Kraft, and 10 Larry Gourley

1981

 

1981

 

In Johnny Runyan’s car - 1981

Late 1950s

 

1960

 

Early 1960s

 

Early 1960s

 

1966

 

1966

 

1966

 

1966

 

With Frankie Lies (center) and

Charlie Terpening (right) - 1967

 

With Harold Armstrong (right) - 1967

 

1967

 

1967

 

50 Frank Rusert, 22 Harold

Armstrong, 20 Chuck Owens

 All driving Pink Fords - 1967

 

With L to R: Jerry Shupe and

Pat Chapman with Harold

Armstrong at far right - 1967

 

1968

 

With Vern Allen, Bud Haehn, Steve

 Lutkie, and Gary Vogt - 1968

 

20 Harold Armstrong and

020 Gary Moore - 1970

 

1970

 

Early 1970s

 

96 Gary Moore – Early 1970s

 

With Passenger Gary Moore - 1972

 

1972

 

With Terry Dickey (right) - 1972

 

1973

 

1973

 

111 Ron Case and

84 Jack Johnson - 1974

 

With Buddy Mullens (right) - 1975

 

1975

 

With Lloyd Clites (right) in 1976

 

Standing between 01 Buddy Mullens

And 002 Anita Mullens in 1976

 

With flagman Al Alexander in 1977

 

1979

 

1979

 

1980

 

10 Larry Gourley and

01 Buddy Mullens - 1980

 

1981

 

August 13, 1983

 

Pinky Mullens was born on October 17, 1931 at Cushing, Oklahoma, he being one of nine children born to Pink B. Mullens, Sr. (1896-1973) and Gertrude Beatrice (Hamilton) Mullens (1904-1955).  Pinky was named after his father “back before anyone ever heard of A Boy Named Sue.”  He quit school after the sixth grade and took a job at a dairy before moving to Texas to work in the oilfields.

He was married first in 1953 at Sweetwater, Texas to Joyce Kelsey of Star, Texas.  The couple had two children: Donald Ray Mullins in 1954 and Nita Joy Mullens in 1955.

He first moved to Wichita, Kansas in 1951 and went to see his first car race with his step-father, G. H. Shinn, at Cejay Stadium in Wichita in the early 1950s.  Pinky thought it was quite a show but did not return to watch any other races there.

          Pinky and Joyce were divorced and he married Vera J. Pendleton in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1957.  They became the parents of three children: Anita, Max, and Buddy.  Max passed away when he was just three months old.

By 1958, Pinky was working at Neff Auto Salvage in Wichita when co-worker Jim McMillan noticed that Pinky seemed to drive everywhere in hurry so he suggested that Pinky start racing on the racetrack to avoid getting traffic tickets.  Pinky went to watch the jalopy races at “81” Speedway and remembered that one car in particular was much slower than the others.  Pinky decided to give it a try so McMillan helped him select a 1939 Buick Roadmaster from the salvage yard and turn it into a racing jalopy.  Pinky only drove it a couple of times that year and remembers starting on the front row of his very first race.  Every car in the race passed him on the first lap including the car he had remembered as being so slow the week before so Pinky thought that he must have REALLY been going slow.

Fellow driver K. O. Christian complained to Pinky that the back end of that big Buick Roadmaster had beat up the front end of Christian’s car when he tried to pass it.  Pinky informed him that it was all he could do the control the front wheels so Christian would just have to look out for the back of it himself!

Pinky continued racing jalopies, modified stock cars, and super modifieds throughout the 1960s.  Most were pink with white lettering and carried the number “20”.  He became well known for his clown-like antics such as chasing fellow driver Bill Bookout on foot down the front straight-away with a blazing roman candle.  It was entertaining for all, but the kids especially loved it.

          “81” Speedway awarded roll-over trophies to drivers who turned their cars over the week before so Pinky got to where he would turn his car over on purpose on the front straightaway on the last lap of the feature race.  After about a half-dozen times of that, they quit giving him roll-over trophies.

          In 1965, Pinky built a semi-late model stock car for driver Chuck Owens while Pinky continued to race in the other classes.  Since the semi-late model belonged to Pinky, he painted it pink with the number “20” also.

          Among his bigger wins that year was the Semi-Nationals at the National Jalopy Championship races at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.  He set the 30-lap track record for that event which stood for seven years.

            Pinky decided to race in the semi-late model stock car class himself in 1966 but, since Owens was still using the number “20”, Pinky selected the number “020” for his car and then a year later, he changed to number "02", the car number that he continued to use for the rest of his driving career.  He won his first points championship in 1966 at “81” Speedway and repeated the feat in 1967.

          Pinky had become a noted semi-late model stock car builder.  He would build a Ford stock car for $250 less tires, seat belts, and shoulder harness, and would then guarantee that car to be as good as the car he was driving himself or he would take the customer’s car back and let them have his own in its place.  No one ever requested the swap.

          There was a driver in Wichita at that time with a well deserved reputation for driving exceptionally rough in what was already a pretty rough sport.  One night, that driver knocked a slower driver’s car off the racetrack rather than go to the trouble of just passing it.  The victim walked back to the pits where he let it be known that he would buy a case of beer for any driver who could turn the perpetrator’s car upside down on the racetrack.  Pinky’s car was lined up next to that of the offending driver in a later race that night and, as the field of cars came onto the front straightaway for the rolling start of the race, Pinky hooked the targeted car, turned it sideways and watched it barrel-roll down the front straightaway much to the delight of the competitors and fans.  Pinky did not drink beer so he did not collect the “prize”.  He was just happy to have performed the service.

          Pinky had raced Fords up through 1967 but a change in the local rules persuaded him to switch to Chevrolet for the 1968 season.  He won the mid-season points championship, tied with Bud Haehn for the “K. O. Christian Memorial” title, and was crowned most popular driver all on his way to his third consecutive semi-late model stock car points championship at “81” Speedway that year.  He also finished second to Grady Wade that year in the Semi-Final at the National Jalopy Championship races at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.

          In 1969, Pinky switched to racing Plymouth stock cars but, while he remained a top contender, he did not win any more semi-late model points championships.  He did finish third in the season points at “81” Speedway and first in the “K. O. Christian Memorial”.

          Pinky finished second in the season points championship at “81” Speedway each of the next three years (1970-1972).  He was fifth in 1973 and third in 1974, 1975, and 1976.  Along the way, he won a semi-late model stock car feature race at Winfield, Kansas in 1970 and the “Midwest Stock Car Championship” at “81” Speedway in 1971, 1972, and 1973.  He also won the late model stock car points championship at “81” Speedway in 1973.  In 1975, he was recognized for being the only driver to finish in the top five in points at “81” Speedway for ten consecutive years.  He won the “K. O. Christian Memorial” again in 1978 and finished third in the late-model season points in 1979.  He also raced in every semi-late stock car program at “81” Speedway from 1969 through 1978.  Pinky set such diverse track records in a semi-late model stock car at “81” Speedway as 1-lap (22.36) in 1972; 4-laps (1:37.8) in 1966; 8-laps (2:49.2) in 1977; and 50-laps (18:11) in 1972.

          In later years, Pinky built I.M.C.A. modifieds and sold many to customers for $3,500 each, ready to race.

He won the 20-lap feature race in the Thumper division at the 36th Annual Hutchinson Nationals run on the half-mile racetrack at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson on August 2, 1992.

Pinky drove his last race in 1999.  “I would have kept on racing if I could still get in and out of the car.”

         Over the years, Pinky raced at “81” Speedway and Air Capital Speedway, both in Wichita; as well as racetracks at Hutchinson, Colby, Wakeeney, Salina, Humboldt, Winfield, Liberal, Dodge City, Great Bend, and Belleville all in Kansas, and at Dewey, Enid, and Woodward in Oklahoma.  After all of that, “81” Speedway was still his favorite racetrack “once I got it figured out”.

          A number of other drivers drove cars that were either built or owned by Pinky.  Among those were Chuck Owens, Frank Rusert,  Dave Yoke, Terry Dickey, Larry Gourley, Pat Chapman, Harold Armstrong, Gary Moore, Harold Atkinson, Buddy Mullens, Anita Mullens, Scott Talbert, Jack Lancaster, Jack Johnson, Bill Newell, Jerry Shupe, Steve Bush, Karl Kraft, and Bill Bookout.

Pinky loved to hear the fans hollering.  He did not care if they were cheering or booing.  “Fans don’t boo a loser.  If you hear them booing you, it is because you’re a winner.  The worst thing is for the fans to remain silent.”

Pinky felt his biggest single victory was winning one of the annual twin 50-lap K. O. Christian Memorial races at “81” Speedway in 1968 splitting the twin races with long-time rival Bud Haehn.  That victory came with a color television set as one of the prizes.

Pinky is proud of his “Most Popular Driver” award from “81” Speedway in 1968 and he was one of the first recipients of “81” Speedway’s Lifetime V.I.P. award as well as induction into the "81" Speedway Hall of Fame in 2000.  He was also placed on the Wall of Fame at Winfield, Kansas in 2012 and inducted into the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame that same year, but the title that meant the most to him was “King of the Kids” that was bestowed on him by a racetrack announcer long ago.

Pinky passed away in Wichita on May 6, 2013 and Vera passed away there on September 6, 2015.

The legacy Pinky leaves to the racing world is his son, Buddy, who won several local and national championships, his daughter, Anita who followed her father into the sport, and now his grandson, Tanner Mullens, who has started his own list of championships including the “Restricted Micro Class” at the “2007 Tulsa Shootout” and the N.C.R.A. Modified Championship at the Hutchinson Nationals in 2012.

 

 

 

Webmaster’s Note:  I competed against Pinky for 11 years and he taught me a lot including how to sit up close to the steering wheel and drive with my shoulders instead of my arms.  That really helped especially in the longer races.

When Pinky was on the racetrack, even my own children were cheering for him as he richly deserved his title of “King of the Kids”.

 

 

 

 

 Pinky Mullens

King of the Kids

 

 

Anita Mullens (with dark hair at far left), Vera Mullens (with long hair in the center of the photo handing something to Pinky), James Anderson (looking on from the back of the group at Vera’s left), and Buddy Mullens (taller of the two standing at far right)

 

 

 

All of the photographs on this web page are from the Mullens family collection

 

 

 

 

Thank you to:

James Anderson, Pinky and Vera Mullens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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