Bob Lawrence in Alvin Wray’s #76 Ford during a B feature at “81” Speedway north of Wichita, Kansas in the summer of 1968. The photo below was taken during that same race.
Left to right: #76 Bob Lawrence, #75 Alvin Wray, #15 Bill Ysbrand and #12x Don Ely. This photo was taken in the third (northeast) turn during a B feature at “81” Speedway north of Wichita, Kansas in the summer of 1968.
The Story Behind the Photograph Above
Bob Lawrence in the #76 Ford was running near the front of the pack but someone kept bumping his rear bumper rather soundly on every straightway. With no mirrors, he could not tell who it was but thought whoever it was should try to pass him if they were that much faster than he was rather than just keep bumping him like that. Lawrence finally decided that whomever it was was more interested in running into him than passing him so he drove into the third turn a little high purposely leaving enough room for the faster car to enter the turn on the inside of him. Whoever came by, Lawrence had already decided, would get a firm tap on the right side door from his bumper as a message that he had not appreciated the tactic.
Alvin Wray in his own #75 Chevrolet had been running two cars behind Lawrence and following Bill Ysbrand in the Ed Brady owned #15 Chevrolet. Wray had noticed Ysbrand’s uncalled for tactic as he closed in on Ysbrand’s rear bumper. Not sure why Ysbrand was beating so hard on his car (Wray was the owner of the #76 Ford that Lawrence was driving), Wray had decided to see if he might intervene.
When Lawrence entered that turn wide, he looked to the inside just in time to see Ysbrand’s Chevy go by but in the midst of spinning out with the front of his car pointed toward the infield. That is the point at which this photo was taken.
As Ysbrand had pulled down to go inside of Lawrence, Wray had tapped the left rear fender of the #15 with the right front of his #75 causing Ysbrand to spin down across the racetrack and into the infield. Officials did not stop the race for the incident and, by the time Ysbrand got his car straightened around and rejoined the race, he was too far back in the pack to be a factor. Lawrence did not know until after the race that his car owner had remedied the problem for him.
The Demise of the #76 Ford
The photo above was taken near the end of the first lap of a B feature at “81” Speedway in the fall of 1968. Danny Watson and Kenny Rutherford were battling side-by-side for the lead when their cars tangled and spun out while exiting the fourth turn completely blocking the racetrack. Third running #76 Bob Lawrence slammed head-on into Watson’s Ford knocking it further down the track and out of the photo above to the left. Unable to get stopped in time, #47 Chuck Soderboom ran into the back of Lawrence’s car and #67 Kirt Kirtley ran into the back of Soderboom’s car which happened to be owned by Kirtley. By the time it was over, fifteen cars had become involved in the chain reaction crash though the rest were behind the cars above and out of the photo to the right. The rear frame on Lawrence’s Ford was too badly bent to be repaired.
Bob Lawrence can be seen exiting his car through the windshield area. That is pit steward Don Smith running to assist with track clean up and the restart of the race.
Kenny Greteman photographs from the Bob Lawrence collection
William E. “Bill” Ysbrand
1934 – 1998
Charles “Chuck” Soderboom
1943 – 1973
Wenfred K. “Kirt” Kirtley
1936 – 1990