John Howard “Johnny” Lee

1893 – 1955

          

Johnny Lee

Taken c1899 at the Lee family home in Illinois

Gene Ward collection

 

Johnny Lee was born February 5, 1893 at the Lee family home in the Woodview community, just north of Rushville, in Schuyler County, Illinois.  He was the sixth of nine children born to Theodore Marion Lee (1854-1927) and his second wife, Rachel Ann Finkenbinder (1859-1927).  He also had eight half-siblings from his father’s first marriage to Sarah Jane Lynch (1854-1889).

          With World War I looming on the horizon, Lee joined the Illinois National Guard and served as a quartermaster sergeant for the army infantry.

He moved to Michigan where he took a job as an auto mechanic at the Continental Motor Company on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit.

          Lee married his first wife, Hazel Zoa Loring (1891-1962), on March 31, 1917 in Flint, Michigan and they had three sons: John L. “Major” Lee (1917-1985), Lawrence Richard Lee (1920-1973) and Theodore Edward “Ted” Lee (1924-1964).  Lee’s second wife was Eugenia Donald (1898-1982).

          Always interested in things mechanical, the blue-eyed, redhead youngster fell in love with the sport of automobile racing at an early age.  Some sources say that he started participating in local auto races as early as 1912 although there is no known record that he actually participated in an organized auto race until 1920.  By then, he was working at an automobile garage in Ponca City, Oklahoma and driving a white #1 Dodge Brothers’ special automobile on dirt racetracks across the Midwest.

          Lee moved from Ponca City to Alva, Oklahoma and then on to Oklahoma City later in 1920.

          In 1921, Lee moved his growing family first to Wichita, Kansas and then on to Salina, Kansas, always finding work as an auto mechanic at various garages.  He also continued to race his “J.H.L special” Dodge-powered dirt track racing car, that he occasionally referred to as a “Bearcat Dodge,” wherever he went.

          1922 found the Lee living back in Wichita but, sometime before 1926, he had settled his family at San Angelo, Texas where he found work at the Bailey Auto Company.

There was also another John H. Lee, who was born in Minnesota and was approximately two years younger than Johnny Lee.  That John H. Lee resided at Fargo, North Dakota and participated in auto races in South Dakota and surrounding states at the same time that Johnny Lee was racing in the southern states, but there is no known connection between the two drivers.

Following is an incomplete listing of the races that Johnny Lee is known to have participated in. 

  

June 15, 1920 – ½ mile dirt oval – Barton County Fairgrounds at Great Bend, Kansas

            Car:  Lee’s own “Bearcat Dodge”

Finish:  Dropped out with a broken crankshaft

Feature race winner:  Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in a 16-valve Roof Ford special

  

Johnny Lee in his Dodge Brothers special

Photo from page 32 of the July 3, 1921 issue of the Wichita Daily Eagle, Wichita, Kansas

July 5, 1920 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Kansas

 

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special” that he had built himself

Finish:  Lee’s name does not appear in the published race results.

Feature race winner:  Johnnie Mais of Salina, Kansas although he was claiming to be from Indianapolis, Indiana at the time

  

October 8, 1920 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Kansas

 

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special” that he had built himself

Finish:  3rd fastest 2-lap time in time trials of 1:09.6 behind Leonard E. Kerbs and Harold Roller.

              6th place in the 10-mile feature race behind Harold Roller, Fred Lentz, Al Koepke, Jake Striker and Leonard E. Kerbs

Feature race winner:  Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in a 16-valve Roof Ford special

  

October 9, 1920 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Kansas

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special” that he had built himself

Finish:  Won $200 by placing 2nd place in the 15-mile Free-for-All won by Harold Roller.

Feature race winner:  Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas in a 16-valve Roof Ford special

 

October 14, 1920 – 1 mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

            Car:  Lee entered his own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special” that he had built himself

Finish:  Lee turned in the second fastest lap in time trials, running one lap in 59.0 seconds but that was a full second slower than the lap turned in by Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas.

             Lee won $60 for his 2nd place finish in the 10-mile “free for all” race, 33.0 seconds behind Harold Roller.

 Lee won $200 by finishing in 3rd place behind John Mais and Harold Roller in the 50-mile feature race.

 

July 4, 1921 – ½ mile dirt oval – West Side Racetrack in Wichita, Kansas

            Car:  Lee entered his own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special” that he had built himself

            Finish:  Lee won $50 from the purse for running the fastest lap in time trials of 30.0 seconds.

                         Lee won another $50 when he finished 2nd in the 1st 10-lap heat race behind ______ Martin who was driving an Essex.

                         Lee won $100 when he won the 2nd 10-lap heat race over James I. “Toots” Higgins of Newton, Kansas in 6:13.0.  That time was nine seconds better than Higgins’ time.

 Lee won $50 when he finished 2nd to Merle Warren of Newton, Kansas in the 3rd 10-lap heat race.  Warren who was driving an Essex.

 Lee won $50 when he finished 2nd to Merle Warren of Newton, Kansas in a 10-lap special open heat race.

 

September 5, 1921 – 1 mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

Car:  Lee entered his own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special” that he had built himself, but then he got W. K. “Bill” Adolph of Salina, Kansas to drive it for him after he came down with a sudden illness.  Adolph spend the afternoon of the day before the races, familiarizing himself with the car.

Finish:  8,000 spectators watched as Adolph drove the races “daringly, to the point of recklessly”.

 Adolph took the lead on the fifth lap of the 50-mile feature race and led the remainder of the event, winning in 50:21.0.  He drove the last 45-laps at better than a-mile-a-minute and pulled away from the rest of the completion.  In doing so, he received an “immense silver loving cup” from the City of Salina, which went to the winner of that event.  He also received a hearty round of applause from the spectators when the cup was presented by race promoter, John Mais.

Feature race winner:  W. K. “Bill” Adolph of Salina, Kansas who was driving the 16-vlave Dodge-bowered “J.H.L. special” built and owned by Johnny Lee.

 

September 8, 1921 – ½ mile dirt oval – Athletic Field in Newton, Kansas

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special” that he had built himself

Finish:  Lee’s name does not appear in the published results of these races.

15-Mile “Free-for-All” race winner Harold Peterson of Wichita, Kansas who was driving a Dodge-powered “Lassen special” owned by Bill Lassen

  

October 5, 1921 – 1½ mile dirt oval – Meridian Speedway in Wichita, Kansas

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special” that he had built himself

Finish:  3rd in the 15-car, 60-mile feature race behind Johnnie Mais in a Dodge and W. W. Brown in a Peerless 8.

Feature race winner:  Johnnie Mais of Salina, Kansas although he was claiming to be from Indianapolis, Indiana at the time

  

November 24, 1921 – ½ mile dirt oval – Cushing Speedway Park at Cushing, Oklahoma

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special” that he had built himself

Finish:  3rd fastest 2-lap qualifying time in time trials of 1:01.8 behind Dick Calhoun and John Boling.

Feature race winner:  Feature race results for this date have yet to be located

   

March 31, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – Anthony Downs at Anthony, Kansas

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered #5 “Lee special”, the engine for which had been built by Johnnie Mais

Attendance:  Somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 although most slipped in without paying admission

Finish:  Lee turned in the 2nd fastest time in time trials of 1:11.5.  Only Johnnie Mais was able to run a faster time.

              Lee won the 1st 10-lap heat race in 6:01.75 over Harold Peterson.  The victory paid Lee $37.50 from the total purse.

              3rd in the 10-lap “free-for-all” race behind Johnnie Mais and Harold Peterson.  Lee collected another $12.50 from the purse for that finish.

              2nd in the 20-lap “free-for-all” behind Johnnie Mais.  That finish won Lee another $37.50 from the total purse.

              2nd in the 40-lap “free-for-all” behind Johnnie Mais.  That finish paid Lee another $62.50 from the total purse.

Feature race winner:  Johnnie Mais of Salina, Kansas although he was claiming to be from Indianapolis, Indiana at the time

 

April 1, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – Anthony Downs at Anthony, Kansas

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered #5 “Lee special”, the engine for which had been built by Johnnie Mais

Finish:  The races on this date were canceled due to poor paid attendance the preceding afternoon and there being only about 80 spectators in the grandstand at race time on this afternoon.

 

May 7, 1922 – 1 mile dirt oval – Hominy Fairgrounds at Hominy, Oklahoma

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special” that he had built himself

Finish:  Won $75 from the posted purse for finishing 3rd in the 25-mile “Hominy Inaugural” feature race behind Dick Calhoun and Mat Berg

Feature race winner:  Dick Calhoun of Cleveland, Oklahoma

    

May 21, 1922 – 1 mile dirt oval – Hominy Fairgrounds at Hominy, Oklahoma

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special” that he had built himself

Finish:  No results of these races have been located to date.

     

June 4, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – Colgate Speedway in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special” that he had built himself

Finish:  Won the 100-mile “free-for-all” race in 2:20.0.

Feature race winner:  Johnny Lee of Wichita, Kansas

 

June 11, 1922 – 1 mile dirt oval – Hominy Fairgrounds at Hominy, Oklahoma

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special”, the engine for which had been built by Johnnie Mais

Finish:  3rd quickest in time trials behind Dick Calhoun and Jake Struckler

             3rd in the 1st 10-mile heat race behind John Boling and Dick Calhoun.  Lee finished 22.2 seconds behind winner Boling.

             3rd in the 30-mile feature race behind Dick Calhoun and Jake Strickler

Feature race winner:  Dick Calhoun of Cleveland, Oklahoma

 

July 4, 1922 – 1 mile dirt oval – Kenwood Park Speedway at Salina, Kansas

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “J.H.L. special” that he had built himself

Finish:  4,200 spectators watched as Lee was presented a “loving cup” for tying Glenn Breed’s track record for 1-lap in time trials of 54.6 seconds.

 1st in the 2nd 10-mile race for cars with engines with 230 c.i. or under.  Lee went the distance in 9:36.8 and was followed by Albert “Al” Koepka of Topeka, Kansas in 2nd place.

             1st in the 5-mile “free for all” race.  Lee went the distance in 4:54.2 and finished ahead of Albert “Al” Koepka in 2nd place.

 Led the 50-mile feature race for the first 39 laps with the second place Duesenberg, driven by W. W. Brown, being clocked by a “track-o-meter” at 93 M.P.H. and closing in quickly on the back straightaway but losing out “heavily” in the turns.

            Lee’s engine broke on the 40th lap forcing him from the race and leaving the victory to Brown.

Feature race winner:  W. W. Brown of Kansas City, Missouri who was driving a Duesenberg owned by George L. Wade of Kansas City, Missouri

   

September 29, 1922 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

            Car:  Dodge owned by Johnnie Mais

Finish:  Started the 26-mile feature race outside of Red Shafer on the front row and finished 5th behind Shafer, Eddie Eckenroth, Jack Calkins and George Clark.

26 -Mile Feature race winner:  Phil “Red” Shaferof Des Moines, Iowa who was driving a #21 Duesenberg

   

October 8, 1922 – 1½ mile dirt oval – Gulf Coast Speedway at Bellaire, Texas

            Car:  #20 “Kansas Dodge” owned by Johnnie Mais

Finish:  Lee led the 8-mile heat race for “large cars” until he dropped out with spark plug trouble leaving the victory to Henry Bradshaw driving a #13 Marmon.

24 -Mile Feature race winner:  Bill Melaun of Houston, Texas in a #1 Fronty Ford owned by Herman L. Silverstein

   

November 5, 1922 – 1½ mile dirt oval – Gulf Coast Speedway at Bellaire, Texas

            Car:  10,000 spectators was as Lee drove a sleeved down #19 Dodge owned by Johnnie Mais and the #20 “Kansas Dodge” also owned by Johnnie Mais

Finish:  Drove the #19 Dodge to 3rd place in the 1st 25-mile heat race behind Red Shafer and Earl Graham.  That finish won Lee $75 from the posted purse.

             Drove the #20 Kansas Dodge to victory in the 2nd 25-mile heat race in 10:17.0, finishing in front of Russell Henline in Gus Pameson’s #32 Hudson.  That victory won Lee $100 from the posted purse.

             Drove one of Johnnie Mais’ Dodges to 3rd place in the 24-mile free-for-all race behind Glenn Breed in his Hudson and Bob Davis who was driving the Ried Davis Oakland special.

16 -Mile Feature race winner:  Glenn Breed of San Antonio, Texas in his own white #5 Hudson.

   

November 26, 1922 – 1½ mile dirt oval – Gulf Coast Speedway at Bellaire, Texas

            Car:  #20 “Kansas Dodge” owned by Johnnie Mais

Finish:  4th in the 2nd 7-mile heat race behind Dick Calhoun, Red Fondren and Glenn Breed.

             DNF the 24-mile feature race to do damaged steering.

Feature race winner:  Earl Graham in an Oakland owned by E. F. Reid.

   

November 30, 1922 – 1½ mile dirt oval – Gulf Coast Speedway at Bellaire, Texas

            Car:  7,000 spectators was as Lee drove a #19 Dodge and the #20 “Kansas Dodge”, both owned by Johnnie Mais

Finish:  Lee drove the #20 “Kansas Dodge” in the 1st heat race but he dropped out of that race with a broken crankshaft.

 Lee drove the #19 Dodge to 3rd place in the 24-mile feature race behind Glenn Breed and Dick Calhoun.  Lee finished the feature race one second out of 2nd place and 40.5 seconds behind the winner.

Feature race winner:  Glenn Breed of San Antonio, Texas in his own white #5 Hudson.

   

April 8, 1923 – 1½ mile dirt oval – Gulf Coast Speedway at Bellaire, Texas

            Car:  His own #11 “Harris Dodge”

Finish:  3rd in the 2nd 8-mile heat race behind Dick Calhoun and Jack Saunders

 3rd in the 24-mile feature race behind Dick Calhoun and Johnnie Mais.

Feature race winner:  Dick Calhoun of Cleveland, Oklahoma

    

May 6, 1923 – 1½ mile dirt oval – Gulf Coast Speedway at Bellaire, Texas

            Car:  #14 “Chevrolet Brothers Fronty Dodge” owned by Johnnie Mais.  The engine in this car was built as an experiment by the Chevrolet Brothers in their Frontenac factory in Detroit, Michigan.

Finish:  Lee was replaced as driver by Fred Shawhan who then finished 4th in the 2nd heat race and 2nd in the 24-mile feature race.

 No record has been found that Lee drive anything at all in these races.

24-Mile Feature race winner:  Johnnie Mais of Salina, Kansas

    

May 27, 1923 – 1½ mile dirt oval – East Texas Motor Speedway between Port Arthur and Beaumont, Texas

            Car:  His own #11 Dodge

Finish:  Both cars were eliminated from the race when Lee was involved in a two-car accident with Frank Miller on the 1st lap of the 24-mile feature.  (Webmaser’s note:  One source says that Lee “received a broken collar bone and minor injuries when his car was completely demolished) and names the driver of the other car as being “Henry Bradshaw” rather than Frank Miller.

Feature race winner:  Bill Melaun of Houston, Texas

   

August 26, 1923 – 1½ mile dirt oval – Gulf Coast Speedway at Bellaire, Texas

Car:  Lee entered his own yellow #11 “Harris Dodge” plus Floyd C. Shawhan entered his #14 “Chevrolet Brothers Fronty Dodge” with Lee listed as the driverThe engine in this car was built as an experiment by the Chevrolet Brothers in their Frontenac factory in Detroit, Michigan.

Finish:  Lee drove the #11 “Harris Dodge” to a 3rd place finish in the 1st 16-mile heat race behind John Boling and Rex Edmonds.

10-Mile Feature race winner:  Johnnie Mais of Salina, Kansas

    

September 2, 1923 – 1½ mile dirt oval – Gulf Coast Speedway at Bellaire, Texas

            Car:  #14 “Chevrolet Brothers Fronty Dodge” owned by Floyd C. ShawhanThe engine in this car was built as an experiment by the Chevrolet Brothers in their Frontenac factory in Detroit, Michigan.

Finish:  Lee did not place in the 24-mile feature race.

Feature race winner:  Bill Wade of New Orleans, Louisiana who was driving a Studebaker special

     

November 11, 1923 – 1½ mile dirt oval – East Texas Motor Speedway between Port Arthur and Beaumont, Texas

            Car:  Mais special Dodge owned by Johnnie Mais of Salina, Kansas

Finish:  Both cars were eliminated from the feature race when Lee was involved in a two-car accident with Frank Miller on the 1st lap of the 24-mile feature.  (Webmaser’s note:  One source says that Lee finished 3rd in a 15-mile race behind Bill Wade in a Studebaker special and Gus Schrader in a Chalmers while another source says that Lee “received a broken collar bone and minor injuries when his car was completely demolished) and that source names the driver of the other car as being “Henry Bradshaw” rather than Frank Miller.

Feature race winner:  Bill Wade of New Orleans, Louisiana who was driving a Studebaker special

 

March 9, 1924 – 1½ mile dirt oval – Gulf Coast Speedway at Bellaire, Texas

            Car:  Dodge special owned by J. H. Welborn

Finish:  2nd in the 2nd 10-mile heat race behind Paul Clancy.

             3rd in the 3rd 20-mile heat race behind Ernest Breisch and Jack Saunders

             3rd in the 12-mile feature race behind Paul Clancy and Ernest Breisch.  Lee finished one minute even behind the winner.

Feature race winner:  Paul Clancy of Chicago, Illinois

 

 April 6, 1924 – 2 mile dirt oval – San Antonio Speedway at San Antonio, Texas

            Car:  #1 Fronty owned by the Rupert Motor Company

Finish:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 4, 1924 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

            Car:  Marmon owned by Johnnie Mais

Finish:  2nd behind Red Shafer the 1st 8-mile heat race for the 8 fastest cars in time trials

             3rd behind Red Shafer and Herbert Haas in the in the 3rd 16-mile heat race

             Was running in the 15-mile feature race when it was stopped on the 11th lap due to rain.  Lee was not one of the 1st four finishers that were named.

Feature race winner:  Phil “Red” Shafer of Des Moines, Iowa who was driving a Duesenberg

   

September 26, 1924 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #12 Fronty Ford

Finish:  Lee did not place in the 15-mile feature race.

Feature race winner:  Phil “Red” Shafer of Des Moines, Iowa who was driving a Duesenberg

   

September 27, 1924 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – Tri-State Fairgrounds at Amarillo, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  #6 Dodge special

Finish:  2nd in the 2nd heat race behind H. L. Bogus

             2nd in the 3rd heat race behind H. L. Bogus

             Won the 10-mile feature race in 10:23,2.  H. L. Bogus finished in 2nd place.

Feature race winner:  Johnny Lee of San Angelo, Texas

 

June 18, 1925 – 1 mile dirt oval – Brownwood Speedway at Brownwood, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  5,000 spectators watched as Lee qualified 8th quickest in time trials behind George Souders, Harold Peterson, Harry Milburn, Johnnie Mais, C. C. Kenner, Norman York and Bob Stillwell.

 Won the 2nd heat race in 4:49.0.  Norman York finished 2nd in place.

 3rd in the 3rd heat race behind George Souders and Harold Peterson

 2nd in the 4th heat race behind Harry Milburn

 Started 6th in the 15-mile “Brownwood Opening” feature race and finished 3rd behind George Souders and Harold Peterson.

San Antonio Speedway

San Antonio, Texas

April 6, 1924

Jeff Adams collection

 

Feature race winner:  George Souders of Austin, Texas who was driving the #400 Roberts & Warrick Chevrolet

   

July 4, 1925 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  4th in the 1st heat race behind Frank Lockhart, Eddie Hearne and Dick Calhoun

             4th in the 25-mile feature race behind George Souders, Eddie Hearne and Dick Calhoun

Feature race winner:  George Souders of Austin, Texas who was driving the #400 Roberts & Warrick Chevrolet

 

July 11, 1925 – 1 mile dirt oval – Fair Park Speedway at Dallas, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  Lee did not place in the 15-mile feature race.

Feature race winner:  Harry Milburn of Ft. Worth, Texas who was driving his own Duesenberg

 

August 8, 1925 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – Oil Belt Speedway at Breckenridge, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  1st in time trials with a lap of 1:20.4, followed by George Souders in 2nd place.

             Won the 1st heat race in 5:05.4.  The 2nd place finisher in this race was Norman York.

             2nd in the 16-mile “Breckenridge Opening” feature race behind George Souders

Feature race winner:  George Souders of Austin, Texas who was driving the #400 Roberts & Warrick Chevrolet

 

August 9, 1925 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – Oil Belt Speedway at Breckenridge, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  Won the 15-mile feature race in 11:27.0.  The 2nd place finisher in this race was John A. McFadden.

Feature race winner:  Johnny Lee of San Angelo, Texas

 

September 23, 1925 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  4th in the 4th heat race behind Dick Calhoun, John McFadden and Herbert Haas

30-Mile Feature race winner:  Frank Lockhart of Los Angeles, California who was driving a #27 Miller owned by Harry Miller.

 

September 25, 1925 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  2nd in the 2nd heat race behind Herbert Haas

Feature race winner:  Frank Lockhart of Los Angeles, California who was driving a #27 Miller owned by Harry Miller.

 

September 27, 1925 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  2nd in the 2nd 8-mile heat race behind Dick Calhoun

Feature race winner:  Frank Lockhart of Los Angeles, California who was driving a #27 Miller owned by Harry Miller.

 

September 29, 1925 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – Oil Belt Speedway at Breckenridge, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  1st in time trials with a lap of 1:20.4, followed by George Souders in 2nd place.

             3rd in the 2nd heat race behind Dick Calhoun and John McFadden

             2nd in the 3rd heat race behind Bill Tennill

             2nd in the 15-mile feature race behind Dick Calhoun

Feature race winner:  Dick Calhoun of Cleveland, Oklahoma who was driving a #11 Fronty Ford owned by O. M. Berg

 

October 1, 1925 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – Oil Belt Speedway at Breckenridge, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  3rd in the 2nd heat race behind Slim Harper and H. L. Bogus

             3rd in the 3rd heat race behind Bill Tennill and Roy Huston

             1st in the 4th heat race behind Harry Norris

             3rd in the 25-mile feature race behind Roy Meacham and Dick Calhoun

Feature race winner:  Roy Meacham of Pawhuska, Oklahoma who was driving a #8 Miller owned by “Hollywood” Bill White

 

October 4, 1925 – ½ mile dirt oval – Wichita County Fairgrounds at Wichita Falls, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  4th in the 3rd heat race behind Bill Tennill, Harry Milburn and A. M. DeMuth.

             Won the 4th heat race.  Herbert Haas finished 2nd in this race.

             Did not finish among the first four finishers in the 20-mile feature race.

Feature race winner:  Phil Shafer in a Duesenberg 8.

 

October 7, 1925 – ½ mile dirt oval – Childress Fairgrounds at Childress, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  3rd in the 2nd heat race behind Harry Milburn and Roy Meacham

Feature race winner:  George Souders of Austin, Texas who was driving the #400 Roberts & Warrick Chevrolet

 

October 8, 1925 – ½ mile dirt oval – Childress Fairgrounds at Childress, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  2nd in the 1st heat race behind Roy Meacham

 

November 11, 1925 – 2 mile dirt oval – San Antonio Speedway at San Antonio, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  Most of the results of these races have yet to be located.

Feature race winner:  Jimmy Lawrence of San Antonio, Texas who was driving a Ford

 

December 25, 1925 – 1 mile dirt oval – Douglas Fairgrounds at Douglas, Arizona Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  1st in time trials with a time of 1.48.0 which was a new track record for the distance.

             2nd in the 50-mile feature race.  Lee finished the feature race 11.4 seconds behind winner Jimmy Randolph.

Feature race winner:  Jimmy Randolph of Douglas, Arizona who was driving his own Ford Frontenac known as the “Douglas special”.

 

July 5, 1926 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  5th fastest of the 23 cars that took time trials with a 2-lap time of 1:11.2 behind the laps turned in by Frank Lockhart, Fred Lecklider, A. M. DuMuth and Curtis Cross.

Feature race winner:  Frank Lockhart of Los Angeles, California who was driving a #7 Miller owned by Harry Miller.

 

August 29, 1926 – 1 mile dirt oval - All American Speedway at Albuquerque, New Mexico – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

            Car:  #1 owned by Johnnie Mais

Finish:  3rd fastest lap in time trials of 45.6 which was slower than the laps turned in by Dick Calhoun and Cliff Bergere

              Won the 3rd heat race over Roy Miller

Feature race winner:  Cliff Bergere of Los Angeles, California who was driving a #22 Miller owned by Clarence Tarbet of Culver City, California.          

 

September 6, 1926 – 1 mile dirt oval – Highland Park at Holbrook, Arizona – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

            Car:  Dodge

Finish:  2nd in the 1st heat behind Harry Milburn

              2nd in the 25-mile feature race behind Harry Milburn to collect a total of $300 from the posted purse.

Feature race winner:  Harry Milburn of Ft. Worth, Texas who was driving his own Duesenberg

 

September 22, 1926 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  5,000 spectators watched Lee run the 10th fastest time in time trials of 1:16.6 which was slower than the times turned in by Fred Frame, Dick Calhoun, Babe Stapp, George Souders, Roy Meacham, Chet Gardner, A. M. DeMuth, Pete de Paolo and Harry Milburn.

             Dropped out after 1-lap in the first 8-lap heat race and was credited with last place behind Dick Calhoun, George Souders, Roy Meacham, Babe Stapp, Harry Milburn and A. M. Demuth.

             4th in the 2nd heat race behind Harry Milburn, Chet Gardner and A. M. DeMuth.

             Won the consolation race in 5:02.2.  Rex Edmonds finished in 2nd place in that race.

             Started 6th and finished in 3rd place in the 32-lap (20-mile) feature race behind Chet Gardner and Pete du Paolo.

 Lee won $180 from the posted purse.

Feature race winner:  Chet Gardner of Long Beach, California who was driving a Rajo Ford

 

September 24, 1926 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  2nd in the 2nd heat behind Harry Milburn

             Won the 5th race in 4:50.2.  Fred Roberts finished in 2nd place.  This race was stopped early due to a wreck involving Dick Calhoun.

 Lee won $400 from the posted purse.

Feature race winner:  Harry Milburn of Ft. Worth, Texas who was driving his own #16 Duesenberg

 

September 29, 1926 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – Oil Belt Speedway at Breckenridge, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  3rd in the 2nd 7½ mile heat race behind John Lindsey and Chet Gardner

             4th in the 7½ mile consolation race behind Roy Gardner, C.K. McFadden and Rex Edmonds

             2nd in the 5-mile consolation race behind Harry Milburn

             4th in the 15-mile feature race behind Fred Frame, George Souders and Chet Gardner

Feature race winner:  Fred Frame of Culver City, California who was driving a Miller

 

October 10, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Wichita County Fairgrounds at Wichita Falls, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  Won the 15-mile feature race in 15:52.6.  Ray Gardner finished in 2nd place.

Feature race winner:  Johnny Lee from San Angelo, Texas

   

October 17, 1926 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – Tri-State Fairgrounds at Amarillo, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  #2 Dodge special

Finish:  3rd in the 5-mile free-for-all race behind Fred Frame and Chet Gardner.

Feature race winner:  Fred Frame of Culver City, California

 

November 14, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Groesbeck Fairgrounds at Groesbeck, Texas

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge special

Finish:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

December 1, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Harlingen Motor Speedway at Harlingen, Texas

Car:  Dodge special

Finish:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

December 2, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Harlingen Motor Speedway at Harlingen, Texas

Car:  Dodge special

Finish:  Results of these races have yet to be located.

 

July 4, 1928 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Finish:  4th in the 25-mile feature race behind Eddie Neva, Bill Tennill and A.E. “Ed” Edwards

             Lee won $310 from the posted purse.

Feature race winner:  Eddie Neva of San Antonio, Texas who was driving a Ford Frontenac known as the Wellbrook special

 

July 4, 1929 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #77 Dodge and a #12 Miller owned by Harry Milburn.  Lee drove the Miller in these races but not the Dodge

Finish:  4th in the 1st heat race behind Pat Cunningham, Earl Hovenden and Francis Quinn

              2nd in the 2nd heat race behind Francis Quinn

24-Lap Feature race winner:  Pat Cunningham of St. Joseph, Missouri who was driving a yellow #4 Ford Frontenac owned by John Bagley

 

September 25, 1929 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own Rainbow special

Finish:  2nd in the 3rd heat race behind Vic Felt to win $40 from the posted purse

              DNF in the 24-lap (15-mile) feature race

Feature race winner:  Chet Gardner of Long Beach, California who was driving the #47 “Buckeye Duesenberg” owned by Gibson Bradfield

 

July 4, 1930 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #72 Chrysler

Finish:  Did not qualify.  Lee was one of 4 leaders of a strike demanding that the participants be paid a guaranteed purse that included $100 to each of the striking participants.

100-Lap Feature race winner:  Francis Quinn of Los Angeles, California who drove his own #8 “Dayton Thoroughbred” Miller

 

July 13, 1930 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – Oil Belt Speedway at Breckenridge, Texas

Car:  Lee’s own #72 Chrysler

Finish:  Lee did not place in the 16-lap feature race.

Feature race winner:  Bobby DeMuth of Los Angeles, California who drove a Ford Frontenac owned by Earl Hovenden.

 

July 4, 1931 – 5/8 mile dirt oval – West Texas State Fairgrounds at Abilene, Texas

Car:  Lee’s own black and white Dodge and a Chevrolet roadster stock car.

Finish:  1,200 spectators saw Lee turn in the fastest 2-lap time in time trials of 70.8 seconds.  Jimmy Davis had the 2nd best time.

   2nd to Jimmie Davis in the lone 5-mile stock car race after Lee had led all but the final few feet of the race.

  1st in the 8-lap “speed dash” in 5:3.2.  Cotton Grable finished in 2nd place in this race.

  1st in the 4-lap Texas Championship race in 2:33.5.  Rex Edmonds finished in 2nd place in this race.

  1st in the 1st 4-lap semi-final in 2:28.2.  Rex Edmonds finished in 2nd place in this race.

  1st in the 15-mile sweepstakes in 15:13.0.  Cotton Grable finished this race in 2nd place, 4 seconds behind Lee.

  As an added attraction, Johnny Lee and Cotton Grable staged a head-on crash between two stock cars in front of the grandstands.  At the last moment, both drivers were to jump clear.  On the first attempt, the cars just grazed each other and the stunt had to be performed over again.  Grable turned an ankle when he jumped though so Austin Wetzler a.k.a. “Tex West” replaced Grable for the 2nd attempt.  All worked as planned on that 2nd try.

Sweepstakes race winner:  Johnny Lee of San Angelo, Texas

 

 

          The contest board of the American Automobile Association met and acted on a petition by D. H. Jefferies who was the A.A.A. representative at the races at Abilene, Texas on July 4, 1930.  The contest board handed out lifetime suspensions from A.A.A. sanctioned races, to the strike leaders and lesser suspensions to the others who took part.  The four leaders of the strike called on that date were identified as: Harry Milburn of Ft. Worth, Texas; Lee Bammel of Taylor, Texas, John Lee of San Angelo, Texas and Augustus “Cotton” Grable of Houston, Texas.  The other participants in the action were identified as: Gene Frederick of Dallas, Texas; M. T. Wells of San Antonio, Texas; George Barringer of Duncan, Oklahoma; Earl Hovenden of Duncan, Oklahoma; Maxie Brooks of San Antonio, Texas; M. H. Evans of Dallas, Texas and W. E. Granger of Dallas, Texas.

          Memorial Day of 1939 found Lee’s wife and children still residing at San Angelo while he was living in a boarding house in Albuquerque, New Mexico and promoting auto races on the 5/8 mile dirt road course Hell’s Half Acre Speedway “two miles northeast of the Triangle on Monte Vista Boulevard” in Albuquerque.  On June 23, 1939, he announced that, after only 3 racing programs, he was abandoning the Hell’s Half Acre Speedway and would begin promoting midget races at the “old First American grounds” that was, by then, a dusty dirt oval racetrack known as Navajo Speedway, 6 miles east of downtown Albuquerque at Elkins, New Mexico.  Lee hired Earl Hovington, a driver he had compete against on the racing circuit, to be flagman and the official starter at Navajo Speedway.

      

May 30, 1939 – 5/8 mile dirt horseshoe shaped road course – Hell’s Half Acre at Albuquerque, New Mexico

Race Promoter:  Johnny Lee

Cars:  Stripped down stock cars

Finish:  1,300+ spectators watched Shorty Bowen set the fastest time of 29.7 seconds in time trials followed by Korky Coen 31.5, Eddie Randack 32.0, Ernie Burnett 33.2, Ted Cordova 34.6, John Pierce 35.0 and Bob Moore 36.0.

              Shorty Bowen won the 1st 7-lap heat race in 3:48.0 followed by Ernie Burnett 3:55.0, Ted Cordova and John Pierce.

              Henry Puccetti won the 2nd 7-lap heat race in 4:05.5 followed by Howard Houghton 4:07.5 and Ted Cordova.

              Howard Houghton won the 3rd 7-lap heat race in 4:06.7, Ted Cordova and Henry Puccetti.

              Howard Houghton won the 35-lap sweepstakes race in 20:59.4 followed by Ted Cordova.  Shorty Bowen, Ernie Burnett and Bob Moore did not finish.

Sweepstakes Race Winner:  Howard Houghton

      

June 11, 1939 – 5/8 mile dirt horseshoe shaped road course – Hell’s Half Acre at Albuquerque, New Mexico

Race Promoter:  Johnny Lee

Cars:  Midgets

Finish:  Shorty Bowen set the fastest time of 31.8 seconds in time trials.

              Shorty Bowen won the 1st 7-lap heat race.

              George Roberts won the 2nd 7-lap heat race.

              George Roberts won the 3rd 7-lap heat race.

              George Roberts won the Australian Pursuit.

              Shorty Bowen won the 35-lap final event.

Final Event Winner:  Shorty Bowen

      

June 18, 1939 – 5/8 mile dirt horseshoe shaped road course – Hell’s Half Acre at Albuquerque, New Mexico

Race Promoter:  Johnny Lee

Cars:  Midgets

Finish:  Henry Puccetti wet the fastest time of 32.0 seconds in time trials.

              Howard Hooten won the 1st 7-lap heat race in 4:01.5 followed by Henry Puccetti and Bernard Burnett.

              Aaron Baca won the 2nd 7-lap heat race in 4:18.0 followed by Shorty Bowen and Henry Puccetti.

              Shorty Bowen won the 3rd 7-lap heat race in 5:36.0 followed by Jerry Unser and Howard Hooten.

              Howard Hooten won the 5-lap match race in 3:25.0 followed by Shorty Bowen.

              Howard Hooten won the 10-lap sweepstakes race in 6:21.43 followed by Bob Moore and Shorty Bowen.

Final Event Winner:  Howard Hooten

 

July 4, 1939 – ½ mile dirt oval – Navajo Speedway at Elkins, New Mexico – Sanctioned by A.A.R.C.

Race Promoter:  Johnny Lee

Cars:  Midgets

Finish:  3,000 spectators watched Shorty Bowen set the fastest time of 31.4 seconds in time trials.

              Ted Randyke won the 1st 7-lap heat race in 3:34.0 followed by Henry Puccetti and Jerry Unser.

              Ernie Burnett won the 2nd 7-lap heat race in 4:03.0 followed by Shorty Bowen and Aaron Baca.

  Ernie Burnett defeat Howard Hooten in the 6-lap “Kangaroo Novelty” race in 4:09.0.

  Ted Randyke won the 7-lap Australian Pursuit in 4:44.0.  He was followed by Johnny Pierce and Ted Riggan. 

  Jerry Unser “conquered” Shorty Bowen in his Clyde Moore special in the 25-lap feature race.  Midgets driven by Ernie Burnett and Henry Puccetti dropped out of this race with mechanical trouble.

Feature Race Winner:  Jerry Unser of Albuquerque, New Mexico who was driving his “Unser special” midget.  Right after winning this race, Unser sold the car to Gerald Cornelius

 

Navajo Speedway closed after the races there on July 4, 1939 and Lee served as the official flagman / starter of the races run at the First American Speedway east of Albuquerque, New Mexico on Memorial Day, 1940.

On June 26, 1954, Lee agreed to participate in a promotional “grudge race” against Clyde Johnson, the race promoter of Raceway Park at San Angelo, Texas.  The results of that event have yet to be learned.

Johnny Lee suffered a stroke on July 25, 1955 and passed away as a result on December 10, 1955 at Shannon Hospital in San Angelo, Texas.  He is buried in Forest Park Cemetery in Houston, Texas.

 

 

 

 

Autograph signed June 5, 1917

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you

Kris Gende, Nancy Pearce and Gene Ward