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. Lee (1917-1985), Lawrence Richard Lee (1920-1973) and Theodore Edward 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 Dodge Brothers’ special automobile on dirt racetracks across the Midwest.

          Lee moved from Ponca City to Alva, Oklahoma 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 “Lee special” Dodge-powered dirt track racing car that he referred to as a “Bearcat Dodge” wherever he went.

          1922 found the Lee living back in Wichita but, before 1930, he had settled his family at San Angelo, Texas where he found work at the Bailey Auto Company.

          Following is an incomplete listing of the races that Johnny 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

  

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

 

            Car:  Lee’s own Dodge-powered “Lee special”

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 Dodge-powered “Lee special”

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 Dodge-powered “Lee special”

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

            Car:  Lee’s own Dodge-powered “Lee special”

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

 

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

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “Lee special”

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

  

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

            Car:  Lee’s own Dodge-powered “Lee special”

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

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

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 attendance the preceding afternoon as there had only been between 1,200 and 1,500 spectators in the grandstands that afternoon.

   

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

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “Lee special”

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 “Lee special”

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

   

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

            Car:  Lee’s own 16-valve Dodge-powered “Lee 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 8, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – Tri-State Fairgrounds at Aberdeen, South Dakota – Sanctioned by I.M.C.A.

            Car:  #300 Duesenberg

Finish:  Few results of these races have been located to date but Lee did collect $20 of the posted purse

Feature race winner:  Fred Horey of St. Paul, Minnesota who was driving a Fiat owned by J. A. Sloan

   

September 7, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – Tri-State Fairgrounds at Aberdeen, South Dakota – Sanctioned by N.W.A.R.A.

            Car:  A 301 cubic-inch Duesenberg

Finish:  Won in the 6-mile 3rd heat race in 3:38.0.  S. A. Halls finished second.

            12th in the 20-mile feature race behind Charles Brakhage, J. J. McCoy, Gus Schrader, Hershel Stevens, Casey Jones, Frank Kuehn, A. S. Hall, Ed Krause, Otto Riedl, Walter Bauer and Rudy Goetz

20-Mile Feature race winner:  Charles Brakhage of Webster, South Dakota who was driving a Duesenberg

   

September 8, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – Tri-State Fairgrounds at Aberdeen, South Dakota – Sanctioned by N.W.A.R.A.

            Car:  A 301 cubic-inch Duesenberg

Finish:  3rd in the 5th 6-mile heat race behind Larry Finlayson and Gus Schrader

10-Mile Feature race winner:  Gus Schrader of Cedar Rapids, Iowa

   

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.

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.

Feature race winner:  Bill Melaun of Houston, Texas

    

July 28, 1923 – ½ mile dirt oval – Black Hill Speedway at Sturgis, South Dakota

Finish:  Lee did not place in the 60-mile feature race.

Feature race winner:  King Rhiley Oshkosh, Nebraska

    

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

    

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

   

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

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

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

   

July 5, 1924 – ½ mile dirt oval – Tri-State Fairgrounds at Aberdeen, South Dakota

Finish:  Lee’s name does not appear in the published results of these races and it is unlikely that he was able to arrive in time to participate in them.

   

July 14, 1924 – ½ mile dirt oval – North Dakota State Fairgrounds at Fargo, North Dakota – Sanctioned by I.M.C.A.

Car:  J. A. Sloan is believed to have provided a car for Lee to drive in these races

Finish:  Results of these races have yet to be located

    

August 6, 1924 – ½ mile dirt oval – Black Hill Speedway at Sturgis, South Dakota

Car:  Lee’s own #12 Frontenac Ford

Finish:  3rd in time trials with a lap of 33.2.  That was slower than the laps turned in by King Rhiley and Guy Deulin.

             Engine problems in the 1st heat race eliminated Lee for the remainder of these races.

51-Mile Feature race winner:  Guy Deulin of St. Johns, Oregon who was driving a Frontenac Ford

    

August 22, 1924 – ½ mile dirt oval – Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa – Sanctioned by I.M.C.A.

Car:  Richards special entered by J. A. Sloan

Finish:  Lee did not place in the 25-lap feature race.

Feature race winner:  Ray Burr Lampkin of Kansas City, Missouri who was driving a Peugeot special entered by J. A. Sloan

    

August 29, 1924 – ½ mile dirt oval – Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa – Sanctioned by I.M.C.A.

Car:  Premier special entered by J. A. Sloan

Finish:  2nd in the 1st 5-lap heat race finishing behind Aaron Strong

25-Lap Feature race winner:  Curley Young of Denton, Texas who was driving a Fronty Ford

    

August 30, 1924 – 1 mile dirt oval – Minnesota State Fairgrounds at Hamline, Minnesota – Sanctioned by I.M.C.A.

Car:  Fronty Ford

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

Feature race winner:  Fred Horey of St. Paul, Minnesota who was driving a Miller

   

September 1, 1924 – ½ mile dirt oval – Tri-State Fairgrounds at Aberdeen, South Dakota – Sanctioned by I.M.C.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #12 Fronty Ford

Finish:  3rd in the 1st 7-mile heat race behind Ray Burr Lampkin and Ted Rick

             3rd in the 9-lap feature race behind Cleo Sarles and Ray Burr Lampkin

Feature race winner:  Cleo Sarles of Los Angeles, California who was driving a Fiat entered by J. A. Sloan

   

September 5, 1924 – ½ mile dirt oval – Tri-State Fairgrounds at Aberdeen, South Dakota – Sanctioned by I.M.C.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #12 Fronty Ford

Finish:  6,800 spectators saw Lee place 2nd in the 1st 7-lap heat race behind Ted LeCocq

9-Lap Feature race winner:  Ray Burr Lampkin of Kansas City, Missouri who was driving a #37 Peugeot special entered by J. A. Sloan

   

September 12, 1924 – ½ mile dirt oval – South Dakota State Fairgrounds at Huron, South Dakota – Sanctioned by I.M.C.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #12 Fronty Ford

Finish:  The results of these races have yet to be located

   

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 – Amarillo 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

   

September 27, 1924 – ½ mile dirt oval – Clay County Fairgrounds at Spencer, Iowa – Sanctioned by I.M.C.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #12 Fronty Ford

Finish:  Lee did not place in the 7-mile feature race.  In fact, it is highly unlikely that he arrived from Texas in time to participate in any of these races.

Feature race winner:  8,000 spectators saw Fred Lecklider of Toledo, Ohio win the feature race in his own Duesenberg

   

October 3, 1924 – ½ mile dirt oval – Tri-State Fairgrounds at Aberdeen, South Dakota

Car:  Lee’s own #12 Fronty Ford and a Duesenberg, although there is no record that he drove the Duesenberg in competition on this day

Finish:  Lee won three preliminary races with Bert Ficken finishing 2nd in each of those races.

             1st in the 15-mile feature race in 17:25.0.  Larry Finlayson finished 2nd.

Feature race winner:  Johnny Lee of San Angelo, Texas

   

October 4, 1924 – ½ mile dirt oval – Tri-State Fairgrounds at Aberdeen, South Dakota

Car:  Lee’s own #12 Fronty Ford and his own Duesenberg, although there is no record that he drove the Duesenberg in competition on this day

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

 

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

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge

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.

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

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

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

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

             Won the 1st hear 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

 

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

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

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

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge

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

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

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge

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

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

 

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

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge

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 the winner.

Feature race winner:  Jimmy Randolph of Douglas, Arizona who was driving his own Ford Frontenac

 

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

Finish:  Lee did not place in the 30-mile feature race.

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 lapsturned 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

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.

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

             Won the 4th heat race in front of Rex Edmonds

             Started 6th and finished in 3rd place in the 32-lap 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

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

             Won the 5th race.in 4:50.2.  Fred Roberts finished in 2nd place.

 Lee won $400 from the posted purse.

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

 

October 4, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – Wichita County Fairgrounds at Wichita Falls, Texas – Sanctioned by A.A.A.

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge

Finish:  Won the 15-mile feature race in 15:52.6.

Feature race winner:  Johnny Lee from San Angelo, Texas

 

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

Car:  Lee’s own #44 Dodge

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 Ed Edwards

             Lee won $310 from the posted purse.

Feature race winner:  Eddie Neva of San Antonio, Texas who was driving a Ford Frontenac

 

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 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

 

After races had been held there on Memorial Day of 1940, Navajo Speedway closed.         

On June 26, 1954, Lee agreed to participate in a promotional “grudge race” against Clyde Johnson, the 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 and Gene Ward