Women Drivers

In Kansas Auto Racing Prior to 1960

 

Women were not allowed to compete against men in organized auto racing at all before World War II.  Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas and Jayhawk Amusement Park Speedway in Newton, Kansas were just two of the very few places in the Midwest where women drivers could compete on a regular basis against their male counterparts in the late 1940s and the 1950s.  The women drivers at those racetracks had started out as a novelty with the ladies racing only in special events against just each other but Cejay Stadium owner and race promoter Carl Johnson and Jayhawk Amusement Park Speedway race promoter Earl Mills soon recognized the publicity potential of allowing women to compete in their regular races.  Other Kansas racetracks such as Dodge City’s McCarty Speedway, the Fairgrounds racetrack in Liberal, and the JayCee Speedway in Larned restricted women to competing only in occasional Powder Puff derbies.

 

 

 

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Dot Cokeley in a car owned by Doris Simonson

 

          Neva (Shuck) Arnold of Larned, Kansas drove jalopy #8 to a sixth place finish in a Powder Puff Derby run at JayCee Speedway at Larned on July 28, 1957.  The car was owned and normally driven  by Leland Salmans of Larned.

 

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Dot Cokeley with a trophy she won in a Powder Puff Derby at Liberal, Kansas in 1957

Margaret M. Ashcraft of Cimarron, Kansas was born October 11, 1919 and competed in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on September 15, 1956.  She drove car #88, started in sixth position and finished in fourth place.  She passed away on September 26, 2000 and is buried in the Cimarron Cemetery.

             

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Shirley Baker of Dodge City, Kansas won a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City on the first night of the Great Southwest Fair there in 1956.

 

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Myrtle Bildine drove jalopy #84 in a Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas on July 29, 1956.  She started eleventh in a field of twelve cars and finished in fifth position.  That car was normally driven by Wayne Bildine.  Myrtle then competed in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City on September 15, 1956.  She drove car #13 and started in third position but did not place.

 

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Dorothy Boyer turned in a time trial lap of 31.19 in car #7 for a Powder Puff Derby at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas on November 6, 1949 only to spin out in the feature event.

 

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Dot Cokeley in 1959

Neva Burger of Dodge City, Kansas started second and finished first in a Powder Puff Derby at the JayCee Speedway in Larned, Kansas on September 21, 1958.  She was driving car #65 in a field of eleven cars.  That car was owned by Joe Vratil and usually driven by Harry Vratil.

 

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Irene Clang

Huddleston & Peoples photo from the Cokeley collection

 

Lola Caldwell of Sublette, Kansas started fourth in car #15 and finished fourth in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on September 20, 1958.

 

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 “Miss” Calvert, described as a French woman and a former Red Cross driver who had served in World War I, drove exhibition laps during breaks in the IMCA races at the Mid-America State Fair in Topeka, Kansas on September 17, 1921.  Her fastest time for two laps was 1 minutes and 20 seconds.

 

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Lee Cornish with a Ford coupe owned by Don Hartman of Arkansas City, Kansas

 

Eddie Carlson competed in in a Powder Puff Derby at Liberal, Kansas on September 17, 1957.

 

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Billie M. (Elliott) Carter, wife of Bob Carter, was born on June 30, 1927 at Ulysses, Kansas.  She started second in car #75 and finished second in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on August 10, 1957.

Billie passed away on April 3, 2012 at Ulysses and is buried beside her husband in the Ulysses Cemetery.

 

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 Irene Clang drove jalopy #47 and started in ninth place in a twelve-car Powder Puff Derby on July 29, 1956 at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas.  She finished that race in fifth place.  She also raced the same car in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on September 15, 1956.  She started in the twelfth position in that race and did not place.  The car’s usual driver was Jim Maskus of Dodge City.

 

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Lee Cornish

Lee Cornish with a Hudson owned by Lawrence Brooks of Arkansas City, Kansas

 

Dorothy J. “Dot” (McClellan) Cokeley, wife of Clarence N. “Nut” Cokeley, Jr., was born March 4, 1928 at Palco, Kansas.  She started last in a field of five cars in a Powder Puff Derby at Liberal, Kansas on September 17, 1957 but rolled the orange car #41 owned by Doris Simonson.  She still won a total of $4.25 of which she got to keep $2 with the rest going to Simonson.

Dot raced in a Powder Puff Derby at Liberal again in 1959.  That time, she drove the #7 Ford owned by Merle Trahern of Sublette, Kansas and normally driven by Nut Cokeley.

Dot passed away on March 29, 2000 and is buried in Restlawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Liberal.

 

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Leola Sylvia “Lee” (Clary) Cornish was born on October 1, 1916 at Bedford, Iowa and moved with her parents to South Haven, Kansas in 1924.  She started racing jalopies on October 9, 1949 against other women drivers at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas.  She set the second fastest time in time trials of 26.82 seconds and then finished second in the eight-lap feature event driving her brother, Marvin Clary's #33 Plymouth.  Her next race was in car #81 at Cejay Stadium on November 6, 1949 when she turned in a lap of 27.21 in time trials and then finished in third place in the feature event.  Cornish enjoyed the racing so much that she wanted to continue doing it so the next week she competed against the men.

Cornish’s first grandchild was born in 1950 so she was occasionally referred to as “Grandma Cornish” over the public address system and in published racetrack publicity.

Cornish won the “C” feature racing against the men at Cejay Stadium on June 17, 1950.

Her husband, George “Sailor” Cornish was an electrician for the Wichita Board of Education when not working on her racing cars.  He continued to choose Plymouths as he felt the frames were stronger making them safer cars for her to race.

 

Lee Cornish

Lee Cornish with her first stock car

After Marvin Clary quit racing, Cornish purchased another Plymouth from a used car lot for $55, painted it #16, and raced it.

It was difficult to find a racetrack that would allow her to compete but when other drivers would learn of a race that would accept her entry; they would often call her on the phone and tell her about it.

Although a regular competitor at Cejay Stadium, Cornish occasionally ventured to Jayhawk Amusement Park Speedway in Newton, Kansas; “77” Speedway at Arkansas City, Kansas; and ABC Speedway at Alva, Oklahoma.  On July 14, 1950, she won a Powder Puff at Jayhawk Amusement Park Speedway and on August 9th of that year, she finished third there in the third heat race competing against the men.

She went to Robbins Speedway at Wichita when it first opened in 1955, checked her car in, and was preparing to race it when an official came to her pit, told her that her entry was being withdrawn, and she would not be allowed to complete there since she was a woman.

On one occasion, a promoter arranged a match race between Cornish and future Indy “500” driver A. J. Shepherd.  Shepherd was much faster and made it look as though he was really trying to win but then spun his car out near the end and, thus Cornish was “allowed” to win the race.

Cornish’s cars were overturned on a number of occasions as the male drivers seemed to like to shove her around.  She did not think many of the men liked her racing with them but driver Bill Mears was her most vocal critic.  (Mears was the father of future Indy drivers Rick and Roger Mears and grandfather of current NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Casey Mears.)

All of the racetracks that had let her race closed in the mid-1950s leaving Cornish no place that would allow her to compete, so she reluctantly gave up participating in the sport.

Lee thought it was wonderful that her husband had let her race all that time and helped out with the car.  Sailor said that he did not think it was all that dangerous what with roll cages and the relatively slow speeds that Lee ran at.

 

Imadine Elder kisses the “trophy man” after winning a Powder Puff Derby in Dodge City, Kansas on June 2, 1956

 

When Sailor was asked if it was an expensive sport to compete in, he replied that it did not cost as much as going out for the evening and getting drunk plus he felt a lot better the next day!

After given up racing, Lee and Sailor moved to a small farm near Conway Springs, Kansas.

Lee passed away on February 24, 2007 at Oxford, Kansas.

 

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Lee Cornish and her “Most Popular Driver” trophy from Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas in 1951

 

Verna Cox drove a jalopy stock car #81 in races at Cejay stadium in Wichita, Kansas on October 9, 1949 placing fourth in time trials with a time of 32.13 seconds and then placing third in a field of six cars in the eight lap feature race.

 

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May “Babe” Curtis of Timken, Kansas drove a jalopy #14 in a Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas on September 21, 1958.  She started in tenth place and finished last in a field of eleven cars.  Babe was the wife of Ferrill Curtis.

 

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Doris Jean Davis of Sublette, Kansas drove a car #9 in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on August 10, 1957.

She started third and finished fourth in a Powder Puff Derby at Liberal, Kansas on September 17, 1957.

Doris started third and also finished in third in a Powder Puff Derby run at McCarty Speedway on September 20, 1958.

 

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“Babe” Curtis

 

Catherine George at Larned, Kansas on July 27, 1958

 

 Elsie Davis drove car #5 owned by J. C. Fitzgerald in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on September 20, 1958.  She started last in a field of nine cars and finished in eighth position.  Elsie was the wife of Floyd “Dutch” Davis.

 

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Shirley Dirks of Larned, Kansas started fourth and drove jalopy #71 to a third place finish in a twelve-car Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway at Larned on July 29, 1956.  Shirley was the wife of Wilbur Dirks whose brother, Herman Dirks was the owner of the #71 jalopy.

 

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Patsy Dunsworth competed in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City on September 15, 1956.  She drove car #41, started in the tenth position but was involved in an accident and did not place.

 

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Imadine Elder congratulated by a “trophy man” after winning a Powder Puff Derby in Dodge City, Kansas on June 2, 1956

 

Florence Edwards, driving a miniature racing car known as “Baby Mine”, defeated Cliff Young in his regulation racing car in a two-lap match race on the half-mile West Side Racetrack in Wichita, Kansas on November 7, 1917 after Young was given an undisclosed handicap.  Edwards held an official competition license with IMCA in 1918.

 

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Ileen Goodman

 

 Betty Eikmeier of Garfield, Kansas was born August 27, 1937.  Driving a jalopy #42, she started eighth and placed fifth in a Powder Puff Derby run on September 21, 1958 at the JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas.  Betty passed away on October 15, 1997.

 

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Imadine Elder won a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on June 2, 1956 driving a car #88.that was normally driven by Jack Culver.

 

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Dorothy Fruendoff competed in a Powder Puff Derby at Liberal, Kansas on September 17, 1957.

 

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Catherine George started eighth and drove jalopy #38 to a seventh place finish in a twelve-car Powder Puff Derby on July 29, 1956 at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas.  The car was co-owned by Bob Robbins and Virgil McNeil and their usual driver was Keith Beckwith.  Catherine then finished second in a Powder Puff Derby run on July 28, 1957 at JayCee Speedway.  That car was owned by Wilbur Dirks and normally driven by Nelson Carlson.

 

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Ileen Goodman celebrating after winning a race at Jayhawk Amusement Park Speedway at Newton, Kansas

 

#55 Ileen Goodman at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas

 

          Della Gesner started on the pole position in a Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas on September 21, 1958 and placed in seventh position in a field of eleven cars.  She was driving a car #71.

 

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Nellie Gibbs placed in fourth place in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City on June 2, 1956.  She drove car #66 which was usually driven by Jim Gibbs.

 

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Ileen Merle Dessie (Forrest) Goodman, wife of Samuel C. W. Goodman, was born on January 31, 1916 at Argonia, Kansas.  She started racing in women only (Powder Puff) races on October 9, 1949 at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas placing second in time trials with a lap of 29.50 seconds driving a car #21 but then she turn the car over in the feature event.  She also drove that car in her next such event on October 16, 1949 at Cejay Stadium where she turned a lap of 29.61 in time trials and then finished first in the eight-lap feature race.  On November 6, 1949, she drove car #24 and turned in the second fastest time trial of 26.62 seconds.  She then won the feature event.  That win propelled her to victory in the women’s championship at Cejay Stadium in that, her rookie year.  She then advanced to racing against the men at the few racetracks that would allow her to do so such as Cejay Stadium and Jayhawk Amusement Park Speedway which was at Newton, Kansas.  She finished second in a Powder Puff race at Jayhawk Amusement Park Speedway on July 14, 1950.

According to Goodman, she was the first female racing driver ever to be sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.

           Goodman passed away on February 3, 1999 at Wichita, Kansas and is buried in White Chapel Memorial Gardens in Wichita.

Goodman came from a large family of auto racing drivers.  Her brothers Harold, Carroll, and Will Forrest and her nephew Bill Mears were all prominent Kansas drivers.  Goodman was also a great aunt to Indy 500 drivers Rick and Roger Mears and a great-great-aunt to current NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Casey Mears.

 

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Ileen Goodman with the 1937 Ford in which she won the female championship at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas in 1949

 

An undoubtedly posed photo of Ileen Goodman in a hot rod at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas in 1949

 

 Marlene Grumbein of Ness City, Kansas started in last place in an eleven car field in a Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas on September 21, 1958.  She finished in tenth position driving car #84 normally driven by her husband, Paul Grumbein.

 

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          Helen Haas drove jalopy #99 a time of 32.82 in time trials but spun out and did not finish the feature event in Powder Puff races run at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas on October 9, 1949.

 

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          Marie Hanken of Great Bend, Kansas drove jalopy #85 to a seventh place finish in a Powder Puff Derby run at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas on July 28, 1957.  The car was owned by J. L. Stillwell of Great Bend.

 

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          Mary Hickens of Great Bend, Kansas drove jalopy #53 to a fourth place finish in a Powder Puff Derby run at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas on July 28, 1957.  The car was owned by Ned Jacobs of Great Bend.

 

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          Mary Higgins of Walsh, Colorado drove jalopy #34 to a seventh place finish in a Powder Puff Derby run at the Grant County Fairgrounds at Ulysses, Kansas on August 8, 1958.  The car was normally driven by Rod Higgins.

 

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Ileen Goodman and her Pabst Blue Ribbon Ford

 

Gladys Holmes of Garden City, Kansas drove car #37 in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on August 10, 1957 but the car ran out of gas.  She finished second in an eight car, 10-lap Powder Puff Derby at the Grant County Fairgrounds at Ulysses, Kansas on August 8, 1958 driving Paul Befort, Jr.’s jalopy #73 and won a $5 gift certificate to a local clothing store for her effort.  She then drove Befort’s jalopy #73 to victory in a Powder Puff race at McCarty Speedway on September 10, 1958.  She had started fifth that event in a field of nine cars.  Next, Gladys drove Belfort’s jalopy #73 in a Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas on September 21, 1958.  She started ninth and finished in sixth place in that race.

 

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Ileen Goodman and her Pabst Blue Ribbon Ford

         Darlene Lucille (Salem) Hornbaker was born November 26, 1935 near Ensign, Kansas.  She drove jalopy #22 in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on September 20, 1958.  She started in seventh place and finished in sixth position.  Darlene was the wife of Duane Hornbaker and a sister to Bob Salem who owned the #22 car.  Hornbaker passed away on January 26, 2009 at Dodge City, Kansas and is buried in the Cimarron Cemetery at Cimarron, Kansas.

 

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Mary Lou Jinks of Larned, Kansas started outside of the front row and drove jalopy #54 to a fourth place finish in a twelve-car Powder Puff Derby on July 29, 1956 at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas.  The car’s usual driver was Clem Celzar.

 

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Roberta Johnson of Larned, Kansas rolled jalopy #96 in a Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway at Larned on July 29, 1956.  She had started that race in the third position.  The car was owned by and usually driven by Jimmy Selfridge of Dighton, Kansas.

 

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Cejay Stadium racing promoter Carl Johnson presenting Ileen Goodman with an award after she won the 1949 championship for female racing drivers

 

Beverly N. Kreger of Dodge City, Kansas was born on November 17, 1936 and was the wife of Ted Kreger.  She drove car #12 from the pole position to win a Powder Puff Derby over six other cars at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on August 10, 1957.  Kreger passed away on December 16, 2004 at Bucklin, Kansas.

 

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          Vickie Kuntzsch of Larned, Kansas drove jalopy #35 to a fifth place finish in a Powder Puff Derby run at JayCee Speedway at Larned on July 28, 1957.  The car was owned by Joe and Harry Vratil and was normally driven by Fritz Kuntzsch.

 

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Doris L. (Reifschneider) Lewis of Dighton, Kansas was born on September 27, 1923 in Lane County, Kansas and competed in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City on September 15, 1956.  She drove car #79, started in the fifth position but did not place.  Doris, wife of Dean Lewis, passed away on July 8, 2008 and is buried in the Dighton Memorial Cemetery.

 

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Will Forrest standing beside his sister, Ileen Goodman seated in the #55 Ford sedan

Harriett M. (Knauf) Lewis of Dighton, Kansas placed in fifth place in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City on June 2, 1956 driving car #97 normally driven by her husband, Lyle E. Lewis.

She again competed in a Powder Puff Derby in that same car and on that same racetrack on September 15, 1956.  She started in the eighth position and placed second.

Mrs. Lewis started in second place and was again the second place finisher driving car #97 in a Powder Puff Derby run at McCarty Speedway on September 20, 1958.  She also won a Powder Puff race in the #97 car at the JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas on August 30, 1959.

           

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Shirley Hamilton at Dodge City, Kansas

 

Verna Lewis drove a car #416 in a Powder Puff Derby run at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas on October 16, 1949.  She turned in the second fastest lap in time trials that day at 28.9 seconds.  She then finished second in the eight lap feature race.

 

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Shirley Hamilton at Dodge City, Kansas

 

Clara Belle Libich of Hooker, Oklahoma was born in 1937.  She finished fifth in a jalopy #91 in a Powder Puff Derby run at the Grant County Fairgrounds at Ulysses, Kansas in on August 8, 1958.  The car was owned by Harold Libich and often raced by Laverne Akers of Hooker.  Clara, the wife of John Wiltfang, passed away in 1976 and is buried in the Oakland Cemetery at Morocco, Indiana.

 

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Jackie Love placed in third place in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on June 2, 1956.  She drove car #77.

  

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Roberta Johnson’s car being loaded onto the trailer for the trip home after she rolled it three times during a Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas on July 29, 1956.

  

Elfrieda (Hellmann) Mais LaPlante a.k.a. “Miss Elfreida Mais” was born on June 19, 1892 in Indianapolis, Indiana but made her home in many places including Salina, Kansas; Dodge City, Kansas; San Antonio, Texas; Phoenix, Arizona; and Tampa, Florida.  She started working as an airplane stunt woman and wing walker in 1910 but switched to driving racing cars in 1912.  Racing sanctioning bodies of her time did not allow women to compete against the men so Elfrieda’s efforts were mostly confined to speed trials against the clock and stunt driving exhibitions.  She plied those skills at an IMCA race at West Side Speedway in Wichita, Kansas on July 4, 1916 where she set an unofficial two-lap track record of 1 minute, 24 seconds on the half-mile racetrack.  Four days later (July 8, 1916), she ran two laps on the half-mile racetrack at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson in 1 minute, 20.2 seconds.  On July 20, 1918, she ran exhibition laps at a race at the North Central Kansas Fairgrounds at Belleville, Kansas.  On October 14, 1919, she drove exhibition laps between the races at the fairgrounds at Great Bend, Kansas.  On June 15, 1920, Elfrieda returned to the Great Bend Fairgrounds where she covered one mile in 1 minute, 8 seconds on the half-mile racetrack.  Elfrieda lowered her own time to 1 minute, 11.6 seconds on the half-mile Kansas State Fairgrounds racetrack on July 5, 1920.  She also ran on the one-mile racetrack at Salina, Kansas on Labor Day of 1921.  She returned to Wichita on August 7, 1932 where she again ran speed trials during breaks between the auto races at the Bo Stearns track north of town.

In 1911, Elfrieda married John A. “Johnny” Mais who drove racing cars and competed in the 1915 Indianapolis “500”.  Elfrieda was later married in 1924 to her second husband, William Pond Chapin and in 1928 to her third husband, Robert Emmett Wallace, before being married to her fourth husband, Ray LaPlante, sometime after 1930 but she continued to appear at racetracks and in stunt shows billed as “Miss Elfrieda Mais”.  The only actual auto races she was allowed to compete in were “outlaw” (or non-sanctioned) races promoted by her then husband, Johnny Mais.

Beverly Kreger

  

Elfrieda was fatally injured on September 27, 1934 when the car she was driving ran into a road grader and overturned down an embankment after she had crashed through a blazing board wall during a stunt-driving exhibition at the Alabama State Fair in Birmingham.  She is buried in the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.

 

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 “Mrs.” Malone competed in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on September 15, 1956.  She drove car #90 and started in the ninth position but did not place.

 

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Pauline M. “Polly” Matlock was born October 30, 1924 and was the wife of Bill Matlock.  Polly drove a jalopy stock car #606 in Powder Puff races run at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas on October 9, 1949 turning in the fifth fastest time trial in a field of six cars of 32.39 seconds.  She wound up rolling the car in the eight lap feature race.  She passed away on October 6, 1998 at Porterville, California.

 

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Marian Maupin of Dodge City, Kansas placed second in a Powder Puff Derby run at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City on the first night of the Great Southwest Fair there 1956.

 

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Harriett Lewis is shown here being presented a trophy by Mason Brown for winning a Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway at Larned, KS on August 30, 1959.  The starter at right is Glenn Morrison.

 

Joyce Marie (Jacobs) May was born March 12, 1934, died April 28, 1976, and is buried in the Great Bend Cemetery at Great Bend, Kansas.  She was married to Dale May.  Joyce started fifth and finished second in a Powder Puff Derby run on September 21, 1958 at the JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas.  She was driving a jalopy #33 owned by Leroy Powell of Great Bend.

 

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Elfrieda Mais

  

Eva McElhaney turned a lap of 32.05 seconds in time trials at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas on October 16, 1949.  She was driving a jalopy #43 in Powder Puff races there.  She then spun out in the feature event.

 

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Shirley (Hamilton) Messenger of Sublette, Kansas was born in 1939.  She drove in her first Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on September 15, 1956 winning first place in a field of 15 cars.

Her second race was on the same racetrack on August 10, 1957 where, driving car #41, she tried a pass for the lead on the outside and wound up off of the racetrack.

Her third and final race was at Liberal Speedway at Liberal, Kansas on September 17, 1957 where she started outside of the front row and again finished in first place in car #16 from Hooker, Oklahoma that was owned by and usually driven in the men’s division by C. J. Mauser of Garden City, Kansas..

Shirley went on to graduate from St. Mary of the Plains at Dodge City, Kansas and open her own accounting and tax service.

 

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Janet (Farthing) Murphy of Ulysses, Kansas won an eight car, 10-lap Powder Puff Derby in 4 minutes and 10 seconds on the quarter mile racetrack at the Grant County Fairgrounds in Ulysses, Kansas on August 8, 1958.  For her victory, she was given a gift certificate for $7.50 to a local women’s store which disappointed her as she had really wanted to win a trophy.  She drove car #50 owned and usually driven by her husband, Bob Murphy.

 

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Elfrieda Mais

 

Elfrieda Mais

 

Hazel Nichols was to drive exhibition laps in a racing car during a break between races on November 7 and 8, 1917 at the West Side Racetrack in Wichita, Kansas but her effort was canceled due to her car being “crippled”.  Nichols held an official competition license with IMCA in 1918.

 

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Janet Nicholson of Larned, Kansas finished in third place in car #43 in a Powder Puff Derby run at JayCee Speedway in Larned, Kansas on July 28, 1957.  That car was owned by John Nicholson and normally driven by Ron Nicholson both of Larned.

 

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Donna Noland started third in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on August 10, 1957.  She drove car #25 owned by James “Ace” Noland of Dodge City.

 

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 Elfrieda Mais in the Mais Special

 

Wilma Joann “Jody” (Loewe) Palmer was born on March 17, 1936 in Arkansas City, Kansas and drove jalopies at “77” Speedway south of Arkansas City in the late 1950s.  She died on February 7, 2007 in Wichita, Kansas and is buried in the Parker Cemetery east of Arkansas City.

 

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Judy Parker of Larned, Kansas started third and finished in third place in a Powder Puff Derby run on September 21, 1958 at the JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas.  She was driving a jalopy #74 owned by Vane Tabler of Larned.

 

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Elfrieda Mais

 

 Joan Pflieger of Dodge City finished in second place in a Powder Puff Derby run on June 2, 1956 at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas.  She was driving car #89 normally driven by her husband, J. D. Pflieger.

 

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Doris Potts of Great Bend, Kansas was born on September 12, 1932.  She started seventh and finished in fourth place in a Powder Puff Derby run on September 21, 1958 at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas.  She was driving a car #16 normally driven by her husband, Gene Potts.

 

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Elfrieda Mais

 

Dorothy Prichett of Dodge City, Kansas placed third in a Powder Puff Derby run at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City on the first night of the Great Southwest Fair there in 1956.

Dorothy also competed in another Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway on September 15, 1956 when she drove a car #33 and started in the fourth position.  She finished that race in third place also.

 

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Elfrieda Mais at left with husband Ray Laplante

Ionamae Rebenstorf, wife of Bert Rebenstorf, was born July 11, 1915 in Wichita, Kansas and grew up in that city.  She raced a jalopy stock car #24 in Powder Puff races at Cejay Stadium in Wichita on October 9, 1949 turning in the fastest time in time trials of 24.27 seconds and then winning the eight-lap feature event.  In her next race at Cejay Stadium on October 16, 1949, she drove a jalopy #355 to the quickest time in time trials with a lap of 25.5 seconds and then finished in second place in the eight-lap feature race.  On November 6, 1949, she drove jalopy #355JR to a lap of 27.73 in time trials only to blow a tire in the feature event.

Bert and Ionamae moved to Branson, Missouri in 1961 where she taught courses in millinery.  Ionamae passed away in Branson on August 1, 1999 and is buried in White Chapel Cemetery in Wichita.

 

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Norma Lee Reimer of Larned, Kansas drove jalopy #48 to a second place finish from the pole position in a twelve-car Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas on July 29, 1956.  The car was owned by Andy Clarkson and usually raced by Kenny Burnett.

 

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Carmen Roberts finished in second place in a Powder Puff Derby run on August 17, 1958 at 81 Speedway at Wichita, Kansas.

 

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Elfrieda Mais

Flodette Roberts drove exhibition laps in a Hudson racing car during breaks in the IMCA racing program on September 15, 1919 at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson, Kansas and on September 19, 1921 at the Mid-America State Fair in Topeka, Kansas.

 

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Polly Matlock is shown here with husband Bill Matlock on her left and Bob Arrington on her right

Darlene Salem competed in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City on September 15, 1956.  She drove car #22 normally driven by her husband, Bob Salem.  She started in seventh position but was involved in an accident and did not complete the race.

 

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Carolee Salmans of Larned, Kansas started seventh of twelve cars in a Powder Puff Derby run at JayCee Speedway at Larned on July 29, 1956.  She dropped out of that race and did not finish.  She then started in sixth place and finished in ninth place in a field of eleven cars in a Powder Puff Derby at that same racetrack on September 21, 1958.  Both times, she was driving a jalopy #8 normally driven by her husband, Leland Salmans.

 

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  Jody Palmer 

 

 

Nancy Shepherd finished in first place in a Powder Puff Derby run on August 17, 1958 at 81 Speedway at Wichita, Kansas.

 

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Aldina Shinkle started in tenth place in a Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas on July 29, 1956 and finished in eighth place.  The #29 jalopy that she drove was owned by her husband, Ted Shinkle, and normally driven by Bob Murphy all of Larned, Kansas.

 

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Doris M. Simonson was born August 31, 1913.  She placed in sixth place in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City on June 2, 1956 driving a car #41 that she and her husband owned.  Simonson passed away on March 17, 2005.

 

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  Norma Lee Reimer drove this car in a Powder Puff Derby at Larned, Kansas on July 29, 1956.

 

Nada Smith turned the quickest time in time trials of 26.56 seconds at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas in car #33 on November 6, 1949.  She then finished in second place in the eight-lap feature race.  She also finished third in a Powder Puff race at Jayhawk Amusement Park Speedway at Newton, Kansas on July 14, 1950 and then won Powder Puff races there on August 9, 1950. August 16, 1950, and August 30, 1950.

 

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#21 Ionamae Rebenstorf and #24 Ileen Goodman get together at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas in 1949

 

Arlene Spreier started fourth and finished in eighth place in a field of eleven cars in a Powder Puff Derby run at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas on September 21, 1958.  She was driving car #82 owned by Charles Berryman and normally driven by her husband, Don Spreier all of Larned, Kansas.

 

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Kenda Standard competed in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City on September 15, 1956.  She drove car #23 and started in the pole position but did not place.

 

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Flodette Roberts

 

Ms. Steel competed in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City on September 15, 1956.  She drove car #7 and started in eleventh position but did not place.

 

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Wanda Storey finished in third place in a Powder Puff Derby run on August 17, 1958 at 81 Speedway at Wichita, Kansas.

 

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Ms. Suchy of Great Bend, Kansas competed in a Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas on July 29, 1956.  She started last in a field of twelve cars and finished in tenth position.

 

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Margaret Tackett of Deerfield, Kansas and wife of Doug Tackett, drove a red jalopy #37 in a Powder Puff Derby at the Grant County Fairgrounds at Ulysses, Kansas on August 8, 1958.  The car was normally driven by Ken Clark of Garden City, Kansas.

 

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Publicity photo taken by the Larned, Kansas Tiller & Toiler newspaper showing four ladies entered in a Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway at Larned in 1956.  Left to right are Roberta Johnson, Shirley Dirks, Carolee Salmons, and Catherine George.

 

Jennie Pauline (Walker) Talbert of Ulysses, Kansas was born November 30, 1920 at Richfield, Kansas.  She finished third of eight cars that competed in a Powder Puff Derby at the Grant County Fairgrounds at Ulysses, Kansas on August 8, 1958.  She was driving the Ford jalopy she owned with her husband, Scott Talbert, Sr.  She passed away on December 12, 2010 in Hutchinson, Kansas and is buried in the Elkhart Cemetery at Elkhart, Kansas.

 

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Hazel Thomas of Liberal, Kansas drove car #41 owned by J. B. “Skeets” and Doris Simonson in a Powder Puff Derby run at Liberal, Kansas in 1958.  Hazel is the wife of Johnny Thomas.

 

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Jennie Talbert with her husband’s Ford stock car. 

 

Betty Ann (Gibson) Trahern of Sublette, Kansas drove in a Powder Puff Derby run at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas on June 2, 1956.  She also finished fourth of eight cars that competed in a 10-lap Powder Puff Derby at the Grant County Fairgrounds at Ulysses, Kansas on August 8, 1958.  In both of these races, she was driving a #80 jalopy normally driven Stanley Trahern whom she married between those two race dates.

 

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Jackie Webb of Larned, Kansas started in fifth place and drove jalopy #74 to victory over eleven other competitors in the Powder Puff Derby run at the JayCee Speedway at Larned on July 29, 1956.  She then started last in a field of nine cars in a Powder Puff Derby at JayCee Speedway on July 28, 1957 and finished in first place.  In that race, she lapped the entire field twice.  Marvin Lowry was the usual driver of that car that was owned by Vane Tabler both of Larned.

 

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 Margaret Josephine “Marge” (Brown) Wilson of Johnson, Kansas was born on December 3, 1916 in Pottawatomie County, Kansas.  She drove car #13 to a third place finish in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway at Dodge City, Kansas on August 10, 1957.  She then drove the same car to a sixth place finish in a Powder Puff Derby at the Grant County Fairgrounds at Ulysses, Kansas on August 8, 1958.  The car was owned by her husband, Dick Wilson.  Marge passed away on October 3, 2002 at Ulysses, Kansas and is buried in the Wamego Cemetery at Wamego, Kansas.

 

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Hazel Thomas at right with Doris Simonson in 1958.  Simonson was Thomas’ car owner and drove herself in a Powder Puff Derby at Dodge City, Kansas on June 2, 1956. 

 

Hazel Thomas at right with her husband, Johnny and the car that she drove in the Powder Puff Derby at Liberal, Kansas in 1958.

 

Jeannette Williams drove car #21 in a Powder Puff Derby at Liberal, Kansas on September 17, 1957.  she started in fourth place and finished in second place.  That car was normally raced by Merle E. "Rabbit" Trahern of Sublette, Kansas.

 

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          Carol Young started sixth and drove jalopy #20 to a tenth place finish in a twelve-car Powder Puff Derby on July 29, 1956 at JayCee Speedway at Larned, Kansas.  The car was owned by Clyde Bennett and usually driven by Don Bennett.

 

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Darlene Young competed in a Powder Puff Derby at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City on September 15, 1956.  She drove car #65 and started in thirteenth position but did not place.

 

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This photo was taken at a “Powder Puff Derby” at McCarty Speedway in Dodge City, Kansas in 1956.  The lady at far right is Imadine Elder who won that race.  To date, none of the other ladies have been identified.  If you know the identity of any of these ladies, please contact Bob LawrenceDodge City Globe newspaper

 

 

 

 

 

If you know anything more about the involvement in automobile racing of any of the ladies on this web page or if you know of any other female Kansas drivers who participated in the automobile races prior to 1960, please contact Bob Lawrence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to:

Larry Brooks, Ron Carlson, Lonnie Carter, Will Cokeley, George Cornish, Lee Cornish, Marian Cornish, Loretta Cox, Dutch Davis, Jim Edwards, Michelle Kristek, Shirley Messenger, Jim Petty, Alan Salmans, Carolee Salmans, and Lee Salmans

 

 

 

 

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