West Side Speedway

1/5 mile dirt racetrack that was located two blocks north

of Douglas Street between Glenn Street and Vine Street

at 1800 West Third Street in Wichita, Kansas

 

Midget Auto Races Sanctioned by

Kansas Midget Racing (KMR)

 

Friday Night – July 31, 1942

Promoted by Frank Murphy

Starter – Ted Davis

Adult admission:  40¢

Children under 12:  10¢

 

     The Federal Government originally ordered all auto racing in the United States to cease after June 30, 1942 for the duration of World War II to conserve resources for the war effort.  This order was postponed weekly until it finally went into effect at midnight on July 31, 1942.  Frank Murphy scheduled this race on the latest date possible as sort of a final hurrah.  Since many area racetracks had already shut down in anticipation of this order, a number of out-of-town competitors showed up at West Side Speedway for this event.

 

First Heat – 8 laps

PLACE:

DRIVER:

FROM:

1

Guy “Mac” McHenry

Wichita, Kansas

2

Eldon “Curly” Steerman

Salina, Kansas

3

Don Brown

Salina, Kansas

 

 

 

Second Heat – 8 laps

1

Ben Musick

Dallas, Texas

2

Clarence Merritt

Chelsea, Oklahoma

3

Bob McKim

Salina, Kansas

 

 

 

Third Heat – 8 laps

1

George Binnie

Kansas City, Missouri

2

Wayland “Bud” Camden

Wichita, Kansas

3

Clarence Brooks

Sioux City, Iowa

 

 

 

Fourth Heat – 8 laps

1

Red Taylor

Wichita, Kansas

2

Charley Hedges

Salina, Kansas

3

Bill Brown

Wichita, Kansas

 

Match Race – 4 cars – 4 laps

1

Clarence Merritt

Chelsea, Oklahoma

2

Eldon “Curly” Steerman

Salina, Kansas

3

Don Brown

Salina, Kansas

 

 

 

B Feature – 20 laps

1

George Binnie

Kansas City, Missouri

2

Wayland “Bud” Camden

Wichita, Kansas

3

Guy “Mac” McHenry

Wichita, Kansas

 

 

 

A Feature – 12 cars - 30 laps

1

Guy “Mac” McHenry

Wichita, Kansas

2

Clarence Merritt

Chelsea, Oklahoma

3

Eldon “Curly” Steerman

Salina, Kansas

 

     By the time World War II ended, West Side Speedway was in a suburban neighborhood and it never did reopen for racing.  Today, the site is a softball complex known as the West Side Athletic Field.

 

 

Clarence Brooks

 

Red Taylor

 

Charley Hedges

Vickey Cummings collection

Guy “Mac” McHenry

Cindy Abbott collection

 

Eldon “Curly” Steerman

Wichita Beacon photo

 

Don Brown

 

Clarence Merritt

 

Bob McKim

 

George Binnie

 

Wayland “Bud” Camden

 

Bill Brown

Darrin McKim collection


 

 

This photo was taken on the racetrack in front of the bleachers on the front straight-away at West Side Speedway after the last race ever run there on July 31, 1942.  Sometime in the following three years, the bleachers were moved to the new Cejay Stadium in the southeast part of Wichita.  Pictured here are:

Back row, standing left to right:  Mike Applebee, Leslie A. “Les” Ward (1909-1986), Frank Chacon (1901-1990), Frank Dickerson (1920-1995), George Binnie (1917-1948), Timothy Clarence Merritt (1913-1983), Elmer Ray “Rabbit” Musick (1918-1962), Frank Murphy, and Theodore L. “Ted” Davis (1903-1990).

Front row, kneeling left to right:  Don Brown (1910-?), Bob McKim (1917-2005), Eldon C. “Curly” Steerman (c1914-1944), Charley Hedges, Wayland Victor “Bud” Camden (1908-1969), Guy J. “Mac” McHenry (1918-1964), Clarence Brooks (?-1949), Bill Brown, and Hershel Wagner.

Click your mouse on the photograph above to see a different photograph of this same group that was taken within seconds of the photograph above.

A newspaper account of these races identifies the winner of the second heat race as Benjamin Franklin “Ben” Musick, Sr. (1908-1966) but this photo shows Ben’s younger brother, Elmer Ray “Rabbit” Musick instead.

            Three weeks after this photo was taken, Eldon C. “Curly” Steerman joined the U. S. Army air corps where he became waist gunner on a B-17.  He was one of 44 airmen killed when his airplane was involved in a midair collision with two other bombers while flying through thick clouds and turbulent weather over the Mediation Sea on a bombing run from Italy to Greece during the Sicily Campaign on January 11, 1944.  Fourteen airmen survived the accident including a tail-gunner that had been on Curly’s aircraft.  Staff Sergeant Eldon C. “Curly” Steerman is buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at St. Louis, Missouri.

            If you know any of the missing years of birth or death of the men above, please contact Bob Lawrence.

 

 

Unless otherwise noted, all of the photographs on this web page are from the book One Tough Circuit, Midget Racing in America’s Heartland by Bill Hill.  The photo that appears when you click your mouse on the photo above is from the Wasterhaus collection.

 

  

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