“Little Battling Bobby McKim”

Robert LeRoy McKim

Winner of the First I.M.C.A. Late Model Stock Car Race

 

Bob McKim in Harry Fuller’s #99 midget

c1938 

Bob McKim in Harry Fuller’s #99 midget

c1940 

#99 Bob McKim & #33 Ralph Foster share

the front row at a race at Avalon

 Speedway at Salina, Kansas in 1940 

Bob McKim in Harry Fuller’s #99 midget

c1941 

Bob McKim at left with Duke Westerhaus

and his Ford V8-60 midget in 1942 

The driver is Bob McKim and the racetrack

is the State Fairgrounds at Hutchinson,

Kansas.  If you can Identify either the

other man or the midget, please contact

Bob Lawrence at: sprintguy @ cox.net

 

The driver is Bob McKim.  If you

recognize the midget, please contact

Bob Lawrence at: sprintguy @ cox.net

Bob McKim in a Ford V8-60 midget

owned by Lee McDonald in 1946

 

Bob McKim squeezed by on the outside

In Lee McDonald’s black #3 midget at

Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas in 1946

 

Bob McKim in the #98 Gibson Brothers’

Offy at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in

Hutchinson, Kansas on May 30, 1947

 

Bob McKim in 1947 in a midget

owned by Jack Hinkle

 

Bob McKim in Chet Wilson’s #5 Ford

V8-60 midget in 1947

 

Bob McKim in the #88 Rice Oldsmobile

second car from left at an unidentified

racetrack c1949 

 

Bob McKim at Belleville, Kansas in 1951

Bob McKim rolling the Rice Motors’ Olds

Bob McKim in Emmett Taylor’s UMCA big

car at Hoisington, Kansas in 1953

 

Bob McKim in Hector Honore’s

famous “Black Duce” sprint car

 Bob McKim of Salina, Kansas is shown above in the 1949 Oldsmobile “88” he drove to victory in the first ever IMCA new car race ever run.  The 100-mile, 200-lap event was contested on the half-mile dirt racetrack at the Mid-America State Fairgrounds in Topeka, Kansas on Memorial Day, 1949.  The car was owned by Ronald Rice, an Oldsmobile dealer from Abilene, Kansas.  Click your mouse on the photo above to see a close-up photo of McKim in this car – Darrin McKim collection

 

 

  

Bob McKim was born March 1, 1917 at Simpson in Mitchell County, Kansas.  After completing his schooling, he moved to Salina, Kansas to go to work for brothers Harry and Perry Fuller.  Harry Fuller soon purchased a Ford V8-60 powered midget from Cecil Maupin, Sr. of Dodge City, Kansas and asked McKim if he would like to drive it.  Bob replied, “You bet” and thus the beginning of McKim’s long and successful career in auto racing.

McKim made his debut in Fuller’s midget on the 1/10 mile concrete racetrack in Salina’s Agricultural Hall in the winter of 1938 and won his first feature race there on May 19, 1940.  McKim finished the indoor racing season at Salina second in the points that year, just 19 markers behind Art McCammon of Delphos, Kansas.

McKim continued his winning ways when the races moved outside that spring.  He finished first in the feature race on Salina’s 1/5 mile dirt Avalon Speedway August 11, 1940 and wound up tied for second place in the points there with Emmett Taylor and behind Ralph Foster, both of those drivers from Wichita, Kansas.  McKim added another feature race victory on the 1/10 mile dirt racetrack at Fairbury, Nebraska on August 30, 1940.

McKim continued to drive Fuller’s #99 midget in 1941 at racetracks including Wichita’s 1/5 mile dirt West Side Speedway.  In 1942, he moved his family to Chickasha, Oklahoma so he could drive a midget owner Lee McDonald of that city.  That did not last long as the federal government shut down all auto racing the end of July, 1942 for the duration of World War II.  McKim had finished fifth in points at West Side Speedway in the abbreviated racing season.

After the time out for World War II where McKim served as an engineer in the U. S. Army Air Corps in the Pacific theater, he resumed his racing career in 1945 on the 1/5 mile dirt Cejay Stadium in Wichita driving a #23 Ford V8-60 midget for car owner Duke Westerhaus.  McKim finished tenth in the points at Cejay Stadium that year.

1946 found McKim back in the seat of a #3 Ford V8-60 midget owned by Lee McDonald before turning that ride over to Texan and future Indy “500” star Lloyd Ruby.

In 1947, McKim picked up the ride in Chet Wilson’s Ford V8-60 midget but soon suffered minor injuries in a flip on the half-mile dirt track at Beloit, Kansas.  He also won three 50-lap features (October 18th, November 1st, and November 15th) in 1947 along with the indoor point championship in Salina’s Agricultural Hall.

1948 found McKim finishing fifth in the season points at Cejay Stadium.  He only drove in 1/3 of the races there that year sharing the ride in the #30 Ford V8-60 midget with Dean “Casey” Case and car owner Jack Hinkle, both of Wichita.  McKim also finished second to Don Brown at Abilene, Kansas on August 23, 1948 and then won a midget feature on September 18, 1948 on the half-mile dirt racetrack during the Kansas State Fair at Hutchinson, Kansas.

Jack Hinkle offered McKim a ride with his AAA (American Automobile Association) championship car race team with the chance to drive at Indianapolis but McKim told him he would have to think it over.  He was not sure he wanted to be away from his family that much.  While McKim was trying to make up his mind, Jack McGrath offered to drive for Hinkle for free so he was given the ride.  The Hinkle-McGrath combination was very successful competing in many AAA championship races together including six consecutive Indianapolis “500” mile races.

Midget racing had waned in Kansas by 1949 so McKim landed a ride in a 1949 Oldsmobile “88” late model stock car owned by Ronald Rice who was an Oldsmobile car dealer in Abilene, Kansas.  McKim won several long distance races while driving for Rice including leading every lap in his first late model start before 9,000 fans in what was the first ever IMCA (International Motor Contest Association) late model stock car race ever run:

 

  

The First Ever I.M.C.A. Late Model Automobile Race

Topeka, Kansas - May 30, 1949

Race Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes - Average Speed:  45 M.P.H. - Track Condition:  “Slippery”

Incomplete Results:

FINISH

DRIVER

DRIVER FROM

CAR OWNER

OWNER  FROM

LAPS COMPLETED

1

Bob McKim*

Salina, KS

Ronald Rice

Abilene, KS

200

2

Ray Rutman*

Topeka, KS

Swede Larson

Topeka, KS

188

3

Eldon Burkholder**

Duenweg, MO

Eldon Burkholder

Duenweg, MO

188

4

Frank Winkley

Minneapolis, MN

Verna Winkley

Minneapolis, MN

180

5

Ronnie James

Miami Beach, FL

 

 

170

DNF

Swede Larson***

Topeka, KS

Swede Larson

Topeka, KS

 

 

 

*The first and second place finishers were the only competitors in this race to complete the distance without making a pit stop.

**Eldon Burkholder (1904-1980) drove a 1940 Mercury in this race.

***Swede Larson’s car threw a wheel but continued to bounce along on three wheels for several laps before burning out the transmission.

 

 

            Over the next two months, McKim won one more standard model stock car race at Hutchinson, Kansas and was running second in another at Dodge City, Kansas when a front hub broke just four laps from the finish.  His next start came at Hutchinson, Kansas on July 31, 1949.

Among the highlights in McKim’s new car racing career was a feature win at Hutchinson, Kansas and setting two track records in route to victory in a 200-lap, 100-mile race at the North Central Kansas Free Fair at Belleville, Kansas in 1951.

During an IMCA race in the summer of 1951, McKim was following a driver from Iowa who had threatened to “take him out” if McKim ever tried to pass him.  Car owner Rice was standing near the racetrack signaling McKim to go ahead and pass.  McKim clearly had the faster car so he tried but, true to his word, the other driver crashed his car into McKim’s car sending it barrel-rolling down the racetrack.  McKim crawled from the destroyed Oldsmobile to hear Rice tell him that he was fired but McKim told him that he was too late.  He had already quit.

McKim finished the 1951 racing season driving a late model stock car for Melton Motors of Belleville, Kansas and wrapped up his third consecutive Kansas state late model driving title.

In 1953, McKim returned to the open wheel ranks driving UMCA (United Motor Contest Association) big cars for car owners Gene Ortner of Hutchinson, Kansas; Emmett Taylor of Augusta, Kansas; and Duke Westerhaus of Wichita.  He also served a term as president of UMCA before his retirement from the sport in 1956.  Even in retirement, McKim served as the only vice-president of MSRA (Mid-States Racing Association), a short lived sprint car sanctioning body that only lasted for part of the 1958 racing season.  He also spent some time as the flagman at various racetracks.

During his racing career, McKim had competed in six different states: Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.  He flipped cars on two different occasions (once in a midget and once in a late model) but was never seriously injured.  Of the types of racing that he participated in, McKim claimed he had enjoyed the midgets most.

Bob McKim was inducted into the High Banks Hall of Fame at Belleville, Kansas in 2002 before passing away on May 10, 2005.  His body was cremated and his ashes remain in the possession of his family.

 

 

 

  

 

 

     

 

 

Thank You To:

Kenny Lehman, Bob Gordon, Bob Mays, Bill McKim, Darrin McKim, and Beryl Ward

 

 

 

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