The advertisement at left appeared on page 8 of the Winfield Daily Courier on Friday, June 11, 1920.  This round-up and celebration is believed to have been put on by Winfield resident Homer S. Wilson (c1887-1920) who was shot to death by his wife about three weeks after this show was held.  Programs like this were often more show than actual competition.  If you know more about show, please contact Bob Lawrence at: sprintguy @



     The article below appeared in the August 18, 1923 issue of the Saturday Evening Post and racing historians agree that it provides an accurate portrayal of the climate in which many in these events were staged:




The Confessions of a Race Driver As Told to William J. Sturm

    A smooth-talking individual came to me...and asked me if I would like to drive a race car for him in dirt-track races.  Would I?  You bet I would!  He offered me a straight salary of fifty dollars a week, win or lose or not race at all, if I would join his crew of eight drivers.  He explained that he contracted with state-fair managements to put on a series of races, either the last day of the fair or as the wind-up of every day of horse racing.  He agreed to assume complete charge of the automobile racing program, from getting out the entry blanks to paying the prize money.  Presumably he sent out the blanks, and was always assured of the eight entries of his own cars.  He didn’t refuse to permit local amateurs to enter the races, because they didn’t have a chance to beat his experienced drivers.

     The promoter made up the slate the night before each race and gave his drivers orders who was to win.  But he also gave orders that the races were all to be fast.  There was a lot of jealousy among his team because he did not pay all of them the same wages.  He had two stars, and they were always carded to win the big races of the week.  This had the effect of making the second-string drivers drive hard in an endeavor to show the promoter that they were entitled to be advertised as stars and therefore get more money.  And if the man who was supposed to win should have some trouble that would slow him up, the rest of the drivers knew that the race was anybody’s who could step out and win it.  That made things interesting too.  I learned all this later.

     The boss explained that he wanted me because as mechanician of the winning driver at Corona (California), I would be good for lots of advertising.  I was anxious to join the outfit, because the boss promised that I would be started in the short races first and that the competition would be so arranged that I would have my reputation built up.  By the end of the season, if I played the game right, I would be advertised as the young man who was not satisfied to be the mechanician of a big driver, but had given all that up in order to start at the bottom and become a great driver myself.

     What tickled me was that I was to be paid fifty dollars a week for getting all that experience.

     I told my good luck to another mechanician, much older in the game and wise as a serpent.

     'You lay off that guy,’ he told me ‘he’s an outlaw.  If you race with his outfit, you’ll have a hard time getting back into the Three-A, and that’s the only place you can make real money.  The Three-A wouldn’t mind taking you from the outlaws and giving you a Three-A mech’s card if you never had one before.  But you’ve got yours now, and it’s too late to think about that.  You’d learn a lot; but forget it!

     I did; not because I understood all my pal’s reasoning in the matter, but because I knew he knew more about the game than I did.


     Kenneth Beard “Kenny” Becker (1914-1985), former Winfield postmaster, once recalled that, when he was a boy, a promoter brought about a half dozen race cars to the Winfield fairgrounds along with about four drivers. The promoter staged a race and offered to let local men sign up to drive the remaining cars.  "Try your hand against the touring professionals!"  The promoter would even allow the locals to start on the front of the race.  Only a couple of local men volunteered and one of those had an eye muscle condition that caused his eyes to always look down and to the left.  Thus, to see straight ahead, this man had to raise his head up and turn it to the right.  Driving the race car that way, it appeared as though this man was "star gazing" or staring up into the grandstands as he raced by.  The touring race drivers, not aware of his eye condition, thought the man was showing off or, at the very least, was not paying enough attention to his driving and they were afraid to pull along side, let alone race with him, thus, a rare occurrence:  The local man wound up actually winning the race!


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