Dr. Lemuel Blondel “L. B.” Kimball

1877 – 1941


Winner of the First Automobile Race Ever Run on the Historical ½ Mile Dirt Racetrack at the Cowley County Fairgrounds, Winfield, Kansas




Alice and L. B. Kimball – c1902

Judy Hall collection


Arkansas City Daily Traveler

May 10, 1909 – Page 4

L. B. Kimball was born December 28, 1877 in Wayne County, Indiana.  He was the sixth of seven children of William Lionel Kimball (1844-1939) and his wife, Malinda Ellen (Johnson) Kimball (1848-1909).  In the summer of 1879, the family moved first to Wellington, Kansas and then to Plains, Kansas before settling in Cheney, Kansas where Kimball graduated from high school in 1897.


Dr. Kimball had moved to Caldwell, Kansas by 1900 and was married there to Alice Rebecca Miller (1881-1966) on March 30, 1902.  The couple had one child, Mildred Elizabeth (Kimball) Olin (1906-1989).  Dr. Kimball also opened his first optometry office at Caldwell in 1902.  He graduated from the South Bend (Indiana) School of Optometry in 1904 and passed the Kansas state examination to practice optometry.


Dr. Kimball had moved his new family to South Haven, Kansas before settling in Arkansas City, Kansas in 1903.  There, he went into business as an optician, speculated in real estate, dealt in REO automobiles, operated his own auto wrecker service, and offered his automobiles out for hire complete with driver (specializing in serving customers who needed to get to their destination in a hurry).  Dr. Kimball added a business partner to his automobile businesses in 1907.  The name was changed to the Kimball-Moody Automobile Company with the addition of Grant E. Moody (1864-1930) who was to run the business while Kimball handled sales.  Together, Dr. Kimball and Moody built the first commercial garage in Arkansas City.


Dr. Kimball was elected to the Arkansas City School Board in 1907 and to the City Council there in 1908 and served on the “Fire, Finance, and Salaries” committee for two years.  That is believed to be how he became acquainted with Arkansas City Fire Chief and former Deputy City Marshal, Frank Brandenburg (1870-1938).


On September 24, 1908, Dr. Kimball drove one of his REO touring cars to the Chilocco Indian School near Newkirk, Oklahoma and led the pilot car for a Kansas City car club’s reliability tour into Arkansas City among cheers from the considerable crowd that had gathered to witness the arrival of the Kansas City cars.  The hospitality shown the Missouri residents in Arkansas City persuaded the club to make Arkansas City their overnight stop, much to the dismay of the businessmen in Winfield who had been promised that boost for their economy.  The next day, the car club only passed through Winfield on their way to their next overnight stay in Iola, Kansas.


standing beside one of his early automobiles

H. Arvin Olin, Jr. collection


10,000 spectators lined Summit St. in Arkansas City on July 4, 1909 to watch the auto races run down the main street from Chestnut St. four blocks south to Adams St.  These were basically drag races with two cars racing each other from a standing start.  The first race was between Dr. Kimball in one of his 2-cylinder REOs and Grover Collinson in a Buick.  The cars reached a top speed of 45 M.P.H. and the race ended in a dead heat, much to the delight of the crowd.  The local newspaper printed that a closer tie was never witnessed.  Due to the tie, the race was rerun later in the day after the other scheduled races had been run.  That time, Collinson came out the victor.    


On October 15, 1909, Dr. Kimball entered one of his four REO automobiles (he also owned a Chalmers-Detroit automobile) in the races at the Cowley County Fairgrounds in Winfield, Kansas.  There, he ran a 4-lap time trial in 2 minutes, 51.5 seconds.  Since those are the first known timed laps for an automobile ever to be run on that half-mile dirt racetrack and since his time was the fastest time turned in by any automobile that day, Dr. Kimball thus had set the track record for that distance.  Next, Dr. Kimball is believed to have been one of the two drivers to compete in a 4-lap match race against future A.M.A. Motorcycle Racing Hall of Fame inductee Ray Weishaar of Wichita, Kansas.  Weishaar covered the distance in 2 minutes, 31.0 seconds and finished ahead of both automobiles to collect the $100 “challenge prize” posted for that race.  Nothing is currently known of the other automobile that competed in this race and it is not currently known which of the two automobiles that Dr. Kimball had at his disposal on this day that he drove in the race against Weishaar.


The Kimball-Moody Automobile Company garage at 118-120 N. Summit Street was the first commercial garage in Arkansas City, Kansas.  From left to right are: G. Dwight Moody, unidentified, Dr. L. B. Kimball, Ralph E. Moody, and Grant E. Moody.

H. Arvin Olin, Jr. collection


The last race that Dr. Kimball competed in that day in Winfield was a 2-lap free-for-all race.  It is known that there were Buicks, REOs, and Hudsons also competing in the races that day but it is not known how many of those cars were entered in the free-for-all event or who drove them.  Dr. Kimball drove to victory a Hudson-20 that was owned by Frank Brandenburg.  For his winning effort that day, Dr. Kimball was awarded a pair of “Thermos & Morocca bound case valued at $25.”  The thermos bottles were placed on display in Winfield for a time before they were sent to car owner Brandenburg.


Arkansas City Daily Traveler

October 27, 1910 – Page 10

The next day, Dr. Kimball drove Brandenburg’s Hudson-20 in time trials at Winfield, completing the 4-lap distance in 2 minutes, 51.0 seconds which broke Dr. Kimball’s own track record for that distance (set the day before) by ½ second.


In 1910, Arkansas City’s Twenty Thousand Club (an automobile club) sent Dr. Kimball and Dr. R. C. Young to Oklahoma City to see if they could persuade officials of the Glidden Tour road race to reroute the their event through Arkansas City since the tour would be coming as close as Enid, Oklahoma anyway.  The two delegates were not successful in their quest.


Later in 1910, Dr. Kimball sold off his automobile business interests and opened a jewelry store on South Summit St. in Arkansas City thus ending his brief active involvement in auto racing.


Judy Hall collection

In 1911, Dr. Kimball took post-graduate courses in Oklahoma City and then moved his family to Anthony, Kansas before moving on to Herington, Kansas.  There, he went to work for the Huffman Jewelry Company before opening his own jewelry store in partnership with William M. Koons.  He also practiced optometry in both Anthony and Herington.  Dr. Kimball moved again on July 5, 1917, this time to El Dorado, Kansas where he and William M. Koons opened still another jewelry store as well as the “Kimball Diamond Company” where he sold musical instruments as well.  He also hung out his shingle as an optician.  Dr. Kimball bought out his partner’s interest in the jewelry store in 1918 and became the sole proprietor.  He joined the local Masonic Lodge, the Methodist Church, the Chamber of Commerce, became a charter member of the El Dorado Lions Club, and served for six years on the El Dorado school board.


In 1928, Dr. Kimball passed the Kansas State examination for optometrists and added that profession to his practice of optometry.  With his new, expanded business, he closed his jewelry business for good.


Dr. Kimball suffered a heart attack in his optometry office on Main St. in El Dorado on July 19, 1941 and passed away 17 days after that at Allen Memorial Hospital in El Dorado.  He is buried beside his wife in the Sunset Lawns Cemetery in El Dorado.






Kimball Diamond Company Letterhead with Envelope Overlay

H. Arvin Olin, Jr. collection







Thank you to:

Pattie Luck, Norman Moody and H. Arvin Olin, Jr.