Eldon Burkholder

1904 – 1980



The photograph above was taken immediately after Burkholder’s third place finish in the first ever I.M.C.A. sanctioned late model automobile race on the half-mile dirt racetrack at the Mid-America Fairgrounds in Topeka, Kansas on Memorial Day of 1949.  Note the mud on the windshield and the very happy boy behind the steering wheel.  The car was a black 1940 Mercury owned by Burkholder.  Standing, left to right are: Stanley Richards, Jack Morgan, Eldon Burkholder and Dale Richards – Topeka Photo photograph from the Gary and Ann Hunter collection



          Eldon Burkholder was born October 29, 1904 at Chico, Texas but lived most of his life in southwest Missouri.  He ran a small grocery store in Duenweg, Missouri and worked on Ford product automobiles behind the store between customers.  He drove stock cars in the Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas area from around 1948 until about 1950 but is best known for driving his black 1940 Mercury to a third place finish in the first ever International Motor Contest Association (I.M.C.A.) sanctioned late model automobile 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:








Bob McKim *

Salina, Kansas

Ronald Rice

Abilene, Kansas



Ray Rutman *

Topeka, Kansas

Swede Larson

Topeka, Kansas



Eldon Burkholder

Duenweg, Missouri

Eldon Burkholder

Duenweg, Missouri



Frank Winkley **

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Verna Winkley

Minneapolis, Minnesota



Ronnie James

Miami Beach, Florida





Swede Larson ***

Topeka, Kansas

Swede Larson

Topeka, Kansas




Burkholder finished 8th in a 100-mile I.M.C.A. Late Model Automobile Race on July 4, 1949 at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Kansas.  That race was also won by Bob McKim.

Burkholder gave up participating in auto races after his 9-year-old daughter asked him to just after she saw him crash through a wooden fence at full throttle at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Springfield, Missouri.  He returned to the track and completed that race but then quit driving racing cars after that.  His interest in the sport never waned though.

He moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1959 but returned to southwest Missouri about ten years later.  He passed away on December 4, 1980 at Webb City, Missouri and is buried in Stone Cemetery east of Joplin, Missouri.





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

** Besides competing in this event, Frank Winkley was also the race promoter.

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





Thank You:

Marie Bryant, John Houk, Gary and Ann Hunter, Deborah Jackson, Darrin McKim and Trevon Richard