For dirt track history buffs, the first week in October was host to several major events and sad losses. Among those lost were Banjo Mathews, Curtis Turner and Louis Meyer. For a day by day breakdown of this week in dirt track history, please see the entries below.
David Bruce-Brown died on October 1, 1912 at Milwaukee during practice for the 1912 American Grand Prize and Vanderbilt Cup races. During practice, Bruce-Brown’s Fiat went off the road and overturned in a ditch. Bruce-Brown and his riding mechanic, Tony Scudalari died in the hospital later that day. His car was repaired and driven by Barney Oldfield in the Grand Prize to a fourth place finish.
Alton Soules died on October 1, 1921 at the Fresno Speedway in Fresno, California. Soules and his riding mechanic, Harry Earner went over the top rail of the 1 mile board oval in the southwest turn and dropped over 50 feet to their deaths.
Tony Bettenhausen won the Springfield 100 on October 1, 1950.
A. J. Foyt won the Golden State 100 on October 1, 1967 at Sacramento, California.
Ralph DePalma won the Vanderbilt Cup in Milwaukee on October 2, 1912.
Peter DePaolo won the Fresno 25 and Frank Lockhart won the Fresno 50 on October 2, 1926 at the board track in Fresno, California.
Legendary stock car driver, owner, car builder, Edwin Keith “Banjo” Matthews died on October 2, 1996 of heart and respiratory disease.
Earl Cooper won the Raisin Day Classic at Fresno, California on October 3, 1924.
Fred Comer won the Fresno 150 at Fresno, California on October 3, 1925.
Auto racing pioneer Barney Oldfield died at age 68 in Beverly Hills, California.
NASCAR’s Curtis Turner died in an airplane crash near Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on October 4, 1970. Reports stated that Turner’s Aero-Commander 500 crashed shortly after taking off from Dubois-Jefferson Airport.
Al Unser won the Golden State 100 on the 1 mile dirt oval at the California State Fairgrounds in Sacramento, California.
Caleb Bragg won the American Grand Prize race, Harry Endicott won the Wisconsin Challenge Trophy race and Mortimer Roberts won the Pabst Blue Ribbon Trophy Race at Milwaukee on October 5, 1912.
Bill Holland won the Lakewood race 6 at Lakewood Speedway in Lakewood, Georgia.
Tommy Hinnershitz won the dirt oval sprint car race on October 5, 1946 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Joe Jagersberger died in October 5, 1952. Jagersberger started eighth in the first Indianapolis 500. His car broke the steering knuckle and began veering down the track eventually hitting the judges stand. Jagersberger’s riding mechanic flew out of the car and on to the track where several drivers crashed trying to avoid hitting the mechanic. The judges, who had vacated the judges stand did not score for several laps. At the same time, Ray Harroun did a driver exchange which ended up causing the controversy surrounding who actually won the first Indianapolis 500. Jagerberger continued his racing career and in November of 1911 in Columbia, South Carolina, he hit the wall while trying to avoid a carload of tourists crossing the track from the infield. Hospitalized for several months, his left leg was amputated, ending his racing career.
J. J. Yeley was born on October 5, 1976.
Tony Bettenhausen won the Goshen 100/George Robson Memorial at the Good Time Park in Goshen, New York.
Hal Robson won the Dayton Race 5 in Dayton, Ohio on October 6, 1946.
Bill Holland won the Greensboro Race 2 at Greensboro, North Carolina on October 6, 1946.
Lucky Lux won the Williams Grove Race 9 on October 6, 1946.
American Hall of Fame race car driver and the first three time winner of the Indianapolis 500, Louis Meyer died in 1995 in Searchlight, Nevada. Meyer was 91 years old and had been living in retirement since 1972.