If the readers of Lone Star Speedzone will allow, I will write about my earliest remembrances of Corpus Christi Speedway. My qualification? Well, I am 77 years of age, and I spent 16 out of the first 18 years in Flour Bluff and Corpus Christi,
There have been several articles dealing with Corpus Christi race tracks. Most of these talk about cars of the 70s to the present; however, I can go back in time even farther, and. I would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with some one on a complete history of this historic track.
My dad, for many years had a sideline business as a sign painter. He had a shop on Scotland Drive in Flour Bluff. I recall that he lettered numbers on the side of a race car belonging to a driver named Len Holderby ( I am not sure of the spelling). The car was yellow with red trim. It was probably a prewar (WW 2) sedan which resembled the dwarf cars of today only much larger. In my eyes (about 7 or eight at the time) this car was huge.
In the early 50s my dad started taking my younger brother and me to the races every Saturday night. At that time, the cars were still mostly prewar coupe and sedans. The track hero at that time was George Carole. I have a 1954 annual from NAS Corpus Christi, and his picture is in that annual as a civil service employee.
I remember one spectacular accident in which the car became airborne probably 10 to 15 feet in the air. The driver either jumped out of fell out, and the car landed on one side, bounced over the driver and never touched him. Another memory I have is of two sedans 39 to maybe 48 Ford or Mercury, hitting the first turn wall in parallel and a 3rd card driving on top of these two with two tires on one and two on another.
In 1955, I started developing a keen interest in racing. I was 14, starting to drive, and starting to notice the various makes of cars. Shorty Rollins was driving a 1955 Ford which was red and white and sponsored by Lewis Bogus Ford of Corpus Christi. His brother John drove a 1955 Chevrolet with L. S. Garner Sponsorship. Another Chevrolet driver was Monte Nichols who was sponsored by May Chevrolet Company of Kingsville. Other drivers I remember were Al Disney in a 1955 Buick, and later in 1956, Jim Van Blarcum in a 1956 Chevrolet. There were several drivers who were running 1954 Dodges. Two in particular I remember were Freddy Barnec and Fred Brown. I also remember Al Yoeman, although I cannot remember what car he drove. Some of the lesser known drivers, I recall were Harold Gentry, Al Gator, Dave Ingram and others.
During the years 1955 to 1957, most races were won by Shorty Rollins; However, about once a month Billy Wade would come over from Houston and give Shorty some serious competition.
Billy drove a 1956 Chevrolet. Johnny Rollins and Monte Nichols also were seriously competitive, but Shorty was still hard to beat.
I don’t remember the exact years, but at one time the speedway ran Jalopies (1948 and older) on Tuesday, and late models 1949 and up on Saturdays. This is where I remember Frank Hoch in his 1948 Mercury. Also at one time KVDO Channel 22 televised the racees.
I believe in 1957 or 1958, a driver name Lloyd Smith (Smitty) started a quarter mile dirt track that he named Texas speedway. This track was located was located roughly where the landfill (Chapman Ranch Road and Saratoga) is today. As I recall, this track didn’t last very long.
In 1958, Shorty started racing NASCAR, being NASCAR’s first rookie of the year. The track changed the rules to late model six cylinders against flathead V-8s. This was the first time that I remember Dub Rollins running a blue 1951 Ford. I do not remember John Rollins running after 1957.
In May of 1959, I graduated from high school, my dad left civil service when the Navy O&R closed. My family and I moved to San Antonio, and I lost track of events at CC Speedway Until 1974 when I returned to Kingsville.. Buy the way, there was a quarter mile oval in Kingsville about 1956. I remember this but I have not found anyone else who does.