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Midget 85

Meyer Speedway

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Anyone with photo's of Meyer Speedway?

 

Let's start posting them here.

Edited by Midget 85

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Let's start a new forum and discuss any and all drivers, events, memories, and history of Meyer Speedway from the beginning to the end.

 

I will start this one off by saying let's rebuild Meyer Speedway and since Joseph F. Meyer willed it to always be a race track, what are we waiting for..except money!

 

 

Is it possible to get a government grant for preserving a landmark in Houston? It was his will from what I have read on this forum. Surely there had to be some engineering drawings somewhere in the city or county files?

 

Wouldn't it be nice to have a landmark for classic racing and a museum filled with legendary cars that raced there right in the infield. What a piece of history!

 

Just a thought...

What do you think?

 

..or maybe you think I'm crazy?

 

Any other crazy's like me who likes history?

 

Let's begin with the beginning days when a fresh new speedway was opened in Houston, TX.

 

Who has memories?

 

When did construction start at Meyer Speedway, when did it open?

Edited by Midget 85

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What a great idea. Midget, I wish more people were that kind of crazy. I think in order to get it done, some heavy breathers would have to be well greased.

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Well, I think it's about time we do something for our heroes who in past times gave us thrills, spills, and chills around the ovals as often noted in the weekly programs.

 

With what is left of the track, it shouldn't be to hard to re construct if at all possible. Imagine a brand new Meyer Speedway. Not for racing but, a museum and history place for all to visit. A museum on the infield and a speedway for laps around the track in your personal vehicle for instance, but of course at a slower speed than our famous past drivers.

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Here's a view of Arrowhead at the upper left. This photo was taken in the early 50's. Your memory of the location is very good. That's OST to the south; Old Main/Fannin to the east; S. Main to the west; Holcombe to the north.

ArrowheadMainHolcombe.jpg

 

Here is the monorail model you mentioned that was erected sometime in 1956 after Arrowhead was gone.

HoustonMonorail-1956.jpg

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Reference to post # 11

 

Great job Tbird. The picture appears to be looking kinda southwest. I believe the spdwy backstretch, turns, and grandstand are visible. For present day reference, note Braes Bayou north of the site. Also, notice the Shamrock Hotel (aka Shamrock Hilton) at the top of the X, and the swimming pool on the left side. That is the southwest corner of S Main @ Holcombe. For those not familiar, the Texas Medical Center is now located at the bottom of the picture. Part of it, that is. And I did ride the Mono-Rail.

Edited by Midget 85

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More Arrowhead trivia................................

 

Eighteen year old AJ Foyt won his first race, a 5 lap trophy dash in a midget event at Arrow-head Speedway in Houston, TX (7-11-1953). On 9-22-1953 Foyt made his AAA debut in a midget event at Oklahoma City, OK. He was 28th fastest in quals and finished 4th in the semi-feature.

 

From:

http://www.crucean.com/timeline2.html

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Here's the Modified that was built for the late Billy Wade for the 65' season and was taken by Jimmy Willis to test drive and maybe become the seasonal driver after Wades death.

 

This is a paper clip I cut out of the Houston Chronicle in 1965 and have saved all these years.

 

The #23 Modified of Billy Wade / Jimmy Willis posted ..

 

post-8338-1203134063_thumb.jpg

Edited by Midget 85

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Did the 23 eventually become the 10 car that Jimmy Drove? I remember when the U-joint broke and the driveshaft was between his ankles working them over. I really felt sorry for Jimmy when that happened. Haven't seen him or talked to him in years. Hope he's O.K.

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One thing people don't realize that Meyer's was our big time for many years. Before TWS came around Meyer's was the biggest and fastest thing we had ever seen down here. Those old dirt tracks we banged around on were nothing in comparison. I know the first time I made a lap on there it would take my breath for a couple of laps. It was the closest thing to Darlington in our eyes. Then I made my first trip with my ride out to Golden Gate Speedway, with Lee Cade down in Cigar City (Tampa) on a Friday night. I swear those banks had to be like Bristol. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and feeling. Those were back in the lap-belt days and my dad rigged me up a tether that tie off to the left side to help he stay in the seat. Golden Gate Speedway was smooth, and that was won thing about Meyers, it was anything but. It had those whoop tee doos down the straight that would unload the springs and made setting the car in the corner an art. I still say hands down, Bill White was the best at it. He didn't run Meyers as much as the Burton's and Wooley's and the rest of us, but when Wild Bill unloaded you knew you were in for a long day, mostly looking at the back of that deuce. And to sit behind him and watch his approach to the turn and the line he took, and then get the gonads enough to try and mimic him, would wind yourself in the pit letting your best friend Kent Lewis assist you in extricating the seat cushion from your backside. I am to this day and always will be in awe of Wild Bill White. He was always nice to me, and I was just a punk kid trying to run with the big boys. I know AJ fairly well, and he was too intense and a hot head to get along with sometimes, but that was just AJ. He's mellowed some over the years, and a whole lot sweeter, and he was as good a driver as ever been, I just wonder though what Bill would have been if Tony Foyt was his father and he had the same opportunities that AJ Had. I have got to get up to Temple to see Bill sometime. TBird sees him pretty regular, and boy am I jealous.

Edited by mfbarnes

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I am going to do that also. I watched Bill at Playland and Meyer. As you say, awesome display of talent. He is a lot of fun. I raced with him on 1/4 mile dirt. What an experience. I choose my words carefully when I say I raced with Bill. I don't believe anybody races against Bill, just with him.

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I remember a red & white late 30s modified coupe bodied Modified Stock Car # 23 similiar to the car pictured in b & w with severe front end damage, so I am curious as to the owner and builder of the pictured car. I am also curious as to how often Billy Wade could have competed in local events in '65, considering his accomplishments in NASCAR GN/Cup in '64 and prospects for '65, before his tire test session accident. The pictured # 23 Car is however, somewhat similiar in appearance to the orange & white # 53 Modified Stock Car driven by Billy Wade in previous years. Like I say, just curious, and by that time my focus was mostly on the Bronco Stock Cars, so if I'm not mistaken, I could be wrong.

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Good grief! It's like a can of worms but so interesting. Could this be the car that Walter Ballard bought from the Wade camp and later sold to George Nash? Understand that when the car went from Wade, to Ballard, to Nash and ultimately Jimmy Willis, it could have undergone many changes. These old cars are like dollar bills going from hand to hand......................

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Being that I was just a kid back in those early 60's days, I only made it to Meyer on a couple of occasions. But on Friday nights at Speed-o-rama in Austin, Houston would come to us. Regulars with their super-modifieds in tow would be Billy Wade ('61 and '62), Buddy Rackley, Buddy Evans, Billy Griswold and Jimmy Willis.

 

From San Antonio would come Buddy Jerkins, Johnny Doyle, Don Fowler and Buddy Yantis.

 

Bill out of Temple of course. Out of Abileen/San Angelo would come Niedecken, the Johnsons, Robert Polk, Bubba Cowan and Marvin Fillip.

 

Waldo and Bud Simpson out of Austin, and later Jimmy Finger.

 

MAN, would those guys ever put on a show, every single week. It was awesome. At the time, I just never really realized how awesome those shows were!

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Now you guys have done it! You jarred my (alleged) memory. I thought about Walter Ballard's old 5 car and what became of it. Mighty strong car running a small block Ford. I can't remember if Walter sold it or it went to the scrap yard. I talked to Sonny this morning and he helped build that car. He said he had no idea where the little green car went after Meyer but he sure would like to find it. Maybe Walter or Don will see this and fill us in.

Edited by jakdad

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Jim,

I have a picture from '62 from Meyer Spdwy/Houston that shows Jimmy Willis's orange # 10 late 30s modified coupe bodied Modified Stock Car on top of the guardrail in turn one, near turn two. The picture is b & w, but I saw the crash and remember sparks flying from under that orange car as it bounced over the fence posts. I need to get it posted. As for the # 23 Modified pictured, I understand that to be from '65, and that fits what I remember about a similiar looking car. The last late 30s modified bodied Modified Stock Car # 53, painted orange & white, that was driven by Billy Wade at Meyer Spdwy, starting about mid season '61 and through '62, and at least once in '63, was originally Car # 55, that was driven the first half of '61 by Buddy Evans. At some point after mid season '61, that car was owned by Bill Breashear, but I'm not sure when, and I don't remember it after '63, but to me it is similiar to the pictured # 23 Car in appearance.

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About that time, Billy Griswold drove a black modified for Bill Breashear and it had orange numbers. Don't remember the number but Billy tore it up pretty good. Throttle linkage stuck coming down the front chute. Billy cut across the grass in an effort to slow it down. The car went up the bank into the wall hard between 1 & 2, did a back flip and landed upright. I don't think that one ever got fixed I have to wonder if that car had anything to do with the wrecked 23 in the photo. Never would have crossed my mind until you mentioned Breashears name.

Edited by jakdad

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Unfortunately Bill Breashear passed away some years back, after working as an official at Battleground Spdwy/Highlands for a few years. In any event, I just don't remember the black Modified driven by Billy Griswold. I recall the early 30s coupe bodied Super/Modified Stock Car he drove at Playland Spdwy/Houston in '59/'60, and probably before, that was red, # 9, with the lightning bolt. After the move to Meyer Spdwy/Houston in '61, and rules requiring later model ('37 or later) bodies, I remember Billy Griswold in a red # 9 w/lightning bolt, late 30s (Chevy?) coupe bodied Modified Stock Car in '61, and again in '62. I'm not sure, but the '62 season car may or may not have been the same car, or if it was, the body was possibly modified as was the norm among the other Modified Stock Cars. In '63, Billy Griswold drove a Bronco Stock Car that I believe was the F L Harris owned/built '55 Chevy # 29, and I don't recall whether or not he raced Modifieds that year or not. Supposedly, the Bronco Stock Car drivers were restricted to 2 years experience, but the rule seemed to get voided in '63, and the class that season included several veteran drivers after that door opened. I even remember, possibly the last race in '63, several Modified Car drivers, including M J Burton, drove in the Bronco Car feature. However, the 2 year (pro rated) driving experience rule was put back into effect for '64 and later years. Also in '64, I'm thinking Billy Griswold returned to the Modifieds and won the Meyer Spdwy/Houston Modified Championship that year in what appeared to be the same car he drove in '62. Admittedly, after M J Burton retired from driving in '64, and with my increasing interest in the Bronco Stock Cars, the Modified Car's races/activities get a little foggy in my memory about that time. But, anytime M J Burton drove Modifieds, I felt as though I was watching one of the very best, so I tried not to miss those events whenever possible.

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Larry, your memory is OK. MJs brother Don also drove a Bronco that was an aqua colored 55 Chevy. He and MJ might have swapped back and forth. That year, it was pretty wide open. I also remember that in the early years of Bronco racing, the rules weren't strictly enforced. I wont name names but some Italian friends of mine were running a 283 bored .060 in their 55 Chevy. I told them they were gonna get caught but they never did. They eventually sold that car to someone that bought it to run at Meyer. They sold it complete with engine. I don't know if you and I ran against it or not.

The black modified that Billy drove was after the 9 car with the GMC. I don't think Johnny and Billy had the money to build a new engine/trans to replace the GMC. I know they did some dirt tracking with the old coupe. The black car had a 427 Ford in it, not sure about the gear box. The black car appeared to be a 37 or 38 Ford coupe. However it could have been an old Chevy coupe fitted with Ford front sheet metal. If you remember some of these boys could be very creative.

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Jim,

MJ drove Lanny Young's red # 8 Bronco Stock Car in the feature the night I mentioned, and Tracy had driven it in the heat race and had hopes of driving it in the feature. The next year, '64, Tony Barcelona got the ride. The '63 season is the same year that Don Burton drove Louis Barbley's light blue/aqua '55 Chevy Bronco Stock Car #92, starting after six or eight weeks into the season, winning the first feature but was DQ'd due to illegal head work, I believe. After repairing/replacing the illegal parts, Don won about thirteen out of the next seventeen features. The # 92 Bronco was owned/driven by Thomas Minor in '64, and in '65 & '66 was owned by Jack Yates and driven by Allan Porter, as I recall. I assume it was the same body/frame during that period.

As for the GMC engined Modified, I seem to recall that at Playland Spdwy/Houston, but I don't remember it at Meyer Spdwy/Houston. The Cleveland Tx Spdwy pictures of the # 9 Modified on this site looks like the same car that was raced at Meyer Spdwy, but has an inline six engine.

As for the 283 Engine, that's no surprise. I'm curious as to who you mentioned, but I remember a very good running car early on, that had to be sold. Did your "friends" have any relatives racing?

Edited by RETrott

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Billy won 1 feature race at Meyer with the GMC. That old six had so much low end torque, he could pull away a long ways in the turns. The V-8s would run him down on the chutes. That night, it looked like Billy was leading a parade. They ran well but had to have a superior handling car to stay in the top 4 or 5 every week. I think that's when they decided they needed a V-8 for the next season.

If you remember, Ed started the races with inverted points standing for starting positions. It was no accident that Don won all those features. They would wait until near the half way point of the season to bring the car out. Several races Don started on the pole and never lost the lead. The rest of the races, he was assured of a good starting spot. Didn't matter about the point championship. He was taking the money in heats and features. Pretty smart plan. The championship trophy wont buy many groceries......................

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Oh, and Tater Pete Hunter RIP, his view of the inverted starts. He liked it because "It puts the fast cars in front and the faster ones in the back". Got to love Tater!!

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jakdad,

 

You are right, Walter spun the guts out of the little 289 Ford around the 1/2 mile. I remember Tatar Pete making an announcement over the track PA that "After 5 years of racing the Modifieds, you just witnessed Walter Ballard taking his first feature race at Meyer Speedway" he said. That was 1967. Tater, we would loose after that season.

 

Ballard's car was sorta "Pea Green" in 67 and the next year it had been repainted with a more agressive slightly darker metalic green for the 68 season. It was 68 that he flipped on the back stretch at Meyerland end over end after mixing wheels with George's #24 Modified.

 

I don't recall seeing either one of those cars after 68. A new era of body styles and sprinters were emerging by then..oh yeah, the winged days on many. It was also 1968 or 69 that Chumley made a roadster out of the #16 coupe. You could visably see the roll bars that were once tucked under the coupe sheet metal. They decap'd the roof!

 

It would be nice to line all of those modifieds up in one row just to see them again. Man, what history!

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