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Just a note to thank everyone for refreshing some good memories. My dad had a track in Willis and we were at playland every saturday as well as the north houston track on friday nights. I have many memories of the times i tagged along as he talked to the many drivers waiting for the pits to open about the races at his track on sunday. I listened to that old roller coaster many hours dreaming of when i might be big enough to experience it. Quite a few of the guys of playland came to willis and also later to a dirt track they had between conroe and willis. the years were from 1956 to about 1960 counting both tracks. I will look for some of the pics my mom and dad have and see if there are any i might add here. During that time period he bought several cars that were racing at playland to add to his car-count on a slow sunday, some i think he still has. Thanks again,Wayne

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Here's a couple of shots of the late Billy Wade at Playland..


The 32 Ford coupe if I recall was around the mid to late 50's as he takes the checker flag and victory lap at Playland Park..


The 37-38 Chevy coupe was in the early to mid 50's as he got acquainted with the old wooden fence turns one and two. ( Billy in white pants asking "What Happened?" )


Billy's cars were on most occasions Orange with a White #53 painted on the doors.


Remembering Billy Wade as a little guy with one "Big Foot" when it came to racing.


Billy was buried at Brookside Cemetary Houston in 1965 after his fatality at Daytona testing tires.





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Ok, now I am confused, shows what I know about down here, I thought Billy Wade was still around the way I heard Johnny Doyle talk about him. I saw Paul Jett at his funeral and another gentleman that I thought was Billy, but obviously I was wrong, but it was someone that has been around racing and John a lot down here.

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Billy died in an accident at Daytona in January, 1965 while doing tire tests. The testing was actually part of the research and development of the inner-liner type tires developed for super-speedways. Stock cars had begun acheiving speeds on those big tracks where tire failures would often bring about catastrophic results, as was the case with Billy's crash.


For some reason, they've always seemed to want to keep a lid on this story. I remember even as recent as 10 years ago, they were interviewing Darrell Derringer on a nascar raceday show about the part he played in testing for the development of those tires. As soon as he mentioned Billy Wade's name, the interview was cut off in mid sentence and they went to a commercial.


Check out this .......... LINK

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Another shot of the late Billy Wade in happier days..


( Photo courtesy of MJ and Denny Burton )


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Playland Park was certainly a piece of history and was built after WWII had ended.


The combination of an Amusement Park and Race Track brought out many spectators in those days and a fun place to be.


Here's another action shot after Billy Wade and AJ Foyt got togethar and Billy saw things from a different view.


I am puzzeled as to the 32 Ford behind the fence..??


Is that MJ or Don Burton..or could it be Buddy Rackley?


Not able to see the numbers but, looks like a little bit of action had taken place here..


I believe AJ was attempting to exit his modified to assisit Billy in this photo or.... possibly to have a talk with Billy in some form or fashion..


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i don't know how true this is, but i remember hearing an old driver on t.v. say once that they use to test tires by driving over a board with nails in it to see the car and tires were going to react when the blow out happened ,can you imagine one of the drivers today doing that? that is how billy wade was killed , like i said i'm not sure of the validity of the story just what i heard.

Edited by nightmoves 99
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That is interesting and maybe why subjects of the Wade fatality is not discussed..even today in detail.


It is hard to believe but very possible on the other hand..


Research and developement for improving tires especially between the two major tire companies was in full force, competing to be the official racing tire for NASCAR.






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Here is a shot possibly taken from the southwest section of the backstretch grandstands.


The photo shows a view of the amusement rides at Playland Park in the early 50's.


You see the famous wooden roller coaster in the background which was on the north side of the front straight away (not shown here). as you see the beginning incline or first hump pictured where the coaster actually started.


The famous "Bullet" ride is also pictured and appears to be in operation here.


To the left side of the Bullet you will see the "Tilt O Whirl" ride and further left was the arena for the "Bumper Cars" where everyone had fun taking out the frustrations on others..


Not pictured here is the Haunted House and the Circular Air Planes along with other rides that either were added later or simply not visable in this photo..


I remember the "Love Tunnel", the "Carousel", "Mini Boats and of course the 'Mini Race Car" rides.


There were "Claw Digger" machines, and plenty of Carney games on the facility as well. Let's not forget the old "Fortune Teller" machines...


As a little kid, I pleaded with parents to take me to Playland Park!


Roaring Midgets and Modifieds, lighted Amusement Park, Hot Dogs, Popcorn, and the grandstand vendors shouting out .."COLD BEER " memories that are still a reflection of youthful days. JAX, Pearl, Lone Star, Falstaff, seemed to be the hits for beer in the 50's!


Tatar on the microphone and playing Sousa Marches over the PA system.




You are looking toward Downtown Houston's NW side and all you see is open fields!!!


It's hard to believe the area now. To the left of this photo was South Main Street


Playland Park

9200 South Main



Early 1950's




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Here's another favorite Houston driver Norman Pierce pictured here with his Playland Modified.


This photo is provided by Mark for our viewing pleasure and is dated 1958..



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We know the following photos have been seen on other threads with TXSZ but, since we are on the subject of Playland Park we thought it would be interesting to keep all the material on Playland in one topic thread.


Another great midget driver of the 50's was Buddy Rackley pictured below.


These photos came from my personal collection and were taken around 1953-54 on the #76 midget while the #85 was taken in 1958


Buddy's midget here was painted Maroon and Light Pink with the number 76.


The second photo is Buddy driving the Red #85 Midget at Playland Park..





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I recall that midget also.


Unique color combination. I can't remember if that midget was sold or either involved in an accident and then sold ...or perhaps repainted to one of the two colors.


My memory fades somewhat on the exact time era these two midgets were competing.


It could have been the other way around as to the midgets colors and years of competition and possibly the Brown and Beige Midget was later.


I do recall the Maroon Midget in the pits and was chosen as to my Quarter Midget colors along with the #76.


We even went so far as to match the exact colors to paint my 1/4 midget..


My dad was a pure midget fan and left nothing un noticed in those days..


That's been a long time ago :blink:



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Here's a photo of a 37 Ford Stock Car getting just a bit sideways and thinking about a roll over.


Not sure of the driver but, have been told by some that it is Ace Pryor?


Note the striping on the fence and inner bumps for the left front wheels ..


Going three wide in the turns at Playland was sure to get you in a bind.


The bumps were later removed after being blamed for some of the turn overs in the curves.. <_<post-8338-1220336635_thumb.jpg

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If you look closely, you will see one over the fence with a driver kicking the fence.


We cannot know the driver for certain in this photo but, looks very much like Charlie Schild or maybe George Nash.


This photo again is reflecting the early years at Playland Park estimated around 1949-52.


The track was later paved with asphalt in the early 50's..


Note the Houston Police Officer and the uniforms worn back then.


Wingo was one of the main officers at Playland Park in those days.

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Yeah Jim,


Wingo was a trip allright and a cop you didn't want to P.O... :angry:


Jr. Wingo (His Son) raced the 1/4 Midgets with us..

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Billy Wade may also be the reason for the vertical belt between the legs to avoid sliding forward/downward in the seat upon impact.




Is that the story on Billy Wade and the seat belt?


I couldn't recall the story in detail and it must have been a horrible accident.


I remember an article in the paper but not all the details on the fatality reasons other than contact with the fence or wall in those days..

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Billy's death absolutely is the reason for the submarine seatbelt. I read in the book The Last Lap by Peter Golenbock, The Life and Times of Nascar's Legendary Heroes, that at the time of Billy's death Ralph Moody had be campaingning to put a submarine strap in the drivers seat of all the car, but nobody wanted them. The thought it would squeeze their Kahonies. But he said the he had experienced getting in wrecks, and afterwards he said he couldn't swallow, couldn't eat, spit up blood, cause what would happen, the belt would come up and push your guts up through your mouth. So to prevent that he wanted to put that submarine belt in the car. And what finally convinced them was the death of Billy Wade. Ralph said Billy was a little guy, and he had slipped through the belt. When Bud Moore walked up on the scene it liked to have ruined him. But after that they started putting in those submarine belts. Ralph went on to say that after so many people died and got hurt, Fred Lorenzen quit. He had made enough money and was working the stock market. I think he mad a really good decision. Also happen to find the other day a website you might know about. http://www.legendsofnascar.com/Billy_Wade.htm Some history on Billy and also Mario Rossi who was a close friend of Billy's and took his death really hard. He helped developed the submarine belt.



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