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Playland 1976 Click for REALLY BIG photo!! thanks to Howard Koziol

Playland 2002  Click for HUGE photo!

If you know the location of ANY of the old Playland cars, coupes, Bronco cars, Super stocks, WHATEVER... get them out of mothballs (or ditches) and onto the track.  There are several OPEN race events each year to race  'em or parade 'em. Your choice.

Here is One Event


Dan Franks' Tribute To

Council Bluffs, Iowa


Press the f5 refresh key to be sure you have the latest changes.

Bob Matson, DONE! 

Frank the "Flying Dutchman" Vandoorn In PROGRESS!!  Check out what I have so far.

Ron Hoden, 

Elvin Heiman, 

Don Ronk DONE!  LOTS OF STUFF FROM DON!!  Check out his page!!

Dick Gappa  DONE!!

Dave Hellerich's page updated 1-18-03


Playland Memories:

Jim Taggart
Don Rasmussen

Drivers Pages:

Darrell Taylor
Lynn Grabill
Howard Koziol
Dave Hellerich     Frank Vandoorn

 Bob Matson          Larry Osborn

Dick Gappa
Ron Hoden
Elvin Heiman
Don Ronk

Al Franks

Playland Stuff:


History Page

Race Results

Pictures Page Updated pics!

click to see track pictures


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Welcome to my website, a tribute to the late, great Playland Speedway. With the help of many, we hope to bring you a glimpse of the storied past of Council Bluffs, Iowa's only raceway.  

Playland Speedway was originally a dog track.  The dog track was started by none other than gangland czar Meyer Lansky, who in 1941, spent $50,000 building the Council Bluffs dog track and grandstand.  The Dodge Park Kennel Club was it's name. He ran dog racing in 1941, 42 and 43, until the mayor shut it down. 

The facility sat idle until it became a dirt track in 1948. Organized stockcar racing began in 1949. In 1948 an amusement park and midway were added, including a 3/4 mile long roller coaster!   The track was paved around 1954.  

Sixty acres of the park were condemned by the state to build the I-480 bridge in 1964-66.  The 3/4 mile long wooden coaster was demolished.  The bulk of the major rides were sold at auction.  Some would later go to Frontier City in Oklahoma City, a park the Sluskys owned.  It is still there.

When the track reopened in 1966, rides included the Wild Mouse, bumper cars, Tilt-A-Whirl and of course the usual games.  It was a great place to go as a kid.  

The "Bronco" class was introduced in 1967.  The season started with 12 broncos and it ended with 60!  Playland Speedway's biggest year, based on car count and attendance was  1968. The track was closed in October 1977.  I was a California Marine when it closed.  

Much of the history of the park and track can be found on the history page of this website.

Many famous local racers graced the racing surface of Playland Speedway during it’s history. Tiny Lund, Bud Burdick, Glen Robey (8-ball), Elvin “Junior” Heiman (66), Dick Gappa (77), “Wild Bill” Martin, Dave Chase (31), Paul Zdan (10), Frank "the Flying Dutchman" Vandoorn (30), Larry Brown(16) were local favorites.  

Other names that come to mind: Bob Matson (71), Larry Jiskra (70), Sonny Miller (109), Ron Tilley (56), Russ Dilley (22), Ron Hoden (65),  John Beaman, Frank Prudaux (67), Mel Sorensen (93), Bob Jura (72), John Ernest (73),  Jerry Boyd (52), Ron Wolfe “the Asphalt Animal”(76),I'm still waiting for those pics Tracy Wolfe! Chris Hoeppner (84), Bob Rollins (80), Claude “Sonny” Brown (67) and of course my Dad, Al Franks (89).  I’ll think of more. 

Speaking of Bob Matson, I talk with him often.  He raced on Playland when it was dirt!  He continued to race there from time to time until it closed.  He began with a yellow, 37 Ford coupe, #71.  It was owned by Larry Robinson.  He raced mainly at Corning.  I got his scrapbook  and created a Bob Matson web page.   I contacted Don Ronk and he was gracious enough to loan me his scrap book.  I created a webpage for him under Drivers Pages. I also spoke with Ron Hoden and Elvin Heiman and left a voice message with Paul Zdan (he didn't call me back).   I hope to create pages for them here as well.  These drivers, their family and friends can enjoy the pages for years to come.

I would like to publish your remembrances as well, so e-mail me at with your stories of Playland days. 

From Kimberly Robey:  I was pretty little when my Dad raced at Playland Speedway. My fondest memory of it was when I was a trophy girl. I was about 4 year old. I really wanted my Dad to win that night but he didn't. What stands out the most was when I was all done giving the trophy they gave me a great big bear and a dozen red carnations. I wish I had the picture they took that night. Thank you for your trouble putting this together. My father Glenn Robey-8-Ball really got a kick out of seeing his car posted here. I suppose you know he owns the Alpine Inn now. There seem to be a lot of racers come there on Thursday nights to BS. Good luck to you, Kimberly

Note from Dan:  The Alpine serves great broasted chicken, and is located on Calhoun Road, north of the 30th st exit off I-680 in Omaha, Ne.. visit Glenn if you get the chance.  Tell him Dan Franks sent you.  Hopefully, he won't hold that against you!

From Howard Koziol:  The first time I can ever remember going to Playland was with my uncle, Mel Weaver, on a Friday night in either 1957 or'58. Driving underneath the Roller Coaster to get into the park and then seeing all those rides and games ....... 

To read Howard Koziol's Playland memories, click here.. More pics there!


From Lynn Grabill:   I raced at playland park for a part of 1958 with a 1939 ford flathead powered coupe, and again in 1962 with a 390" caddie powered modified 33 ford sedan.....

To read Lynn Grabill's Playland memories, click here..

From Dave Hellerich:   My first recollection of Playland speedway was in the early 50’s, my folks had just bought our first house .....

To read the rest of Dave Hellerich's Playland memories, click here..


From Don Rasmussen:    hi dan, just got the link to your website for the old playland speedway. WOW! did it ever bring back some old memories of that place. here are some of my most vivid memories (doing my best, i was about 7-8 years old at the time......

To read the rest of Don Rasmussen's Playland memories, click here..


From Jim Taggart:  Hi Dan, Ran across your Playland Park pages and really enjoyed the stories and photos. I grew up in Vermillion, SD, and went to the races around the Sioux City, IA, area. I saw some and heard of many racers from the Omaha area over the years.

To read the rest of Jim Taggart's Playland memories, click here..

More pictures coming as soon as I can find them!!

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