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Darrell Taylor

 

 

The #9 coupe was Darrell Taylor's first stock car, raced at Sunset Speedway during the last year of coupe racing there. The car's history as told by Darrell: The white '33 Ford coupe was built by Ed Janisch in maybe '65 and raced at both Playland (in Council Bluffs, Ia.) and Sunset. Ed built a replacement car in '67 (a '32 Chevy coupe), and I bought the '33 in '68. It wound up on the wrong side of turn one at Sunset the third night I ran the car. There was no '69 season for the coupes. The car was sold and wound up somewhere in western Nebraska.

My Playland Memories

 

    My earliest Playland memories are from 1955 or 1956.  My father was a friend of Bud and Roy Burdick, and also knew several track officials.  As I remember, most of the cars then were of the ’37 ~ ’40 Ford coupe configuration.  The car that would come to symbolize this era, the ’32 Ford coupe, was not as common as it would become later.  An oddity I remember about the cars was that a lot of them ran their exhaust out just behind where the roof (of a coupe) met the rear deck. 

    Some of the names I remember from that era include George and Ed Rydberg, “The Avoka Flash” Don Pash, Bob Parker, George Odvody, Bud Akinhead, Pete Huffman, Bud Burdick and Glenn Roby.

    At that time, the pits were located at the south end of the track (under the fill where I-80 is now).   Many of the buildings in the pits were from the dog track days.   I also remember that scoring and announcing were handled from a two-story tower that stood in the middle of a grassy infield.  Tires that had been buried most of their diameter, with the exposed portion painted white, marked out the perimeter of the corners. Another of the odd things I remember was a group of kids that used to populate the trees outside of turn 2.  I think they were there nearly every race night.

    The Sunday night races at Playland were a regular event for my father and me until about 1959 when Burdick and several of the Playland regulars left for Sunset.  Other than a few special events I never went back to Playland until the advent of the Bronco stock cars.  One of the special events was Tiny Lund’s homecoming and 10th wedding anniversary in 1963, the year he won the Daytona 500.  Tiny was married at Playland in 1953.

    After I got my drivers license I became a regular attendee of the Saturday races at Playland.  By 1968, I HAD to have a racecar - but the car would be a ’34 coupe for Sunset, not a Playland “Bronco” stock car. (Don’t ask how old I really was when I drove at Sunset)  At the end of the ’68 season Sunset dropped its Modified division.    

1968 was the last year I ever drove on dirt all subsequent tracks - Playland (Council Bluffs IA), Lakeside Speedway (Denver, CO) Colorado Springs International Speedway (Colorado Springs, CO) Big Country Speedway (Cheyenne, WY) and Beacon Hill Speedway (Pueblo, CO) have all been paved.

Racing at Playland would have to wait until 1971. I bought ’58 VW beetle and made a Mini-stock car out of it in the back yard of my then-girlfriend’s apartment. Building that car could be a story in itself.  Parts were stored in my dorm room at the University of Nebraska much to my roommate’s dismay.  The Industrial Arts dept (My Major) at N.U. provided the metal fabrication equipment.  Another racer/ student built the roll cage in his shop.  To go to the track, I would hitch a tow bar to my ’65 Impala. 

I ran the ’71 season with a STOCK ’36 horsepower VW engine, but I always seemed to make “beer money”.  Names I remember from the mini-stocks include Bob Schrader, Bud Driggers, Pete Abshire, George Roseland, Butch Bovee, Jim Lovstad, Glenn McKegon and the Chase brothers.  The Chase brothers were running little 600 cc Hondas and were sponsored by People’s motors. Jim Lovstad ran one of the few Karman Ghias.  Butch Bovee was running an early Opel. Just about everyone else was running VW “bugs”.   The best part (besides the racing) was every week after the races a bunch of us would go to Nichol’s Radiator shop for beer and Ritchie’s Pizza.  The pizza was always provided by whoever won the most money that night.

 

    For the ’72 season, a 1300 cc engine replaced the little ‘36 horse engine.  That combination netted me my first heat race and “A” feature wins on the July 4th weekend.  Early in ’72, I approached the Management of Midwest Speedway in Lincoln about including the Mini Stocks in their program.  So for several weeks the Playland minis got a diet of dirt on Sunday night.

    In ’73, like the current country song says, “Life Happened”.  Racing would have to wait for 10 years and be in the state of Colorado.  Interestingly enough the Colorado venue would also be a 1/5-mile asphalt track attached to an amusement park.

    My last visit to Playland was during the last year of operation.  I was in Omaha on vacation and wanted to “pay my respects” by attending one last race at Playland.  As circumstances would have it, the races that night were rained out.

 

 

 

 

This is Darrell's current racecar, #93. Again, some history per Darrell: The purple Coach is a '34 Chevy body on a '32 Ford frame. When I bought the car in 1982, I was the fifth or sixth owner. The car was originally built in 1960. and was raced continuously until 1984 at Denver's Lakeside Speedway.

The original flathead was replaced by an inline 6 in the early '60's and then by a small block Chevy in 1973 as rules changes allowed. The Chevy coach body replaced Ford sheet metal in 1978. In 1983 the "modified" division split in to two groups. Full modifieds and Limited Modifieds. The Full mod class allowed a minimum 98" wheel base, aluminum heads, wings, coil over shock suspension and "any body". The Limited cars stayed more traditional.

taylor1.jpg (30991 bytes)          taylor2.jpg (32109 bytes)                 

Darrell's Sedan as it looks today.   I had the pleasure of visiting Darrell and Shirley on a business trip to Denver.  Wonderful people.  They live near Colorado Springs. I took several photos and they don't do the car justice.  It is a beautiful show quality machine.  The current "restoration" included a new '32 Ford frame from a street rod, a new roll cage, fuel cell and metal seat. The car retains transverse leaf suspension, 3/4 ton truck rear-end and drum breaks.