Memorabilia Brochure and Centennial Program
History Page Lots of info!
1956 NASCAR RACE Did you see it?
Playland Cars Today Where are they now?
Race Results Most of 68-77 are here.
Track Photos Do you have any?
If you know the location of ANY of the old Playland cars, coupes, Bronco cars, Super stocks, Get pictures and send them to me! Let's get them out of mothballs (or ditches) and onto the track. e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Franks' Tribute To
Two angles from 1976...
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Hours of reading here! Look around, I update these pages often. Press the f5 refresh key to be sure you have the latest changes.
DRIVER PAGES ARE NOW ON THE NEW WEBSITE!!
Welcome to my website, a tribute to the late, great Playland Speedway. With the help of many good folks, 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 1947. "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.
In 1956 the NASCAR Short Track Championship Race was held in C.B. The entry and time trial sheet is on this site. I was going to add it to the history page, but it deserves it's own page! If you didn't know about this race, wait till you see who was there! Thanks Lee Ackerman of the Nebraska Racing Hall of Fame for the sheet.
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.
There are several OPEN race events each year to race 'em .
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. I was a California Marine when the track was closed in October 1977.
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 its 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) , 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). You'll find many names on this site.
Speaking of Bob Matson, he was the first driver profiled on this site. 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. Frank Van Doorn was next. He has a detailed history of his exploits from 1968 -1977. 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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org with your stories of Playland days. E-mail if you want on the Playland e-mail list for updates and get together information.
I do a little racing myself, as a member of GOTRA since 1997, I've been racing coupes on dirt tracks within a 150 +/- mile radius of Council Bluffs. My son Jeremy started racing a few years ago as well. VISIT BACKYARD RACING, our pages dedicated to our vintage racing effort.
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.....
From Dave Hellerich: My first recollection of Playland speedway was in the early 50s, my folks had just bought our first house .....
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......
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.
From Scott Furstenberg:Dan, A while back you called and left a message on my machine, and I have not found the time to get back to you. I am sorry about that. Yes I am the Scott Furstenberg that raced at Playland and yes i have a lot of information that you would be interested in. If possible in the near future we could get together and share some information. Such as my father won the soap box derby in Omaha in 1934 and 35 and recieved award for best built car ect. at Nation meet in Ohio. Bud Aitkenhead grew up hanging around the Florence stables which my aunt owned. My dad got Bud his comercial pilots license. I used to always watch the races on television in the 50's if you could see thru the dust. I raced quarter midgets for about 5 years. Worked for Bud Aitkenhead when i raced at Playland. Roy Burdick gave me alot of helpful hints, and the machine work on my engines was done by (Kosiski's) Joes Repair. e-mail me back and hopefully we can get someting set up to meet in the near future. Thanks, Scott Furstenberg
Note from Dan: Scott contacted me and sent some awesome stuff. Watch for Scott's page...... COMING SOON!!
More pictures coming as soon as I can find them!!
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