Dirt track stock car racing was once a popular past time and means of entertainment in the Tri-Lakes area. During the 1950s and 1960s, small tracks once operated on Highway 76 west of Branson, and at two different sites east and west of Kirbyville. Tracks were also located in Douglas County at Ava, as well as at Harrison and Flippin, AR.
Led by several members who are racing fans, the White River Valley Historical Society has recently launched a major effort to collect and preserve the history of racing in the area.
“Participants were mostly local folks, and often the whole families were involved,” explained WRVHS board member John Whitley. “Wives, mothers, and girlfriends raced in the occasional ‘powder puff derby’. It was a common sight to see the family car or pickup loaded with children and towing an old jalopy-style racer going down the road on Friday and Saturday nights or Sunday afternoon headed to one of those dusty dirt ovals.”
The WRVHS is currently in the process of collecting photos, newspaper clippings, and other memorabilia pertaining to dirt track stock car racing, as well as recording the personal histories and memories of those involved.
“While we’re always happy to accept originals and care for them in our secure collections storage area, we are also encouraging those who would prefer to keep them to bring the items into our Forsyth location for us to scan or photograph”, stated WRVHS Managing Director Leslie Wyman. “We’ll keep them for a few days, or can even digitize them for this project while you wait, and will also give you a CD of your images. In addition, John plans to setup some times when he can visit with those who remember the races and are willing to share those memories with the Society.”
The Society will host a Racer’s Reunion on Saturday, October 25th (location to be determined). This free event will be open to all, and will include an exhibit of the items collected, as well as an informal gathering of drivers, car owners, flagmen, track personnel, concession workers, and fans.