To enjoy one of the stock car races at Martinie’s Perry Speedway you would need to have a Sunday afternoon free beginning at 1:15 p.m. when the time trials were held. Races followed the time trails at 2:00 p.m. After a while there were lights installed at the speedway so that night races could be run. If by chance you weren’t able to attend the race, the races were broadcast on KWBG Radio Station, Boone and Perry. Perryite Harold Bailey covered the races for the Perry Daily Chief so that locals could keep track of their favorite driver even if they weren’t in the stands.
Race day began with the time trials somewhat like they are today. Times around the track were in the thirty (30) second range. There was a Trophy Dash that was six (6) laps with the Heat Lap Races being eight (8) laps. Trophies were presented for both races.
Half way through the race there was a special race called the Australian Pursuit. Times for this race were taken from the initial time trails. Cars with the fastest time were in the rear of the lineup with slower cars in front. If there were ten (10) cars running there would be ten (10) laps in this race. The final car from each lap was eliminated.
Rather than the highly trained well equipped pit crews of today, the pit crew at Perry Speedway consisted of a couple of the driver’s friends or maybe neighbors (no technical training given). Instead of the expensive diagnostic equipment used in the pits of today’s races, the “junk boxes” as they were called, contained assorted wrenches, four bar wrench, and a jack. There were only two spare tires rather than the large number of tires used on today’s cars.
Stock car racing involved secrets to increase the speed of stock cars at Perry Speedway which included placing some moth balls in the gas tank, adding aviation fuel to the gas and adding water to the back tires to give the cars better traction. Secrets shared by some of the guys who actually ran these cars in Perry.
Another secret shared by a local driver includes the popularity of stock car racing in the early years when drivers who raced in Perry also raced at tracks in Adel and Pioneer Race Track in Des Moines. One of drivers said that at the Adel Track a $5.00 prize was given to the first driver who rolled his car. This driver stated that is things weren’t going well during the regular race he would roll his car to get the $5.00 to have his vehicle hauled back to Perry.
To be continued: Local Drivers and Sponsors Race to the Checkered Flag