PDA

View Full Version : Midget racer buried in Lakeside parking lot?


Jerry Lee
11-08-2011, 10:18 PM
One of my favorite local racing "rumors" I've heard over the years is the one about a Midget race car that could have been buried at Lakeside Speedway after a series of tragic accidents with the car. I wondered if any of you guys heard this one.

Midget historian Gary Martelon mentions the rumor in a 1994 Lakeside documentary. Here's the story that Gary had heard:
Gary Martelon: "Powell Lewis was killed in '46 or '47, supposedly driving a crude looking car that he didn't normally drive. He was the second or third person to get killed in that car, so they buried the car in the West parking lot of Lakeside. Now, I can't get anyone to verify that it actually happened, but it is kind of fun to think that there might be a car buried out there."

http://autoracingmemories.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=305&pictureid=4808
(Gary Martelon collection) This is the car that's rumored to be 6 feet under in the lot.
I believe this is Powell Lewis in the cockpit.


http://autoracingmemories.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=305&pictureid=4809
The West parking lot at Lakeside Speedway. Could there be a Midget buried here?

Dick L
11-09-2011, 07:30 AM
One of my favorite local racing "rumors" I've heard over the years is the one about a Midget race car that could have been buried at Lakeside Speedway after a series of tragic accidents with the car. I wondered if any of you guys heard this one.

Midget historian Gary Martelon mentions the rumor in a 1994 Lakeside documentary. Here's the story that Gary had heard:
Gary Martelon: "Pal Lewis was killed in '46 or '47, supposedly driving a crude looking car that he didn't normally drive. He was the second or third person to get killed in that car, so they buried the car in the West parking lot of Lakeside. Now, I can't get anyone to verify that it actually happened, but it is kind of fun to think that there might be a car buried out there."

http://autoracingmemories.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=305&pictureid=4808
(Gary Martelon collection) This is the car that's rumored to be 6 feet under in the lot.
I believe this is Pal Lewis in the cockpit. (Please correct me if I'm spelling this man's name wrong)


http://autoracingmemories.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=305&pictureid=4809
The West parking lot at Lakeside Speedway. Could there be a Midget buried here?

That is one ugly race car.

webby
11-09-2011, 08:42 AM
Wouldn't it be cool to use modern technology to see if they could locate the car under the surface?

Quick Time
11-09-2011, 09:34 AM
Now I know where the term "butt ugly" came from!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mitch G.
11-09-2011, 10:21 AM
Jerry Lee, it was Powell Lewis, no biggy, he also went by the name Lou Parsons, did not want his family to know he was racing. It was July 7th, 1946, Lewis was a good midget driver and had driven several other cars with success, until jumping into Walt Killinger's rear engine Elto powered car. But I can find nothing on this rumor, nor have I heard it in the past!! Maybe Rhoda Crasner would know? Weird side bar, in the early 90's before me and the wife had kids, we used to party with a group of friends, (way too much I might add), one night one of our party gang had a friend with them, the guy found out I was into midget auto racing. He comes up to me and says, "Hey I heard you know something about midget racing, did you know who my grandfather was, his name was Powell Lewis, he was killed in a midget".
The young man said his dad, and family stayed away from auto racing after that.

Olen McGuire
11-09-2011, 11:32 AM
I think I would have buried that car deeper than six feet. Looks like the driver is sitting in that car backwards. Maybe that's why they were having a bad time with it.

Chuck,
No matter which way that car was going, I would agree it was "butt ugly".:loser:

Jerry Lee
11-09-2011, 12:54 PM
Jerry Lee, it was Powell Lewis, no biggy, he also went by the name Lou Parsons, did not want his family to know he was racing. It was July 7th, 1946, Lewis was a good midget driver and had driven several other cars with success, until jumping into Walt Killinger's rear engine Elto powered car. But I can find nothing on this rumor, nor have I heard it in the past!! Maybe Rhoda Crasner would know?

Thanks Mitch! I edited my post to contain the proper name. On the videotape, when Gary says "Powell" it sounds like "Pal". I had a feeling that wasn't right.

Interesting story indeed. The car sure was an ugly one. Kind of looks like it might have been some weird old Lakeside ride or something. One thing to note, if indeed they did bury the car in the lot, it probably wasn't in very good condition having just been wrecked.

Maybe one day, we'll uncover another clue.

83x
11-09-2011, 10:26 PM
I hadn't heard that story. Any one hear the story about Barnum/Bailey
performing in Milwaukee and one of their elephants died. Buried him in
the infield of the race track.

Indybail
11-10-2011, 06:05 AM
Sounds like a Stephen King book, the midget comes back to haunt the track or something - sorta like "Christine". lol.

Jerry Lee
11-10-2011, 10:56 AM
I hadn't heard that story. Any one hear the story about Barnum/Bailey
performing in Milwaukee and one of their elephants died. Buried him in
the infield of the race track.

That one seems familiar to me for some reason, but I'm not sure where or when I heard that one.

One place that I would love to dig for buried treasure is in the dirt under the stands. Think of all the change and things that have been dropped over the 50 year period. Back in '91 when I was filming parts of the closed down facility for the documentary, I was able to crawl under the East stands to have a look. This was before all the over growth of weeds and trees got too bad. There were still some vintage Pepsi bottles and stuff laying in the dirt under there. Now that would be a fun dig.

indybigjohn
11-10-2011, 11:26 AM
That one seems familiar to me for some reason, but I'm not sure where or when I heard that one.

One place that I would love to dig for buried treasure is in the dirt under the stands. Think of all the change and things that have been dropped over the 50 year period. Back in '91 when I was filming parts of the closed down facility for the documentary, I was able to crawl under the East stands to have a look. This was before all the over growth of weeds and trees got too bad. There were still some vintage Pepsi bottles and stuff laying in the dirt under there. Now that would be a fun dig.

Speaking of finding change under the grandstands, while I was working at IRP I heard that at one time they used a neat trick for the cleanup after the U.S. Nationals.

Before the temp workers got there, they wadded up a $100 bill and tossed it in the first area they were headed for. As soon as somebody found it, ALL the workers began working a lot more diligently.

carc7
11-11-2011, 08:58 AM
I remember hearing that rumor as well but Gene Pastor tells me it isn't true. It would have taken a crew of several men several hours to dig a hole that deep and that big, even with some equipment from the Park and somebody would have remembered.
If you aren't familiar with the Babs story (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babs_(land_speed_record_car) we could do the same thing with this car if it's there! What a kick that would be!
When I was about 16 we were sitting in the north stands and I dropped my jacket underneath. I had to wait until the races were over and the stands were cleared before officials would let me down there to retrieve it. When I got it, it was covered with muddy beer (or beery mud) but in about a minute I found a couple of dollars. I had to explain to my Mom why the jacket smelled like beer (honest, Mom. . . . )
A few years back my wife and I took my daughter and son-in-law to the amusement park and when we left I had to circulate around the outside of the speedway telling stories. I caught a fox in my headlights who raced into the open door under the west stands. There must be all sorts of critters there now. Or gang members or homeless people. . . . .

carc7
11-11-2011, 09:00 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babs_(land_speed_record_car) Better link.

Olen McGuire
11-11-2011, 10:10 AM
I think this link will work for carc7's post.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babs_(land_speed_record_car)

rapid30
11-11-2011, 12:08 PM
This appears to be the same car as taken from the book "The Mighty Midgets" by Jack Fox.

Olen McGuire
11-11-2011, 02:02 PM
Here they are next to each other, so you guys can figure it out. ~Olen


http://i678.photobucket.com/albums/vv149/OlenMac/jerry-1.jpg
http://i678.photobucket.com/albums/vv149/OlenMac/bruce.jpg

Jerry Lee
11-11-2011, 03:02 PM
I wonder when the Harold Ridell photo was taken. If it was taken after the Powell Lewis pic, that would pretty much discredit the rumor right there.

Also, I wonder who the other pilot (or pilots) were that got killed while driving Killinger's Elto. Was Harold Ridell one of them? Maybe Mitch would know.

Fastway
11-11-2011, 08:49 PM
Well I had asked my granddad Lyle McLaughlin this question, In being that he worked for Ben Krasner since the early 30s he ran the boats and maintained them. But anyway he told me thats " Hogwash" its all lore. When Dad worked for the Krasner's he said the same thing.

As a side note Grand dad told me that he remembers playing ball in the park when he was a boy, Long before the track was built.

Mitch G.
11-13-2011, 08:11 AM
Lewis was the only driver killed in Walt Killinger's rear engine car, as far as I can tell he was the only one, and the car was destroyed in that accident. I can't find any evidence that the car was repaired or ever raced again. I'm still digging.

TheAssassin
11-17-2011, 11:31 AM
I heard that the car was actually built backwards, thus the weird look, and that is where the "Unlucky" label was placed on it. I have heard this story for years from the drivers/owners when we were still running with the Midgets.

lakeside #29
11-19-2011, 05:47 PM
I can't comment regarding a midget buried at Lakeside, however I do know of a guy who buried a late model on his farm. Dean Cummings, gandson of the late Bob McDowell owner of the #14 Lakeside modified, did just that. I don't remember all the details, something upset Dean. It may been a decision CNS made that he didn't like or a problem with the engine or chassis. But he took a backhoe, dug a hole, and buried the car on his farm. This was not some old tired beat up sled. It was a current edition Howe. I heard this straight from Dean himself. I want to say this was sometime in the late '90's. I know I've owned cars that I would have done that to, but never had the chance. By the way Dean is not given to making up stories, if he said he did it, he did.

Maybe Fastway could chime in on this, he knows the story better than I do.

JimmyK
02-12-2012, 03:54 PM
Another pic of the car...

VickiLee
02-12-2012, 08:36 PM
My dad, Ronnie Lee, once told me about a midget racer that had killed too many drivers (I don't remember if he said how many), so they decided that it should be buried and never driven again. Daddy said that they buried it where the trash containers stood. I think that was on the end where the pits were.

Wayne Arner
02-12-2012, 10:28 PM
This race car, Walt Killinger's #8, is NOT buried in the parking lot at Lakeside! It was a very difficult, if not impossible, car to drive. This rear-engine, rear-drive outboard was built from scratch by one of the most experienced and capable engineers involved with Midget Racing in Denver, Walt Killinger. An early driver, in both Midgets, Big Cars, and the Pike's Peak Hill climb, he graduated from the Colo. School of Mines, with a degree in Metallurgy. Several drivers, including Joe Giba, (who got out of this car to drive K&L's #67), tried to make it work, but it wouldn't handle for anyone! It was the car that Powell Lewis was driving, when on the 23rd. lap of the Main event, he spun in front of Pete Hedrick on the south turn, and was forced into a light pole, crushing him in the cockpit, resulting in his death, in 1946. The attached picture displays the damage. Killinger was so shaken by the accident, that he took the car home and cut it up, and didn't salvage anything. He never ran another Midget at Lakeside. As far as anything being left behind after the Races, Ben Krasner had a strict policy that the Track, pits, parking lots etc., had to be emptied by midnight, so that the Park employees could clean up, NO exceptions! The CARC guys on this site should remember this well, as they always had to scramble to get all of the, "Hoolligan/Destruction Derby", Junk out of there ASAP!!

Wayne Arner
02-12-2012, 10:43 PM
I see that the photo didn't get included with my post. So let's try again.

Jerry Lee
02-13-2012, 12:18 AM
Wow, thanks Wayne for the detailed info and photo.....and so, we can now finally put the "rumor" to rest.

I must admit though, this has been a pretty tasty thread!

Vitesse
10-22-2012, 05:02 PM
This race car, Walt Killinger's #8, is NOT buried in the parking lot at Lakeside! It was a very difficult, if not impossible, car to drive. This rear-engine, rear-drive outboard was built from scratch by one of the most experienced and capable engineers involved with Midget Racing in Denver, Walt Killinger. An early driver, in both Midgets, Big Cars, and the Pike's Peak Hill climb, he graduated from the Colo. School of Mines, with a degree in Metallurgy. Several drivers, including Joe Giba, (who got out of this car to drive K&L's #67), tried to make it work, but it wouldn't handle for anyone! It was the car that Powell Lewis was driving, when on the 23rd. lap of the Main event, he spun in front of Pete Hedrick on the south turn, and was forced into a light pole, crushing him in the cockpit, resulting in his death, in 1946. The attached picture displays the damage. Killinger was so shaken by the accident, that he took the car home and cut it up, and didn't salvage anything. He never ran another Midget at Lakeside. As far as anything being left behind after the Races, Ben Krasner had a strict policy that the Track, pits, parking lots etc., had to be emptied by midnight, so that the Park employees could clean up, NO exceptions! The CARC guys on this site should remember this well, as they always had to scramble to get all of the, "Hoolligan/Destruction Derby", Junk out of there ASAP!!
Wayne: do you have any further details of Powell Lewis' fatal accident? Especially the date?

I found this forum while researching the 1946 Pike's Peak climb: is it possible that Killinger drove this car there himself?

Also - thinking laterally - could the "buried car at Lakeside" story be a confusion with the death of George Robson at Lakewood in 1946? Floyd Roberts had been killed in the same car at Indy in 1939 and afterwards Cliff Bergere cut it up with an acetylene torch. Some versions of the story have him burying the parts.

Wayne Arner
10-23-2012, 12:17 AM
Powell Lewis, (a.k.a. Lew Parsons), was killed in July, 1947, and I'm not sure of the exact date, as they were running three nights/week back then, and the newspaper results weren't always dated. He was a very popular driver, but not able to keep a "good" ride, as he had switched from the Buddy Martinson Offy #1, to get into the Killinger Elto #8 that night! Incidentally, Walt Killinger did drive his Miller Big car at Pike's Peak in 1946, finishing 3rd, his best finish of his 15 attempts, from 1931 to 1953.

dkrails
10-27-2012, 11:17 PM
Powell Lewis died in a Denver hospital from injuries suffered in the wreck on July 7, 1946 He did not realize how serious his injures were until he was pulled from the car.
Joe Giba had been the driver for this this car and was listed in the program as driver.

RJ Butz
07-20-2013, 02:22 AM
Here they are next to each other, so you guys can figure it out. ~Olen


http://i678.photobucket.com/albums/vv149/OlenMac/jerry-1.jpg
http://i678.photobucket.com/albums/vv149/OlenMac/bruce.jpg

Joe Giba in top photo(superstroke has a better res pic) his regular ride until he got sick one night, yeah, Jerry Lee that is Harold Ridell bottom photo. Think it was earlier than wreck 7/7/46 when Powell Lewis/Lew Parsons met his end. Also have (strangely) heard of the elephant buried story but think it was at King Soopers lot at 20th & Depew from family/books. Maybe two stories combined? :zapped: