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Old 04-16-2009, 11:29 AM   #1
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Post John Guttormson: fan, racer, artist.

John Guttormson came from Fargo, ND to Denver in 1945 as a teenager. He saw his first race at the height of the midget boom and was hooked on auto racing. What a better time than the post war era to watch the likes of Lloyd Axel, Johnny Tolan, the Spicklers, Buddy Shay, all the early legends of Lakeside Speedway.

John came close to racing with the CARC in 1950 with a track roadster, but didn't have an engine yet. He was also a member of the DTA (Denver Timing Assoc.) with rods well known to the local police.

His racing intentions were interrupted in 1951 during the Korean conflict when Uncle Sam called him up. There he spent eleven months in combat as a forward observer for mortar fire with the U.S. Army. This is John in the Punch Bowl, a natural geologic bowl several miles across, ringed by steep mountains on three sides, off the east-central coast of Korea. No racing going on there.
Upon discharge he came back home to find that his family had moved and sold his roadster. During this time, stock car racing was popping up all over America, so that's the direction John went.

A big thank you to John's son Mitch Guttormson, himself a veteran racer, for providing the photos and info for this profile.

Here's a "before" (although only shown from the rear) and "after" shot of the '34 Ford that John raced in 1953. White on top and light blue on the bottom, this 5 window coupe was converted to a stock car by Bob Hinson, long time CARC member and official at his shop in south Denver. This car was test driven up and down the alley by none other than Jim Malloy!

Originally numbered 37 (and actually made the program as #37) when they showed up at Lakeside Speedway they discovered that number had already been taken. So, they went home and re-numbered it to #51. How about that striped rear bumper?

Here, John Guttormson stands by the re-numbered #51 in the pits at Denver's Lakeside Speedway. This photo more clearly shows the two tone white and light blue paint scheme. The car looks pretty clean, no doubt still early in the season. In 1953, the CARC cars were still running fenders, although trimmed for tire clearance. The Oak Alley Inn on south Pearl was the sponsor.

John gets involved with a couple of other cars during this 1953 race. The late thirties coupe bouncing off the wall is unidentified. Bob Rich is in the Davis Motors sponsored #10. Davis Motors, which became Bob Jones Skyland Ford a year or two later sponsored several cars during the fifties.

Below is 1953 Lakeside Speedway action shot has John Guttormson in his #51 getting into the left side of Bob Childs driving Tony Onorato's #85. Can't tell for sure, but Tony's car is probably a Chevrolet since he was one of only a few who liked the Chevys. #21 is Bob Shepard, who like John, raced through most of the fifties. Notice the third rail on the guard rail, new for 1953.

Please do not adjust your set, this car really is green and white striped! For 1954, John not only got creative, but used that dreaded of all racing colors, green! Sponsored by Cannon Used Cars with "The Cannon Ball" painted on the deck lid, this is the car that others in the pits referred to as, "The Voodoo Wagon". This early season photo shows the fenders still in place, but they would soon be shed as was the practice by then.

1954 at Lakeside Speedway, and the fenders are gone now. John spins in turn four, (perhaps with a little help from Willard Meyers in #76?) while Jerry Malloy in #37 takes evasive action on the inside. Notice the lower part of the record booth above the grandstands where members of the Powder Puffers played music during lulls in the action. This area was originally behind home plate when used as a ball park.

John was an illustrator for Martin Marrietta Corp from the late 50's to early 70's. His talent shows well in this rendering of a Sunday night incident in 1954 when he barrel rolled the car down the backstretch. When he showed up for work the next day, his co-workers asked him why he was there, thinking that he should be in the hospital, as they had seen the crash on TV.

This August 22, 1954 CARC check shows that John received all of $20.00 for winning the Hooligan race. (The total purse was reported at $1844) The fastest 48 cars timed in for the evening made the program of dashes, heats and main events, while all others ran the Hooligan race. With an average 80 cars timing in for the night's races, that put a lot of cars in this one race. Winning the Hooligan was a pretty good feat!

For 1955 John raced this plain white '34 Ford 3 window coupe that he'd purchased from Don Nicholson. The car came without an engine, and John didn't have a lot of money to invest, so just put in a used engine and went racing. He's pitted here with a row of other cars on the back side of the south end of the track. Can't make out some of the other cars, but In the background can be seen the purple and white #35 of Jim Malloy.

This #51 apparently didn't handle to John's liking with the stock Ford steering, so he replaced it with a more desirable Hudson Terraplane steering box. Wonder how easy it was to find one of those!

Pictured above L-R, Jack DeShon, Carl Guttormson, John Guttormson - photo by Duncan Photography.

Following a year off to try to earn a living in California, John returned to Colorado in 1957 and teamed with Don Hewitt to campaign another '34 5 window, #65. Sponsored by Crimson & Gold Inn at Buchtel Blvd and South Pearl, this car was painted a yellowish gold and red. Here's a great shot in front of the sponsor's Crimson & Gold Inn. Neat old building and neon sign.

Above: L-R Owner of the C&G Art, Chuck Emerson, John Guttormson - Photo by Art Johansen

A three quarter rear view of the #65 touts 3.2 BEER at the Crimson & Gold Inn. Good Marketing! Back then, you only had to be eighteen to buy beer in a bar as long as it was 3.2%. Situated near the D.U. campus, this made good sense. DU's colors were no doubt the inspiration for this bar's name.

This view of the car also shows well the oval track racing slicks with the sharp edge on the inside, but rounded on the outer edge of the tire. The taillight mounted behind the rear window tells us that, like many, this car was flat towed to and from the track.

Above: L-R Mike Guttormson, John Guttormson and Chuck Emerson

John Guttormson seemed to have an affinity for T-boning cars as this 1957 racing incident shows. That appears to be the blue #10 driven by Bob Walker, while #20 is not identified. Apparently Bob dropped his head, so John jumped out to check on his condition, but was interrupted by Fritz Wilson who thought that he was going after Bob for chopping down on him. Just another part of Sunday night excitement at Lakeside Speedway.

For 1958 John helped with Don Hewitt's car, believed to be the former Crimson & Gold car, but now painted black and numbered #89. Reportedly this car didn't do as well. About this time John began helping Jack DeShon with his midget, but didn't drive. In 1959 he got the seat in the midget and ran with the RMMRA for that whole season.

Above: L-R Jack DeShon, Red Riley, John Guttormson

John Guttormson in the #51 Jack DeShon owned V8-60 midget. Red Riley's Auto Service on South Broadway, sponsored this car. Jack DeShon raced in the Denver area for years, making a comeback in the late 70's and his sons Russ, and Mike raced in the 80's, and his grandson Chris raced also midgets with the RMMRA.

This is a 1959 shot of John Guttormson spinning out in the midget at Englewood Speedway in 1959 during the "Ford Dash" ( non-offy powered cars), Ray Flannigan is on the outside in Charles Gotshalk's #47, and Dick Long's #88, John did a 360 and kept going! Dad said the reasons for all of his photo's showing spins, and crashing are that he bought the photo's that were the most exciting to look at!!

Above: John Spins but keeps going in the Ford Dash

Having a background an illustrator John used those skills to develop newspaper ads and program covers for the local racing organizations. This is an early Englewood Speedway program cover.

This well known cover art (left) using little heads and car caricatures is another example of John's artistry. The outside row shows Sam Sauer and John Palmer, while the inside row shows Jack Thoms followed by Jim Malloy and Don Wilson. John's signature can be seen just under the #19 car. This cover concept has also been used by others on their programs. What's that old saying, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Here is another example of John's excellent art in this RMMRA newspaper advertisement.

John's interest in racing continues to this day. Here he's shown helping son Mitch into Mitch's midget at Lakeside speedway in 1982.

And here's John relaxing in the I-76 Speedway pits (Fort Morgan) in 1996 while Mitch gets his own midget ready to race.

Recently John and his son's headed back to Belleville for the midget nationals and also paid a visit to the famed High Banks Museum.

Profile written by Bill Peratt.

John Guttormson passed away in the summer of 2011.
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Old 04-06-2013, 09:46 PM   #2
Jerry Lee
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Default Re: John Guttormson: fan, racer, artist.

In celebration of ARM's (5th?) birthday this month, I'm bumping up a few great old threads that have gotten buried over the years. Happy Birthday ARM!

John Guttormson was the first driver profile to appear here on ARM. And why not?? John is the father of both Eric (webby) and Mitch. A great read here with great photos and artwork.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:05 AM   #3
Mitch G.
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Default Re: John Guttormson: fan, racer, artist.

5 years for ARM! went by fast, I did not even realize it's been up and running that long. Next 5 years should be great as well, thanks for the heads up Jerry Lee!
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carc, driver, john guttormson, rmmra, vintage midgets

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