October 4, 2008
Old Times for Old
site active for our class is great - but when we find we have
expanded to others who have an appreciation for past memories it
is very gratifying. Deb Mangas received feedback from a former
Winchester native who shared his memories of Funk's speedway.
Mr. Coffman now lives in Greenville, OH with his wife of 60
years! He also recalled being a caddy at the Beeson Golf Course
for Robert Oliver, Sr. and Frances Simpson. Welcome to our
website, Mr. Coffman! Come back often and we welcome you to
share your memories and any photos you have with the class!
Deb, My name
is Glen Coffman and am 79 years old. I was raised in Winchester
and am very familiar to the Funk's Speedway. I used to be a life
guard at the round Goodrich swimming pool and actually met my
wife of 60 years there. During the war the track was closed and
we found a way to get through the locked gates in 1947. I and
several of my friends would drive around the track till a couple
of them later on brought motor cycles and Frank Funk heard them,
came over and ran us all out of there. I got to see the races
after they started racing again for free. I sold bags of peanuts
in their shells for Bob Ludy during the intermissions. I
lived in the last house on the east edge of Winchester at 644
East Washington Street. Loved sitting on the front
porch watching cars from Ohio returning towards their homes
after being at the races that day. Always waiting for a race car
being towed behind a truck on a flat bed trailer. Thanks for
putting up with an old fan. Glen PS: Love your site and have
sent in on to all my e mail friends.
Photo of our
new friend, Glen Coffman, sitting on the front of his DeSoto.
Webmaster received a great story from another new website
visitor. Welcome to John Massey Davis, who now lives
in Atlanta, GA. Mr. Davis wrote:
did not have a city owned ambulance back in the 40's, so the
track administrators would hire various funeral home hearses
that could be converted to ambulances. In my senior years
at Winchester High School in 1948, I worked part time for
the Maynard-Walker Funeral Home. The funeral home owned a
Packard hearse and a Ford vehicle that could serve as both a
flower truck and an ambulance. On the Sunday that
Maynard-Walker was awarded the ambulance contract, I was
allowed to drive the converted flower truck onto the track
as the designated ambulance driver.. It was a great thrill
to be parked among the drivers and their race cars on the
infield. There was an accident on the North end embankment
and I was called upon to drive to the scene with the red
light on ( it was a fog light on the front bumper). Since we
were required to drive in the same direction as the race
cars, I drove the entire length of the track banking on both
of the 45 degree turns....it was quite a
thrill...Fortunately, the driver was not seriously injured
and I drove him back to the infield and turned off my red
(fog lamp) light...John Massey Davis, Atlanta, GA
growing up in Winchester in the 1950s were among some of the
luckiest. Winchester was booming. There were lots of
jobs, lots of stores downtown and a lot for a kid to do.
Movie theaters, skating rink, swimming pool, and a soda fountain
in every drug store. Winchester, as the county seat, was
the heart of Randolph County. We had many noteworthy
attractions. Our swimming pool was famous, and until its
demise it was one of the last round public swimming pools in
existence. In the fall, we had Mardi Gras. Who among
us didn't endure the wrath of our mothers as we came home from
the Mardi Gras with confetti in our hair, in our shoes, and in
the pockets of our coats, and as we entered, our movements could
be easily tracked by the trail of the hundreds of little
colored paper circles left behind. What a mess, but oh
what fun! So much to see, so much to do in Winchester.
One place holds special memories for the Hintys. Funk's
Speedway, as it was called then, Winchester Speedway, as it is
Although half the clan was
either too young (or not yet born) to recall the concession booth under the
bleachers at the racetrack, we still hold memorabilia from the
day, and we have heard the stories. In later years,
we went to the track for the races. Dad and Grandpa were
into racing, any kind of racing. They loved go-karts,
midgets and the Indianapolis 500. We always watched or
listened to the Indianapolis 500. Foyt was a household
word. Parnelli Jones was a particular favorite.
The weekend of September 27,
2008, Winchester Speedway brought back a wonderful tradition.
Old Timer's Weekend.
Many of you also have memories of the racetrack. Here, we
have just a few.
Nancy K. Lane-Felder at
Split Second Sports
HISTORY OF WINCHESTER SPEEDWAY (FUNK’S)
Article from the Union City Evening
Times – May 24, 1938
Just 24 years ago May 30, the man who is fighting a grim battle
with death at the Randolph County hospital at Winchester, IN,
gave America the first specially constructed speedway. That man
is Frank Funk, a name well familiar all over the nation in
speedway racing circles and well known to the thousands of Miami
Valley auto race patrons. Funk lies in a critical condition the
result of a highway accident near his home at Winchester.
Auto racing has made Funk and he in turn has made auto racing,
which is an important part of the sport menu through the
mid-west. The site of the world famous Winchester Speedway,
which holds every recognized record from 22 seconds for the half
mile up to 100 miles, and which at every race meet has attracted
crowds ranging from 10,000 to as high as 15,000 was once a corn
Recently, Funk told how the speedway idea struck him. “Back in
1914 the site of the present speed bowl was a corn field. I was
always tinkering around some mechanical car motor when one day
on the road, I saw the then unusual feat of two cars tearing
down the open dirt road. The thought struck me that if we
cleared enough cornstalks and weeds to lay out a round path and
could round up enough owners, a small race could be staged on
Memorial Day. That the idea was a popular one was shown by the
crowd which came by buggy, bicycle and traction car, and we were
so pleased by our success that we have been racing ever since.”
The banks were increased on the turns from year to year and the
speeds increased as well. He next experimented with track
treatment. During the early seasons, he had used mineral oil.
This was impractical, as it penetrated, and from race to race it
was necessary to oil the entire track to control dust and afford
a surface for the drivers. By mixing various compositions
during the past two years he has been able to compound a surface
that retained its form race to race.
Road builders and highway engineers became vitally interested in
the Winchester course as the material that stood up under the
terrific speeds of the racing cars would solve their problems of
road building. Funk aided the materially, and his findings were
always available to the state and county officials from all over
the nation and became a laboratory and proving ground in road
With the spread of fame across the nation of Winchester under
his guidance he was in demand all over the nation for building
racing tracks. He constructed the $50,000 Ft. Wayne, IN oval,
patterned after Winchester, and succeeded in returning the
record for five-eighth-mile speedway to the Midwest. This was
done also by Everett Saylor of Dayton last summer.
Other speedways built under his supervision were Huntington,
IN., Woodbridge, NJ, and Jungle Park, IN.
All through the years racing participants found a friend in
Frank Funk. And of the thousands of drivers and car owners who
had raced for him in the past, never was there a complaint
against his treatment of them. Funk, Dr. J. K. Bailey of Union
City, and Foster Shultz of Greenville, OH, were responsible for
the establishment of the Central States Racing association in
1935. They set purses large enough to attract the drivers and
car owners of repute to races in the scope of C.S.R.A.
operations, and also created additional purses to care for those
who suffered the misfortune of breakups.
That the Funk plan operated successfully can be seen in all
C.S.R.A meets attracting the leading star drivers from all over
America. The Central States group has grown so vast in
prominence that it is recognized as the “fastest auto racing
circuit in the world” His season’s inaugural at Winchester will
be staged next Sunday despite his serious illness. It has always
been his wish that no matter what happens to him, “the show must
go on.” And it will.
(Frank Funk did survive his accident injuries and lived on).
Photos courtesy of Fred
I was on the track once, way
back, when it was Funk's Speedway. We were in our family
sedan and my Mom was all over my Dad to stay at the bottom.
It did seem steep at the time. Not so intimidating now that
I've raced on some pretty tight ovals.
I also remember watching a race and seeing a car go out of
the track in turn 3 - literally flew over the wall. I don't
remember who or when - just that sight of the sprint car in
the air with the trees in the background.
Deb (Durbin) Mangas
I remember my dad taking me,
Deanna and Dana to the track. We would get in free because
the day after the race, he would take us (and any neighbor
kids that wanted to go) out to the track and pick up the pop
bottles under the bleachers and around the area. He would
then turn them in for a deposit and split the money with all
I also remember him taking us all for a ride around the
track in our family station wagon!
I wish I
had photos of the old days. I do remember that when I
was a kid, the grandstand was covered and the tower in
the infield was a pagoda style. The outside wall, fence,
on the track was wood with wood post's. At that time the
orphans home was still in operation and the kids from
there would come over to watch a race and set in the
trees on the east side of the track. At the very
beginning of Funk's, he had a carnival on the south side
(in the parking lot)
I would like to know why he built the lake behind the
track, maybe to build the banks on the track? It used to
be called "Funk's Lake"--now "The Timbers", I think?
Last year's Winchester 400
winner, Ryan Lawler, gets cooled off by NASCAR driver, David
Stremme, who finished 2nd. Photo courtesy of Randy
Crist, 3rd Turn Photos.
Winchester Speedway, Winchester
400 Both Go Back to the Ages Oldest Half-Mile Oval in
Country Started Hosting ASA in 1970
PENDLETON, Ind. (August 30, 2001) -- It has a legendary
feel, and rightfully so. It was the world's first half-mile
oval race track and, to this day, remains one of the
steepest and fastest half-mile tracks in the country. Its
every nook and cranny has seen many of the legends of short
track stock car racing, and all of racing in general, pass
over it at one point or another. It has seen some of the
best racing moments in stock car racing, some of the worst
accidents and plenty of heart-warming and heart-breaking
Winchester Speedway history starts in 1916 with Frank Funk.
The track was the first half-mile oval in the United States,
which was made out of a clay surface. It is the oldest
running short track in operation, and falls second to the
famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the oldest speedways
still under operation. The first season began with three
scheduled events. The first show was much less than a
success, which carried over into the track's second race,
where only a few fans returned.
Pete Wales owned the track for a brief 10 years, from 1960
to 1970. Wales was instrumental in getting the track paved
for a first time, covering up the old clay surface. In the
1970s, another new owner, Roger Holdeman, took over
responsibilities of the speedway. It was during Holdeman's
tenure that the speedway underwent numerous surface changes,
as well as pushing the track into its prime. It was 1970
when Holdeman was involved in getting the first 400-lap late
model stock car race running, the one that would eventually
turn into one of the most decorated races in all of the
country, the Winchester 400. Upon his death in February of
1996, his widow, Linda, took over the track responsibilities
and held them until November of 1997.
The track was sold to three gentleman, Jim LaBar, Jeff
Jeffers and Charlie Shaw in November of 1997. As a result,
immediate changes started taking place and additional work
was being done to improve the track. The immediate goal of
the group was to bring the family environment back to the
racetrack and to make Winchester Speedway one of the premier
half-mile ovals. In late 1999, Shaw purchased a majority of
the vested interest in the track, and, along with partner
and open-wheel legend Tom Bigelow, began an even more
extensive plan to help modernize the facility.
The track has always been and remains a staple for both
stock car and open wheel racing. Some of the best drivers in
the country regularly flock with some of the best
sanctioning bodies in the country to the "super-speedway
short track" to help hone their skills. Some of the top
drivers in stock car racing now; Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace,
Mike Eddy, Bob Senneker, Jeff Gordon, Mike Cope and Scott
Hansen, have all made Winchester Speedway their home at some
Jill (Hinty) Keener
We lived about 2 miles from
Funk's Speedway for many years. My earliest memories were
of spending the evening at my grandpa and dad's concession stand
under the wooden bleachers near the fourth turn. I can
still smell the fuel and hear the cars as they raced around the
track. We had the best grape and "blue" popsicles in the
world! I still have some of the memorabilia from their
concessions at the track.
I remember driving my dad's go-kart around the track and then
taking the Black Corvair and the '67 Chevelle for a few laps!
Finally, I remember marching in the band around the track one
summer between our junior and senior year. Summer in a
wool majorette uniform was no fun!!!
I am so glad that there are still races at this historic track!
your speedway memories on the Forum and send any photos to the
Photos courtesy of Fred, Jill and
the Randolph County Historical Society
Click on the logo to go to the
Winchester Speedway website
Charlie Shaw is the owner of the Speedway. It
is hard to describe the heart he has for the place. He has loved
that racetrack for many, many years, and wants it to remain open
for fans and racers to enjoy.
Glenn Luckett, R.J. Scott and myself of Champion Racing
Association (CRA) are managing the racing events for him.
CRA / Winchester Speedway
Linton C. Hinty
Funk's Speedway - 1948
Serena P. Hinty
Jill's grandparents sold
racing souvenirs and memorabilia at the local racetrack, as well
as other racetracks in the surrounding area.