Drag Strip Deaths

Subtitle

      1950-1959 Fatalities
Norris Abbott

Born:  September 30, 1933

Died:  July 19, 1958

Buried:  Greenwood Memorial Park, San Diego, California

Age:  24

Full Name:    Norris Wayne Abbott

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Paradise Mesa Drag Strip, San Diego, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  July 19, 1958

Car:  Corvette-engined dragster

Biographical:  He was going 130 MPH nearing the finish line when his transmission exploded.  The gas tank and fuel lines caught fire causing him to lose control.  The car flipped over and over in the flaming wreckage.  He lived in San Diego and was the brother of Lenco Transmissions founder, Leonard Abbott.  The two were partners in a service station business in Imperial Beach.  He was survived by his wife, Crystal, and daughter Linda, and a soon-to-be-born son, Michael.

Sources

Norm Porter, e-mail communication to site administrator, Mar. 20, 2011

Find a Grave website

http://www.garlits.com/z11-abbott.html   (accessed 3/23/11)

"Driver killed in explosion of sports car," Los Angeles Times, July 21, 1958 

http://www.competitionplus.com/drag-racing/news/17045-sumek-leonard-finally-gets-his-due  (accessed 3/23/11)

California Death Index:  Norris Wayne Abbott, born Sep. 30, 1933, in Arkansas, died July 19, 1958, in San Diego, mother’s maiden name was Newman

“Crash kills race driver,” Pasadena Star-News, July 21, 1958

Michael (Abbott) Kaufman, e-mail communication to site administrator, Mar. 30, 2011

Photos

Find a Grave website

 

Nicky Bogdan

Born:  1938

Died:  October 12, 1958

Buried:  St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery, Niles, Illinois

Age:  20

Full Name:    Nicholas Michael Bogdan

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Great Lakes Drag-a-Way, Union Grove, Wisconsin

Event: 

Accident Date:  October 12, 1958

Car:  

Biographical:  He had just completed a run clocked at 141 MPH when his vehicle veered veered left off the track, plowing nearly a quarter of a mile through an adjoining field.  He suffered a fractured skull and broken neck.  The engine was torn from the vehicle as it bounced against the rocks in the field.  The car was totally demolished.  An experienced drag racer, he lived in Evanston, Illinois.

Sources

"Drag strip driver killed," Long Beach Independent, October 13, 1958

"Drag driver dies in flip," Nevada State Journal, October 16, 1958

"Drag racing pilot is killed," Pasadena Star-News, October 13, 1958

"Racer killed," Edwardsville Intelligencer, October 13, 1958

"Car runs off strip, drag is killed," Milwaukee Journal, October 13, 1958

"Dragster leaves track, driver dies," Milwaukee Sentinel, October 13, 1958

"Auto overturns on drag strip, man, 20, killed," Sheboygan Press, October 13, 1958

“Death notices,” Chicago Daily Tribune, October 14, 1958 (Nicholas Bogdan, age 20, late of 814 Dobson Ave., Evanston, IL; son of Mary Bodnarchuk, grandson of Michael and Anna Bodnarchuk of Canada; interment in St. Adalbert’s Cemetery)

1940 U. S. Census:  Nickolas Bogdan, age 2, b. IL, living in Chicago, IL, son of Mack and Mary Bogdan, with a sister Naida (age 3) 

Photos

Find a Grave

 

Mickey Brown

Born:  July 26, 1937

Died:  September 12, 1959

Buried: 

Age:  22

Full Name:  Michael Daryl Brown  

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Lions Drag Strip, Wilmington, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  September 12, 1959

Car:  Scrima-Adams-Smith Olds-powered dragster

Biographical:  Ronnie Scrima and Mort Smith were testing a new short wheelbase (93") dragster at Lions.  They had dropped Gene Adams's Oldsmobile engine in the car, but were having a hard time getting it down the track.  Mickey Brown had left his own Olds-powered dragster at home and he offered to see if he could drive the car.  About 100 feet from the starting line, he lost control and flipped upside down, suffering fatal injuries because his head got outside the confines of the roll bar.  He was transported to Seaside Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.  His wife witnessed the crash.  Racers remembered him as a kind of wild, but fun-loving kid.  He was the first man to go over 150 MPH in a gas dragster.

Sources

NitroGeezers.com website (http://www.nitrogeezers.com/Legends%20-%20Gene%20Adams.htm)

Tom Madigan and Dave McClelland, Fuel and Guts: The Birth of Top Fuel Drag Racing, 88-89

Competition Plus: Drag Racing's Internet Magazine (http://www.competitionplus.com/2004_09_15/lions_remembered.html)

"3 killed and 7 injured," Long Beach Press-Telegram, September 14, 1959

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=7314) 

Photos

NitroGeezers.com website (http://www.nitrogeezers.com/Gene%20Adams%20Photos%201.htm)

 

This is the Scrima, Adams, & Smith car that Mickey Brown drove.

Jimmy Camp

Born:  October 31, 1938

Died:  June 21, 1959

Buried:  Pinecrest Memorial Park and Garden Mausoleum, Alexander, Arkansas

Age: 20

Full Name: James Harold Camp

Nickname: 

Drag Strip: Excell-a-Rating Drag Strip, near Little Rock, Arkansas

Event: 

Accident Date:  June 21, 1959

Car:  B/SR

Biographical: After crossing the finish line at an estimated 105 MPH, he kept speeding in the shutdown area.  He went off the end of the track into gravel, whereupon he slid broadside, flipped over three times in the air,  and smashed into two trees.  Track personnel rushed to free him from the vehicle.  He was transported to St. Vincent Infirmary, but was pronounced dead on arrival.  He was from Little Rock where he was survived by his mother, step-father, father, and family.  The roadster was owned by his boss, Michael L. Helm.

Sources

"Drag racer killed Sunday," Reno Evening Gazette, June 22, 1959

"Drag race driver killed as his roadster crashes," [newspaper clipping], June 22, 1959

"Finish line crash kills drag racer," Oakland Tribune, June 22, 1959

http://www.classracer.com/classforum/showthread.php?p=247849  (accessed 3/25/11)

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=5255) 

Find a Grave website

Photos

Kathi Whittamore, e-mail communication to site administrator, June 18, 2010

Kathi Whittamore, e-mail communication to site administrator, June 22, 2010

 

 

Louis Casaurang

Born:  November 6, 1927

Died:  September 30, 1956

Buried: Memory Gardens Cemetery, Concord, California

Age:  28

Full Name:  Louis Harold Casaurang, Jr.

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Vacaville Drag Strip, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  September 30, 1956

Car:  roadster

Biographical:  He was clocked at 134 MPH, the top speed of the meet, when his roadster crashed and he was killed.  Just after crossing the finish line, he swerved to miss the timing tower.   He tried to correct it, but the car went into a long skid, shot fifty feet through the air and landed on its top.  He was crushed.  He was from Concord, California, and was survived by his wife Evelyn who, along with 3,000 spectators, witnessed the fatal crash.  It was reported after the accident that the paving was rough in the shut down area and may have been a factor in the inability of the driver to control and stop the car at its high rate of speed. He was a construction truck driver.

Sources

"Drag racer dies," Nevada State Journal, October 5, 1956

“Hot rod driver flips, driver dies,” Hayward Daily Review, Oct. 1, 1956

“Hot rod notes” Hayward Daily Review, Oct. 5, 1956

"Drag race driver killed in crash," Humboldt Standard, Oct. 1, 1956

"Drag strip driver dies at 134 M.P.H., Oakland Tribune, Oct. 1, 1956.

California Death Index (Louis Harold Casaurang, died September 30, 1956 in Solano, CA, born November 6, 1927, in California, mother’s maiden name was Mendonca)

Social Security Death Index  (Louis Casaurang, born Nov. 6, 1927, died Sep. 1956, SS# issued in California before 1951)

California Birth Index  (Louis Harold Casaurang, born November 6, 1927, in Contra Costa Co., CA, mother’s maiden name was Mendonca)

Photos

Find a Grave

 

Red Case

Born:  September 10, 1935

Died:  June 3, 1959

Buried:  Hillcrest Cemetery, Porterville, California

Age:  23

Full Name:   Eugene Richard Case 

Nickname: Red

Drag Strip:  Vaca Valley Raceway, Vacaville, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  May 24, 1959

Car:  self-built Chrysler-powered AA/FD

Biographical:  His throttle stuck as he sped across the finish line, flipping end over end, he suffered massive injuries. He struggled through several days of intensive care at Woodland Clinic before being released to go home.  Shortly after his hospital stay, he died of pneumonia, according to information provided by Don Jensen, a fellow member of the Hayward Head Hunters car club. He was survived by his wife and three children.  A resident of Bellflower, he worked as a mechanic and semi-professional driver for the Sanchez & Cagle salt flats racing team.  His best time in his own AA/FD was 9.06 and 170 MPH.

Sources

"Drag racer dies," Los Angeles Times, June 5, 1959

Candace Salima, e-mail communication with site administrator, Mar. 22, 2012

Don Jensen, e-mail communication to site administrator, Mar. 20, 2017

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=6343)

Hillcrest Cemetery (http://cagenweb.com/cpl/tulare/tchc1.htm#c)

California Birth Index (Eugene Richard Case, born Sep. 10, 1935, in LA Co., mother?s maiden name was Barkwilll; Gordon Earl Case (his brother), born Feb. 26, 1939, in LA Co.; Leighton Freeman Case (his brother), born June 15, 1934, in LA Co.)

California Death Index (Eugene Richard Case, born September 10, 1935, in California, died June 3, 1959 in Yolo, mother?s maiden name was Barkwille)

Social Security Death Index (Eugene Case, born Sep. 10, 1935, died June 1959, SS# issued in California before 1951)

Photos

RootsWeb: Eugene Richard Case 1935-1959  (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gecase/eugene.htm)

Fifty years ago in Texas (http://www.teamtriumphtexas.com/nhra.htm)

Find a Grave website

 

 

 

Jay Cheatham

Born:  February 19, 1925

Died:  March 1, 1959

Buried: Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Francisco, California

Age: 34

Full Name:    James Walker Cheatham

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Famoso Drag Strip, Bakersfield, California

Event: U. S. Fuel and Gas Championships

Accident Date:  March 1, 1959

Car:  "Pearson Olds" Olds-powered A/GD

Biographical:  He was a runner-up in A/GD to Ted Cyr at the 1958 Indy Nationals. He died at the 1st Smoker's Meet (U.S. Fuel and Gas Championships) at Famoso with about 30,000 people in attendance.  He was racing another dragster during an elimination run and had been timed at over 150 MPH on the run.  He had slowed to about 75 MPH during the shut down when he crashed into a metal barrel marker and rolled end over end.  It took several minutes to pry him from the dragster.  There was very little publicity at that first Smoker's Meet and the California Highway Patrol accused the Smokers of trying to cover-up the fatal accident when they failed to file a report with the highway patrol office.  The highway patrol didn't learn about the fatal accident until fifteen hours after Cheatham was pronounced dead on arrival at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.  Race officials offered an explanation, believing that a highway patrol officer in attendance at the race was going to follow up with an investigation without them having to make a formal report.  Other extenuating circumstances were present which may have explained the situation.  Race officials didn't think Cheatham's injuries were serious when he was taken by ambulance to the hospital, but upon learning of his death, they decided not to make a public announcement until after the racing was finished.  An autopsy was ordered because it was thought he may have suffered a stroke or heart attack, but the autopsy showed that he died as a result of a broken neck. Both Kingdon Drag Strip and Fremont Drag Strip had benefit drag races to donate money to his widow.  His best time was 9.96 at 152 MPH.  He was from Sunnyvale, California.

Sources

"The 1958 National Championship Drag Races," NHRA Online (http://www.nhraonline.com/50th/news/index.html?story=314)

"Cheatham drag race," Oakland Tribune, July 5, 1959

"Dragsters gate to Cheatham fund," San Mateo Times, July 9, 1959

Robert C. Post, High Performance: The Culture and Technology of Drag Racing, 1950-2000, 93 

Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields (http://www.members.tripod.com/airfields_freeman/CA/Airfields_CA_SantaRosa.html)

"Drag driver's death ruled accidental," Bakersfield Californian, Mar. 5, 1959

Don Smith, e-mail communication to site administrator, July 27, 2010

Dave Sorenson, e-mail communication to site administrator, May 2, 2011

U.S. Veterans Gravesites:  James Walker Cheatham, b. Feb. 19, 1925, d. Mar. 1, 1959, Golden Gate National Cemetery, Sec. S, Site 2532

[Research clues: 1930 U.S. Census:  in Moore, Muskogee, OK, James W. Cheatham, age 5, son of Mack C. and Mona Cheatham, brother Warren R. age 9, sister Katherine L. age 7]

Ken Cheatham, e-mail communication to site administrator, Nov. 15, 2011

J. Michael Kenyon, e-mail communication to site administrator, Nov. 25, 2011

"Drag racer killed at Famoso," Bakersfield Californian, Mar. 2, 1959

"Cover-up charge hit by dragsters," Bakersfield Californian, Mar. 4, 1959

Photos

"Jim McLennan--photo profile" (http://www.wediditforlove.com/Champion-1.html)

 

Cheatham ran this B/GD at speeds of 140+ MPH in 1958.
Dave DeLangton

Born:  January 8, 1931

Died:  February 7, 1955

Buried: Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California

Age:  24

Full Name:    David Thatcher DeLangton

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Pomona Drag Strip, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  December 19, 1954

Car:  1934 Ford B/Modified So-Cal Coupe

Biographical:  DeLangton was the driver of Alex Xydias's competition coupe.  The So-Cal Speed Shop ran the car at both Bonneville and the drag strip.  It was a quarter-mile record-setter at a speed of over 132 MPH.  DeLangton had just returned from Korea and wanted to drive, so Xydias let him.  At  Pomona, the car was on the starting line.  When DeLangton shifted, the clutch exploded, cutting a fuel line.  The car caught on fire.  He jumped out while the car was still moving.  DeLangton was severely burned and died several weeks afterwards at the Sawtelle Veterans Hospital.  He was from Van Nuys, California.  His mother was Geraldine and his sister was Sue Anne Cover.  Alex Xydias, who was DeLangton's brother-in-law, gave up racing after the accident and sold the car to John Moxley.  The car was raced by a number of owners at drag races and Bonneville until being retired in 1996.

Sources

"Injuries fatal to hot rod driver hurt at Pomona," Los Angeles Times, February 8, 1955

"Drag race driver who jumped from burning racing car at 100 m.p.h. critically burned," Corona Daily Independent, Dec. 20, 1954

California Death Index (David Thatcher DeLangton, born Jan. 8, 1931, in Tennessee, died Feb. 7, 1955, in Los Angeles Co., mother's maiden name was Thatcher)

HowStuffWorks website (http://auto.howstuffworks.com/so-cal-coupe-hot-rod.htm)

http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?p=5830017  (accessed 12/13/10)

http://www.rodandcustommagazine.com/thehistoryof/alex_xydias_1934_ford_so_cal_coupe/index.html 

Photos

http://so-calspeedshop.com/sc_history2.html  (accessed 11/27/10)

HowStuffWorks website (http://auto.howstuffworks.com/so-cal-coupe-hot-rod.htm)

http://gassermadness.com/norms/Coupe-Sedan/SoCal%20coupe.jpg  (accessed 12/13/10)

Find a Grave

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Dome

Born:  June 25, 1935

Died:  September 21, 1958

Buried: 

Age:  23

Full Name:  Paul Aiken Dome  

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  San Gabriel Drag Strip, Irwindale, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  September 21, 1958

Car:  

Biographical: While speeding at 147.54 MPH, his car skidded off to the side of the track, flipped fifteen to twenty times, and broke into pieces. His helmet came off in the accident.  Drag strip officials said the flywheel exploded under the pressure of the car's acceleration, causing the disintegration of the car.  He died from a brain concussion and other injuries shortly after being taken to Lark Ellen Hospital. He was reportedly a sheet metal worker.  It was the second fatal crash at the drag strip within eight days.

Sources

"Car flies apart, drag racer dies," Kalispell Daily Inter Lake, September 22, 1958

"Drag racer killed as car tears apart at 150 M.P.H.," Long Beach Press-Telegram, September 22, 1958

"Blast kills San Gabriel drag racer," Pasadena Star-News, September 22, 1958

"Hot rod driver fatally injured," Eureka Humboldt Standard, September 22, 1958

"Drag racer is killed," San Mateo Times and Daily News Leader, September, 22, 1958

"Car breaks up at 150 MPH, driver killed," Los Angeles Times, September 22, 1958

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=9295) 

California Death Index (Paul Aiken Dome, born June 25, 1935, in Connecticut, died September 21, 1958, LA, mother’s maiden name was Aiken)

Photos

William Frazier

Born:  January 13, 1926

Died:  May 24, 1959

Buried:  Bougainvillea Cemetery, Avon Park, Florida

Age:  33

Full Name:    William Henry Frazier

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Golden Triangle Drag Strip, northwest Hillsborough County, Florida

Event: 

Accident Date:  May 24, 1959

Car:  Chevy-powered B dragster

Biographical:  He was making a test run with his car, timed at 142 MPH, when his car went out of control.  He skidded 93 feet into a sand trap whereupon his car overturned.  He was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa where he was dead on arrival.  He was from Sebring, Florida.  During inspection, officials questioned the safety of his front end, but Frazier insisted and complained so officials permitted to run against their better judgment.  The race track decided that in subsequent races, dragsters would only be permitted to run an eighth of a mile.

Sources

"Sebring man is killed in drag race," St. Petersburg Times, May 25, 1959

"Drag champ says death a freak accident; course to be cut," St. Petersburg Times, May 26, 1959

Florida Death Index (William Henry Frazier, died May 1959, in Hillsborough County, Florida)

Florida Marriage Collection (William Henry Frazier married Patricia Ann Mathis in 1950 in Highlands County, Florida)

Social Security Death Index (William Frazier, died May 1959, born January 13, 1926, age 33, SS# issued in Florida before 1951)

Photos

Find a Grave website 

 

Dave Gendian

Born:  March 15, 1935

Died:  January 15, 1956

Buried:  Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California

Age:  20

Full Name:  David Mike Gendian  

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Lions Drag Strip, Wilmington, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  January 15, 1956

Car:  Chrysler-powered AA/FD

Biographical:  He mistakenly mounted his mag wheels with lug nuts meant to be used on steel wheels.  About half way down the track he lost a wheel while traveling about 120 MPH and the car flipped during the first round of eliminations. The roll bar, mounted ahead rather than behind the seat, did not protect him.  He was also lacking a shoulder harness.  He is purported to be the first fatality at Lions Drag Strip.  He was survived by his mother, sister, and two brothers.

Sources

"2000 watch hot-rodder die in crash," Los Angeles Times, Jan. 16, 1956 

“Obituary,” Los Angeles Times, January 19, 1956 

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=5244)

Competition Plus: Drag Racing's Internet Magazine (http://www.competitionplus.com/03_25_2004/lions_roar.html)

Robert C. Post, High Performance: The Culture and Technology of Drag Racing, 1950-2000, 37 

Tim Madigan and Dave McClelland, Fuel and Guts: The Birth of Top Fuel Drag Racing, 93 

Photos

Find a Grave

 

Richard Gilbert

Born:  February 18, 1921

Died:  December 10, 1950

Buried:  Odd Fellows Cemetery, Los Angeles, California

Age:  29

Full Name:  Richard Martin Gilbert  

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Santa Ana Drags, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  December 10, 1950

Car:  

Biographical:  He received fatal injuries when his hot rod overturned while racing at a supervised race strip on the Orange County Airport.  Spectators said his car started to weave as he neared the finish line and then overturned.  He was transported to Santa Ana Community Hospital where he died.  He was from South Gate, California, and was survived by his wife and four children.  He may have been organized drag racing's first fatality.

Sources

"Hot rod race driver killed," Los Angeles Times, Dec. 11, 1950

California Death Index: Richard Martin Gilbert, born Feb. 18, 1921 in Calif., died Dec. 10, 1950 in Orange, mother’s maiden name was Mitchell

U.S. WWII Army Enlistment Records:  Richard M. Gilbert, born 1921 in Calif., resides in L. A. County, enlisted Oct. 3, 1942 in Air Corps

Photos

 

 Los Angeles Times, December 11, 1950

 

James Goodson

Born:  December 18, 1942

Died:  September 15, 1957

Buried: 

Age:  14

Full Name:  James Michael Goodson  

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:   Yello Belly Drag Strip, Grand Prairie, Texas

Event: 

Accident Date:  September 15, 1957

Car:  

Biographical:  He managed to stop his car before he collapsed with a heart attack near the end of the race track.

Sources

"Drag racer suffers heart attack Sunday," Brownsville Herald, September 16, 1957

Texas Death Index ( a James Michael Goodson, born Dec. 18, 1942, in Texas, son of Mary Ellen Sullivan and Arvaro M. Goodson, died Sep. 15, 1957, in Dallas Co.; confirmation needed because age is so young relative to cause of death)

Photos

Tom Heeter

Born:  June 29, 1929

Died:  August 18, 1957

Buried: Memorial Park Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio

Age:  38

Full Name:  Thomas Edgar Heeter  

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Dahio Drag Strip, Dayton, Ohio

Event: 

Accident Date:  August 18, 1957

Car:  

Biographical:  Heeter, from Dayton, Ohio, was killed while running 107 MPH when his car skidded 264 feet and turned end over end.

Sources

"Drag racer killed," Hayward Daily Review, August 19, 1957

"Dragster killed," Tucson Daily Citizen, August 19, 1957

"Driver dies in record try," New York Times, August 19, 1957

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=8947)

U. S. Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963

Photos

L. E. "Popeye" Hester

Born:  May 10, 1913

Died:  May 29, 1957

Buried:  Memory Gardens of Farmington, Farmington, New Mexico

Age:  43

Full Name:  Leonard Edward Hester

Nickname:  Popeye

Drag Strip:  unsanctioned stretch of old Highway 550, 2 miles west of Farmington, New Mexico

Event: 

Accident Date:  May 29, 1957

Car:  motorcycle

Biographical:  Dairl Peterson, a 16-year old Farmington boy, had just made a solo run on his motorcycle. The racing on the old highway west of Farmington was unsupervised and it was dusk. Probably not seeing that Peterson was still in the act of turning around, Hester and another motorcyclist began racing.  Hester was speeding at about 100 MPH when he collided with young Peterson, who had not yet exited the road. Hester, who lived in Farmington and owned a truck company, was survived by his wife, Evelyn, and five children. Police, who appeared to give tacit approval to racing on the old highway, closed the drag strip highway to any further drag racing after the fatal accident.  All newspaper reports referred to this stretch of the old highway as a drag strip. 

Sources

"Three on dragstrip in tragic accident," Farmington Daily Times, June 2, 1957

"State police closing strip," Farmington Daily Times, May 31, 1957

"Funeral notes," Farmington Daily News, May 31, 1957

Photos

Laylin Lloyd Jewett

Born:  August 15, 1925

Died:  September 14, 1958

Buried:  Maple Grove Cemetery, Mason, Michigan

Age:  33

Full Name:   Laylin Lloyd Jewett

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Central Michigan Dragway, south of Edmore, Michigan

Event: 

Accident Date:  September 14, 1958

Car:  

Biographical:  He was clocked at 152 MPH before losing control and rolling over.  He was from Mason, Michigan.

Sources

"Drag racer killed," Ironwood Daily Globe, September 15, 1958

1930 U.S. Census (Laylin L. Jewett, age 4, born about 1925, son of Arthur W. and Alice L. Jewett, sisters were Beverly E. (age 7) and Janice A. (age 6/12) in Mason, Michigan)

Photos

Find a Grave website 

 

 

 

Ed Kaczorowski

Born: 1938

Died:  June 1, 1958

Buried:  Sacred Heart Cemetery, Roseville, Michigan

Age:  19

Full Name:  Edward M. Kaczorowski

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Motor City Dragway, New Baltimore, Michigan

Event: 

Accident Date: May 31, 1958

Car:  stock car

Biographical:  He crashed his car while traveling over 100 MPH during qualifications on a solo run. The track operator took him to St. Joseph Hospital in Mount Clemens where he died the next morning. He was the son of Anna Kaczorowski and was a member of the Bearing Burners hot rod club of Mount Clemens.

Sources

Find a Grave

Macomb County, Michigan, Death Index

"Probe fatality on drag strip," Holland Evening Sentinel, June 3, 1958

Photos

Joe Koper

Born:  March 18, 1932

Died:  July 19, 1958

Buried:  Oakwood Memorial Park, Chatsworth, California

Age:  26

Full Name:  Joseph Millard Koper 

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Lions Drag Strip, Wilmington, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  July 13, 1958

Car:  Watson & Callahan gas dragster

Biographical:  He lost control of his car at a speed of 142 MPH, crashing into a light pole.  The car spun out and rolled several times just before sunset. He died several days later from his injuries at Seaside Hospital in Dominguez.  A resident of Sherman Oaks, California, he was survived by his parents, a sister, and three brothers.  He worked in a gas station.  He had been an army paratrooper in the Korean War.  He reportedly held the world record for a stock roadster at 142.45 MPH.  The dragster he was driving when he had his fatal accident had once been raced by Fritz Voight as an Open Gas car. Earlier in the day, co-owner Bill Watson of Sepulveda drove the car to a new track record on two runs of more than 150 MPH.

Sources

"Drag racer killed going 140 m.p.h.," Los Angeles Times, July 21, 1958

“Four die in county accidents,” Pasadena Star-News, July 21, 1958

"Injuries fatal to driver of gas dragster," Long Beach Independent Press Telegram, July 20, 1958

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=6103)

Find a Grave website

Dave Sorenson, e-mail communication to site administrator, May 2, 2011

Photos

Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With Us (http://www.wediditforlove.com/remembering.html) 

 

Earl Layden

Born:  November 11, 1930

Died:  February 22, 1959

Buried:  West Lawn Cemetery, Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Age:  28

Full Name:   Earl Lee Layden 

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Maple Airport, Maple, North Carolina

Event: 

Accident Date:  February 22, 1959

Car:  

Biographical:  Traveling over 120 MPH, his car went out of control during a run and crashed into a group of parked cars and spectators, six of whom were injured.  He was transported to Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City where he died several hours later.  He was a resident of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, a son of Tullie and Vertie Layden.  This may have been the only time a drag race was organized to run at Maple Airport.

Sources

"One dies, seven hurt in 120 MPH crash," Miami News, February 23, 1959

“Driver killed in racing crash,” Vancouver Sun, Feb. 23, 1959

"Drag strip racer among 16 N.C. dead," Lexington Dispatch, Feb. 23, 1959

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=2889)

Photos

Richard Louda

Born:   October 19, 1928


Died:  September 1, 1957


Buried:  Arlington Memorial Gardens, Mount Healthy, Ohio


Age:  28


Full Name:   


Nickname: 


Drag Strip:  Beechmont Dragway, Cincinnati, Ohio


Event:  Southern Ohio Timing Association


Accident Date:  September 1, 1957


Car:  


Biographical:  He was traveling over 100 MPH when his home-built race car flipped over off the end of the race track.  The accident was thought to have been the result of a broken steering mechanism.  He was survived by his wife who, along with 1600 spectators, witnessed the fatal accident.  They lived in Cincinnati.


Sources


"Cleared in death, Cincinnati's drag strip to continue," Portsmouth Times, September 5, 1957


“Cincinnati’s drag strip to continue; no blame in death,” Newark Advocate, Sep. 5, 1957


"Accidents fatal to 29 in Ohio," Elyria Chronicle Telegram, Sep. 3, 1957


"Fatality fails to close track," Massillon Evening Independent, Sep. 5, 1957


"Close drag race track following death of driver," Newark Advocate, Sep. 2, 1957


Photos

 

George McMurry

Born:  August 31, 1931

Died:  October 6, 1957

Buried:  Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California

Age:  26

Full Name:    George Howard McMurry

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Half Moon Bay Drag Strip, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  October 6, 1957

Car:  dragster

Biographical:  His car overturned after being timed at 109 MPH during a solo time trial run.  After applying his brakes, the dragster started to fishtail. The car veered into the dirt on the left side of the strip, then shot across to the right side, somersaulting end over end once, then overturned sideways four times. The right rear wheel broke and crashed into the cockpit, crushing him. His wife, Louise, was among hundreds of spectators who saw his car flip over.  They had only been married for a month at the time of the accident. He had been an instructor at James Lick High School in San Jose. [Note: Some sources spell his surname as "McMurray," but more reliable sources spell it McMurry.]

Sources

"Drag racer killed," Troy Record, October 7, 1957

"Drag race driver killed," The Sun, Oct. 7, 1957

"Drag race driver killed," New York Times, October 7, 1957

California Death Index

Find a Grave

U. S. Veterans Gravesites

U. S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms

California Birth Index

Photos

Find a Grave

 

Joe Mahoney

Born:  June 7, 1930

Died:  December 16, 1956

Buried: 

Age:  26

Full Name:    Joseph Vincent Mahoney, Jr.

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Santa Rosa Drag Strip, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  December 16, 1956

Car:  

Biographical:  His handmade fiberglass Mercury-powered race car went out of control and flipped over at least seven times after being clocked at 129 MPH.  In the morning time trials, the Mahoney Brothers car had clocked the meet's fastest speed (135.82 MPH) and time (10.31). He was from San Jose, California, and was an engineering student at San Jose State.  The drag strip had only been in operation for two months. Santa Rosa police ordered the strip closed three days after the accident reportedly because "safety specifications had not been met."

Sources

"Drag strip test ends in death," Modesto Bee, December 17, 1956

"Drag race strip at Cotati closed," Oakland Tribune, December 20, 1956

Ancestry.com Family Tree:  Joseph Vincent Mahoney, Jr., b. June 7, 1930, Chicago, IL

Cook County, Illinois Birth Index: Joseph V. Mahoney born June 7, 1930

California Death Index

Photos

Graden Miller

Born:  November 17, 1930

Died:  September 17, 1957

Buried:  Fairlawn Cemetery, Chickasha, Oklahoma

Age:  26

Full Name:    Graden Arnold Miller

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  State Fair Speedway, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Event:  NHRA National Championship Drag Races

Accident Date:  August 30, 1957

Car:  1932 Ford Coupe

Biographical:  While making a test run, the flywheel on his car exploded.  The fuel line was cut while he was traveling at about 100 MPH.  His car caught fire and Miller jumped out, but not before getting third degree burns over sixty percent of his body.  He was a resident of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Sources

"Sports in brief," Los Angeles Times, Aug. 31, 1957

"Driver burned in U.S. hot rod trial," Milwaukee Sentinel, Aug. 31, 1957

"Oklahoma City hot rod racer dies of burns," Chicago Tribune, Sep. 18, 1957

"Hot rod racer dies of burns," New York Times, Sep. 18, 1957

"Hot rod racer burned," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 31, 1957

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=1351) 

Photos

Find a Grave (photo courtesy of Al)

"A Year in the life of Eric Rickman: 1957," Hot Rod, Nov. 2011 [two photos of Miller's wreckage]

 

John Moute

Born:  December 29, 1943

Died:  September 14, 1958

Buried: 

Age:  14

Full Name:    John Michael Moute

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  San Gabriel Drag Strip, Irwindale, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  September 14, 1958

Car:  

Biographical:  His home-made car skidded on the track and overturned.  His father, who had helped his son design and build the car, witnessed the fatal accident.  He was transported to El Monte Medical Center where he was pronounced dead on arrival.  His death was one of two fatalities at the race track in the space of seven days.  A co-owner of the drag strip said that track officials did not ask to see if he had a driver's license because he looked like he was old enough to have one. He lived in Los Angeles.

Sources

"Drag racer is killed," San Mateo Times and Daily News Leader, September, 22, 1958

"Drag racer killed as car tears apart at 150 M.P.H.," Long Beach Press-Telegram, September 22, 1958

"Blast kills San Gabriel drag racer," Pasadena Star-News, September 22, 1958

California Birth Index  (John Michael Moute, born December 29, 1943, LA County, mother’s maiden name was Sillars)

California Death Index (John Michael Moute, born Dec. 29, 1943, in Calif., died September 14, 1958, L.A., mother’s maiden name was Sillars)

Photos

Harold Nicholson

Born:  December 22, 1923

Died:  November 22, 1959

Buried:  Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, California

Age:  35

Full Name:  Harold Eugene Nicholson  

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  San Fernando Drag Strip, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  November 22, 1959

Car:  

Biographical:  He was traveling about 115 MPH during eliminations when his right front wheel spun loose at the finish line and his car rolled several times.  He died at Sun Valley Hospital a short while later.  He was a resident of Duarte, California.   He and his brother, famous drag racer "Dyno Don" Nicholson, raced on the dry lakes in California in the early 1950s.

Sources

"Dragster dies in wreck at San Fernando," Los Angeles Times, November 23, 1959 

“The week in review,” Los Angeles Times, November 29, 1959

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=6794)

California Birth Index (Harold E. Nicholson, born December 22, 1923, in LA Co., mother’s maiden name was Dameron; he had a sister, Mattie M. Nicholson, born July 2, 1922)

Norman Hechtkoff, e-mail communication to site administrator, June 22, 2010

Ancestry.com Family Tree:  Harold Eugene Nicholson

1930 U.S. Census, Jackson, Missouri

California Death Index

Photos

Dairl Peterson

Born:  January 15, 1941

Died:  May 29, 1957

Buried:  Memory Gardens of Farmington, Farmington, New Mexico

Age: 16

Full Name:  Glen Dairl Peterson

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  unsanctioned stretch of old Highway 550, 2 miles west of Farmington, New Mexico

Event: 

Accident Date:  May 29, 1957

Car:  motorcycle

Biographical:  Dairl Peterson, a 16-year old Farmington boy, had just made a solo run on his motorcycle. The racing on the old highway west of Farmington was unsupervised and it was dusk. Probably not seeing that Peterson was still in the act of turning around, L. E. "Popeye" Hester and another motorcyclist began racing.  Hester was speeding at about 100 MPH when he collided with young Peterson, who had not yet exited the road. Peterson, who lived in Farmington, had members of his family there to watch him race and witnessed the fatal accident. Police, who appeared to give tacit approval to racing on the old highway, closed the drag strip highway to any further drag racing after the fatal accident.  All newspaper reports referred to this stretch of the old highway as a drag strip. 

Sources

"Three on dragstrip in tragic accident," Farmington Daily Times, June 2, 1957

"State police closing strip," Farmington Daily Times, May 31, 1957

"Funeral notes," Farmington Daily News, May 31, 1957

Photos

Newt Stamp

Born:  July 23, 1906

Died:  December 1, 1957

Buried: Greenlawn Memorial Park, Bakersfield, California

Age:  51

Full Name:  Newton Howard Stamp

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Famoso Drag Strip, Bakersfield, California

Event: 

Event Date:  December 1, 1957

Car:  

Biographical:  After being clocked at a speed of 157 MPH, he was unable to slow the car when his throttle stuck.  He tried to do a broadside skid and the car overturned.  He was pronounced dead on arrival at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. A resident of Bakersfield and owner of an automotive service, he was survived by a wife and two children.

Sources

"Throttle sticks; driver killed," Los Angeles Times, December 2, 1957

California Death Index (born Missouri) 

Social Security Death Index (SS# issued in Colorado) 

Photos

Roger Stinson

Born:  June 27, 1933


Died:  December 23, 1956


Buried:  Mountain View Cemetery, Altadena, California


Age: 23


Full Name:    Roger Dennis Stinson


Nickname: 


Drag Strip:  San Gabriel Drag Strip, Irwindale, California


Event: 


Accident Date:  December 23, 1956


Car:  Mercury-powered 1937 English Austin


Biographical:  His car went out of control when he was going an estimated 110 MPH.  He was hurled from the car as it flipped end over end.  He was from Azusa, California.  He was survived by his wife, Wanda, and two children.


Sources


Motorsport Memorial website


“Drag strip crash kills man,” Pasadena Star-News, Dec. 24, 1956


"Racer killed in 110-m.p.h. speed run," Los Angeles Times, Dec. 24, 1956


California Death Index:  Roger Dennis Stinson, born June 27, 1933, in Ohio, died Dec. 23, 1956, Los Angeles, mother’s maiden name was Call


Social Security Death Index:  Roger Stinson, born June 27, 1933, died Dec. 1956, SS# issued in California before 1951

Photos

Yeiji Toyota

Born:  December 6, 1937

Died:  November 29, 1959

Buried:  Oak Hill Memorial Park, San Jose, California

Age:  21

Full Name:    

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  Fremont Dragstrip, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  November 29, 1959

Car:  "Black Marauder" B/F dragster

Biographical:  While traveling at an estimated 150 MPH, his dragster disintegrated after rolling several times during an elimination run.  He was rushed to Washington Township Hospital where he died seven hours after the crash. He was a resident of San Jose (or Campbell), California. A news report mentioned that he was known as the "king of San Jose hot rodders."  Earlier in the year, he had set what was reported to be a national record in B dragster at 168.53 MPH. His younger brother, James, witnessed the fatal crash. He was survived by his parents, Tadashi and Misue Toyota.

Sources

"Dragster killed in Fremont," Hayward Daily Review, May 30, 1960

"Rites set for Fremont drag race victim," Hayward Daily Review, Nov. 30, 1959

"World drag mark set at Fremont," Oakland Tribune, Oct. 12, 1959 

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=7204)

California Death Index (he was born in Washington)

Ancestry.com Family Tree

Photos

BillionGraves.com Burial Index

 

Lanny Gene Wilkins

Born:  June 17, 1936

Died:  August 31, 1958 

Buried: Roselawn Memorial Park, Denton, Texas

Age:  22

Full Name:  Lanny Gene Wilkins  

Nickname: 

Drag Strip:  S.R.C.A. Drag Strip, Great Bend, Kansas

Event:  AHRA Championship Drags

Accident Date:  August 31, 1958

Car:  1954 Chrysler-powered A/MR

Biographical:  He lost control of his car that had been clocked at 140 MPH while in the shutdown area.  The car, owned by George G. Gilmore of Denton, Texas, skidded more than 200 feet, roared up a 44-foot embankment, and bounced more than 18 feet in the air.  Wilkins was thrown from the car by the impact, killing him instantly.  He was from Denton and was survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herman D. Wilkins and one brother, Jim.  It was only the second time that he had driven the car.  Some thought his brakes may have locked.

Sources

"Denton man dies in racing auto," Odessa American, September 1, 1958

"Former Tulian is killed in Kansas," Tulia Herald, September 11, 1958

"Sudden rise is noted in road deaths," Reading Eagle, September 1, 1958

“Texan killed at drags Sunday; Beaverite dies,” Great Bend Daily Tribune, Sep. 1, 1958

Texas Birth Index (Lanny Gene Wilkins, born June 17, 1936, in Swisher Co., Texas, son of Effie Mae Jones and Herman Doyle Wilkins)

Photos

Find a Grave

 

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