1952 A Transformative Year

The History of Motor Sports in Hibbing and Northern Minnesota - A Timeline

                                                                                     A new chapter in racing at the Hibbing Raceway was written in 1952. On June 5, 1952
                                                                                     the first weekly “Stock” Car race was held. Until this time, races were held only once or
                                                                                     twice each year. Nearly all being staged during the St. Louis County Fair. Now, the racing
                                                                                     would be a weekly affair held under the auspices of The Arrowhead Racing Association.
                                                                                     This association was headquartered in Rhinelander, Wisconsin and ran eight other race
                                                                                     tracks. At the time, only the ½ mile track existed. The association built a new ¼ mile
                                                                                     track within the larger oval. (It would later be expanded to 3/8 mile) For the first few
                                                                                     years, racing took place on Thursday evenings. On that first night, a crowd of 1,000
                                                                                     saw about a dozen local drivers compete. There were a total of 18 races held in 1952
                                                                                     with grandstand attendance increasing steadily to as many as 5,000 at some events.
                                                                                     Car counts also increased to 50 or more cars present on race night. These first racers
                                                                                     were also socially conscious. In a two year period, starting in 1952, they raised over
                                                                                     $6,000 to help fight Polio.

                                                                                     The IMCA “Big Car” event at the county fair is also notable. A record breaking crowd
                                                                                     of over 7,000 people saw 1949 Indy 500 winner, Bill Holland win the feature. And, there
                                                                                     were 5 drivers in the field that are now in The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. They
                                                                                     include, Bill Holland Bobby Grimm, Bob Slater(Killed while racing in 1955) Don 
                                                                                     Branson (killed while racing in 1966) and Jerry “Scratch” Daniels. 
                                                                                     Tragically, the tracks first and only fatality occurred during this race. Bob Grab, from
                                                                                     Madison, WI. was killed when he tangled with another car. It was only his 2nd time 
                                                                                     driving one of these sprint cars.

© David L. Aho 2012

Dave is a member of the Hibbing Historical Society and the Minnesota State Historical Society and is a City of Hibbing Heritage Preservation Commission board member.