Remembering The Hutchinson Nationals

This page is dedicated to Jimmy Harkness (1947-1976)

photo courtesy of Brian Carroll.
Photo #274

The tragic death of Jimmy Harkness has taken one of auto racings outstanding competitiors from us-but more essentially mankind has lost an exceptional young man. A devout Catholic, he was a non-drinker, non smoker, and had Ill thoughts or words for no one. His clean cut appearance and gentle and soft-spoken manner were enhanced by his sincerity and sportsman-ship. He was always deeply appreciated of a kind word or a compliment.
In racing, he was an extremely hard charger with a strong desire to win, tempered with consideration for his fellow competitors. At times he was brillant and had learned his craft rapidly. His best years were ahead and it was obvious he was the heir-apparent to the Harold Leep-Frank Lies mantel of greatness,
He leaves a loving and devoted wife Betty, and a seven month old son, T. J. Their heartbreak and grief is shared by a legion of friends and racing fans. His racing highlights included a 1973 Hutchinson Nationals win, The Merrick Circuit Championship in 1973, and the Kansas State Championship in 1973 and 1975.
Taken from the 1976 NCRA Yearbook, by Jack Ward.

For a complete list of pages at Racing From The Past return to the Home Page.

The most prestigious race in the Kansas Oklahoma area. The Hutch Nationals was moved from Oklahoma City in 1958. Jack Merrick was the promoter up until his death in 1977. Jack was a promoter that added pageantry, with the Miss National's Beauty Contest to the ballons, to the ball, and to the dignitaries, Governors Singers and performers.As can be seen in the photos below. See my Memorial page about Jack. This page will concentrate on the Merrick era of the Hutchinson Nationals for now.

Maybe someone should ask Regis today who won the 1969 Five State Championships for a million dollars was it, (A)Dale Reed (B) Herb Copeland (C)Frank Lies or (D)Bob Fitzsimmons. That is Regis Philbin far right back helping Paul Chance the car owner with Bob Fitzsimmons driver of the #88 Chance Oldsmobile Special. Herb Copeland and Wynn's Rep. Max McGinnis look on. Regis was with the Joey Bishop Show in the 60's.
The #88 was driven by Don Spreier from Larned throughout most of the 60's, until Don retired in 68, and I believe Bob took over, and maybe Terry Kowalsky might have had a little seat time in the #88.
Photo #276

The late singer and racer in his own right Marty Robbins with the late Jack Merrick.
Photo #277

The line up for the 1973 Merrick Kansas State Fair Championship Races.
Photo #278

Larry Dewell from Fowler KS drove the Bob Billups #112. Larry was the winner of 1972 Kansas State Fair Championships.
Photo #281

The greatest team of the 60's, and my favorite. The great Frank Lies from Wichita KS, and the great owner of the famous #55 Kenny Riffel of Herrington KS. This team won the Nationals three years in 1957 (Oklahoma City), 1958, and 1968.
Photo #282

LAP #2 of the Hutchinson Nationals.

Links to other sections for the Hutch Nationals

The 1974 Hutchinson Nationals

Remembering The 1974 Hutchinson Nationals Fire

The 1973 Hutchinson Nationals

The 1971 Hutchinson Nationals

The 1969 Hutchinson Nationals

The 1968 Hutchinson Nationals

The 1967 Hutchinson Nationals

The 1966 Hutchinson Nationals

The 1965 Hutchinson Nationals

The 1964 Hutchinson Nationals with photos

The 1963 Hutchinson Nationals with photos

The 1962 Hutchinson Nationals with photos

The 1961 Hutchinson Nationals with photos

The 1960 Hutchinson Nationals with photos

For more pages check the Home Page.