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 Mississippi Valley Speed Club Memories


May 22, 2017
Our prayers go out to Mike Niffenegger Family.  Mike passed away. He drove in the MVSC for many years..  He was the 1973 MVSC Champion

Above Mike and crew 1973


Mike 1968 or so


  Above, Mike Niffenegger a true Champion.

The Mississippi Valley Speed Club (MVSC) was a group of Stock car racers that met to race at dirt tracks in multiple places in south east Iowa, over the early 1960s thru 1973, tracks were Columbus Junction, West Liberty, Mt Pleasant, Burlington and Eldon.




Half Mile Dirt Track Racing in the good old days!
Above is a photo sent to me by Joe Tonkinson. (We thank you Joe!)  This great photo was taken at Columbus Junction after a big win by John Mickey in the early 1960s. John is celebrating with his team owners early in his driving career.   Joe Tonkinson and his Dad Paul Tonkinson from Yarmoth Iowa are in the photo.  Joe and Paul are standing right next to the car under the Coleman decal .  Joe is looking up at the camera and has a big smile on his face.  Joe says back in the day the photographer would take the photo then ask who would like to order one.   Joe tells a great story of John Mickey early in his career.  John Mickey dominated the race circuit (that was before Mark Mosier and Mel Morris became so popular) and because he won so many races people began to not like him so much.  One Saturday night at Columbus Junction in one of the heat races John Mickey came out of turn 2, there was a car in front of John on John's left side with it's rear bumper real close to John's front bumper.  There was another race car behind John with is front bumper real close to John's rear bumperWell the correct time the race car on the right side located at the rear of John's car took the rear end of the car one way and the driver in the front on the left took the front the other way and forced the car "crossway" and John's car made a gentle slow roll.  People in the stands were cheering!  John Mickey of course did not like the situation at all!  Joe adds, John Mickey was one of the Great Drivers of the history of MVSC who went on to race in the IMCA Late Models.  Thanks for the good story Joe!


YouTube Video

Thanks to Mark Kleindolph for sharing this great silent video above of MVSC Jalopies in the early 1960's.  Most of the video is racing at West Liberty.



If you are on facebook, every once in a while you will see MVSC stock cars from this webpage on
History Of Iowa Dirt Track Racing

...join the group... there on facebook!


Let's Go The The Races!



Let us go back to a nice July Saturday night in South East Iowa. They just got the track all packed.  It's time for the time trials.  They just set off the "BIG BOOMER" firework  to wake us up and tell us it is time!   We are seated in a crowded grandstand, on a wooden seat, all lit up by the bright yellow light bulbs.   The aroma of cigarette/cigar smoke and engine exhaust  SMELL is in the air!   There are young and old people seated all around you with kids running everywhere.  That girl sure looks pretty who just walked by!   There is excitement in the crowd.  Who will win tonight?  Who will have the hot car in time trials?  Who is not here because they wrecked their car last Saturday night or midweek at Oskaloosa?   And I haven't had supper yet, the beer/pop, hotdogs and hamburgers under the grandstand would really taste good!
 





In the photo below you can see the large crowd in the background in the West Liberty grandstand, and 1966 was the year of the rule change and newer cars up to 1957 were allowed, so you also see on the track in the background the old Jalopys and the newer cars.  Click on image to see larger....

  
My Interest In the MVSC Stock Cars
  I grew up going to the Stock Car Races (with my parents and Grandparents) in the 1960's.    As long as I can remember I have liked racing.  The two tracks that we went to when I was a lad were the Louisa County Fairgrounds (Columbus Junction, Iowa) and the Muscatine County Fairgrounds (West Liberty, Iowa).  Since I lived on a farm near Letts, Iowa, on still Saturday evenings in the summer, if I could not get to the races,  I could still hear the rumble of the Mississippi Valley Speedway Club Stock Cars racing around the big 1/2 mile oval just on the edge of Columbus Junction, Iowa.   Oh how I wished I was at the races!     I was in Letts Go 4H club and every year from when I was 10 until 19 I took Hereford club calves to the Louisa County fair and would pretty much spend the week at the fair.  I enjoyed going to the stock car races each year.  Many years they had 2 nights of racing; the IMCA late model stock cars (Ernie Derr, Ramo Stott, Dick Hutcherson, John Mickey, Lenny Funk etc would role in with their beautiful cars.  On this night there would be a smaller crowd.  But then on Saturday night of the fair, was the local MVSC stock cars and they drove older cars.  This was a packed crowd night!  My Dad had a Ford 2.5 ton truck and we used to back it up to the fence of the stock car track and watch the races sitting on 2x12 wood planks that were stretched across the top of the sideboards of the truck bed. This was a good seat!   My Grandpa and Grandma Estle also took my brothers and me to the races.  The way it worked back in those days was West Liberty and Columbus Junction alternated Saturday nights for races.



West Liberty MVSC 1961  Mark Kleindolph shared this photos on History of Iowa Dirt Track Racing




     Of course everyone had their favorite drivers. Mel Morris was like the Dale Earnhardt or MVSC.  Big Johnny Moss was always good.  My favorite driver was Mark Mosier from Washington, Iowa.   There were many more good drivers than those three, but they were probably the top 3 favorites. 
     A Few More Notes On This Website. 

If you have information you would like to share, send it to me. I downloaded photos when ever I could find them of MVSC drivers/cars.  None of these photos are original with me.  I have looked far and wide for several years for these photos.   A fellow by the name of Randy Foor shared some photos with others who posted them and may of these photos were credited from Randy.  (Randy I would love to meet you someday!) Feb. 6 update, I found out that Mark Dowis from Washington, Iowa shared some of his photos with Randy Foor and Randy shared both Mark's photos and Randy's photos on the net...Mark was delighted to see them here. Unless the photo has another credit, it probably came from Mark and Randy.   Thanks to others who shared photos on line that show up here.  Gale Reed sent me a bunch of fine photos. Thanks Gale!  Karen Fenn from Washington Iowa has shared many photos and so has Ed Thomas...and many others! Thank you all for helping all our memories along!

   If you see your photo here, and it is not credited to you, please let me know and I will credit it to you.    Feel free to share memories in comments on the pages.  Many of the photos you can see larger sized if you click on them.