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Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016

Slater man relates tales from local racing career

Friday, August 3, 2007

Roy Hibbard, 72, of Slater, stands next to a painting a lady from Hallmark did for him a few years ago of his race car.
(Rachel Harper/Democrat-News)
Editor's note: This story is the latest in a series focusing on the history and people of the area racing scene.

Roy Hibbard spent 22 years manning the wheel of a super-modified, which are now called sprint cars. Hibbard was an accomplished driver with a wide mischievous streak.

He chuckled when asked how he got started in racing. Hibbard said, "I first started racing to impress a girl from Marshall who went to a lot of races. She was in love with Tommy Mikels and she was always saying how good he was."

Roy Hibbard drives around Sportsman's Speedway with the checkered flag in celebration of a feature win. The car he is driving is unique as he modified it and moved the seat back to sit over the back wheels. The added weight helped the car get better traction. There was no weight limit on cars back then, he said. The engine sits so far forward because the rules said the front spark plug had to be eight inches from the center of the front axle.
(Contributed photo)
He continued, "So I thought if I went out there and run out in front of him, she would go out with me."

Hibbard said he did but the girl didn't go out with him.

He started racing in 1952 and raced until 1974. He partnered with Ken Taylor and Junior Knox on his first car.

Hibbard was running a Texaco service station, when Taylor came there looking for a motor for a race car.

"Neither one of us had ever raced before and I had never been to a race," he said.

The car that Roy, Taylor and Knox put together was a 1939 Ford.

"It didn't cost much money to race back then," Hibbard said. "I think we had $900 invested in the whole car and it took three of us."

Hibbard had a big grin on his face when he said, "We hadn't been racing too long and Ken and I were working on the car. I hated to lose no matter what, on or off the track."

He said Taylor was "a bigger man than I was and I thought I could definitely out run him on foot." Hibbard said he bet Taylor $5 that he could beat him across the street in a foot race. Taylor won.

Hibbard said he was not a very good racer when he first started racing. "I remember when Jud Larson, the first Missouri modified champion, came up to me and gave me advice. He said, 'Hold it wide open and let it go where it want to.'" He said, "At that time I did not know what he meant, but I figured it out."

He said he remember winning his first trophy in 1954 at Marshall.

"I gave the trophy to my girlfriend and she broke it," he said. "I married her."

His wife, Shirley, loved going to the races with him and even helping work on the car.

"She was a jealous type," he said. "She told me I could only kiss the trophy girl if I won $500 or more that night." When going through scrapbooks Shirley made him, there were only a handful of pictures where he got to kiss the trophy girl.

"Most races only paid $350 to win," Hibbard said.

Some people remember Hibbard running a lot of races on three wheels.

"I used to lose a lot of wheels," he said.

He recalled a race he ran at the Missouri State Fair. "One of the wheels on my car came off on the backstretch and I had two and a half laps to go in a five-lap trophy dash. I started to pull into the infield but the car was running pretty good. So I stayed out on the track and finished the race. I also won the race."

Hibbard raced at several tracks including Capital Speedway in Holt's Summit, Granite City, Ill., Moberly and the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, to name just a few.

"I hated to lose," he said. Hibbard was a pedal-to-the-metal driver who worked hard to be a front runner in races, so if he wasn't in the front, he was usually in the pits after wrecking while attempting to move to the front.

"I finally realized that the most important thing was to finish," Hibbard said.

He accomplished most of his career highs at Olympic Stadium in Kansas City, he said.

Hibbard still holds the track record at Olympic Stadium and "will always (hold it) because they tore it down and turned it into a junkyard," Roy said slyly.

In 1968, he said he had the best mechanic ever, Clifford Jones of Carrollton. "The car was always ready to go. I was at the top of the points at about every track I ran."

Taylor and Hibbard were a competitive pair when it came to the Traveling Trophy. The trophy was given to the driver who won titles at all three tracks in one year. The three tracks were Sedalia, Marshall and Moberly.

"The bad part about winning the trophy is that you had to personally give it to the next winner," Hibbard said.

Taylor and Hibbard were the only drivers to win the trophy three years in a row so they got to keep the trophy for those consecutive wins.

Hibbard won 12 features in a row at Sportsman's Speedway and eight features in a row at Granite City.

"If it sounds like I am bragging, I am," he said. "We had a lot of fun in those days."

When Hibbard quit racing, his nephew counted his trophies. He has 347.

"And that is not all of them because the car owner kept half the trophies and I gave a lot away to family members."

Hibbard put his racing gear away in 1974 and never took it out again, at least not to man the wheel of a racer.

He reminisced about several other drivers who were very competitive when he was racing and told a lot of stories about them and their race cars.

His brother Russell Hibbard, Bill Utz of Sedalia, formerly of Lexington, Ray Lee Goodwin of Kansas City and Torch Aleshire of Moberly are just a few of them.

Contact Rachel Harper at


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i was glad to read this i use to race with roy and russel and all those guys at moberly, jeff city

and marshall it was so much fun good old days

-- Posted by hecascott on Sun, Apr 5, 2009, at 2:12 PM

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