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“Hot Rods” Race in Minnesota for the First Time

The date was May 26, 1947, when “Hot Rods” were raced for the first time at the Dakota County Fairgrounds located in Farmington, MN. The racetrack was located about twenty miles south of Saint Paul, the home of the State Capitol.

The midget racing craze, which began in Los Angeles, CA, in 1933, also was popular post-war, although it died out by about 1950. “Hot Rod” or ‘”Jalopy” racing of modified stock cars also started in LA at about the same time and has continued until today. The vehicles in this race, with the exception of one, the third from last, which may be a Chevrolet, are all stripped and modified Fords dating from the late-1920s to the late-1930s.

Please share with us what you find of interest courtesy of the Hennepin County Library.

37 responses to ““Hot Rods” Race in Minnesota for the First Time

    • In that same photo in the center beside a dark ’46 Ford Fordor, a dark over light sedan with a man and woman wearing hats passing by seems to be a ’41 Studebaker Commander Skyway Land Cruiser

  1. In the third photo there’s a great looking 2 door trunk sedan at the bottom of the photo. Can someone identify it.? The hood louvers have me stumped.

  2. The Roaring Roadsters!!! Roadster racing post WW2 was also a very popular, low cost, exciting form of racing in Central Pennsylvania with the Keystone Roadster Association. The Eastern Museum of Motor Racing (EMMR) lets us old hot rodders re-create these events a few times a year.

  3. A lot of brave people standing on the outside of turn 1. Ditto the infield although not quite as dangerous.

    I don’t see any other race cars in the pits.

    • I know you’ll forgive me Neil, but I find a need to challenge your characterization of the spectators as “brave.” ‘Cognitively impaired’ might be more fitting. I’m reminded of unconcerned Mexican folks endlessly lined on both edges of the highway, watching the early 50s Mexican Road Race. Cars running well aboove 100 with maybe 36 inches of clearance between the car and a wall of flesh and blood on each side.

      • “Where’s the thrill when the lion’s teeth are filed down?” That was the attitude back then, before insurance companys started dictating the rules.

  4. Whoa! Just spotted the prize! Look just to the right of the two white building in the in-field, its a Packard Darrin Victoria!

  5. Even got the bikers. I don’t know, sure looks like they packed them in, I mean, they’re standing on the roofs of the buildings, and lined clear around the track, for crying out loud. For a bunch of jalopies going around in circles? Seems like a lot of pre-war cars too.

    • Yes, I noticed a large number of Motorcycles, depending on what time of year that this was maybe the would be a 48 Indian Chief in the mix. Oh, the thought of having one of them now.

  6. That would likely be the Dakota county fair. The Minnesota State Fair has been held at the current location of Falcon heights since 1885 except for a few years when it was not held at all during civil war, WW2, polio scare during 1946, etc. The Minnesota state fair had a large paved track with permanent grandstands which contained indoor exhibition space below deck! The track is gone now but the grandstand remains and is used for concerts every night of the fair. They finish each concert with fireworks which I can hear from my house!

  7. That is a really huge turn out of spectators. Probably more folks then for the county fair? If this is the first time seeing “Hot Rods” racing imagine how many guys went home and dragged something out of the back forty to try their hand at Hot Rodding. Exciting times.

  8. Looks like Farmington! My dad drove a 32 Ford (several) from 1949 to 1952. He ran the Minnesota Circuit… MSCRA. Off to Korea in 1952 and never looked back. Raised a family of seven and a successful business man.
    We recreated his 3 Window 20 years ago….we still have it. Great Photo!

  9. How many of us watched the races, standing close to the track, trusting that the drivers were adept at steering left and that lug nuts of right-front wheels were sufficiently tightened.

  10. Midget racing began in Los Angeles in 1914, if only for ‘juniors’ up to 18years, and faded out with WW1 before being revived for all-comers in 1933.

  11. Is the flagman standing on the track showing a white flag for “one lap to go?” Honestly, I don’t know if that was already the custom this far back.

  12. Just a year or two after this photo remember well seeing these “Hot Rod races” as they were promoted then in eastern Nebraska. 50 cents would get us in after a short bike ride from our neighborhood. A little more refined on the west coast and referred to as Track Roadsters. Popular across the country and well chronicled in a the “Roaring Roadsters” books by Don Radbruch.

  13. Hey let’s get up early and get ahold of a good parking space on the wall outside turn one!! My cousin in NJ says a lot of action happens there.

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