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Joe Estes raced many types of cars at Playland. Demolition Derby, Figure 8, Mini Stock, Bronco and Late Model. Joe was kind enough to share his scrapbook with us. Here is Joe's story in his words and pictures:
When I was 5 0r 6 years old, my Dad & Mom took the family to playland to ride the rides. I remember how excited I would get going across the old bridge and seeing the roller coaster and all the lights. As we entered under the roller coaster my heart would race with excitement.
I remember getting on the small ferris wheel and seeing the old coupes racing, and I knew then that was something I wanted to do.
Later my Dad would take us to see the races, with people like Bud Burdick, Bud Aikinhead, Big John (Bud) Earnest, and Bob Matson.
When I was growing up Big John, Bobbie Jura, Johnnie Earnest, George Wolf and Jerry Marco came to our house on a regular basis. When I was 9 I went to work at "A-1 Auto Parts" as a parts puller and clean-up boy. In 1966 when I was 15, Jerry Slusky called Jerry Marco to see if he could bring 7 or 8 cars and drivers to the track for a new kind of race, figure-8's. Jerry asked me if I wanted to drive one. I couldn't get to the track fast enough. He gave me a '57 Ford and signed my release. I took 2nd place, right behind George Wolf, I was hooked! I ran all the figure-8's and demos that year.
The next year I built my first stock car, a 1956 Chevy with a 348.
By the middle of that season I couldn't figure out why I wanted to do this. I don't know how I ended up in the 4th of July 50 lap special, in the pole position, between Bob Jura and Johnnie Earnest. I was scared to death! After spinning out on the first corner on three restarts, I was never so happy when I blew a tire and was out of the race.
The next few years I got better. I even won a few bucks to help support my habit. Every year the rules would change (wider tires, motor changes, etc.). So it put a damper on my wallet and I could no longer compete in the broncos. Then in 1970, a friend of mine, Charlie Renolit Jr., called me to see if I would drive his stock car. A new class at playland had arrived, mini stocks!
Charlie had a '59 fiat we put together, and did quite well. We ended up 5th in the points that year, thanks to my pit crew, Charlie Renolit, Ed Babic, Howard Koziol and sponsor, ABC Auto.
In 1971, Jerry Slusky called me to see if I could put my mini in the auto show along with Ronnie Wolf's "Asphalt Animal" '57 Chevy bronco car. I ended up getting 2nd place in the show, but there were only 2 cars, great fun anyway. When the season opened that year, I couldn't believe the difference in the speed of these cars from the previous year. Not quite the broncos but fun anyway, and a great bunch of guys to boot (Robin & Mack Chase, George Roseland and Jerry Tullington).
I started off the 3rd year with a mini stock for a few weeks then threw a rod and started into the roadrunner class the same weekend. With the stock motors and suspension, it made this class one of the funnest I was in. Running a '65 Dodge Dart with a slant 6, I couldn't outrun the Chevys but I could out corner them. I ended the season point champ.
The next year I started with a '66 valiant 6 cyl. and the only thing I could do was get out of the way. After a couple of weeks I came back with a '65 Dart with a 318, the drivers and cars were much improved from the previous year. We had guys like Bob Cave, Ken and Randy Wolfe, Greg Roseland, and George Tangeman. We all had great fun in a low cost class.
I didn't win the championship that year but won the season ending 200 lap race with Jerry Marco as my partner.
The last year I ran a superstock with very disappointing results---enough said.
To end this I would kike to say I have never had more fun or met a better bunch of people then I met at Playland Speedway.
Thanks for the memories and God bless