promoter Abe Slusky inaugurated “Bronco” stock car racing at
Playland Speedway, in an effort to bring new competitors into the sport,
and to accommodate experienced racers, all in a class that was
In 1967, Bronco rules allowed 1946-1967 stock-appearing American made cars, all subject to a $350 claiming rule. Since this class was totally new in this area, initial car count was small, but by season’s end, there were enough Broncos to run 4 or 5 heats, with D, C, B, and ‘A’ Features.
An interesting variety of cars showed up to race, including lots of ‘55, ‘56, & ‘57 Chevs. While Fords were in the field, they were the minority.
One of the new Bronco competitors was Omahan Neal Holling, driving a white 1957 Ford # 20, with a 352 Ford engine. Neal built his own cars.
As can be seen in Neal’s pictures, he was no stranger to running the outside when necessary, and had a number of good runs; enough good runs to enable Neal to finish 9th in the 1967 Bronco Point Standings.
Neal’s wife Barbara even tried her hand at racing, driving Neal’s # 20 in Playland’s Powder Puff Derby.
Neal raced Playland in 1967 and ‘68. He teamed up with Roger Nixon to run the 1968 Playland 300, but the pair was sidelined early due to mechanical issues.
After the 1968 season, Neal would move on to area dirt tracks, still running Fords, thus being in the minority brand-wise. His number would change from 20 to 29.
Neal’s son Rick raced in Sunset Speedway’s Pro Am Division, and, after hanging up his helmet, Rick was a Tech Inspector at Sunset, and currently is Tech Inspector for the traveling SLMR Dirt Late Model series.
Today, Neal is still a Ford guy, but with street rodding rather than oval track. One of Neal’s current rides is a purple ‘32 Ford coupe, powered by a Ford 302, of course. Neal will point out to you that his coupe uses toggle switches to start and shut it off, just like his former Ford race cars.
Although it has been a number of years since Neal was racing a Ford at Playland or other area tracks, if you ask him about it, you’ll find that as with most Playland racers, he remembers some of it like it was yesterday.
Neal Holling Playland Pics
Front Row, Left-Right: Unknown; Bob Cox?; Jerry Marco; Rex Baller; Ron Hoden; Unknown; Larry Robinson?; Pancho Goldsberry; Jerry Davis
Back Row, Left-Right: Pretty Girl; Bob Jura; Ron Frederick?; Unknown; Unknown; Miss Council Bluffs; Neal Holling; Roger Mickels; Unknown; Don Brown; Phil Kennon?; Elvin Heiman; Paul Zdan; Pretty Girl
2. # 66-Elvin Heiman, sideways-Phil Kennon?, # 20-Neal Holling, all in what appears to be a turn 2 get-together….
3. Neal Holling’s white # 20 ’57 Ford chasing the # 47 ’56 Chev
4. Neal’s wife, Barbara Holling strapped in # 20 for Playland Powder Puff competition
5. Neal Holling entering turn 1 at Playland. If you look closely, straight above the white top of Neal’s # 20 is Playland’s Wild Mouse Roller Coaster sign. The left front fender of # 20 appears to have mud splattered on it; maybe this race was run following some rain(?)
6. For some reason, # 20’s number got changed to 21 in this shot. Neal’s ’57 Ford doing battle with the ’55 # 55 Ford of Jerry Davis
7. No stranger to running the outside, Neal appears to have momentum to catch the # 79 Ford. Back in 1967, there were a number of Fords racing at Playland, but they were a minority compared to the Chevs.
8. Would today’s announcers refer to this as a “gaggle” of cars rounding turns 1 & 2 at Playland? On the very outside of the gaggle appearing to be in good shape is Neal in the white # 20. In the ‘46 Ford # 10JR, is none other than 1967 Bronco Point Champion Paul Zdan. This Ford had Chev power under the hood.
9. Nice shot of Playland’s backstretch in 1968. Again running the outside, Neal Holling’s ‘57 Ford races ahead of a group of Chevs. Possibly Mel Krueger is driving # 61, while Gary Durham is in the 144.
10. Neal Holling (right) and team mate Roger Nixon, ready to run the 1968 Playland 300. Note that # 20’s right side reveals that part of maintaining a Bronco car included straightening or pounding out battle scars received from previous races. If you look below the passenger side of # 20’s front bumper, you will see 2 exhaust header tubes of the Neal-built headers that helped exhaust escape from the Ford 352 engine under the hood of # 20.
Unfortunately the Holling-Nixon team was sidelined from the ‘68 “300” early due to mechanical issues.