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  • mandan14shooter mandan14shooter Apr 11, 2012 1:38 PM Flag

    Mr. Indy and the Super Kart....

    Joe and Bob Woodmansee owned a successful office machine store in Bismarck. An unlikely duo to open a Go-Kart track. Bob was the stern businessman and Joe the happy go lucky other half. They started with a dirt track, surrounded by hay bales. The second year i was hired because my step-brother Gare ran the track. Joe and Bob forked over 5 grand (61 prices) and had a BEAUTIFUL OVAL BANKED TRACK built. It was about 3/4 of a block long. They had a huge pile of old tires brought in and we bolted three of them together and painted them yellow to go around the perimeter. On the west end, we kept the 12 karts in a railroad boxcar and worked out of it. The side door would open for access.
    Bob would show up every Sunday in his khaki shorts and cap. He was the designated flagman, a welcome sight with 500-600 customers a day on the weekends. He would stand out there counting off the 10 laps on his fingers behind his back. Even if Jesus came out to ride, Bob would still only give him ten laps.Half through the summer, the novelty wore off and he never came back. Joe would show up every friday, after having a few drinks on the strip, and bring the paychecks and sometimes a six pack of Black Label Beer and give us each one. A good Joe.
    They still needed someone over 21 for insurance purposes, so they hired Mr. Sleepy. Mr. Sleepy worked another job on graveyard, so he spent his time sleeping in the back seat of his 50 Dodge 4-door. Once a shift, he would come out and fill the gas tanks on the karts, wonder over and flirt with the ticket girl and go back to sleep. my older brother Gare went on to a higher paying job delivering grease rags to gas stations, so i hired my best bud Ron and the two of us 15 year old snot-nosed kids ran the track for the next two years.
    ....The first thing we did was throw out the 10 lap rule in favor of the 15 or whatever we felt like lap rule. The 12 karts had 3 horse Norton engines and they matched the track perfectly. All of them had restrictor plates between the carb and the head except the Super Kart, which had no plate. Only our friends or special customers drove the Super Kart.
    ....Mr. Indy would pull up every Wednesday (and sometimes Saturday) nights around 7 in his nice green 56 Chev 2-dr. post. His wife sitting right next to him on the front seat. He was in his 50's at the time and worked as a mechanic at the local Chevrolet dealership in Mandan. His wife would wait patiently in the front seat crocheting or reading while he received his weekly racing fix. Don't know how the tradition started. Maybe because he was such a nice guy. Maybe because he was such a good driver, but we always rolled out the Super Kart for him. We would limit the other karts to two or three, so they wouldn't get in his way. The ultimate racer, he would scream down the straits and then swoop down on the corners coming out high again, never taking his foot off the gas. He would lap the other karts every three or four laps. He looked like he was in his strat-o-lounger in his living room watching Ward Bond on Wagon Train. Never a hair out of place. No one rode that track better. We would let him run for about a half hour or until he got tired. The looky-loos in the parking lot would run to get the 50 cent tickets thinking they would ride the Super Kart, but when the race ended, we would run it back in the boxcar. Everyone thought they were going to ride the Super Kart, BUT ONLY A FEW EVER DID....

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    • Norton on the brain. No, those were Clinton Engines and they were bullet proof.
      On many Friday and Saturday nights, we wouldn't get off work until midnight. The night crowd would get hammered over at Jerry's Supper Club or one of the other nightclubs. The women would come over dressed to the hilt. Ron and i would sit on the end tires at the start/finish line waiting for a chain to come off or some other freak accident. The Karts ran clockwise around the track and the women would come around the end, with one hand on the wheel and one trying to hold their dress down. A perfect view from where we sat. Mr. Sleepy would sometimes fill the gas tanks too full and i remember one loaded guy going around the track with a steady stream of gas coming up out the breather cap and landing perfectly on top of his head. The poor guy was oblivious.
      We only got paid 60 cents an hour, so on every Saturday night when everyone was gone, i backed my 51 Merc Convert up to the gas pump and filled up. Other than a few Black Labels and a few phone numbers from pretty girls, that was the only perc we ever received. Good times were had by all and hopefully they'll always be stored in the back of the mind....

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