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Harold Leep


Harolds picture with Shane Carson


Harold


Harold with Shane Carson and Jerry Maxwell


Harold


Harold


Harold


Harold


Harold kissing his wife


Harold


Harold at Belleville Museum victory circle


Harold


Harold kneeling by the pick up


Harold and Chet Wilson 1960


Harold


Harold


Harold with some kids


Harold with Frank Lies, walt McWhorter and Jay Woodside


Harold after winning the 1967 Nationals


Harold on the right


Harold with the other heat winners at the 1966 Nationals


Harold


Harold's memorial race


Harold with his old modified


Harold getting small trophy


Harold with another trophy


Harold and another trophy presentation


Harold getting a trophy


Harold winning 1972 NCRA event


# 4


Harold with # 52


Harold and Sybil


# 29


Harold with # 57


# 76


# 99


# 99


# 2



# 4


Harold getting out of the car


# 25


Harold


# 76


# 76


Harold's story

Harold's many cars


# 01


# 2


# 2


# 2


# 2


# 2


# 2


# 2


# 2


# 2


#


# 4 at Milwaukee 1960


@ 5


# 07 in 1976


# 11


# 11


# 11


# 13


# 24


# 25


# 25


# 25


# 25


# 29


# 32 jalopy


# 43


# 52


# 52


# 57


# 70


# 76


# 76


# 76


# 76


# 76


# 76


# 76


# 76


# 76


# 99


# 99


# 99


# 99


# 99


# 999


# 999


Harold with an old jalopy


Harold passing Bill Burdick in 1963


Harold and Shane Carson


Harold # 24 and Larry Holman


# 2 Ray Cates car


# 25


Harold outside of Jerry stone


Harold in # 24 at Okie City 1975


# 76 and # 45 hererra


# 76 against his son Harold Jr in # 29


# 76 left with Johnny Suggs at Amarillo


# 70


# 99


# 2x


# 70 right


# 44


# 70 Harold about to take a ride as the next pic shows


Harold was still in the seat, but was later all right


# 25


# 76 behind Jerry Stone


# 24


An early crash


# 2


# 2 racing Terry Doss


# 76 racing ahead of Frank Lies 1977


# 2 racing Walt McWhorter


# 99 ahainst Ray Crawford


# 24 ahead of Larry Holman at Okie City 1975


# 11 in 1967


The fire in Hutcheson, Kansas that destroyed a few cars


More flames and I never found the story to see what happened


Harold's car after the fire was out

The Harold Leep story by Ray Cunningham

The 20th century produced many great open wheel champions, racing stars that included Foyt, Wolfgang, Larson, Hinnershitz, Jones, and Grim to name a few If I told you that one of those drivers raced for over 30 years, won at least 15 championships during that time, and so many races that we can only estimate the number, what driver would you guess we were talking about? Steve Kinser possibly? The King”. A good guess, but a wrong one, the man in question was racing before Steve Kinser was born, his name is Harold Leep, and he was “The King” of supermodified racing in the heartland during the 60’s and 70s, and one of the best sprint car drivers of the4 late 50’s and 60’s as well. Born in Oklahoma in 1933 during the dust bowl days, Harold Leep’s family moved to Arkansas City, Kansas when he was a youngster. Harold joined the military at age 14, after fibbing about his age.

When Leep returned from the military, (he was still under age at the time), he found his family had moved to Wichita. In 1950 Harold helped a friend finish his jalopy stocker, in exchange for the opportunity to drive it. Leep crashed the car the first time he drove it and was promptly fired. Fortunately for race fans everywhere, Harold was not deterred and raced for 35 years before his retirement.

Like many drivers of that era from Wichita, Harold developed his racing skills in the jalopies at places like Cee Jay Stadium in Wichita. There Leep raced against the best that included, Dale REED. Walt McWhorter, Frankie Lies and Billy Mears (Rick Mears dad) among others. In 1955 Harold raced in his first sprint car race. In 1957 Leep heard that Chet Wilson had built a brand new sprint car for his 283 cubic-inch Chevy, fuel injected custom engine. An engine that at the time was revolutionary in its design, in an era when Offy’s ruled the sprint car land scape. Wilson hired Leep (after much pestering from Harold) and one of the best sprint car teams of the era was born. Over the next several years the red Chevy sprint car dubbed the “Offy Killer” would win numerous races with Leep behind the wheel.

In 1957-58-59, Leep and Wilson won the United Speedways Championship three straight years, once winning 10 races in a row before they lost. In the IMCA ranks Harold finished third place in 1959, 9th in 1960 and third in 1961. In 1960 Harold crossed over to the USAC ranks and raced for Peter Schmidt in his championship car wrenche3d by legendary mechanic Wally Meskowski. Unfortunately for Leep this endeavor led to only one start, a 14th place finish at Syracuse, New York. Though Leep would never end up racing at Indy, USAC’s loss was the heartlands gain as Leep would dominate in the midlands for years to come.

1960 also found Harold racing for the BCRA for the first time. Leep and Wilson raced at Norton, Kansas when the BCRA ventured over to Kansas for the first time in the clubs history. Harold dominated the racing that day sweeping the entire program. In 1962 Harold decided he wanted to race an Offy, and joined forces with Red Lempelius. This team won several times that season including the “Hawkeye Futurity” in Des Moines, and finished 4th place in the final IMCA standings. Teamed once again with Chet Wilson in 1963, Harold’s finished 11th place in IMCA points and brought a bowling alley. Harold announced his retirement from racing at the time. Leep’s retirement was short lived as he was back behind the wheel the very next season.

The 1964 season was another big one for Harold as he finished 4th in IMCA points and added 5 more wins to his IMCA resume. By the 1965 season Harold had decided to cut back on his sprint car activities. This was good news for fellow IMCA competitors as Leep was 4th in points for the IMCA decade 1955-64, trailing only Pete Folse, Bobby Grim and Buzz Barton.

Harold had grown tired of traveling and decided to join up with the supermodified ranks that raced closer to his Wichita home. The Veterans still ventured out on occasion that season, finishing 5th place in BCRA points and winning the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, as the BCRA raced there for the first time. In 1966 Harold switched sprint car rides with Grady Wade. Wade jumped into the Wilson # 25 and Leep joined forces with Pius Selenke in the 1865 BCRA championship winning # 43 roadster sprinter. This team finished 8th place in BCRA points and won at the Belleville High Banks during fair week. In 1968 Harold teamed with former boss Chet Wilson for one last big win in sprint cars. Grady Wade had been the regular driver for Wilson since the 1966 season winning 6 times. At the Oklahoma State fair that year Wade was not available so Wilson turned to Leep one last time. Harold did not disappoint and won his 28th IMCA feature race since 1957.

Though Harold was done with sprint car racing for the most part, he certainly wasn’t done racing by any means, while his sprint car career was winding down his supermodified career was kicking into high gear. In 1965-1966-1967 Harold won the supermodified track championship at 81 Speedway. In 1967 he won his second modified national championship at Hutchinson, Kansas. From there Harold won 11 out of 13 races he participated in 1968 at Eagle raceway in Lincoln, Nebraska in the fuel injected supermodifieds. In the 100: supers that dominated the tracks of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, Harold was the man to beat. In 1969 Harold won the championships at 81 Speedway, the Tulsa Fairgrounds and Oklahoma City. Three championship, three tracks, one season, incredible.

The decade of the 70’s was like the late 1960s; Harold won the track championships at Oklahoma City in 1971, 1976, 1977 and added his third championship at Hutcheson in 1972. In the newly formed NCRA that started in 1971, HROLD WAS ONE OF THE VERY BEST. Leep won the championship in 1972-73 and 1976 in between a few more brief retirements. Harold won 21, 50 lap features from 1971-80 in NCRA competition placing him second on the victory list during that time. In 1975 Harold sold his bowling alley.

The 1980’s was the last decade of racing for the veteran driver. Harold capped his career by winning two more Hutcheson Nationals in 1983-84. During his supermodified hay days. Harold drove for several top owners including Ray Cates, Warren “Jelly” Wilhelm, Laverne Nance, Lonnie Snowden and Pat Suchy. After Harold’s retirement from racing he continued managing his oil and gas company that he started several years before. In 1990 he retired from that venture, and got back to racing in 1991 as promoter at Muscogee, Speedway in Oklahoma, his home since 1982.

In 2000 Leep was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of fame in Knoxville, Iowa and the Big Car Racing Association Hall of Fame at the Smith Museum of American Speed, Lincoln, Nebraska. A fitting testament to the man who dominated supermodified racing in the heartland in the 1960s and 1970s, while also being the best sprint car drivers of any area.

Updated 12/23/17

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