In the Fall of 1957, the Plank, Moffitt, Yoder, Hostetler and Mitchell families started the Mac-O-Chee racing club. The families raced go-karts and cars they had built themselves, but Don Moffit was the first in West Liberty to own an actual quarter midget. Later that year, several of the boys in those families received quarter midgets for Christmas.
While driving cars around Craig's Grain Elevator and the Lions Club Park was fun, the families knew they needed a track. On October 27, 1958, the first race on the new Mac-O-Chee dirt track was held! This was also the inaugural race for the new Mac-O-Chee Quarter Midget Racing Association. The track was located directly East of the current paved track that exists today.
Pictured - Mac-O-Chee/Lions Club Park Dirt Track 1958
The dirt track provided an outlet for local racers to enjoy racing but the Mac-O-Chee QMRA and the Lions Club quickly began planning for a much needed asphalt track. Memorial Day, 1959, the first race was held on the current 1/20th of a mile asphalt track. Every precaution was taken to keep drivers safe on the new track. Miniature traffic lights were installed at both ends of the oval. Two light poles were located in the center of the field with tires at the bases to absorb shock if they were to be hit. The outside rim of the track was lined with baled straw and a wooden fence installed behind the bales to protect spectators if a car got out of control.
Pictured - 1959 West Liberty-Craig Gallagher #44, Mike Sherrow #8, Larry Sampson#58, Curt Peterson #7
Races were originally scheduled on Sunday afternoons but the races were eventually switched to Saturday nights on July 4, 1959 with an estimated 800 people in attendance at that first Saturday race. It did not take long for the new track, nicknamed the "Beauty Bowl" for its neatly manicured surroundings, to attract drivers from all over the country. The Labor Day races in 1959 drew an estimated 2000 people as they watched 67 drivers from 3 states take the track. In 1962, the "Annual Midwest Regional Card" at West Liberty was touted as the "largest event east of the Mississippi" with 113 entries from 6 states and Canada.
Pictured in September 7, 1959 - Jim Smith, Nick Hostetler, Darry Plank, Curt Peterson, Ronnie Stewart, Scooter West, Doug Plank, Dennis Plank, Kent Risner, Raymon Plank
Later that year, the popularity of the track quickly diminished and for reasons still unknown to this day, the track closed after that season.
In the early 1980s, Darry Plank decided to bring the track back to life. After many meetings and a lot of work to update the track facilities, racing returned to Mac-O-Chee for the 1982 season and has been thriving since. In 2009, the Mac-O-Chee Hall of Fame was formed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the track. On October 3, 2009, some of the key people that had a hand in starting Mac-O-Chee and racing at the track were inducted into that Hall of Fame.
Pictured - Kneeling: Chris Yoder, Steve Yoder and Doug Plank
Standing: James Hostetler, Nick Hostetler, Mrs. Bill Hostetler, Larry Flora, Mrs. Frank Peterson, Curt Peterson, Ron Stewart, Ben Shroyer and John Plank
Years ago, the decision was made to change the name of the track from "Beauty Bowl", by which it was known for many years, to its new name, "The Bullring". To honor the Beauty Bowl, there is a race held every summer just for fun, no points. The racers and their families play games in the middle of the track. New members are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Many past Hall of Famers come to reminisce and to see the young racers still using the track on which they once raced. Some of them bring their old cars with them to display and remember the "good ole days". It's a great day for everyone at the track, young and old.
Pictured - Hall of Famers and young racers during the first Hall of Fame induction on October 3, 2009
Doug Plank poses with his first-place trophy and car owner Don Moffit after the 1959 Labor Day race
Mac-O-Chee's claim to fame - NASCAR’s Ryan Newman raced at Mac-O-Chee for several years. His name appears in the first row on this qualifying sheet.
Driver Ron Stewart with Frank Peterson behind him (in plaid). Ron won the 1961 QMA Grand National race in the Alcohol AA class in Indianapolis. He started on the tail of 10 cars in a 40 lap feature.
Here the bales of straw and wooden fence can be seen that were used as a safety precaution when the asphalt track was originally built
Curt Peterson on September 7, 1959 receiving a winning kiss from Trophy Girl, Carol Scott and Flagman Jim McAlexander handing him the checkered flag
Junior and Ron Stewart with their new
1958 Moss MidJet car
September 7, 1959 West Liberty
Driver Ron Stewart
Behind Ron is the tower originally built at the track. Only men worked in the tower at races
Flagman Hugo DeVictor
1959 at Mac-O-Chee driving a Wahlborg
ALL PICTURES PROVIDED BY CURT PETERSON