Bobby Geldner – Driver

By Chad Meyer

Bobby Geldner

Photo caption: The late Bobby Geldner gets ready to compete in the Algona based Utt Electric modified. Geldner joins six other inductees into the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame. (Dick Forbrook Collection)

The late Bobby Geldner first got behind the wheel of a race car at the age of 17. A 1959 graduate of St. Peter (MN) High School, he spent more than 30 years wheeling race cars and was an inaugural member of the World of Outlaws Sprint Car series.

Early in his career, sometime around 1962, he was tabbed to be the driver of the Jim and Helen Utt owned Utt Electric number 30 modified. The team raced regularly at the half-mile ovals in Fairmont and Jackson, Minnesota. Geldner also drove frequently at the Algona track.

While Geldner is best known as a top Midwest sprint car driver, it was behind the wheel of Utt’s modifieds that he honed his skills and helped build his legend in Algona and at the southern Minnesota speed plants. Before Geldner went on to sprint cars though, he was a winner in Utt’s car.

He quickly adapted to the faster sprint cars and was top competitor at the Jackson Speedway, earning the 1974 track championship there.

He was a frequent and formidable driver on the Midwest Sprint Association tour where he earned wins at the North Star Speedway near the Twin Cities in 1973 and 1974.

Bobby GeldnerHe was so good at North Star Speedway that National Sprint Car Hall of Fame member Doug Wolfgang commented in his book Lone Wolf, that “Bob Geldner had the nerve – the nerve – to beat me off the last corner, not once, but TWICE! Actually, when I was growing up, around Jackson Speedway, Bob was as good as there was in our area, driving for Loren Woodke.”

Geldner made his return to the speedway in Algona to race sprinters in 1975. Under the direction of former car owners Jim & Helen Utt, the Algona track featured sprint cars weekly then. Geldner often made the pull from St. Peter and contended for many top finishes.

Geldner was known for giving top drivers a run for their money when he pulled into either his home track or on the road. In 1980, Geldner made the haul out to Hartford, South Dakota with the #1B Budweiser sprinter. The top driver at the track at that time was Don Reiners, Jr. who was the defending champion and current point leader.

Bobby GeldnerEven though nobody was able to race with Reiners, Jr. all season, Geldner timed in quickest. Geldner went on to score the win in his heat race and passed Reiners on the outside of the third turn to win the feature.

The familiar sprinter with Budweiser and the No. 1B on the wing continued after Bobby retired, with son Brett at the controls.

After a brief and aggressive battle with lung cancer, Geldner passed away July 5, 2010.

Geldner not only raced hard, he worked hard too. He started his own business in 1965, which he ran until the end of his life. His business and racing took him on many adventures across the country.

He volunteered his time with the Le Sueur County Mounty Sheriff’s Posse and the St. Peter Volunteer Fire Department. He also served in the National Guard for six years and the Le Sueur County Historical Society site of Geldner’s Sawmill. He was dedicated to the conservation of German and Jefferson Lakes and the preservation of family heritage.

Geldner is 2003 inductee into the Jackson Speedway Hall of Fame.

The late Bobby Geldner joins six others as 2012 inductees into the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place August 4th during the Kossuth County Fair races at Algona Raceway.