Edgar Meyer – Owner/Sponsor/Volunteer

Edgar and Esther Meyer join driver Jake Simpson with one of the many cars to carry the “Meyer Farms” logo. (Chad Meyer photo)

By Chad Meyer

All it took was one time, and he was hooked. As so many that became lifelong racing fans, one trip to the Kossuth County Fair in the early 1950’s cemented a lifelong involvement in the sport for Algona’s Edgar Meyer.

“I remember growing up; we went to the races at the fair just one time. I rode along with my father and my brother, Alvin, to watch. I still remember watching Bobby Grim go around the track with those knobby tires. It was something to see,” Meyer recalled.

Though life on the family farm was busy and didn’t allow for much outside entertainment, when the Algona track began hosting racing weekly in 1961, Meyer was there. “The night Larry Cordes passed away at the track, I still remember that. It was a terrible thing to witness and it’s something many of us long-time fans never forgot.”

Meyer proudly served in the Iowa National Guard from 1963 through January 1970. It was during this time that he met fellow Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame inductee and driver, Bob Weber.

Edgar Meyer (back row, right) joins Bob Weber and crew in victory lane after a win at Fairmont Raceway in 1991. (Lowell Johnson photo, Weber collection)

“Bob and I became friends and he was racing when we were in the Guard together. I still remember our Commander, Howie Stevenson, who was with Gene Schattschneider at the time, yelling out to Weber on the weekends that ‘he needed to get out of here and go racing.’ There was a lot of us that loved cars and racing.”

Meyer’s first involvement in volunteering his time at a track was at Fairmont Raceway. After moving to north of Swea City to farm in 1969, he logged many laps around Fairmont with his two-tone blue Chevy pickup, packing track and pushing cars.

“It was a way to get in free to the races and we were watching Weber race anyway,” Meyer said. “We also pushed off a lot of sprint cars, back when Fairmont raced sprints Sunday afternoons. We’d do that at Jackson (Speedway) on a lot of Saturday nights, too.” Later, he often helped then Fairmont track promoter Jerry Nutt with track prep.

It was one three-day racing trip in 1978 that ramped up Meyer’s involvement in the sport. “Though Bob (Weber) and I were friends, I wasn’t really involved much with his racing until we took that trip. It was the first time that I really had helped him on the car and it was a trip I’ll never forget.”

“Our first stop was during the Clay County Fair on the dusty half-mile. It was so dusty they had to count light poles in the infield to know where the corner was,” Meyer recalled. “The next night was Rock Rapids. Bob never even went out for the feature. He told me he didn’t like who he was starting next to, so he parked it. The first lap of the feature there was big pile up right where he would have been. I learned right then to never question his judgement. More times than not, he was right.”

“We went on to Hartford, SD to the big race (Black Hills Invitational) they had there. All the big names were there, Jerry Holtkamp, Dave Bjorge, Denny Hovinga, Bob Shryock and many others. And, he (Weber) won it all. That race was big deal and I was hooked after that,” Meyer explained.

Meyer continued helping Weber through the late model days and into 1986 when Weber drove Ron Barton’s IMCA Modified. Another favorite memory was the first IMCA Modified race at the then quarter-mile Algona track, during the ’86 Kossuth County Fair.

“I remember Barton wanting to run the fair race in Algona, but all they had were gears for half-miles. Barton got his calculator out figured out that if they ran a certain gear ratio in second gear, they’d be perfect, and they were. We stomped them that night. Weber started towards the back and when it was done, he lapped everyone but second place. It was just me, Barton and Gary Anderson there helping that night. It was really special to be involved in a small way that night.”

It was the next year in 1987 that Meyer became a racecar co-owner for the first time. “Bob and I bought that (Keith) Strunk built car together. It never worked the way we wanted, but Bob figured out how to make it work and we won some races.”

Meyer and the Meyer Farms name was synonymous with Weber’s #12 for over a decade as both a co-owner and sponsor. It was often a family affair, as his entire family was usually at the races with him. Wherever they raced, they found success, earning multiple wins at Fairmont, Jackson, Webster City, Mason City and Alta.

They finished fifth in the Azalea Nationals in Muskogee, OK in 1989, before winning the IMCA Modified Nationals event at Fairmont and ending the year capturing the Fall Futurity at Webster City. Other big wins include the July 4th special in 1994 at Jackson Speedway and being the first non-sprint car team to win back-to-back Jackson Nationals championships in 1993 and 1994.

When Weber’s racing career slowed in the late ‘90’s and early 2000’s, the Meyer Farms logo was largely absent from local racing. That changed in 2007, when he began sponsoring Jake Simpson’s B-Mod’s and IMCA SportMods.

“I didn’t really know Jake, but I started hanging around their shop because my son was helping on the car some. My son mentioned that there was an open spot for sponsorship, and I guess that’s really how it started. We all became really close friends,” Meyer said. That sponsorship has continued through to today (2019).

Jake Simpson sits tied for third in career feature wins at Algona with 46. He is tied for second in all-time track championships, with five total at Algona. Simpson also won the Schattschneider Memorial in 2012 plus multiple Kossuth County Fair race wins with Meyer’s involvement. Many other wins and track championships came at the Alta and Britt track. Another highlight occurred in 2014, where Simpson finished a close second in his qualifier at the IMCA Supernationals and finished third in the Big Dance there.

Nearly all of these accomplishments came with Meyer Farms sponsorship on the side of the car. Several of Simpson’s cars were constructed in Meyer’s shop located in Whittemore, Iowa.

A racing trip to Sioux Center is what sticks out in Meyer’s mind from his time with Simpson. “I really enjoyed the trip over there, going somewhere new. Jake did well in his heat and he sent me to redraw for him. They held the cup with the chips really low and I couldn’t help but notice that the number one chip was on top. And that’s what I drew and Jake ran away and won the race,” he laughed.

As Meyer reflects on his nearly 50 years in the sport, he recalls that, “I never got involved with racing for the recognition. I did it for fun. I was going to say that it provided relief from the stress of farming, but I never felt a lot of stress because I really loved farming and really enjoy racing.”

He also considers himself fortunate to have been aligned with the right racers. “I was lucky that both Bob and Jake were really good and that made it all the more fun. We won a lot of races. Neither of them ever asked me for money. Whatever we agreed to or what I offered is what we did and I really liked that.”

It was not uncommon for Meyer to lend a helping hand to other drivers over the years, offering small support to drivers Terry Hanning and Randy Brands at times.

Meyer’s long time support of racing doesn’t end there. He was a founding board member for the Kossuth County Ag & Motorsports Hall of Fame. In 2014, when changes at the Kossuth County Speedway demanded that the county fair board operate the track, Meyer was one of the first to step up to volunteer. Few people will realize the hours Meyer has put in to keep racing in Algona thriving. Though he will never seek recognition for it, he is part of small group of people that have been invaluable in Kossuth County Speedway’s success the last five years.

Meyer’s volunteer efforts at the local speedway include securing sponsors, maintaining the fairgrounds facility and most notably many hours spent in preparation of the racing surface. He and fellow Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame inductee, Larry Lappe, are an invaluable duo in preparing the speedway each week.

Today, Meyer is retired from farming and resides in Algona with his wife Esther. He helps his son Clint farm near Swea City and continues to volunteer many hours at the Algona track.

Edgar Meyer and five others will be inducted into the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 3, 2019.