Gary & Joann Harken – Track Official/Employees

bbBy Chad Meyer

For 23 years the late Gary Harken and his wife Joann worked side-by-side at speedways in Iowa and Southern Minnesota.

“We started working at the track in Algona when Daryl Brayton took over the track. We asked if he needed any help, and of course he said yes.” said Joann.

For many years Gary worked as a track official in turns three and four at Algona Raceway, while Joann worked in the concession stand. Gary also on occasion helped tech the race cars and helped in the concession stand as well.

In addition to working during Brayton’s time as track promoter in Algona, they also worked at the track during the tenure’s of Al & Peggy Schadendorf and Joe Ringsdorf.

Joann recalls how busy the summers got to be. “In addition to Algona, we helped at Joe’s tracks in Mason City and Fairmont, Minnesota. We also spent a couple of years in Britt for Dan and Sandy Danielson.”

They also did a few stints at the IMCA Super Nationals, held each September in Boone.
The hours were often long and certainly involved hard work. In 23 years of serving local tracks, the couple rarely missed work.

“I remember that Gary missed only one weekend in those 23 years, and I missed only one weekend and one Saturday night during that time,” recalled Joann. “The people were the reason we kept coming back. We made so many friends because of this sport!”

They retired from the race track after the 2010 season.

Gary passed away February 12, 2015 after an extended battle with cancer. He worked for many years at KEMCO Tires in Algona and later for Rick’s Body and Paint. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1964 and served in the Vietnam War until his discharge in 1968.

Joann and the late Gary Harken join four others as inductees into the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame. More information about the hall of fame and the ceremony is available at