Howard Kohlhaas – Track Employee

By Chad Meyer

The late Howard Kohlhaas spent several years helping his neighbor and friend Don “Shiney” Hilbert on his race car. According to former Algona Raceway track promoter, and brother-in-law  Joe Ringsdorf, Kohlhaas lived and breathed racing.

“He lived it. Racing is all he ever talked about and he and Shiney raced all over the place back then. They were good friends,” Ringsdorf remembers.

Kohlhaas worked for over 25 years for Ringsdorf. Calling him just a ‘track employee’ doesn’t really do justice to the commitment that Kohlhaas gave the Algona track and tracks across north Iowa and southern Minnesota.

“Howard did everything,” Ringsdorf recalls. “He would water the track. He’d sheep’s foot the surface. He did everything I ever asked and always did it with a smile. No other man deserves so much from all of us in the sport. He loved racing and put in so many hours to make sure that the track was great. I guarantee you that he is smiling down on us now, knowing that he got in the hall of fame. He’d be so proud.”

It was the can-do attitude that made life easier for the track promoter.

“For many years, Howard would always work one day ahead of race night. He’d water the tracks in Algona, Mason City and Fairmont, often late at night and sometimes all night. No matter what, he got the job done, whether the equipment broke down or he got stuck. He just took care of it,” said Ringsdorf.

“I can remember some of those early season races we would try to get in. Sometimes we’d sheep’s foot for three days straight, 24 hours a day. I’d have to tell him to go home. He’d leave and the next thing you knew he was right back at the track.”

Kohlhaas had a heart of gold according to Ringsdorf. “He was always saying that he was going to play the lottery and if he won, he always told me that we’d put up the biggest race purse you ever seen.”

Howard Kohlhaas passed away at the age of 69, October 18, 2013.

Kohlhaas joins six others as inductees into the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame in 2017. More information about the hall of fame can be found at