Ken Ubben – Flagman

By Chad Meyer

Like many of us immersed in motorsports, it was a love of racing and a personal connection that got Ken Ubben involved in the sport as a flagman. “I couldn’t get enough of the sport,” Ubben said. “We went to the races all the time and my wife worked for Lanny Thackery [former flagman at Algona] who owned the plumbing shop in Titonka.

“Lanny and I would always talk racing. Being a track official never entered my mind. I told Lanny one day that flagging looked fun and he said ‘great. Why don’t you be my assistant.” The first promoter Ubben worked for was Daryl Brayton at the Algona track and he was either the assistant flagman or the flagman at Algona through Joe Ringsdorf’s first year as promoter.

Ubben started at the Hancock County Speedway when it opened in 1995. He served as assistant flagman and flagman at the Britt track during the 10-year promotional tenure of Dan and Sandy Danielson. That first race in ’95, Ubben was looking forward to throwing the first green flag, but the course of events that night prevented that from happening.

“Then Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, was on hand for the ceremonies. When he joined me in the flag stand, I said, ‘well ain’t that a kick in the pants. We put all that effort into building this place and its you that gets to throw the first green flag.’” Branstad’s assistant told Ubben he shouldn’t say that so loud. Branstad and Ubben both laughed about the situation.

Ubben remembers there was a lot of fun times working as a track official. “I am most proud of the group we worked with. We always had fun. We enjoyed it and it was a fun evening out. Most drivers had fun too and it was a good atmosphere to be in,” Ubben said.