Leo Christensen – Driver

Leo ChristensenLeo Christensen was a character who’s racing career spanned 22 years, from 1948 until 1970. By all accounts, Christensen was a tremendously talented race car driver, mechanic and racing innovator. He was famous for three things…his trademark cigar, the famous 8-ball race car he drove and being someone that everyone looked up to. To many, Christensen was larger than life.

Like most racers, Christensen concerned himself with how to make the car faster and where the next race was…not keeping detailed records. However, some of the highlights of his storied racing career include:

• His first race car was a 34 Ford Coupe – that cost $64 to build.

• In 1962 he was Kossuth Speedway Sportsman of the Year

• In 1963 he won the first five features of the year in Algona and finished second in the points.

• In 1963 he finished 91 total races, winning 36 times and recording 24 second place finishes.

• One year he had six clean sweeps in a row.

• During one event in Fort Dodge, he lost a front wheel on lap eight. He went on to win the feature event on three wheels

Leo Christensen

Leo Christensen, at the Clay County Fair races.

Some of Christensen’s racing innovations and memorable moments include:

• The bus that he and the crew fabricated to transport the famous 8-ball. The bus was almost as famous as the car. Almost.

• Creating an identity of his race car that is still remembered today. The 8-ball.

• During one of the Minnesota State Fair races, Christensen made an extra large gas tank to run the whole event. He would have won had it not been for the mandatory pit stop required during the event. He made his pit stop with one lap to go. He finished second in the event.

• Christensen seemed to excel at the County Fair Races, often showing the younger drivers how to get around the hot, dusty ovals.