Roy Jo Peltz – Driver

By Chad Meyer


Roy Jo Peltz

Roy Jo Peltz competed in at least three different kinds of race cars at Algona. Here he poses with his modified.

At the age of 16, and still in high school, Roy Jo Peltz found the beginnings of his passion for racing in a junk yard outside of West Bend, IA. Unbeknownst to his parents, Peltz acquired a 1935 Ford jalopy and began preparing for a successful career in the sport.

After getting the car ready in 1959, the Humboldt, IA native hit the track the next year; racing on the half-mile track at Algona and making trips to the Wright County Speedway near Belmond. Afraid his parents wouldn’t be fond of his new adventure, Peltz kept the car at his summer job, Dale’s Welding. The ruse worked for a while, until a race fan innocently mentioned to his parents in church that he seen Roy race in Algona the week prior.

Peltz’s racing was a secret no more. He was relieved when his father didn’t resist and in fact encouraged him to bring the car home. The ’35 Ford didn’t last long and it was soon on to stock cars for Peltz.

After serving his country in the United States military, Peltz came home with an itch to race once again. Modifieds and stock cars roamed the Algona speed plant at time and Peltz was in the mix. He began to make a name for himself when he raced a 1957 Plymouth Fury. The car came with a built in engine setback advantage and the 426 cubic inch motor put out great horsepower.

He competed Wednesday’s at Alta, Friday nights in Algona, down to Webster City Saturday’s and in Mason City on Sunday’s.

After seeing his first midget car race, Peltz wanted to give open wheel racing a try. He adapted fast, winning his first three features behind the wheel of Monte Wellendorf’s midget. Soon after, he and Dale Hanisch bought a midget together and traveled from Kansas City, MO to Sun Prairie, WI to Tampa, FL.

Roy Jo PeltzThe lure of sprint cars came next for Peltz, and he was hooked for life on open wheel racing. He raced mostly at Minnesota speed plants in Jackson, Fairmont and North Star Speedway outside of Minneapolis plus Hartford, South Dakota. He was also a regular competitor on the Midwest Racing Association circuit.

The thrill of non-wing sprint cars was offset by a vicious crash at Hartford. The accident, which broke his shoulder harness, left Peltz with a broken sternum, two broken shoulders, internal injuries and seven ribs broken off his backbone. The devastating crash happened on June 19, 1977. By that fall, a determined Peltz was racing again in the southwest, at Manzanita and Ascot Park.

The early ‘80’s had Peltz living and racing in the western states. Another serious crash happened at Erie, Colorado, shattering his knee. The surgeon on duty at the Denver hospital was an orthopedic specialist for the NFL team Denver Broncos. After wiring his knee back together, Peltz was racing again five weeks later, finishing the year in Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, Arizona and California.

Roy Jo PeltzPeltz loved racing sprint cars all over the country. He remembers a time in racing where he would quit his job in the summer, because he could make more money racing cars. He loved traveling the country, even with a single axle trailer, and competing against the best.

He stepped away from sprint cars after that, racing SCCA road course cars. Even though he was successful and winning races there, Peltz says the ‘wine and cheese’ crowd wasn’t for him and quickly found his way back to sprints.

His long career in racing came to its conclusion near the end of the season in 2007. After not qualifying for the feature at a Missouri track, and not transferring in through the B-main, Peltz knew it was time to retire. His exit from the sport was abrupt he says, knowing that if he even went to watch a sprint car race again, he’d feel the pull back to the sport.

He says he has many great memories of his career in racing. He feels fortunate to have started his career at Algona, racing and winning against so many great drivers there. He also remembers that he liked racing for track promoter Dwight Cook and felt that announcer Phil Diamond was the best around.

Roy Jo PeltzHe is also proud of racing sprint cars all across the country, being competitive, making money with the car, and winning races in several states. He says he feels fortunate to race at famous tracks like Manzanita in Arizona, and qualifying for the biggest race of the year Ascot Park in California with a little 317 CI engine. One of his favorite awards was winning the 1992 Unites States Marine Corps Hard Charger Award at Eagle, Nebraska. Peltz says that even though he suffered two very serious crashes in sprint cars, the injuries always made him more determined to come back strong.

Peltz is most proud of racing with his son, Brad, who got his turn at the wheel when he was in high school. Together, Roy and Brad built and raced IMCA modifieds. Later, in what Roy called the best time in his life, he and son Brad got to race wheel-to-wheel in sprint cars.

Today, Peltz lives in Graham, Missouri, working for a soybean processing plant in their warehouse department.

Roy Jo Peltz joins six others as 2012 inductees into the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame.