Ted Zieman – Driver

Ted Zieman first race car comp

Ted Zieman’s first race cars, a midget in the background, and his stock car. Both carried the *4 number. Art Heinold collection.

By Chad Meyer

It was at the age of 15 when the late Ted Zieman first got behind the wheel of a race car. His 35 racing career began in 1946 until his retirement in 1981.

The early portion of his career was spent racing midgets and stock cars, sometimes during the same season. His first stock car carried the number *4, while the first midget car had a Ford 60 engine with a couple two-barrel carburetors.

Zieman competed at both the Mohawk Speed Drome, which was located near the airport, west of Mason City, and at the North Iowa Fairgrounds, then located where the Sears store sits today.

Ted in a Buzz Barton creation. Art Heinold collection.

Ted in a Buzz Barton creation. Art Heinold collection.

Art Heinold recalls meeting up with Zieman in the early 1950’s. “There was a stock car meeting in Mason City around 1951, which is where we got acquainted. After that, we spent a lot of time together building cars, and racing them,” said Heinold. “We worked together, and I did my share of racing, but the emphasis was certainly on Zieman having a car at the track.”

Heinold remembers a unique racing trip that he and Zieman embarked on. “Ted found out about a race scheduled to be run late in the winter in Mexico. We spent weeks rebuilding two ’38 Ford coupes and his midget.”

When it came time to depart for the long journey, the towing solution was somewhat unique. “We put one car on the trailer, and put the midget in box of the truck. Believe it or not, Ted drove the other car, with no heater, all the way there.”

The trip wasn’t without peril and disappointment. “We ran out of money in Texas, and had to get jobs in the oil industry to afford the rest of the trip.”

Once they got to Mexico, they found out the promoter had taken all the registration money, and left town. On the way back, they stripped one of the cars of its driveline and other parts, leaving the shell of the car in a ditch in Texas.

Art Heinold collection.

Art Heinold collection.

“Somehow, on the way back, Ted and I got separated. I remember him telling me that when he got to Iowa Falls he stopped for gas and all he had was a sliver dollar in his pocket, which at that time was just enough money for him to make it back to Mason City,” said Heinold.

The highlights during Zieman’s career were numerous, winning many races, and earning championships along the way. In addition to being a Minnesota state champion in the early 1960’s, he earned a track championship at the I-35 Speedway. He was crowned the North West Midget Association championship in 1959 and 1961.

Proving his adaptability as a driver, he was a winner in several disciplines, earning victories in midgets, stock cars, early modifieds and in late models.

In 1953 he won the special “Centennial Race” at the Mohawk Speedrome in midgets, he also won in stock cars there too, sometimes in the same night.

Zieman in victory lane with his famous #24 Pabst Blue Ribbon late model. Art Heinhold collection.

Zieman in victory lane with his famous #24 Pabst Blue Ribbon late model. Art Heinhold collection.

Zieman, even early in his career, was not afraid to take on the best drivers. In 1955 he finished 5th in the IMCA 100-mile stock car race held at the North Iowa Fairgrounds. Herschel Buchanan from Louisiana was the winner, while Harlan, Iowa’s Tiny Lund finished second.

A year later, he timed fifth fastest at the IMCA stock car 100 miler at the same track, before getting caught up in a crash in the main event. Fellow Iowa driver, and future NASCAR driver Johnny Beauchamp was winner that day.

At Algona, Zieman was a strong competitor. In a midget car in 1963 during the annual Kossuth County Fair, he set fast time over IMCA midget champion Howard House and future Indy 500 driver Tom Bigelow. In 1966 he won the season opener over Gene Schattschneider and Richard Simpson in the modifieds.

Heinold remembers how they used ingenuity to beat the Algona locals. “In the 60’s, the hot set-up was running three, Holley 2 barrel carburetors. We ran the same thing, but we didn’t run gasoline, we burned alcohol. The locals said it would never work, but we proved them wrong,” laughed Heinold.

Zieman beating Bob Shryock to end his nine race streak at Fairmont Raceway, collection the $500 bounty. Art Heinold collection.

Zieman beating Bob Shryock to end his nine race streak at Fairmont Raceway, collection the $500 bounty. Art Heinold collection.

During the 1970’s, Bob Shryock was the late model king at Fairmont Raceway, winning so many times one year that there was a $500 bounty on anyone who could beat him. Zieman was the driver to accomplish the feat, beating Shryock for the bounty and ending his nine race streak.

Zieman also beat the best the Midwest had to offer, including Shryock, to win the 1978 Black Hills Raceway invitational series, held at Rapid City, South Dakota.

Zieman passed away October 9, 2005 at the age of 74. He worked as a glass glazer for 30 years, retiring due to an injury sustained at work.