William Clegg – Promoter

Left to right: Dick Simpson, Jim Stangel, Jim Modrell, Larry Cook, William Clegg, Jim Pingel.

Left to right: Dick Simpson, Jim Stangel, Jim Modrell, Larry Cook, William Clegg, Jim Pingel.

By Chad Meyer

William Clegg first became interested in auto racing for the thrill of the sport. Sometime little later though, this interest expanded to include the business side of motorsports.

“My first experience was helping a local racer, Ole Rausch, building a car and racing it at Sports Park in Fort Dodge,” recalled Clegg. “I probably got in the way, but I loved helping out and going to the races.”

A friend from high school got Clegg directly involved in the operation and promotion of a race track.
“I was friends with and went to high school with Lamont Wellendorf. When he began promoting the Algona track weekly in 1961, I lent a helping hand,” said Clegg. “I was mostly involved in the background,” noted Clegg, who said that Wellendorf had a great group of track officials then.

After a successful start for Algona’s weekly racing, Clegg’s track promotion career started in 1964. “Lamont and I thought a lot about expanding our racing enterprise. We looked at a lot of maps, trying to determine where racing wasn’t offered, and we spent many weekends driving and flying around that part of the state,” Clegg said.

Their aerial experience proved useful in exploring places to expand. “Lamont and I were pilots. We had a hunch that racing in southwest Iowa could be in demand. We considered a lot of places, but after we scoured our maps, we discovered that Denison had a great fairgrounds half-mile horse track, but no weekly racing in the area,” he said. “I told him that’s where we need to go.”

After a successful start to weekly racing at Denison, Fairgrounds Motor Racing Association as it would soon be called, was offered a chance a year later to promote racing at Alta.

“The fair board asked us if we wanted to run the weekly show there too. It had fallen on some hard times, but we knew that it had potential,” Clegg said.

“We operated the Denison track in Denison for 4-5 years and ran Alta for roughly seven years. When we left Alta, we were thrilled that our pit steward Dick Simpson got the track,” stated Clegg.

Clegg is quick to give credit to their race day staff. “Simpson was wonderful at helping beginning drivers and enforcing the rules. Everyone respected him, and he always emphasized safety. Jason Etherington was a great announcer, and Larry Cook did a tremendous job flagging the races,” he said.

At its zenith, Fairgrounds Motor Racing Association operated and promoted races at five Iowa tracks, including Algona, Webster City, Mason City, Denison, and Alta.

Looking back, he remembers how some Algona drivers influenced the racing scene in southwest Iowa. “Wayne Meyer’s number 65 with Butch Householder at the wheel was something to see. Butch was so smooth, and they won a lot of races here and at Denison. He was a top driver in Iowa, no doubt.”

Clegg says he is most proud of his role in establishing weekly racing in southwest Iowa. “I feel like Lamont and I took racing to that part of the state.”

“We were also proud to see how the Crawford County Fair board was able to use the money they made off racing,” Clegg said, noting that they used the money wisely, investing in their facilities.

Though he had been away from racing for some time, others sought his promotional advice. “When Joe Ringsdorf first started promoting the Algona track, he would ask my advice. I spent a few evenings at his kitchen table, offering suggestions with what I could,” he said.

Today, Clegg continues to live in Algona, retiring from his chiropractic practice 18 years ago.

Clegg joins six others as inductees into the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame. More information about the hall of fame and the ceremony is available at www.KossuthMuseum.com.