The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 12, 2013

Mike Pound: Former race car driver still revved over sport

On Wednesday, I asked Phyllis Currey what it was that attracted her to auto racing in the mid-1990s.

“The speed,” Phyllis said.

I thought that was nice of Phyllis. When I asked what it was about racing that she found attractive, Phyllis would have been perfectly within reason to say: “The speed, you moron. What else would attract someone to racing? The scenery?”

But Phyllis didn’t do that. Instead, she politely said “the speed” and also mentioned that racing was in her blood.

Phyllis, who is 67 and lives at Spring River Christian Village, saw her first race at Joplin’s Ozark Speedway when she was 13 years old. She said that experience hooked her on the sport.

“I wanted to ride in one of the powder puff (women only) races, but I didn’t get the chance,” she said.

Years later, Phyllis’ brother, Ron, who was an established stock car driver, lent her his car so she could run in a powder puff race at the Joplin 66 Speedway. Again, once she got behind the wheel, Phyllis, who was then 49, was hooked.

That first ride was a bit disappointing when she found out how fast she was going. Or perhaps how fast she wasn’t going.

“I asked my brother how fast I had driven during the race,” she said. “He estimated about 35 mph.”

As she got more experienced, Phyllis, who wound up buying her own stock car, was running a bit faster. Average speeds during a typical powder puff race were about 50 to 55 mph on the straightaways and 40 to 45 mph on the curves. The dirt track she raced on was about a quarter of a mile long, and races were normally 10- to 15-lap events.

Phyllis vividly recalls a race in which she and friend Brenda Harmon were coming down the straightaway racing side by side. Brenda was driving Ron’s car.

“I wasn’t about to let Brenda beat me in my brother’s car,” she said. “I won the battle, and we both got out laughing.”

Phyllis continued racing for two years. She decided to end her racing career after her second wreck, in which a competing driver ran into her.

“She T-boned me,” Phyllis said. “You become a different person on the track. She did it on purpose.”

By the way, when Phyllis said racing was in her blood, she wasn’t kidding. Her great-great-uncle Louis Meyer was the first three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, winning the first time as a rookie driver in 1928. After winning for the third time in 1936, Louis started the tradition of drinking a bottle of milk in Victory Lane.

In part because of her racing background and in part because she just likes cars, Phyllis said she is eager to attend the Spring River Christian Village Car Show. The event runs from 5 until 8 p.m. Friday at the center located behind Northpark Mall.

Susan Warden is the lifestyle coordinator at Spring River Christian Village. She said there is no entry fee to take part in the show, and that all participants who pre-register by noon Friday will be awarded dash plaques. To register, people may call 417-827-3555.

First-, second- and third-place awards will be given in two categories: 1950 and below model cars, and 1951 and above model cars. The people’s choice awards will be voted on by show participants and by spectators. Susan said a “secret judge” will award a best of show award.

Admission to the car show is free.

“Unless you decide to get something to eat, it won’t cost you a thing to come to the show,” Susan said.

Susan said the proceeds from the sale of home-cooked food will go into a fund to build a new Village Center.

“It would really make a great gift for a dad or a granddad,” she said. “Take them out to the car show and buy them a nice dinner.”

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Eastern Shawnee Tribe cited for recycling efforts

    Leaders of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe will receive an award Friday from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality for their participation in an areawide recycling event in May that secured more than 9,000 pounds of electronic equipment waste.

    July 9, 2014

  • Pittsburg Police Dept. gives Cherokee County Sheriff’s Dept. two patrol cars

    The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, which is feeling a budget pinch related to personnel costs for manning the impact zone of the Baxter Springs tornado, is getting some help from a neighboring police department.

    July 9, 2014

  • Mike Pound: The teenage version of the Terrible Twos

    I’ve been called outside three times by our 16-year-old daughter since I sat down to write a column.

    July 9, 2014

  • Webb City lawmaker tabbed to lead committee examining impact of military on Missouri

    State Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, has been selected to lead a committee that will gauge the U.S. military’s impact on Missouri. Davis said he wants to hear from veterans about their problems with the Veterans Health Administration as well as examine the impact of the military in the state as it steps back from a war footing and downsizes.

    July 9, 2014

  • r070914amendone2.jpg State farming amendment draws support, opposition

    Since the 1940s, the family of state Rep. Bill Reiboldt has owned and operated a farm on the outskirts of Neosho. Before he sold his milk cows, Reiboldt had eight people working on the farm. These days, it is just he and his son. Wednesday — with mild morning temperatures following the previous day’s rain — was the kind of day farmers like Reiboldt look forward to.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • Damaged Football.jpg Public art piece in Pittsburg vandalized

    Leslie Harris spent countless hours painting a butterfly and sunset on a fiberglass football that is one of 24 displayed in Pittsburg and Crawford County as part of the SEK Art Fest.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • JRC extends sale date on Coca-Cola property

    The Joplin Redevelopment Corp. on Tuesday approved an Aug. 8 sale date for property in the 1300 block of Virginia Avenue and included with the extension an amended agreement aimed at adding protections for Joplin in the pact with Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, the city’s tornado recovery master developer.

    July 8, 2014

  • Inmates bound over in jail sexual assault case

    A judge ordered two Newton County Jail inmates bound over for trial Tuesday on charges that they sexually assaulted a third inmate with a shampoo bottle and a tube of toothpaste.

    July 8, 2014

  • Defendant to be tried on charge of pulling knife on ER doctor

    A defendant accused of pulling a knife on a Freeman Hospital West emergency room doctor when she refused to prescribe him narcotics was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday in Newton County Circuit Court.

    July 8, 2014

  • Mike Pound: Crosslines at crossroads in current home

    The parking lot at Crosslines Churches of the Joplin Area, 131 S. High Ave., was almost full when I pulled in Tuesday morning. I found a spot in the back of the lot and met Harry Greninger near a side door. He led me through the kitchen, then into the main part of the building and finally into Kathy Lewis’ office.

    July 8, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed legislation that sought to increase the tax credits available for donations to organizations providing food to the poor and aid to pregnant women, saying it would have eroded government funds needed for education and other services. Do you agree with the veto?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter