From 1948 through 1957, there were virtually no Big Car or Champ Car races held in the Rocky Mountain area other than the annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb, which consistently brought out a large field of Champ cars for the event, many of which had actually run at Indianapolis. This inability for Rocky Mountain region Big Car or Champ Car owners to race their cars more than once a year led a group of drivers and enthusiasts to form a new racing club in 1957, the Big Car Racing Association.
Little did those original incorporators know that within less than a dozen years, their Big Car Racing Association would be sanctioning races throughout much of the Midwest, frequently attracting 50 to 60 entrants to their races which were held at tracks and State Fairs which would have previously only sanctioned races with top clubs such as IMCA or AAA.
The Big Car Racing Association was incorporated in 1957 at Colorado Springs and actually began its first racing season in May 1958, appearing at Canyon City, Colorado’s Cherry Blossom Festival. BCRA’s first feature was won by Wyoming’s Jack Hahn in his own Chevy powered Champ Car. In late July, the club’s second race was run outside Denver at the Arapahoe Country Fairgrounds, the main event being won by Rocky Mountain Midget Racing Association driver Earl Kouba.
1958 Arapaho County Fairgrounds
Don Wolfe, Earl Kouba, Tommy Clark and Roy Walker
The Association would begin to draw competitors from across the country as California’s Jack Rounds and the amazing Cotton Farmer would run BCRA.
1958 Colorado State Fairgrounds, Pueblo
Al Sherman #30, Jack Hahn #17, and
Wayne Hoffman #3
Photo courtesy of Leroy Byers
In August of that year, the club ran its first two-day show at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo, drawing over 50 Big cars, Champ cars, and Sprint cars from more than a dozen states. The two features were won by California’s Al Sherman, who drove the famous Frank Kurtis built former Charles Allen ‘Jewel Box,’ a 1939 rail-frame Midget which had been stretched into a fast Chevy powered Sprint car, and Phoenix’ Wayne Weiler, who drove the Fike Plumbing Chevy. Car Owner Burt Blanot and driver Roy Walker of Colorado Springs, Colorado won the inaugural BCRA Championship.
Driver Roy Walker, Flagman Karl Mismach and BCRA President Art Meyers, Colorado State Fair, 1958. Photo courtesy of Leroy Byers.
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Belated congrats to URSS Calhan Feature winner, Brian Hardman of the Golden Colorado racing Hardmans. Brians Grandfather and Big Car Racing Association Hall of Famer, “Willy” Hardman started in the 40’s in the Midgets and then fielded an Offy Sprinter in the late 50’s through the 60’s with the BCRA. Drivers would include BCRA Hall of Famers in Roger Rager, Keith Hightshoe, Ody Fellows and Bart Manley. Father Butch Hardman would leave an indelible mark on Midwest open wheel racing both on the dirt tracks and at Pikes Peak where he competed for over three decades and set a new record in ’93 when he eclipsed the long standing record set by Bob Unser. Brian and Butch were the last upright open wheelers to ever compete at Pikes Peak. Butch still operates “Golden Auto Parts” Willy started over 60 years ago. GW
If you have any photos, we’d love to share them on the site.
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Im Al Shermans grandson and spent alot of time with Grandpa in his shop.Thanks so much for this interest in him. He did so much in the sprint car world and all that history is getting lost.I have parts from his cars including two steering wheels one that was in a Laural and Hardy movie.He was also engine builder of the year in I think 1938 for Francis Quinn who was killed.I have that trophy in my shop today.lots of memories. Thankyou, Daryl
Thank you for commenting on our site about your grand father, Al Sherman. We have only limited data about Al as he raced BCRA evidently only one time, in 1958! We would love to have more history of his career to share with the rest of the racing world here on our site.
Al Sherman is my dad. This sure brought back some memories. Racing was his life. Thanks you.
We are happy that you relived some good memories here on our site, Shirley. We know that Al ran at least one time under BCRA sanction and if you have any more information about his career we would certainly be interested in hearing about!
Thanks for posting this! It’s great to see my grandpa on the web!
You are very welcome, Stacy. If you have any stories regarding you grandpa and his life in BCRA and Racing, we’d love to hear them. If you want to contact me directly, use 888-820-2357 and we can discuss how you can share about your grandpa with the world!