Published on Thursday, 29 November 2012 20:39
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HOLLYWOOD GYMKHANA

Norman, Oklahoma - December 12, l966
by Larry Miller, Event Sponsor

The day dawned, bright, clear, crisp and cool. Before registration closed we had 80 entries, and had to turn a few away. Before the gymkhana was over, we still had 80 entries, but we were turned away. You can read all the gory details elsewhere. (See Norman Transcript articles after results.)

We did have a gymkhana however. Most of the contestants enjoyed the course, once they figured out where it went. On their first run, 41 out of 80 entries got lost, and. on such a simple and easy course to follow, too. I ran the course at least 10 times, once without pylons even, and I didn't get lost.

If the drivers thought it was hectic, they should have tried running 80 cars through in 45 minutes. At times there were 3 cars on the course at one time. Now that’s exciting !

The biggest thrill (?) of all, for some, was when John Wolfe, of Norman, demonstrated an unorthodox cornering style. John tried to get his VW around on two fenders and a door handle. At last report he wasn't too enthusiastic about this particular technique of rapid motoring. He vows to try the old-fashioned method next time. For the uninitiated, the old-fashioned method means keeping at least two wheels on the ground.

I would like to thank all the workers. They helped run a smooth event, despite what some people thought about it. I hope I have them all listed: George and Margaret England, Dan and LaVerne Craig, Bruce McCoy, Hank Kliner, Larry Mattheson, George Johnson, John Yeaman, Ben Ellis, Dave Wood, Barbra Thornhill, Zebbie Ramsey, and Don Gwynne, Jr.

january 66 resultsaEditor's Comments: Larry did not put the car make and model of the contestants in the results. From memory I will identify some for clarity and reader interest.  GTA: Bert Everhart - Corvair.  GTB: Howard Rich and Bob Donley - Mini Coopers, Gene Pyeatt - VW.  Ladies:  Zebbie Ramsey - Lotus Seven, Margo Meyer - Sprite. Modified: Rich Dilbeck - VW. A Sports: Bruce McCoy Corvette 427, B Sports: Franz Stone - Lotus Seven, Hank Kliner - Datsun 1600, Chuck Van Nostrand - MGB, the Franklin brothers - MGAs. C Sports: Kenneth Keister, George Johnson - Sprites, John Yeaman - Datsun 1500.

AUTO CONTEST STOPPED HERE
EVENT JUST GOT OUT OF CONTROL

(The Norman Transcript - Monday, December 13, 1966)

A sports car competition at the Hollywood Shopping Center was halted Sunday afternoon by an official of the shopping center association who said the event “just got completely out of control.”

The contest, known as a gymkhana, was described as racing the cars against time through an obstacle course marked by pylons. Some 80 vehicles from Texas, Kansas and all over Oklahoma were reported entered in the event.

POLICE CALLED - “The police called me about 2 o’clock,” said V.C. Forister, an official of the Hollywood Shopping Center Association. “They said they had a number of complaints about the noise of exhausts and screeching tires and that traffic was blocked on Lindsey. My wife also got a couple of complaints at home from people who were looking for me.

“I was working at the store (Forister is manager of the Norman TG&Y Stores), and I went out and looked. The police were exactly right; the thing had just got completely out of control, and someone was going to get killed. One car had turned over, and traffic was lined up on both sides of Lindsey, leaving just one lane open.

BOYS COOPERATE - “I told them to shut it down and leave. The boys running the event were very cooperative; they could see it was out of control. They called it off and everyone left very quickly; there was no trouble.”

Forister said the association originally gave its approval to the event with the understanding that no speeding or danger would be involved.
“It was supposed to be some kind of driving competition where you drive between some stakes,” he said. “They assured us that the cars couldn't go over 10 miles an hour and make it through the course.

“But these kids were out there with souped-up cars, burning rubber to get started and so on. People were running all over the track, and the police tried to keep them off, even though they have no jurisdiction on private property. But it was just too far out of hand. I could see somebody was going to get hurt, so I called a halt to it. You can’t have something like this in town; it needs to be out in the country.”

The event was reported sponsored by the Sports Car Club of America. Drivers win points for their performances in this and other types of competition, and the points are compiled at the end of the season for the awarding of championship titles and prizes.

EVENT BACKED BY CHAIRMAN

(The Norman Transcript -Tuesday, Dec. 14th, 1966)

The chairman of a sports car event that was halted Sunday at the Hollywood Shopping Center denied today that the contest posed a threat to spectators or had got out of control.

The event, known as a gymkhana, was stopped by V. C. Forister, an official of the Hollywood Shopping Center Association, who said the crowds “just got completely out control, and someone was going to get killed.”

OFFICIALS ON COURSE - Larry Miller, 2602 Brentwood Drive, the chairman of the event for the Oklahoma Region of the Sports Car Club of America, said spectators were not on the course, as Forister and police had maintained, and that the only ones on the track were 7 to 10 contest officials.

Traffic was tied up on Lindsey Street,’ he said, ‘but the merchants (in the shopping center) anticipated that, and it was up to police to control traffic.”

He admitted that one car, a Volkswagen, had turned over in threading its way around pylons over the tricky course but added that “you expect something like that once in a while, and we’ve never had anyone hurt.”

The gymkhana is not considered a speed event by the Sports Car Club, he said and ”the merchants who gave us permission to stage the event knew exactly what it would be; we gave them a copy of our rules.”

TWO MODIFIEDS - Forister had spoken of “souped-up cars.” Mliller said only 2 of the 80 entries from four states had been modified from stock models.

“There were a few loud ethausts,” he added, “and quite a bit of tire squealing, mostly on the starts, but the event was running smoothly and definitely was not out of control.”

Miller said two runs by all of the entries and most of the third and final heat had been completed when the competition was halted.