He was known simply as “Hillbilly.”
Columbus’ Ken Ogle, who passed away at 83 on July 3, was an area racing legend and auto racing figure for years.
Ogle was born and raised in Alabama before relocating to Columbus in 1956 to begin a job at Stadler Packing Co. In 1959, he began his racing career starting out at Columbus Speedway, which was affectionately known as “The Hole” or “The Hill.” He raced for 15 years.
Ogle followed two other area drivers known for their nicknames “Crash” Crockett and “Crowbar” Taylor, who were also successful race car drivers before Ogle began his racing career.
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After his earliest Indiana racing, Ogle went on to race until 1974 at 25th Street Fairgrounds Raceway in Columbus, Brownstown Speedway, Twin Cities Speedway in Vernon and Riverview Speedway in Milton, Kentucky.
Once he stopped active racing, Ogle stayed in the sport by working for 18 years at Brownstown operating the water truck and providing wrecker service. He was a member of both the Brownstown and Twin Cities halls of fame.
Ogle won the 1967 track championship at Twin Cities.
He enjoyed a breakout year in 1965 after teaming up with Don Artis and Bob Legan, who co-owned the No. 84 car, a 1939 Chevrolet that had a Ford front and rear axles and that was equipped with a 6-cylinder Chevrolet truck engine. The trio had about $1,500 in the car.
In 1965, the team raced primarily at Twin Cities and occasionally at 25th Street in Columbus, picking up several feature wins and trophy dash victories in the jalopy stock car division. By Labor Day that year, they won six feature races and three trophy dashes.
During that season, another competitor at Twin Cities charged the engine Ogle was using was over the 269-cubic-inch displacement limit that was the rule at the time. To negate any future protests, the team later “sleeved” the engine, which means sleeve-like inserts were placed in the cylinders, and smaller pistons were fitted to reduce the engine to 261.5 cubic inches.
Even with the decrease in cubic inch displacement, another protest was filed after Ogle won the Labor Day events at Twin Cities. The claim of an oversized engine was denied, and Ogle and his team kept the winnings from that race.
To make such a challenge, by track rules, the challenger must post $50 for very challenge. The rules stated that after inspection, if the car met the proper specifications, the $50 was to be forfeited to the car owner who was challenged. So Ogle, Artis and Legan left the track with an extra $50.
During his career, “Hillbilly” drove for several car owners, including Bob Lay, Don Artis, Forest Terry, Tommy Sands Sr., Charlie Johnson, Chuck Gilpin and Bill Barnes.
The last and perhaps final car Ogle drove was the highly recognizable 8-ball stock car owned by Bill and Roger Barnes from B and M Salvage in Elizabethtown. Other drivers who piloted the 8-ball car were “Shorty” Barnes and Bud Seymour.
When the team switched to the 8-cylinder late models, Larry Exner and Gary Herbert drove the car. Columbus racing legend Gene Petro drove the car once when his main car was unavailable for a race.
Columbus Go-Karts racing tonight
Columbus Speedway Go-Kart Racing will be racing tonight with a special event program. Gates open at 1 p.m. with a driver’s meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The races are at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds.
Brownstown hosting Fan Appreciation Night
Brownstown Speedway was forced to postpone its July 11 racing event because of rain. Tonight, the track will host Fan Appreciation Night with super late models, pro late models, modifieds, super stocks and hornets. For information, visit brownstownspeedway.com.
Lawrenceburg back on track
Lawrenceburg Speedway racing events for July 11 were rained out, too. Tonight, the track will host a regular program of sprints, modifieds, pure stocks and hornets. For information, visit lawrenceburgspeedway.com.
This week in racing history
From 1970 at Brownstown Speedway, Jack Owens won the feature race over Jim Curry, Pete Willoughby, Ira Bastin and Kenny Simpson.
Also, from 1970 at Bloomington Speedway, Bob Papoy won the sprint car feature over Calvin Gilstrap, Sheldon Kinser, Larry Miller and Dick Gaines.
From 1980 at Brownstown, Kenny Simpson won the late model feature race over Paul Crockett, Doug Ault, Ray Godsey and Pete Willoughby. Ernie Barrow bested his brother, Gary, to win the hobby stock feature. Trailing the Barrow brothers were Dennis Purtlebaugh, Tony Moore and Jeff Hehman. Larry Kiser won the street stock feature over Jim Ruddick, Mont Scaggs and Mac Swim.
Also, from 1980 at Charlestown Motor Speedway, Charlie Swartz won the late model feature over Tom Helfrich and Russ Petro. Bobby Carrier Sr. won the hobby stock feature over Tony Moore, Cooley Singer, W.E. Burton and Mike Jewell. Willie Sallee won the street stock feature over Ed Cundiff and Brock Hensley.
From 1980 at Haubstadt, Kenny Simpson won the late model feature over Johnny Williams, Doug Ault, Jim Elliott and Bill Shaw.
From 1980 at Putnamville, Noel Witcher won the late model feature over Ronnie Johnson, Paul Crockett, Russ Petro and Larry Taylor.
From 1990 at Brownstown, Scott Bloomquist won the late model feature over Ray Godsey, Bob Pierce, John Gill and Steve Barnett. Mark Barber took the street stock feature over Scott Patman, Earl Plessinger, Scott McKeand and Darren Davis. Randy Petro won the bomber feature over Jeff Helton, David Godsey, Ray Godsey Jr. and Dennis Barber.
Also, from 1990 at Twin Cities, Russ Petro won the late model feature race over Merrill Downey, Mike Gibbs, Matt Gilardi and Jerry Rice. Joe Johnson won the street stock feature over Tim Clark, Brian Wilhite, Tim Montgomery and Nelson Gingery.
From 1990 at Haubstadt, Kevin Briscoe won the sprint car feature over Eric Davis and Joey Nash.
From 2000 at Brownstown, Mike Jewell won the late model feature over Mark Barber, Ernie Barrow, Marty O’Neal and Richie Hedrick. Nelson Gingery won the modified feature over Matt Boknecht, Brent Londeree, Troy Burton and Vernon Soeder. Robert Walters took the bomber feature race over Matt Cummings, Larry Harris, Jim Ruddick and Tony Mahoney.
From 10 years ago in 2010 at Brownstown, Marty O’Neal won the late model feature over Jeremy Hines, Dillan White, Mark Barber and Joe Godsey. Greg Amick took the modified feature over Brad Barrow, Matt Boknecht, Ryan Thomas and Richie Lex. Cody Vanosdol won the pure stock feature over Mickey Hines, Brian Ballard, Danny Hupp and Brent Howard. Lucas Jackson won the hornet main event over Donnie Modesty, Brad Ray, Cody Perry and R.J. Perry.