One of the most noteworthy motorized races in Dodge City happened over 85 years ago when the city was less than 50 years old and many of her founders were still around.
That race was the great motorcycle race staged by the Dodge City Motor Speedway Club on July 5, 1920.
The crowd was estimated to be 20,000 and there were enthusiasts and experts from all over the nation. This was the first big race after racing was interrupted by World War I.
Along with the 300 Mile National Motorcycle Races, aerial performers and stunt flyers thrilled crowds that came from all over the U.S.
Robert M. Botting, an Episcopal priest and secretary of the Club, was instrumental in much of the day to day details that went with organizing an affair of this magnitude.
He paid bills, made arrangements for food, lodging and facilities, and handled advertising and publicity for this major undertaking. The Club ran ads in newspapers throughout the region and produced and distributed a short movie shown at theaters advertising the races.
Though not as big, there have been other races in Dodge City both before and after 1920.
On July 4, 1914 the Motor Speedway Club hosted the first national motorcycle race in Kansas. Harley Davidson gave its first endorsement of racing at this 300 mile race. Their support was under the table, but within a year Harley publicly ended its no-racing policy.
The next year brought an even bigger race to Dodge City.
First place went to Otto Walker whose average speed was 76 miles per hour for the 300 miles raced. Dodge City was established as the venue for the National races which were held in 1916, 1920 and 1921. As the twenties progressed motorcycle racing waned both nationwide and in Kansas.
Races were held in Dodge City from 1953 to 1955, but were just a shadow of motorcycle racing’s heyday in the teens and twenties
A happening that took place later was the Dodge City National Motorcycle Rally and Races that transpired Labor Day weekend 1964.
The final event of the rally was Grand Prix road race. Dick Mann of California won, finishing the 100 mile race in one hour 18 minutes and 47 seconds.
His speed was identical – 76 miles per hour – to that of Otto Walker who raced almost half a century earlier in 1915.