The Post-Journal

A Trophy Moment From Yesteryear

Jim Kianos, left, and Johnny Okerlund with Randy Anderson.
Jim Kianos, left, and Johnny Okerlund, second from left, present Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame president Randy Anderson with a trophy, won by Okerlund’s father, Don, at Satan’s Bowl of Death race track in Busti on July 9, 1939. Kianos is married to Don’s daughter, Darla. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg.

The Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame welcomed last week several unique additions to its host of exhibits at its West Third Street location in Jamestown.

Courtesy of the family of the late Don Okerlund, CSHOF president Randy Anderson accepted photographs of Okerlund and a trophy he won on July 9, 1939 at Satan’s Bowl of Death, a race track located on the Big Tree-Sugar Grove Road, between Lawson and Northrup roads.

The images show Okerlund, then 19, driving a jalopy through standing water on the dirt track that, according to the Fenton History Center, “was more of an obstacle course than a smooth flat oval.”

Operating a 1928 Ford sedan at 40 miles per hour — he had cut off the top half of the body, removed the fenders, bumpers, windshield and lights — Okerlund went on to win 18 out of 28 races, that summer. That number included heat and feature victories.

Races were held every Sunday. Admission was 25 cents, a fee confirmed by local sports historian Greg Peterson, who donated to the CSHOF a ticket from July 2, 1939, one week before Okerlund’s feature win.

One other driver of note who raced at Satan’s Bowl of Death was Frewsburg native Lloyd Moore, who a decade later was competing in NASCAR races for Findley Lake car owner Julian Buesink. Both Moore and Buesink are CSHOF inductees.

The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.