22/12/1895 - 0/0/1960
Leonard Kerbs was the elder statesmen of Mid-America dirt track auto racing. Leonard Kerbs died 62 years ago, he was 65
Born in Otis, Kansas, Leonard Kerbs was the elder statesmen of Mid-America dirt track auto racing. His machine shop provided resources to support his racing which starting with an Indian Motorcycle in 1914 at the age of 19. The following year he built a flathead bobtailed Model T Ford and went auto racing.
By 1917, he and his cousin Benny Kerbs had built a faster Robert Roof 16-valve rocker-arm engine for the car. However Kerbs destroyed that car when he crashed at Great Bend, Kansas.
After World War I, in 1921, he, along with John Schober and cousin Benny, converted two Craig Hunt heads to come up with a twin overhead cam arrangement, mading a little bit of history during 1921 by racing the first DOC Ford engine. However the heads did not prove to be strong enough and were replaced by Rajo units.
In 1922 he switched to Frontenac overhead valve heads racing on dirt tracks throughout the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions with his Kerbs Special.
In 1923, Kerbs reportedly won every race he entered on dirt tracks ranging from half-mile up to two-miles in length and in races ranging from 10 miles up to 100 miles long. Many of these races were head-to-head, winner-take-all contests against his friend and fellow competitor Noel Bullock.
By 1930, the Kerbs Specials had won about just about everything it could and, with the birth of his son "Buddy", Kerbs decided to hang up his helmet to concentrate on building and owning racing cars.
His K-1 specials now featured the famous Frontenac 16-valve DOC heads created by Arthur Chevrolet. First Sam Hoffman and then Pat Cunningham drove for Kerbs until 1935 when the Kerbs Specials were sold to Jack Keys of Dallas, TX.
Kerbs continued his association with dirt track racing at the famed High Banks Track in Belleville, KS, as flagman and other activities until his death in 1960.