"Stan The Man" Engdahl was a dirt track
racing legend not only in the Midwest, but throughout
the United States. His phenomenal racing career spanned
an incredible 60 years from the 1940's to the
1990's. During that time, Stan won more than 600
trophies, including 5 National Scramble Championships
and 16 Kansas State Championships. Every trophy and
championship Engdahl has won was accomplished on a
Harley Davidson K model motorcycle.
Stan Engdahl was born on November 23, 1928 to Carol
and Hulda Engdahl. He was raised as an only child on the
family farm northwest of Marquette, KS.
Upon high school graduation in 1945, Stan attended
Kansas State University where he studied Mechanical
Engineering for one year. In 1946, Stan returned home to
Marquette so he could help his parents with the family
farm. He also worked in the construction industry.
Endahl married LaVona Loomis of Marquette, KS on
August 9, 1952. That same year, Stan was drafted into
the United States Army. He spent most of his military
career in El Paso, Texas where he attended an
electronics school run by the Philco Radio Corporation.
He was honorably discharged as a Corporal in 1954.
After he was discharged from the military, Stan and
LaVona returned home to Marquette, KS where he started
his own radio and television repair shop. He built a
motorcycle shop in the back of his business. Engdahl did
all of his own mechanical work and modifications on his
cycles. His motorcycle shop was filled with spare parts
and special testing equipment, several of which were
designed by Engdahl himself.
Stan started competing in dirt track racing in 1946.
"I went to my first dirt track motorcycle race in
Topeka that year. I thought it looked like a lot of fun
and I thought I could race cycles, too," said
Engdahl. "I laid out a dirt track on my Dad's
field in the winter, and then another one throughout my
Dad's orchard in the summer so I had a place to
practice. As I look back now it's a wonder I
didn't get killed running through the
Engahl won his first Scrambles race at Kanopolis Lake
(Kansas) in 1948. He raced primarily in Kansas,
Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri and Colorado from the late
1940's to the 1990's. He was a Five Time
National Scrambles Racing Champion in 1968, 1969, 1970,
1972, and 1974. He also earned sixteen state (Kansas)
championships during the 1960's through the
1970's. Engdahl estimates that he placed in over 600
of the 700 to 800 races he competed in. He credits his
wins to the innovative and creative ways he and his pit
crew came up with new ideas to make the motorcycles
lighter and more powerful. According to a Salina Journal
newspaper article written about Engdahl from August 24,
2004, Engdahl and his crew "ran the oil through the
motorcycle frame, which eliminated the weight of the oil
pan. They hollowed out bolts, changed the engine timing,
and regularly monitored the horsepower." Engdahl
cut extra grooves in the tread of his tires or sanded
down certain parts of the tread to handle the corners
better. He was also known for making oil tanks out of
old shot up road signs.
Engdahl's racing reputation as one of the most
passionate and toughest dirt track racers in the United
States was never more apparent than when he won the
Kansas Scrambles Championship in 1962. He won this
Championship with two broken bones in his right leg
following a racing accident a few weeks earlier.
"The race officials weren't going to let me
race in Wichita that weekend because I couldn't get
protective gear on over my cast", Engdahl said.
"I finally convinced the officials to let me race,
but I had to sign a special waiver before they'd
allow me on the track." He taped a piece of wood to
his leg to reinforce the cast and then tied his leg to
the frame of his motorcycle prior to the race. "The
officials thought I was nuts…they might have been
right….but I won my third state championship that
day," stated Engdahl proudly. "The race was a
fundraiser for the Kansas Institute of Logopedics in
Wichita…I was determined to win that race for all
the crippled children who were in the stands that
Engdahl fulfilled one his racing dreams when he and
his wife traveled to the Daytona Beach, Florida for the
200 mile National Championship Road Race in 1963. He
finished 35th out of 97 entries, even though he had to
push his motorcycle approximately ¾ of a mile when
a chain broke near the end of the race.
Engdahl retired from racing in 1993 at the age of 64
due to physical complications with his hips. He had
replacement surgery on his left hip a few years later.
However, motorcycles still continued to be a very big
part of Engdahl's life, even after his retirement
from motorcycle racing.
Stan and LaVona Engdahl were instrumental in opening
the Kansas Motorcycle Museum in the spring of 2003. They
have actively promoted the motorcycle industry each and
every day, seven days a week, through their volunteer
work at the Kansas Motorcycle Museum in Marquette, KS.
They generously donated over 1,400 hours a year as the
Museum curators and tour guides. Engdahl's great
storytelling ability, motorcycle knowledge, and his
passion for racing have been shared and enjoyed by over
21,000 visitors to Marquette over the past three years.
Tourists and motorcycle enthusiasts alike have come from
every state in the nation as well as many foreign
countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Iraq,
Canada, Great Britain, Russia, Australia, and Sweden to
visit this unique museum in the heart of Kansas.
The Kansas Motorcycle Museum Board of Directors
strongly credit the Museum's popularity and
continued growth to Stan and LaVona Engdahl. Since the
Museum's opening in 2003, over 22,000 visitors have
stepped through the Museum's doors. A new addition
is now being built which will house a motorcycle shop,
public restrooms, and another exhibit room.
Stan was also dedicated to his community of
Marquette, KS. He served on the City Council for three
years and remained actively involved with the Marquette
Chamber of Commerce. He was proud to be a volunteer fire
fighter and was the Marquette Fire Chief for over 30
On Monday, November 12, 2007 Stan Engdahl collapsed
after supervising a small house fire in Marquette. He
passed away from a massive heart attack at the Lindsborg
(KS) Community Hospital that afternoon. However, his
legendary motorcycle racing career and his passion for
the fire fighting will continue on through the
memorabilia at the Kansas Motorcycle Museum. He will be
greatly missed by many friends and the motorcycle racing
LaVona Engdahl continues to remain dedicated to the
Kansas Motorcycle Museum, even after Stan's death.
She faithfully opens the Museum to the public seven days
a week - 8 hours a day. The Kansas Motorcycle Museum
Board of Directors and LaVona Engdahl are dedicated to
preserving Stan's memory and the history of
motorcycles for many future generations to come.