Bob Jandebeur shares love of cycling with Lions

By DEAN CRAIG

Okmulgee Lions

 

Tuesday's Lions Club meeting was another program in a long list of programs with a local flair, one that I'm sure that not many of the readers realize that this business even exists in Okmulgee.  

That business is Jandebeur's Motor Sports Park, located directly behind Stewart Martin Kubota on Highway 75.  How many of us have passed this site hundreds of times without a clue as to what is directly behind Stewart Martin Kubota, because the tracks are not visible from the highway?  But, if you have young children who are interested in riding dirt bikes (safely), you probably know exactly where the tracks are located.  Personally, I remember seeing the sign advertising the property and secretly have wanted to turn into the road just to see where it goes, but never gave in to this desire, until recently.

If the name Jandebeur's sounds familiar, it should, because they owned and operated motorcycle shops in Tulsa in the 1960s and 1970s.  But how did they get to Okmulgee, you ask? 

 Well, Bob Jandebeur was our program and he was eager to answer that question for us.  The Jandebeurs were a farm family living in North Platte, Nebraska, but were on a trip through Oklahoma City, and Bob's father, Doug, thought he had made a deal to buy a motorcycle shop in Oklahoma City.  

So, a few days before Christmas in 1959, Doug packed his wife, Charlotte, their three sons, and a few cycles into a used school bus and headed for Oklahoma, only to learn upon their arrival, that the owner of the cycle dealership had changed his mind about selling.  Doug had previously been in Tulsa and liked the area, so that's where they headed.

Their first location was 11th Street and Lewis.  The Jandebeurs didn't just sell cycles, they raced them.  In 1961, Doug decided he wanted to race at Daytona International Speedway and had obtained a rare factory racer from Italian manufacturer Parilla (only six were built), and he qualified with the third fastest time (182 miles per hour) out of 75 world-wide racers.  (On a motorcycle--you gotta be kidding me!!).  

Bob said he and his brothers also raced at Daytona. In fact, when R.C. Morrow and I visited the shop in scheduling this program, we saw that cycle (it will NEVER be sold), plus rows and rows of trophies, ribbons, framed newspaper articles, helmets, riding gear, etc.  They store cycles for some of their regular customers, which eliminates loading/unloading, particularly when mothers bring their children to ride.  They also rent bikes, very small to very large, and Bob stated that he has taught over 1,000 kids to ride, including a lot of girls.  Riders range in age from 2 (on Strider Balance Bikes) to adults in their 70s.

But how did they wind up in Okmulgee?  Bob told us that the cycle business became successful and they were able to move the shop to several locations, winding up at a spot now occupied by Honda of Tulsa, 4926 E, 21st Street.  The family got out of the cycle biz at the twilight of the 1970s and began other ventures for about 30 years.

Bob started visiting the Okmulgee cycle park when it was owned by someone else because his son, Noah, liked to ride here.  They came one weekend and nobody was there.  Bob called the person who had been operating the park and was told that the park was not just closed for the weekend , but it was closed period.  He cobbled together enough funds to acquire the park seven years ago.  He said his house burned down after the purchase, so he started living in the club house.  His dad brought his motor coach there and Bob lived in it for several months, until he bought a little RV because he and his son were travelling every weekend, racing all over.

Doug and his wife decided they would leave the city and return to their farm roots, so he bought a farm and acreage behind the cycle park, containing 400 pecan trees.  Because the properties are connected, the cycle park was expanded onto the farmland. Every weekend, people come from 3 or 4 states for events/racing.  Oklahoma's best motor sports park for racing and family riding includes: 3 levels of MX Tracks--kids and beginners to pro, on 170 acres; clubhouse with nice clean restrooms; track sprinkler system; well-groomed tracks; 1.5 mile beginner wooded trails course; 40 acre 3.5 trail loop; food concessions by Boss & Hogs; courtesy wash rack; rider gear/accessories; overnight camping and RV hook-ups; and showers.

The track is well-known as a safe facility and is probably more well-known by out-of-town/out-of-state people than by those of us who live here.  That is my case.  My first visit was certainly an eye-opener and was well worth the visit.  

Another visit well worth your time is to our Lions Club because we have some more exciting programs coming up.  In fact, Jill Donovan (Rustic Cuff) will be our program on Nov. 28, which will be by reservation so our cook will know how many to plan for.  The meal is $8.00 (sorry but our "free lunch fund" is depleted and there are not any more free lunches).  So, reserve your spot by calling Hazel Rissler (918 756-0377),  Dean Craig (918 756-1235), or e-mail Christie Baldridge (executivedirectordfcaf.org) by Nov. 24.  

“WE SERVE.”

 

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