Obituaries in the News
The Associated Press
Jun. 24, 2000
NEWTON, Kan. (AP) _ Jim Roper, winner of NASCAR's first ``strictly stock'' car race in 1949, died Friday. He was 83.
Friends said Roper had been ill with cancer in recent years and suffered from heart and liver failure. He died at a retirement home in Newton.
Roper, a native of Halstead, drove his Lincoln off the showroom floor in Great Bend to North Carolina and on to victory in front of 23,000 people in the June 19, 1949, race at Charlotte Speedway.
Roper raced in only one other NASCAR event, finishing 15th in Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C., two months later. He didn't participate in NASCAR's top level again.
Roper raced midgets, stock cars and track roadsters, also known as hot rods, throughout the Midwest. He earned the nickname ``Alfalfa Jim'' after a race in which he spun out off the track and into an alfalfa field.
Roper quit racing in 1955 after breaking a vertebrae in a sprint car accident. In later years he became a flagman at races and a thoroughbred horse breeder.