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Episode 28: Recorded February 15, 2022
“I literally grew up with Greyhounds…”Leslie Wootten, on her childhood at the Tucson Greyhound Park
Leslie Wootten’s earliest memories of Greyhounds are from the Tucson Greyhound Park around 1953. Her father was hired as the plant superintendent at the race track, and her family lived in a house near the paddock on the track grounds. She heard the Greyhounds every night outside her bedroom window when there was racing.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Greyhound racing was the thing to do in Tucson. Leslie found herself at the paddock fence every night while her father worked and her mother mingled at the clubhouse. As she grew up and her family moved away from the track, she developed other interests. She would return to Greyhounds in her 30s.
With a college degree in writing, Leslie found herself revisiting her family’s history in Greyhound racing. Her very first writing effort was the nomination of her grandfather — James “Pop” Wootten — into the Pioneers section of the Greyhound Hall of Fame. Gary Guccione, former executive director of the National Greyhound Association, later invited her to become a regular columnist for The Greyhound Review.
In 2007, Leslie would write Keefer: The People’s Choice — a book about breeder Keith Dillon’s favorite Greyhound. Dillon felt that Keefer had an incredible personality from the moment of his birth in 1984. Keefer wowed the crowds at Derby Lane, becoming the first Greyhound ever featured in the Wall Street Journal. Leslie’s book would explore this phenomenal Greyhound’s career, based especially on her multi-part series about Dillon’s life in Greyhound racing.
In this episode, John Parker sits down with Leslie to discuss her book and other writing about the Greyhound people and the Greyhound breed. They explore her family’s rich heritage in Greyhound coursing and racing, her experiences in Abilene, Kansas, and the future of Greyhound racing and the Greyhound breed.