Racing Memories From An Enthusiast Organization At A Preserved Fairgrounds Race Track

On Saturday and Sunday, August 28-29, antique and vintage race cars had another opportunity to visit the Latimore Valley Fairgrounds race track*, where actual racing was last held in 1939. This time it was the annual convention of the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing and its predecessor organization, the Williams Grove Old Timers. If you’re interested in racing history, you might like these photos.

These two cars were regular competitors at the former Silver Spring Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa., which closed in 2005 to make way for another shopping center. The #78 was a limited late model, while the #19 was a street stock.
A couple of decades separate these modifieds. The #5 dates back to the early 1963s, while the #2 is 20+ years more recent. It’s a tribute car to the late Frankie Schneider from New Jersey, one of the grate modified drivers of all time and a frequent frontrunner in NASCAR circuits in the 1950s, with one victory in what is now the Cup Series.
Three of the coupes from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s vie for position. Safety (and insurance) concerns limit speeds to 35-40 mph at Latimore, but the drivers still have fun.
Virginia driver Billy Thurston brought his ’55 Chevy for track time at Williams Grove Speedway the night before the convention, but came out to Latimore Valley to display the machine, which won a couple of track championships back in the 1970s
The two oldest cars on hand: an Indy-style “big car” from the 1920s or ‘30s (inside) and a 1915 Ford Model T. Safety precautions have certainly come a long way.
In the years just before World War II and in the decade afterwards, much grassroots local racing was done by “roadsters” or “hot rods,” which were well represented at Latimore.
Three roadsters chase the older “big car.” Tracks sprung up everywhere in the late 1940s and early ‘50s for these cars, some little more than an oval scraped in an open field. It wasn’t sophisticated or particularly safe, but it paved the way for modern stock car racing
The track, which is dirt and not clay, needed help on a hot and sunny day to keep from becoming a dust bowl, but the first cars out after the watering truck sometimes paid a muddy price.
Another generational photo – the car on the outside is a “super sportsman,” a sprint car-like creation unique to Central Pennsylvania. This one dates to the 1980s. The sprint car on the inside is about 20 years older.
Two of the beautiful sprinters dating back to the 1960s.
Two sprint cars from about 1980 exit the turn in front of a 1960s ancestor.
In the 1970s and early ‘80s, the presence of this car at the track meant you had a good idea who was going to win: Lynn Paxton in the Boops Aluminum #1. Paxton just retired as curator of the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing, where has helped incalculably to preserve the history of racing in Central Pennsylvania and beyond.
Lynn Paxton after a victory in the Boops Aluminum #1 about 40 years ago.

Frank Buhrman

*Editors note; More picture galleries from Frank’s visits to Latimore Valley; Antique Race Cars Take To Latimore Valley Track – Pure Thunder Racing and from last year event; Museum brings out antique race cars for another day at the track. – Pure Thunder Racing

Photo Credits Frank Buhrman. Cover Photo from National Meet 2017 – Events – Fairlane Club of America (clubexpress.com)

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.