The Ascot of the East

Roy Richwine bought the residence that is now recognised as Williams Grove Speedway in 1937. It was previously recognised as the Grangers Picnic Fairgrounds. The initially race was held on May perhaps 21, 1939. Joey Chitwood Sr established the rapidly time on that working day by ending a lap in 26.03 seconds. Tommy Hinnershitz gained the forty lap feature, profitable $400. The Traveling Farmer won 19 dash auto races at the keep track of, competing into the late 1950’s! He also gained 7 Eastern dash vehicle championships and savored a best 10 complete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The only NASCAR Cup race at the Grove took area on June 27, 1954. It was received by Herb Thomas, major 150 of the 200 laps, in a 1954 Hudson. Foremost the other 50 laps and finishing in second was pole winner Dick Rathmann, Hershel McGriff was 3rd. Other notable drivers had been Buck Baker, Lee Petty, Dizzy Dean, Ralph Ligouri and Hilly Rife.

July 29, 1951 grew to become acknowledged as “Black Sunday.” Two drivers, Cecil Inexperienced and Invoice Mackey, were being killed in again to back qualifying runs at Winchester, Indiana. Also that day Walt Brown was killed at the Grove. He spun in the next flip though qualifying his motor vehicle #29. It rolled around and Brown died at the Carlisle Medical center later that working day. Eleven other drivers, in addition to 1 formal and 1 spectator have lost their lives at the observe.

The Grove has a relationship to the Indianapolis 500. The hottest relationship is that of driver PJ Chesson, who participated in the event. Indy winners with sprint automobile wins at the keep track of incorporate George Robson (1946), Invoice Holland (1949), Johnny Parsons Sr (1950), Troy Ruttman (1952), Pat Flaherty (1956), Jimmy Bryan (1958), AJ Foyt (1961, 64, 67, and 77), and Parnelli Jones (1962). Jan Opperman, Joey Chitwood Sr, Johnny Thomson, Duke Nalon, Duane Carter Sr, Eddie Sachs, Rodger McCluskey, and Elmer George (whose loved ones however owns IMS) have dash motor vehicle wins right here. Ted Horn won 14 sprint motor vehicle (then acknowledged as “large auto”) races below in addition to 3 Countrywide Driving Championships (1946-48)! He was killed at DuQuoin, IL in 1948 but had sufficient factors to get the title.

Jack Gunn was the keep track of announcer and then took in excess of as the promoter. He additional Selinsgrove, Penn Nationwide, and Hagerstown to his listing of advertising endeavours. Gunn, whose final identify was basically Gunnells, attended the Milton Hershey University for orphans alongside with brother Trim. Trim owned a garage company in Lebanon, PA and was a vehicle operator at the monitor for numerous several years. Jack won the Promoter of the Year in 1979, and passed away in 1980. Gunn is liable for bringing in the nations very best motorists to race in central Pennsylvania. He is in the Nationwide Dash Motor vehicle Hall of Fame.

Since sprint motor vehicle racing commenced on a weekly basis in 1967, Fred Rahmer has grow to be the most successful driver, successful 83 races. Lance Dewease has 75 wins, Donnie Kreitz Jr has 54 victories, and Keith Kauffman loved 51 wins. Kauffman has the most wins in a period with 13 in 1984!

The speedway has prolonged straights and restricted turns. It was supposedly modeled soon after the Legion Ascot Speedway in California. It is also regarded for its spectator bridge which reaches in excess of the backstretch into the infield. There is a tunnel underneath the track at the initially switch which connects the frontstretch lovers to the infield. Prolonged gone are the infield starter’s stand and the coated frontstretch grandstands. Did you know at one time there was a landing strip for airplanes exterior of the backstretch of the monitor?

Williams Grove Speedway is referenced in a Hollywood film. The 1949 movie is identified as “The Huge Wheel” starring Mickey Rooney as driver “Billy Coy.” Following finding into trouble on the west coastline tracks, he heads east. A newspaper headline is revealed with him winning at the Grove. He later makes it to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.