The increasing popularity of vintage racing organizations across the U.S. continues its upward move as huge crowds now attend "old-timer" festivals.
Thus, we’re dedicating this column to vintage racing organizations everywhere, wherever that may be. Each has its own distinct character of how it goes about preserving the past, but one ingredient is similar to all: constant attention and monetary support. Without it, future fans will never receive the opportunity to see, hear and feel "how it used to be."
Today, I’m going to zero on one of the most popular “Old Timer” groups in America, namely The Eastern Museum Of Motor Racing (EMMR) located at the Latimore Valley Fairgrounds in York Springs, PA. Purchased in 1982 by EMMR, a 501-c nonprofit organization, Latimore Valley's 40-acre fairground and speedway is now home to the EMMR museum, a 21,000 sq. ft. two-story complex that houses an extensive collection of historic race cars that sit in the waiting. Also on the grounds is the restored “Latimore Valley Fairgrounds” half-mile dirt track speedway where numerous on-track events are held each year.
Even the "Dean of Motorsports" Chris Economaki, continues to donate all of his extensive and prestigious library collection to EMMR, where an already outstanding collection of Economaki artifacts are housed in a separate research library room. The library also includes other rare books, documents, photos and press memorabilia pertaining to all types of auto racing.
While the EMMR museum reflects the popularity of open wheel racing, visitors will enjoy a wide variety of racing machines from all types of competition. Included are sprint cars, midgets, and stock cars to motorcycles, Indy cars, drag cars and more. Notable is EMMR's extensive gift shop filled with books, apparel, DVDs, photos, artist prints and souvenirs.
Visitors will take pleasure in countless display cases, memorabilia and cars associated with drivers the likes Lynn Paxton, Ted Horn, Paul Pitzer, Pappy Hough, Bill Schindler or Bobby Marshman to name a few. You'll also see old style trophies, helmets, driver suits, racer jackets, uniforms and many other items. Other displays feature miniature tracks and numerous racing engines that powered cars from the 1930s to present day. On the second floor, NASCAR legend Junie Donlavey's Truxmore sponsored Ford, a Chevy Dave Marcis crashed at Pocono, and a beautiful Tide sponsored No. 10 Ford Cup car driven by Ricky Rudd are all on display.
Most interesting is a Tommy Hinnershitz replica garage, complete with the famous Miracle Power Special race car, as is a dedication to Hiram Hillegas, who built open wheel cars near Allentown, PA in the 1940s and 1950s. Back then, if you didn’t drive a Hillegas-built car on the area speedways, you were in the minority.
EMMR also features a scale model of Paterson, N.J.’s Gasoline Alley, where a young Economaki started his racing career working as a "stoogie" for the many drivers he would befriend.
Full information is available at www.emmr.org., including dates for 2012 events along with a virtual tour that is most enjoyable. If you plan to vacation in this area next year, Williams Grove Speedway just minutes away and the museum is just 15-miles from Gettysburg's famous battlefields.
EMMR membership is only $20 a year, lifetime is $200 and there is no admission charge for visitors to the museum. The organization is 100-percent volunteer, and will always be.
In addition to EMMR, find your state's racing “Old-timer” organization, join it, support it, and attend the events. You'll be glad you did.