Another driver to end his season (and career!) early was Fred Carpenter, the tall 33-year-old from upstate New York. Freddie had been good friends with Ted Horn, the old master acting as somewhat of a mentor for the up-and-coming Carpenter, and the two of them apparently travelled together frequently. On the return trip to Paterson (New Jersey) from the Charlotte race, their tow rig got muscled off the road and rolled over, inflicting serious injuries to Freddie's left leg - he would not be able to walk again for two years! Carpenter had started racing in 1938, qualifying fifth fastest and winning the semi in his very first race at Altamont (New York), a "Class B" AAA race! He was soon developing into a fine prospect, and in 1947 he won his first (and only) AAA main event, finishing tenth in Eastern points. For 1948, Carpenter had garnered his first steady Offy ride in Herman Hoppe's car, the former Lucky Teter Dreyer, and was beginning to be looked upon by Indy Car owners as a potential '500' driver when the accident intervened. He would make a short and unsuccessful comeback in the early fifties, then retire to turn his attention to boating. Fred Carpenter died on April 8, 1978.
Horn's "Baby", though damaged in the accident, was soon repaired and towed to Winchester, where Ted emerged victorious yet again, establishing another three track records on his way. Meanwhile, at Selinsgrove in Pennsylvania, the fair circuit opened with a Tommy Hinnershitz win over 10 miles in record time - Hank Rogers and Mark Light placed second and third, respectively. Six days later, Horn beat Hinnershitz at Harrington's (Delaware) Kent-Sussex County Fair after early leader Tommy Mattson spun out, with Lee Wallard third. In the first heat, Ted had finished only third, behind Pennsylvania's Len Koenig and Hinnershitz - the opposition was growing stronger! The URC kept busy with a couple of Friday night shows at Pitman/Alcyon and Williams Grove, with both going to Lucky Lux in the Furslew/Riley, who was now shaping up as a real contender for championship honours. Danny Goss (New Jersey), Mel Weidner (Pennsylvania) and Len Brown (New Jersey) chased him home at the Grove at what was easily the most prestigious "Class B" event on the calendar.
For some reason, Fort Wayne Speedway in Northern Indiana always seemed to attract an undue amount of rain on race days (in the thirties, once even an entire season had fallen prey to precipitation!), and in 1948 it was no different: after two "rain-outs", the August 8 meeting was the only one to go ahead as planned. For Spider Webb, it was another picture-perfect Sunday: track records in time trials, heat and main event! He had now accomplished a "Four Hills Grand Slam", something no other driver before or since managed in AAA or USAC Big Car racing - this was no lightly regarded achievement, and won him plaudits from within every corner of the racing fraternity! For once, he even overshadowed Ted Horn, who also established three records on the same day, at Martinsville in Virginia. Again, it was Hinnershitz who offered the most resistance, and it appeared only a question of time until the Reading farmer would be able to move one position up on Horn - he was certainly trying his best! The next week was set aside almost entirely for the Wisconsin State Fair in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis, with two Sprint programmes on Tuesday and Wednesday followed by the National Championship 100-miler on Sunday. The fair board was celebrating its "Centennial Exposition" and Rex Mays, always a favourite with the Milwaukee fans, continued where he had left off in 1947: by completely dominating the opening races in Cracraft's Light/Offenhauser, winning the trials, a 5-mile heat and the 25-mile main event. Big Car rookie Dick Frazier of Indiana, a former Track Roadster star with the local MRA, surprised many by finishing second from the time trials through to the feature, with Webb, Hinnershitz, Mel Hansen and Paul Russo (the latter two in Champ Cars) filling the places.
Rain affected the Wednesday meeting, so the board cancelled the heats and increased the main event distance from 25 to 30 miles to fulfil AAA's 55 % rule for a regular race, which had an unforeseeable effect: after smashing Tony Bettenhausen's Champ Car track record in the time trials, Mays again led as he pleased, only to run out of fuel on the last lap, coasting in 4th! Tommy Mattson came from 7th at half distance to take the lead on the last corner in his own new car, with Hinnershitz and Lee Wallard also taking advantage of Mays's predicament. Bill Holland was fifth, and Russo survived a bad spill in Bill Corley's old Petillo/Offenhauser. Horn had given the sprints a miss, but was present for the big final on Sunday, while Holland chose to return to the "bullring" fairs: he was third to Mattson and Mark Light at Bedford (Pennsylvania) on August 14, then won at the Erie County Fair in Hamburg (New York) the next week, with Pennsylvania's Buster Warke and Mattson following. The same day, Horn won the National Championship 100-miler at the Illinois State Fair, and "on his way home" to Paterson cleaned up at Dayton Speedway the next afternoon! Oh yes, and he also established another one-lap track record, the first over 90 miles per hour on a half-mile track!!
Bob Cooney won the URC main event in Bill Brown's McDowell at the State Line Speedway in North Bennington (Vermont, though the grandstand was actually located on New York territory!), and Lux was again second to increase his championship lead, but the next week back at Sidney he crashed on the second lap of the feature, sustaining injuries that would sideline him for the rest of the season! Ottis Stine was the winner that day in the Liss/McDowell, and like Cooney he was now in with a real chance for the title. On the same day, Hinnershitz continued his love affair with the high banks at Salem in the absence of Horn, who finished third that day at Milwaukee's unique 200-miler on dirt, and with that moral booster Tommy was now shaping up as a contender for the Eastern Circuit honours. Horn was still leading with 14 wins out of 14 starts, but Hinnershitz was still in the hunt due to his participation in 20 out of the 21 championship rounds so far, only missing one race completely because of a clashing date. He now had five seconds to supplement his two wins, but also seven retirements and the non-start at the Langhorne rain date due to his Indy engagement. Holland and Light also had two wins apiece to their credit, and Mattson one, and all three of them were at least theoretically still contenders in view of the traditional climax of the fair circuit with a dozen races in September alone.
The Midwestern Circuit Championship was virtually over, however, and a couple more rain-outs saw to it that the Winchester meet on September 5 would prove to be the final points race of the season. After threatening to do so all year, Jackie Holmes finally crashed into the winner's circle and cemented his runner-up position in the championship by doing so. Another of the new crop of drivers to emerge in the wake of WW2, the young Hoosier had joined AAA only the year before after an unspectacular season in CSRA in 1946, and had been on the pace from the word go. Driving almost exclusively for Indianapolis car owner and constructor Floyd "Pop" Dreyer, a former motorcycle racer, Jackie had finished in the top three a number of times in his rookie year, and by 1948 began winning time trials and fast heats regularly. He turned 28 the day before Winchester, and finally breaking into the main event wins column was exactly the right tonic at this critical point in his career.
The final points (top twenty-five) read:
1 Spider Webb (CA/38), 268 points, 6 wins, 4 fast times
2 Jackie Holmes (IN/28), 183 points, 1 win, 2 fast times
3 Tommy Mattson (DE/34), 143 points, 1 win, 1 fast time
4 Lee Wallard (NY/37), 142 points
5 George Lynch (MI/30), 128 points
6 Tommy Hinnershitz (PA/36), 123 points, 1 win
7 Rex Mays (CA/35), 120 points, 1 win, 2 fast times
8 Johnnie Crone (MD/40), 111 points
9 Ted Horn (CA/38), 102 points, 4 wins, 3 fast times
10 Eddie Zalucki (MI/34), 82.5 points
11 Dick Frazier (IN/30), 80 points, 1 fast time
12 Johnny Shackleford (OH/35), 71 points, 1 fast time
13 Tony Bettenhausen (IL/32), 70 points, 1 win
14 Hank Schlosser (OH/~ 40), 62 points
15 Duke Nalon (IL/35), 55 points
16 Mel Hansen (CA/37), 54 points, 1 fast time
17 Red Renner (IN), 52 points
18 Emil Andres (IL/37), 50 points
19 Norm Houser (IN/33), 49 points
20 Red Cotterman (OH), 46 points
21 Bob Simpson (MI/~ 35), 45 points
22 Johnny Fedricks (MI/23), 44 points
23 Bill Holland (PA/41), 43 points
24 Hal Robson (CA/37), 42 points
25 Bill Cantrell (KY/40), 42 points
Edited by Michael Ferner, 20 June 2010 - 08:18.