Reading Fairgrounds, part 7: Innovations!
Like most everyone in racing, Pappy Hankinson saw the boom happening, and lost no time in seeking ways to further his business. He was, of course, also aware of what was going on in California, where night racing on a weekly basis had achieved enormous success with the crowds and racers alike. Neither idea was really new, and even the combination had already been tried at Ascot in its IMCA days, but the recent success story of the Pacific Coast Championship made everyone sit up and take notice. Both concepts were also tricky for a promoter, and could backfire all too easily if not handled in a proper way. There were some steep initial costs connected with night racing, for example, and weekly racing shows needed a special environment to work well. Chicago, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and New York had tried weekly racing so far, and the success of these enterprises had varied greatly, even in those large population centres. Locationwise, Langhorne Speedway seemed to be the perfect setting for weekly races, midway between Trenton and Philadelphia, but Hankinson's instinct told him to think twice - wasn't the Indianapolis Motor Speedway so successful because
it ran only once a year? In much the same way, Langhorne appeared to positively thrive on a diet of two to three, maybe four races maximum per year, so why change a good thing going strongly? As usual, Hankinson was right, and weekly racing does not seem to work on tracks of one mile or longer - as his successor in promoting Langhorne would ultimately find out! So he tried Woodbridge in New Jersey, which is close enough to the New York City metropolitan area to attract good crowds, but Woodbridge Speedway had a problem in that it was a board track - the weekly races played havoc with the racing surface, and the track upkeep alone ate up all the profits. Back to square one!
Taking a good look at what he already had, Pappy soon realized there were other ways to increase business: with the fair season in late summer/early fall already chockfull of events at the many fairs in the area, he hardly needed another track running weekly at the same time, just a few more events during spring and early summer would do fine. This could be achieved by persuading the fair officials of some of the better tracks to lease the fairgrounds for "still dates", i.e. race meetings not connected with the actual fair, which, again, was by no means a novel idea, but Hankinson took the concept one stage further by arranging a proper pre-fair season of racing events in the East, and to cap it all, he also introduced the "Hankinson Speedways Championship", or Hankinson Circuit for short, no doubt inspired by the doings on the Pacific Coast. The well kept track, good crowds and cooperative fair board at Reading convinced him to single out this town as the centre of his new activities. As a special boon, the Reading Fair people listened sympathetically when Pappy told them of his vision of night racing, and promised to help with the initial costs of setting up the track illumination - perfect! In early April of 1932, Hankinson Speedways proudly announced its schedule of ten pre-season dirt track races:
May 8, Reading, Pa.
May 22, Lehighton, Pa.
May 30, Flemington, N. J. and Brockton, Mass.
June 5, Reading, Pa.
June 12, Cumberland, Md.
June 19, Lehighton, Pa.
July 4, Bloomsburg, Pa. and Altamont, N. Y.
July 17, to be announced.
As we've come to expect, Pappy got all his sums right: entries began streaming in from all over the East Coast for the "Reading Inaugural", with many Midwesterners joining in, welcoming the chance to make early hay. About seventy had signed up by May 7, with additional entries expected to come in from nearby Langhorne, where a 50-miler was run that Saturday, giving Bill Cummings his fifth win of the still young season (he'd won four times in California already). Before noon on Sunday, more than sixty cars were at hand, and spectators were streaming in by the thousands - unfortunately, the rain was also streaming (down), and the races had to be postponed until the following Sunday - which actually turned out to be good for business, as many of the the racers from faraway locations decided to stay in town, since there was nothing else to do, and the presence of the drivers and racing cars only served to fuel the interest of the local populace. When the big day finally arrived, the sun and good fortune were smiling on Reading and Ralph Hankinson - the stands filled in no time at all! Time trials began at the early hour of ten, in an effort to weed out the large entry in time for the races in the afternoon - only nineteen would be allowed to compete in the heats and the consy, with ten the upper limit for the main event!
Amongst those to miss the cut were many former and future Indianapolis starters, such as Walt Brown, Gus Schrader, Paul Bost, Frank Farmer, Bert Karnatz, Mauri Rose and Gene Haustein. Fast time was made by Fred Frame in his two-man Duesenberg, the same car he had driven to second place in the 1931 Indy 500, and it was a new track record to boot: 28.8"! A late entry during the rain-delay, Zeke Meyer in Ed Yagle's ex-Lockhart Miller was next, also beating the previous record by Billy Arnold, then came a group of Midwesterners with Bryan "Socko" Saulpaugh, Shorty Gingrich, Jimmy Patterson and Billy Winn. The latter two were already well known in the East, but Saulpaugh and Gingrich were prime examples of the new wave of former IMCA and independent drivers from the heartlands (though Gingrich was originally from Florida, it seems), like Schrader and Rose, too, all of them having taken advantage of the unique AAA/IMCA affiliation the year before to break into the "big time". The rest of the "survivors" were Easterners, from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, of course. Sadly, the time trials were overshadowed by Reading Fairground's first fatality, 42-year-old Francis Timm of Old Forge in Northern Pennsylvania, who crashed his "Timm Special" into an iron fence and died shortly afterwards - it may well have been his first try at autoracing!
The races proper began after a short intermission with a couple of motorcycle races thrown in for good measure - Pappy always knew how to entertain a crowd. The fast heat saw Frame take another record from Arnold, at an even 60 mph gait, with Meyer and Winn following. Saulpaugh took the second heat in his little Krasek/Rajo, the car with which he had been so successful the previous fall, and his time was only eight tenths short of Frame's new record, and comfortably faster than the old one, too - Gingrich and Gordy Condon took the other two transfer spots for the final. New York veteran Ted Kessler was victorious in heat 3, followed by Guy Clapper and Malcolm Fox, and Bob Sall qualified for the main event by wining the 20-lap consy, breaking Bob Robinson's record for the distance by almost half a minute, and leaving Park Culp, Larry Beals, Harris Insinger and Bill Shoop out in the cold. Frame went straight into the lead in the main, followed by Meyer and Winn in his speedy Sejnost/Frontenac, who took second on lap 4, with Saulpaugh slipping by Meyer as well on the same lap. It must've been a sight to see the two little dirt track cars harrying the big Duesenberg all over the track, but Frame kept ahead by the slightest of margins, even when Saulpaugh replaced Winn as his main threat on lap 8. Seven circuits later, Winn retaliated, and by lap 25 it was noted how Frame had to revert to defensive driving to stay ahead, but stay he did, and within another five laps Winn had his hands full of Saulpaugh again - it was terrific stuff! Over the last ten laps, Frame parried all attempts by the little Fronty to spurt ahead, and finished out the winner by about a second, with Saulpaugh not far behind, and Gingrich a distant fourth. The time was another record, as it was the first race over twenty miles at the fairgrounds track, and the reporter of a local newspaper was so impressed that he thought it "may never be surpassed" - oh, how wrong!
More than 20,000 spectators had witnessed the events, some estimates going up as far as 25,000 - a sensational turnout, by any means. In fact, the Reading Inaugural races would soon develop a habit of crowds outnumbering even the fair races, very unusual for the times. Pretty soon, the event would establish a magic of its own, that of the Eastern Inaugural (or, Hankinson Inaugural), where one could get a glimpse of the new, exciting racing season after a long, dull winter - new cars, new drivers, sometimes new combinations of the same - "You saw it at Reading first!"
The following day, an understandably enthusiastic Ralph Hankinson issued a press communiqué, stating that he would move his headquarters permanently to Reading, and publishing 45 dates for the coming fair season. He also modified the early schedule by cancelling the Cumberland meeting and moving the second Reading event into its place, thereby avoiding a clash with the National Championship race in Detroit, Michigan - clearly, he was hoping to attract more of the top line drivers after this initial success! For most of those, it was now time to head to Indianapolis, where another record entry of 72 was expected - an impressive number... until you learn that the next Langhorne race attracted 102 - one hundred and two!!!! If the "junk formula" was supposed to be the catalyst for the growth of the Indy 500, why was it that entries for dirt track races tripled or even quadrupled, while those at Indy barely doubled??
Being an ace promoter, Hankinson had already secured Fred Frame's entry for the second Reading race programme, of course, and on the heels of Fast Freddie's Indianapolis win, he also engaged Frame's car owner, Harry Hartz, to bring along the 500-mile race winning chariot to the Berks County capital for some exhibition laps. More than 50 other entries joined Frame and Hartz on June 12 at the Fairgrounds, only to discover that it rained in Reading, once again, and Pappy had to make some quick decisions - with another National Championship 100-miler scheduled for the following Sunday at Chicago's Roby Speedway, and an AMA motorcycle race at the local fairgrounds the same day, the racing season was already becoming a crowded one, and opportunities seemed to be slipping away. Luckily, though, the Reading Fair officials had been true to their word, and everything was in readiness for the inaugural of night racing, so Hankinson swiftly postponed the event until Thursday, June 16, with all the top drivers staying in town, and ample time for everybody to make the trek to the Windy City afterwards. After about two dozen time trials on Thursday evening, however, the rains returned yet again, and everything was put on hold until Friday night - fingers crossed!
Finally, the weather gods smiled on the racing community, and the programme went ahead as planned the next day, and how! Aided by the evening cool, track records tumbled by the half dozen, and action aplenty dizzied the somewhat sparse (by Reading standards) 5-digit crowd. Bert Karnatz, who'd tied Frame's qualifying record on Thursday already, was an early favourite, but Billy Winn shot into the lead from the "outside pole" in the first heat, and withstood ten laps of intense pressure by the Michigan lad to win, taking eleven seconds (!) from another Frame record. Before the next race, Hartz circled the track twice in his Miller-Hartz front drive, accompanied by none other than Barney Oldfield, and witnessed by the man
himself, Harry Miller, and former Indy winner Joe Dawson. Then it was Saulpaugh's time to thrill the spectators, by coming from last into first in four laps, and riding out the remaining six still comfortably faster than the old record. During the 20-lap consy, an already agitated crowd went into a frenzy when leader Gordy Condon tangled with Bill Shoop while lapping him, sending the right rear wheel of the latter rolling down the frontstretch with the rest of the car following, Shoop bringing the three-wheeler safely to a halt at the pits. A minute or so later, a section of bleachers adjacent to the grandstands crashed, slightly injuring 23 spectators, and in the confusion Condon's win and yet another track record went almost unnoticed.
Not that it mattered too much, for the record was broken yet again in the very next race, the main event: Karnatz set the ball rolling, by covering the first two laps in 59 seconds, hotly pursued by Winn, but within another six laps both had to retire, leaving the lead to Saulpaugh, who made the first half of the 40-lap race in 9'49", then sped up to win in 19'32", despite puncturing a rear tyre against the inside fence and riding out the remaining three laps with a trail of sparks flying from the wheel - a nice effect for a night racing show! Condon came through from last place to finish second, another strong performance by the 31-year-old Altoona resident, followed by Johnny Moretti, Jimmy Patterson, Johnny Sawyer and Frank Farmer. Frame didn't stay around for the races - after having shipped his Duesenberg to Chicago during the week, and trying the Vieaux/Cragar on for size instead, the second postponement finally put paid to any hopes of having the Indy winner stay put, but he vowed to come back to make amends. Saulpaugh and Condon, the stars of the Friday night meeting, would be back, too, to defend their laurels, but in the case of the latter, fate sadly intervened: after crashing out of the main event at the postponed Bloomsburg races on July 9, Gordy went to Hollidaysburg, a few miles south of Altoona, four days later to try out a friend's racing car on the local horse track, crashing again but this time with fatal consequences.
Gordon J. "Gordy" Condon began racing in 1921, reportedly, but didn't make any headlines until competing in the first of five "semi-pro" races at the board track in his hometown, Altoona Speedway. On June 11 in 1927, twelve semi-professional racing drivers on dirt track cars started in a 50-mile race just before the National Championship 200-miler in the afternoon, for a purse of nearly $2,000. The rules were strict, as Jimmy Gleason found out, who had been entered in a Touring Car support race for the 200-mile National Championship race at Atlantic City five weeks earlier, and taken a few practice spins in a championship car there. After qualifying the former Tommy Milton LSR Miller for the 5th starting position at Altoona, he was barred from the race because of his earlier appearance as a "professional driver", and handed the car to Tommy Dawson, who promptly won the race. Condon started from the front row in a Frontenac special and finished 3rd, but was the last man running, many laps in arrears. He came back on Labor Day, to qualify the (Dewey) Closson/Dodge 15th and retire early in another 50-miler, won by Henry Turgeon in his Turgeon/Frontenac. Other Altoona "semi-pro" winners would be Earl Johnson (50 miles on Sep 3, 1928), Oliver Kley (20 miles on Oct 11, 1930) and Tony Willman (25 miles on July 4, 1931).
Meanwhile, Condon had become a "professional driver" himself, mainly as a result of the sinking of the SS Vestris in November of 1928! Frank Cramer, another resident of the speedway town of Altoona, and the owner of the Miller driven to 2nd place in that year's Indy 500 by Earl Devore, subsequently killed in the Vestris disaster, offered the car to Gordy for the 1929 running of the Indianapolis classic, only for Speed Gardner to "buy the ride" from under him. Three months later, Condon himself had found a backer to sponsor an entry at Altoona in the Miller formerly driven by Norm Batten, another Vestris victim. Gordy did very well with the Miller, and for the next two years became a regular in the AAA board and dirt track races, scoring at least four second place finishes at Woodbridge Speedway and many other top finishes, but apparently no wins, despite leading a number of main events. In 1931, he finally got his chance at the Brickyard in Ed Yagle's two-man car, fitted with the engine of the 1929 winner, but the little Miller was no longer competitive against other entries of almost four times the engine capacity, and Condon withdrew after completing only 3 qualifying laps. Three weeks later, he was very seriously injured at Langhorne Speedway, threatening to end his career, if not his life. But the tough Pennsylvanian was back at the circular track for the opening of the 1932 season, leading the eight-car team (!) of the Ambler Brothers from Germantown, a Philadelphia suburb. John and Bill Ambler had been building and running a number of Big Cars locally, mostly converted Fords, but in the early thirties they began turning out a series of "Hissos", Big Cars with converted WW1 surplus Hispano-Suiza aircraft engines. Condon's #1 "Ambler Special" may have been the very first Ambler/Hispano-Suiza, in any case he finished 6th in his comeback drive, laying to rest the "ghosts of Langhorne". He continued to impress until that fateful accident at Hollidaysburg, on a track that was not suited for racing cars.
Reading had been good to Hankinson, and so Pappy carded another meeting for his "reserved date", July 17. Not quite a weekly track, yet, but some sort of a "monthly routine", which called for something new to keep interest from flagging, and the promoter had exciting news for Reading: Bob Carey was to come, and to challenge Fred Frame! All through the summer of 1932, those two drivers and their heated battle for the National Championship (which also involved, to a lesser degree, Howdy Wilcox) made racing headlines all over the US, and promoters were falling over each other to sign one, if not both of them for their shows. There was no need to introduce the Indy winner to even the most remotely interested race goers, but Carey was a completely new name to the fans on the Atlantic seaboard, although he was pretty well known and respected in Midwestern independent racing circles. Like many of his colleagues, the Anderson (IN) native had taken advantage of the AAA/IMCA "truce" the previous year to "test the waters", found that he liked it, and headed off for California and a look at the Pacific Coast winter circuit. After a few races to "warm up", Carey found himself in the potent 8-cylinder Miller of former National Champion Louie Meyer, and proceeded to win two races on consecutive weekends, one of which a 100-miler at the new Oakland Speedway in the Bay area. Not content with this introduction, he stayed around after Meyer had left to prepare for the Indy 500, got another ride and won two more Oakland 100s, to the consternation of the AAA top stars, led by Wilbur Shaw, Ernie Triplett and Bill Cummings, who were trailing him in Pacific Coast Championship points in that order at the time. By early May, when it was time to head East for the annual extravaganza in the Hoosier capital, Triplett had managed to sneak ahead again into his customary number one slot, but that is beside the point: Carey had definitely made his
point(s), and in the most impressive way! He was now "hot property"!!
Not one to let opportunity slip away, Louie Meyer had already made arrangements for Carey to drive his own "backup" car in the 500-mile grind. Contractually still bound to drive the big 16-cylinder Miller for his long-time sponsor and friend, Alden Sampson, the 1928 Speedway winner had built this car the year before as his main weapon for the dirt track races and Indianapolis "emergency spare" to fall back upon, which had worked out beautifully when the Sampson/Miller broke down in the early going, enabling Meyer to still finish 4th. Now, with Carey at the controls, the Meyer/Miller put its creator firmly in the shadow! After trailing his "teammate" for more than 100 miles, Meyer retired the Sampson/Miller with more engine trouble, but did not dare to call Carey in, as the Indy rookie was just about to take the lead! Unfortunately, Carey hit the wall just before half distance, and lost a big chunk of time for necessary repairs, which dropped him right out of contention, but he came back, undeterred, to finish 4th for a healthy dose of National Championship points. At this, Meyer decided to step back and let Carey have the car for the dirt track season, which, again, proved to be the right decision when the young Hoosier (who was actually only two months younger than Meyer) won two more 100-milers in the summer to crowd Frame for the National Championship lead! Additionally, while still in California, Carey had made arrangements for an associate, Frank McLain from Muncie (IN), to buy the Cragar Special that Clarence Tarbet had built to replace the 1927 Indy-winning Duesenberg chassis that had been wrecked in the fatal accident of Herman Schurch in November. This car had been one of the "stars" in the recently released Hollywood flick "The Crowd Roars", and with it Carey began to win regularly on dirt tracks in the Midwest. Ironically, Tarbet had been a long-time associate and car owner for Fred Frame in the latter's formative years, who was now beginning to feel the heat from Carey's driving!
But, sadly, not at Reading. Amongst the 38 cars lining up for time trials, there was no sign of Bob Carey, or the Tarbet/Cragar. The local newspaper bemoaned the short entry (for Reading standards) and poor attendance (still over 10,000), but the on-track action made up for those disappointments. Saulpaugh broke the track record in qualifying yet again (28.6"), and established a "day-time record" in the fast heat, but it was Billy Winn who overtook the Illinois ace early in the feature to take the 40-lap main. Frame and his two-car team of Indy 500 vehicles never got a look-in, pulling out himself late in the race when running only fifth, while Stubby Stubblefield in the spectacular "Catfish" crashed into the inside railing. Bob Sall came through for 3rd, his first top finish at the track, and Johnny Sawyer overcame a bad time trial and a disastrous start in the main to finish 4th. Jimmy Patterson (Katz=Miller/Duesenberg) and Frank Farmer (ex-Lockhart/Keech Yagle=Miller) completed the list of finishers, with Lloyd Vieaux and Harold Wright joining the two Frame entries on the sidelines. Amongst the non-qualifiers were five past and future Indy drivers, of whom Doc MacKenzie took the worst jolt: his fiery crash stopped the consolation race seven laps short of its scheduled distance, and send the driver to the local hospital for treatment of minor injuries - he didn't stay long enough to get married, however...
Exactly two months passed before the next Reading event, and it was a fairly eventful time if your name happened to be Fred Frame: a fortnight after the summer Reading race, he passed up an event in his former hometown Boston to race at the Kent-Sussex Fair in Delaware instead - maybe because he liked the track, having won there in 1931, or maybe because Pappy Hankinson needed
him to bolster a poor field - anyway, he sent Stubby with the Catfish North, took his Duesey to the South and... crashed heavily, trying to outbrave Billy Winn into the first turn! Ironically, Winn had crashed twelve months earlier trying to wrest the lead from Frame - it was either crash or win with these fellows! At first, Frame appeared to have come out unscathed, except for the usual cuts and bruises, but when the pain wouldn't go away he consented to an X-ray days later - and discovered he'd broken several ribs! Now he was in trouble!! That Carey fellow had closed to within 50 points (the equivalent of a sixth place finish) in the National Championship with but one race left, and he had never finished worse than that in his entire career - which, admittedly, was only 4 races in toto, but then again, he'd won two out of the last three Championship dirt track races, and three out of five non-championship 100-milers - if he won again in that final race at the Michigan State Fairgrounds, the same track he'd won at back in June, Frame had to finish 3rd to be sure of the title, and that was only five weeks hence! Oh dear... For five long weeks, Frame experienced the agony of having two high-strung racing cars in his posession, and to have the choice of letting them sit or watch them being driven by someone else. To his credit, he chose the latter, and was rewarded with a nice 1-2 at Middletown (NY) on August 27. A week later, and he gained another triumph of sorts, a short respite: it rained in Detroit!! One more week of pain killers, and staying put in the hope of healing in time...
When the day of the final reckoning arrived, Frame had mobilized an army to call upon: he'd put Jimmy Patterson, who'd won with the Duesey at Middletown, into the Catfish, in addition to having his old buddy Harry Hartz wheel a brand new car (actually, the former "works" Miller V16, now rebuilt into a swb 16-valve four) for Bryan Saulpaugh to the line! But the results of the time trials were disheartening: Carey qualified on pole, with Fred's army down in 5th through 7th positions, the "captain" back in the rear after holding his breath for virtually the whole lap. He still needed a small miracle - and he got it! After running away with the main event for 59 of the 100 miles, Carey suddenly arrived at the pits with a puncture. By this time, Frame had already dropped to last, merely hanging on in the faint hope of a finish, nothing more than just the satisfaction of being able to say that he'd done everything that could've been done in his situation. But even though Frame was certainly in no position to mount a challenge, Carey was now having his work cut out trying to regain lost positions. Soon after, Patterson left the race with transmission trouble, but Saulpaugh held the fort and that vital 6th place to the finish, just ahead of the disappointed Hoosier challenger. Frame hung on and finished last, for a nibble of points, just in case they were needed, but the joy about the accomplishment was muted. Not only was he physically and mentally worn out after the ordeal, but he'd also heard of the latest rumours: back home in California, businessmen were in the throes of buying Oakland Speedway, in the hope of bringing Championship car racing back to the West Coast after an absence of more than five years. Many newspapers feted Frame as the new National Champion, but within little more than a month the rumours had become reality, an announcement that must have put a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon on Bob Carey's face...
But before that "final final" showdown in the West, the Eastern fair season was winding down in a beehive of activity: for Reading's race date on Saturday, September 17, Hankinson himself had scheduled two other events at Brockton (MA) and Altamont (NY), with Ira Vail promoting another meet at Mineola, Long Island. It was Vail, however, who attracted the best field, with Bob Sall, Jimmy Patterson, Doc MacKenzie, Joe Russo, Ken Fowler, Bob Carey and Lloyd Broshart making the main event, and such stars as Ralph de Palma, Russ Snowberger, Stubby Stubblefield, Freddie Winnai and Malcolm Fox failing to qualify! Pappy had to make do with what was left, and divide it by three: Billy Winn took the up-state New York event, while Fred Frame delighted his former townsmen with a feature win, so that the only genuine star left over for Reading was to be Bryan Saulpaugh, who duly won the time trials, fast heat and main event, the latter from Lloyd Vieaux, Bill Denver, Henry Ziegenthaler, Wes Johnson and Ted Kline. There were still 23 cars ready to take time trials, and apart from Ziegenthaler, a newcomer from Ohio, one other notable Reading rookie was 23-year-old Johnny Hannon from Conshohocken in Eastern Pennsylvania. Hannon, a former pugilist, who had been racing in area "outlaw" events for a couple of years and only very recently joined up with the AAA, had made a lot of people sit up and take notice only the weekend before by finishing 4th in two main events in New Jersey, Trenton on Saturday and Woodbridge on Sunday. Here at Reading, however, he missed the feature by finishing runner-up to Ziegenthaler in the consy, with only one transfer spot to the main event.
Reading's first racing "season" had been an unqualified success: the crowds had been good despite the hard times, the track had stood up well over the longer race distances for the still dates, and entries had been plentiful and of good quality. The faithful Reading fans had not only seen the Indy winner compete both before and after his big triumph, but also the winning car driven in an exhibition, manned by two legends of the sport. Many of the drivers competing in one or more of the four meetings had seen action on the Indy bricks, or were clearly going to in a few short years. And they had come from all over the US to race at the Berks County oval, from California, Missouri, Illinois and Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and all states of the Eastern seabord. Some of the fastest and most expensive cars in the nation had been exercised at the fairgrounds, and all track records had been lowered considerably during the year. Of the drivers, young Bryan Saulpaugh from Rock Island, Illinois, had been the most successful, running in all four feature races and finishing 3rd, 1st, 2nd and again 1st, duplicating the feat of the late Bob Robinson as a repeat winner. At 26, the Indianapolis front-row qualifier was considered to be one of the brightest future prospecs of the sport, but sadly, he was destined not to return to Reading, perishing in an accident in California the next spring. Nor would the Reading folks ever get to see the sensational Bob Carey driving, who suffered the same fate only six days earlier, and they had also seen the last of veteran driver Frank Farmer from Philadelphia, a two-time top 6 finisher at the fairgrounds, who had died along with fellow Philadelphian Bill Neapolitan as a result of a dreadful accident at the reopening of the old Woodbridge Speedway in August, now a dirt track. But even though the ranks were thinning, there was plenty of talent ready to step into the vacated shoes, and Reading was set to see them all in action - Ralph Hankinson would see about that. Life was good for a racing fan in Central Pennsylvania!
Edited by Michael Ferner, 23 October 2012 - 12:00.