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Lakewood Speedway fatality photo, March 31, 1946


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#1 MPea3

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 12:57

please be warned before looking at these links that they show a photograph of what appears to be a racing fatality.

in looking around on the web, i discovered the following page http://wwwlib.gsu.ed...al/oneal002.htm

going down the page one finds a photograph labelled

Description: Wreck at Lakewood [Speedway; Automobile racing; Lakewood Fairground]
Date: 03/31/46 Box: 2 Envelope: 16
Notes: 1 negative removed to cold storage. Box 1, Sheet 15

the full size image can be seen at http://wwwlib.gsu.ed...eg/N02-16_a.jpg

seeing 1946 the 1st thing that went through my mind was the race in which george robson and george barringer lost their lives, but that race was september 2. does anyone have a listing of race dates for lakewood in 1946 other than the AAA championship races?

looking again, the car doesn't seem that large. for a moment i wondered if it could be a midget, but quickly my better sense prevailed. maybe it's just the photo and how the car and driver are positioned that give the appearance of being small. (as an aside, i know that midgets ran in atlanta on a track on fair street after the war, but there were 2 fair streets in atlanta back then, one just west of the lakewood fairground/speedway complex, the other being west of downtown. i can't imagine that midgets could have run at lakewood anyway.)

a few interesting things about the photo are the number 8, the whitewall tire on the front, and the crowd. it appears to be either turn 2 or 3 because of the woods in the background and the flatter terrain. a street runs behind turn 1 and the area behind turn 4 is a fairly steep and tall hill. my memory of lakewood along with the small embankment just behind the outside "guardrail" makes me think turn 2, but the crowd seems fairly large, and T2 was the most difficult area to get to, the other areas being accessible from either the grandstands in the case of T1, or the fairgrounds in the case of T2&3.

ideas? info?

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#2 fines

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 14:19

The 1946 AAA National Championship opened with a 25 Mile Sprint Car race at Lakewood on Mar 31, won by Jimmy Wilburn from Ted Horn and Joie Chitwood.

#3 BorderReiver

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 14:23

I'm not sure what it is, but it looks like a very bad one. . . :(

#4 Geoff E

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 15:00

There is another pic at the bottom of the page:-

http://www.library.g...g/N02-136_a.jpg

#5 Rob G

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 15:52

Originally posted by Geoff E
There is another pic at the bottom of the page:-

http://www.library.g...g/N02-136_a.jpg

That's of a different accident. Note the blackwall tires, the lighter paint color and the different position of the car in the infield.

#6 Geoff E

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 16:14

Originally posted by Rob G

That's of a different accident. Note the blackwall tires, the lighter paint color and the different position of the car in the infield.


Yes also the location is different, as is the weather.

#7 MPea3

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 17:10

Originally posted by Geoff E
There is another pic at the bottom of the page:-

http://www.library.g...g/N02-136_a.jpg


yeah, different car & driver, a wet track, and the fence. the position of his arm suggests that he might be alive and trying to get out of the car. it's also dated 1950. there's also a pic of a stock car wreck on that page, showing the back straight at lakewood and the more typical dust that was always a problem. the last race i attended there was an AMA mile event in the early 70's which had to be cancelled because of dust, with a riot in the stands as a result.

there's a concert amphitheatre beside the location of the old speedway now. all that remains is part of T1 & 2, and the grandstands.

Fines: thanks for that info. any details on fatalities?

#8 Jim Thurman

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 21:07

Looking through Ed Watson's "Tribute" project, there are nine fatalities listed for Lakewood, two in Stocks, three in Champ Cars (Barringer, Robson and Art Bisch).

Nothing listed for 1946 other than the Barringer-Robson accident. There is the distinct possibility that the 1946 wreck, as bad as it looked, wasn't a fatal.

The 1950 accident photo however, might have been the fatal accident involving Mike Joseph, who according to info in "Tribute", was a 39 year old ARDC Midget veteran making his first Big Car start. Listed as occurring May 7, 1950.

I don't see any listing for the poor fellow who drowned after his Stock Car went into the lake.


Jim Thurman

#9 dbw

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 23:28

the first photo is a full-size car-note the early ford front and rear axles..most likely model a....a good ad for belts and a roll bar...often these guys ran without a belt so as to be thrown free and take their chances...

love the wrestling photos :blush:

#10 MPea3

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Posted 25 May 2003 - 00:58

Originally posted by dbw
love the wrestling photos :blush:


they continued to have wrestling at the municipal auditorium well into the late 60's, and my dad, the GSU librarian and as mild a man as ever lived, would take me with my sister to see such then greats as sputnick monroe, el mongol, and the fabulous moolah. one night we went to see a match between mario galento and lou thesz for the "world championship". my sister was a huge galento fan in spite of his being a bad guy, so when he came out for the fight, she snuck down into his corner and asked him for his autograph. he promptly spit on her and had the security guards haul her away.

it remains one of the high points of my youth. ;)

#11 Paul Taylor

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 00:04

Originally posted by Jim Thurman
The 1950 accident photo however, might have been the fatal accident involving Mike Joseph, who according to info in "Tribute", was a 39 year old ARDC Midget veteran making his first Big Car start. Listed as occurring May 7, 1950.


Do you have any more information on this?

#12 HistoricMustang

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 17:25

From GARHOFA "Pioneer Pages", this may help a bit.

As a former office and current member, copyright should not be an issue with these. In fact I would encourge all to sign up for Pioneer Pages.

Henry

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#13 Jim Thurman

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 06:08

Originally posted by Paul Taylor


Do you have any more information on this?


Just the rest of the information from the entry in "The Tribute Project", contributed by Midget historian Crocky Wright. Which is...

Joseph was 39, from Philadelphia and was making his first AAA Big Car start. He was a 14 year ARDC Midget veteran and was a former president and founding member of ARDC.

#14 HistoricMustang

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 21:46

Lakewood 1940 photograph from the University of Georgia Archives.

Henry

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#15 fines

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 09:24

Seeing that this thread has reemerged, I notice that the original question hasn't been answered. Unfortunately, the original pics have disappeared, but the only accident I have listed for March 31, 1946 is that of Verden Morelock from Macon (GA) and no, it wasn't fatal. Morelock was one of, if not the leading Sprint Car driver of the area and a regular of AAA events in the South, though he rarely (if ever) started anywhere else. He first appears in my records in 1938, the last time in 1950.

Also, a correction to my earlier post, the race was for 20 miles, as was the race on March 30 in 1947 in which Morelock scored a fourth (behind Bill Holland, Walt Ader and Spider Webb), the best result I have for him in my records.

#16 fines

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 09:35

Originally posted by Geoff E
There is another pic at the bottom of the page:-

http://www.library.g...g/N02-136_a.jpg

Strangely, this pic is still available, and so it's possible for me to identify. I'm pretty sure it shows Lee Wallard on May 7 in 1950. This accident also wasn't fatal, as I'm pretty sure many realize ;), even more so as Wallard managed to repair the car for the consolation event which he went on to win! The feature, a 25-mile event, was won by Tommy Hinnershitz in the Horn/Offenhauser.

This was also the event in which Mike Joseph crashed fatally during a qualifying attempt. It has been mentioned that this was his first AAA event, but I have him at least entered twice before: August 21 in 1949 at Williams Grove and April 2 in 1950 at Reading, both PA. He was apparently driving the new Fresher/Offenhauser (#26), which was subsequently taken over by Ottis Stine and driven to a couple wins in both 1950 and 1951. Stine was also 2nd and 4th in points those two years, but I'm not sure he didn't drive other cars as well.

#17 MPea3

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 12:13

The photographs are still on the gsu website but that collection has been reorganized. They're somewhere in here. I *think* the original photos are part of the O'Neal collection rather than the Lane Bros collection, I'll take a look and see if I can find it.

#18 MPea3

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 12:14

Here it is.

http://www.library.g...eg/N02-16_a.jpg

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#19 fines

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 12:58

Yes, that is definitely the Morelock accident! I've seen several (grainy) pictures since it made the news all over the nation back then, and one is nearly identical to this one. Morelock wasn't injured much, he got up and began walking away even before helpers reached the scene... Drivers were tough those days!

One other thing for the record keepers, the racing number wasn't 8, it was something like #85 - will try to check this later.

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#20 fines

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 13:24

Originally posted by MPea3
a few interesting things about the photo are the number 8, the whitewall tire on the front, and the crowd. it appears to be either turn 2 or 3 because of the woods in the background and the flatter terrain. a street runs behind turn 1 and the area behind turn 4 is a fairly steep and tall hill. my memory of lakewood along with the small embankment just behind the outside "guardrail" makes me think turn 2, but the crowd seems fairly large, and T2 was the most difficult area to get to, the other areas being accessible from either the grandstands in the case of T1, or the fairgrounds in the case of T2&3.

ideas? info?

According to the newspapers of the time, the crash happened on "the first turn of the fourth lap of the fifth race" - not sure if that means it was the feature event? Anyway, it was a BIG accident by any means: Morelock's car left the track, crashing over the flimsy wooden rails, flipped and crashed back onto the track. The driver is said to have "walked back to the pits unaided", the only injury being "a cut finger". The car was said to have been a McDowell (meaning the engine), and from the grainy pictures it appears to have indeed carried #85. Morelock appears to have lived in Florida (Live Oak) then.

P.S. One other thing: I have found more than a dozen newspapers carrying photographs from the accident, and describing the accident in detail, but not a single mention in all those papers about who won the race - quite typical for the era, and somewhat maddening for the racing historian... :( :mad:

#21 HistoricMustang

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 21:30

For those interested, additional photographs involving Lakewood Speedway are here:

http://garhofa.org/i...id=39&catid=167

Henry