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Tampa, Forida racing history


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#1 fines

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 18:36

Tampa in Florida has a rich history of open wheel racing, starting in the twenties, and perhaps still ongoing? Most historic site of all has to be Plant Field, the site of the South Florida Fairgrounds, it was a mainstay of IMCA Big Car racing for more than half a century!

Following a query in another thread, I propose discussing Tampa's racing history here, and I hope Don Yates is still following this forum! If so, perhaps he could outline the amount of research he's already done, and what he's still after. The info I can provide is scattered around several books and a few of my databases, so I don't want to exhaust my (currently rather feeble) energies if it's not really needed!

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#2 Doug Nye

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 21:31

I remember going to watch a sprint car race at Tampa in 1972, which I presume would have been at Plant Field. The hero that day seemed to be a guy named Chuck Amati - whose name I recall thinking was 'Chucker' Marty until I read the script on his car. America, Florida, sprint car racing and Tampa itself were all very confusing to a country boy from the Surrey/Hampshire border...

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#3 fines

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 22:06

Did you enjoy the experience, Doug?

#4 Hugewally

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 09:56

The old Plant Field was downtown at what is now the University of Tampa (not to be confused with the University of South Florida on the north side of town or the Florida State Fairgrounds on the NE side of town).

The Tampa Tribune had an article about Plant Field last Oct - http://www.tbo.com/l...GB29OJJF7F.html

Doug, you probably watched the races out at the State Fairgrounds which use to have a dirt oval where the outdoor Ford Amphitheater is now...

#5 Doug Nye

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 11:49

Yes Michael I did enjoy the experience but it was the kind of inconsequential, agricultural, roundy-roundy racing which was fun to see once but didn't make me want to follow it regularly. The production-based engines - for a start - were boring as hell. I viewed it as 'So-what Racing', in fact. I can imagine that if it was the only kind of open-wheeler racing available to you, one would see it differently....? Somewhere I have some photographs I took that day. Fuzzyvision of course.

DCN

#6 fines

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 06:24

Uhuh, so I can imagine. There's probably some truth in the saying that with the Offenhauser, something more than the spirit of Harry Miller left the dirt tracks... :(

#7 Don Yates

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 19:09

Hello eveyone! I'm a Tampa native and am doing research on 2 dirt ovals and 1 paved oval from Tampa's past.Plant Field-Speedway Park and Phillips Field. Plant Field was built for horse racing to entertain the guests at Henry Plant's Hotel ( now Univ of Tampa) in the 1920s.It was a flat 1/2 mile dirt track. With the gaining popularity of the automobile it soon was used for car racing. Many times horses ran on the same day as cars. The State Fair was always staged in Feb to take advantage of the mild winter climate. Auto racers needed a winter series so it was a natural fit. Many other sporting events took place there. Pro baseball teams trained there and Pro football teams played exhibition games on the infield turf. Year round racing took place in the late 30s'40s and 50s but revereted back to racing during the fair. The Track was closed in the mid70s. The area is now sports fields for U.T.
Phillips Field was built as the football stadium for Univ. of Tampa in the late 30s.It was located about 200 yards north of Plant field. As with most football fields it had a 1/4 mile cinder running track around it. A wiley promoter came up with idea to run midget race cars on the 1/4 mile. The track was paved and racing commenced. WWII came and went and midget racing fell out of favor. After the war the jalopy/stockcar era started and a promoter brought them to Phillips field. Racing lasted till the early 60s and moved out to Golden Gate speedway near the Univ of South Florida.
Speedway Park was constructed in the late 40s and lasted only till the mid 50s. It was a 1/2 mile clay oval built for car raving. A 1/4 mile track was later added that used a part of the front streach and the infield. The track was built as a protest over engine size rules set at Plant Field. Pop Hukle the builder had several sprint cars powered by Ranger airplane engines and lived by the old addage "run what you brung". His cars won a lot so trouble soon followed. FYI the HISSO another aircraft engine also found its way to open wheel cars. In addition to sprintcars, big cars and midgets Speedway Park hosted motorcycle races,stock cars and jalopies. The area is now an industrial park.
I realise I'm on a F1/GP BB and appreciate your indulgence. I wanted to respond to any guestions and enjoy reading about anyone's experiences at these tracks
Thanks Don

#8 MCS

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 21:04

IMSA produced a "road" course at the Florida State Fairgrounds in the late 1980s and early 1990s - maybe for only two or three seasons.

I can remember one of the GTP races was won by Price Cobb in the works Jaguar, although I could be mistaken. Was it Jan Lammers?

So was this the circuit that was north east of Tampa - I could have sworn it was south...

#9 Hugewally

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 23:37

IMSA ran three years at the State Fairgrounds -

28 Nov 1988
GTE World Challenge of Tampa (GTP/Grp C) - 360km/117Lp
Firestone Firehawk Endurance Championship Grand Sports Race - 3hrs
Firestone Firehawk Endurance Championship Sports & Touring Race - 3hrs
American Challenge Series Race (AC) - 40min

01 Oct 1989
GTE World Challenge of Tampa (GTP/Grp C) - 360km/117Lp
Kash N' Karry Firestone Firehawk Endurance Championship Grand Sports Race - 4hrs
Kash N' Karry Firestone Firehawk Endurance Championship Sports & Touring Race - 4hrs
Barber SAAB Pro Series Race - 100km/33Lp
Carteret Savings Bank Vintage & Historics Races

30 Sep 1990
Nissan World Challenge of Tampa (GTP/GTPL) - 360km/117Lp
LüK Clutch Challenge (IS) -
Barber SAAB Pro Series Race - 100km/33Lp
SISAPA Pro S2000 Series Race -

#10 URY914

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 03:32

I too am a Tampa native and spent many a day watching the sprint cars at Plant Field. We actually lived on South Boulevard and the fairgrounds were up on North Boulevard. My dad and I would walk up to the fair to watch the races because there was no place to park the car. The track had tall walls made of sheet metal to keep the clay from flying onto the people outside the track. Even with the tall walls some clay would come showering down. The sound of 30 sprint cars heading into turn one was incredible!. The grandstands were wooden and covered and that sound would just make you deaf. I believe the last race was in 1976 as the fair moved out to the new US 301 site in 1977. The week before the weekend races I used to ride my bike around and see all the cars on the open trailers parked at the local hotel and boarding houses. They would come from all over the Midwest. IMCA was the sectioning body.

I remember Jan Oppenhimer started dead last in one of the heats and ended up winning the race. He passed people high and low. The races were held at the new fairgrounds track for a few years but nothing was better than that old track. They also moved out to the East Bay Raceway track

I remember watching Joey Chitwood and his Thrill Show also at the track. Jumping, weaving, wreaking, spinning and driving on two wheels in a Camaro.

Those were the good old days...

Paul

#11 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 12:39

Originally posted by Don Yates
I realise I'm on a F1/GP BB and appreciate your indulgence.


While this is the perception, I don't think this is necessarily the case, especially since you will find quite a variety of topics being discussed that certainly fall outside the expected F1/GP myopia.

Personally, I have always been very curious about racing at places such as Tampa and other venues in the Southeast during the 1920s & 1930s, particularly since there is very little available concerning this activity. I remember finding material on racing at Plant Field, but not that much. Plus, I had completely forgotten about Phillips Field.

As an aside, our son has been accepted to grad school at USF so we will be rolling down to Tampa at some point this summer.

#12 Lotus11Register

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 14:42

Posted Image

This is the kind of mechanical beast that once raced at Plant Field. Jack Sheppard and Larry Beckett built this car around 1930. Jack Sheppard has been mentioned often in the TNF thread about his son, Joe Sheppard, aka, the Tampa Hotshoe. Joe is the little boy pictured in the drivers's seat with his sister Maxine standing behind.

In an interview from 1961, Jack Sheppard recalled that "you not only had to try to win a race in those days, you had to fight for your survival." This was a natural part of the competition for a $100 purse, a sum of money hard to come by then. Sheppard had raced at Plant Field as early as 1925, when his first "patchwork" racing machine was built with another friend. That car went out of control during a trial run and crashed into a retaining wall. However, his second racer, the one in the photo, was a source of lasting pride.

"She was a beauty. All chrome plated parts -- it took us a year to complete her."

In 1933, during a big event at Winchester, Ohio, Beckett, piloting the car, broke a track record with the then blazing speed of 98 miles per hour. "Racing was a really popular sport in those days," Sheppard said. "So was parimutual betting. After a while, though, the gambling game faded away."

In that period, Jack had one notably hair-raising moment driving the car at Plant Field. "It was on about the second lap. I had just hit the straightaway when suddenly a team of horses pulling a beer wagon appeared at the far turn. I had a choice of crashing through a retaining wall or going straight ahead. I prayed and continued straight ahead. I passed right under the heads of the horses, but never even brushed one of them. "

Jack was asked to compare the racing of his youth with the conditions his son was then racing under. He replied that the drivers of old had to be a lot tougher but that car preparation was actually similar. "Basically the cost and upkeep of an old racing machine and, say, a Maserati of today, are about the same."

There were also fewer potholes in the tracks in 1961. In the 1930s potholes were as much a part of the race tracks as the turns.

Photo and information from the Joe Sheppard collection. Thanks again to Don Yates.

#13 fines

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 20:21

So Jack Sheppard was the father of that sporty car guy there in the other thread? :D Will have to have another look at that one, then...;)

One thing, though: 98 mph on a half mile wasn't possible even at Winchester in 1933! That computes to something like 18.3" when Troy Ruttman, I believe, was the first to break 20" in 1949! :rolleyes:

Edit: a tiny bit of research revealed that Ira Hall was the first to lap Winchester at 75 mph in 1930, while Bob Carey reached 79.7 mph in 1932. Other record holders in the "80s" included Spider Webb (82.6 mph in 1938), Jimmie Wilburn (82.8 mph in 1939), Duke Nalon (84 mph in 1941) and Ted Horn (86 mph in 1948), then Troy 89.5 mph on Sep 18 in 1949, with Duane Carter doing 91 mph on July 30 in 1950! Before that, however, Troy had cracked the barrier at Salem on October 9 in 1949, but the first had been Johnny Mantz at Carrell Speedway on January 30! Winchester records continue with Ruttman (92 mph in 1952), Bob Sweikert (94 mph in 1953), Pat O'Connor (96 mph in 1953) and finally Johnny White (99 mph in 1962). Thirty years is a long time in racing! :lol: Oh, and by the way, Winchester is halfway between Indianapolis and the Ohio stateline, but still in Indiana!;)

#14 bpratt

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 12:09

A few years ago I was given a couple dozen issues of Cavalcade of Auto Racing from the mid-1970s. Most issues had historical articles from various writers "who were there" or "nearly there" (my quotation marks).

Guys like Vern "Flip" Fritch, John Sawyer, Buddy Hankinson (a lot of stuff on Ralph Hankinson -- making Buddy his son?), Marshall "Shorty" Pritzbur, and Len Milde amongst others. Fritch and Milde were contributors to publications like National Speed Sport News back into the 1940s. Sawyer became well known for his work in Open Wheel.

Cavalcade is an interesting magazine. Mix of eastern (and some midwest and western) oval stuff. Even some sports car stuff. Lousy paper quality which make some of the photos (thumbnail size) a bit difficult to look at. Wish I had the 8 X 10 glossies of a few of them. Came out of Mass. (You think I'm going to try to spell that?)

The Feb.-March 1975 issue has a special section dedicated to the IMCA Winter National Sprints at the Florida State Fair Tampa 1921-1975. I'll scan and do the image shack thing over the weekend. At least that's what I hope I'll do.

#15 URY914

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 17:35

I'd like to see that article.

#16 bpratt

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 12:26

Here's the article (second attempt). I'm very self conscious right now concerning copyright. If there's a problem I'll delete the photos from Imageshack.

This is just the pages Vern "Flip" Fritch had. John Sawyer had a couple articles which I'd be even more worried about posting here. (Now I might post them elsewhere.)

From the Feb/Mar 1975 issue of Cavalcade of Auto Racing:

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As they say this is just for research purposes.
bp

#17 bpratt

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 12:34

Eddie Roche's book "Florida Motorsport Retrospective Pictorial" (Eddie Roche, 1997) has a couple pages on the Tampa Fairgrounds with winners from 1921 to 1975.

Don't know if it's still available or an ebay item these days.
bp

#18 bpratt

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 03:08

I seem to be a thread killer.

Here's a list of Winter national sprint car winners from the Eddie Roche book mentioned last post. Work done by Allen E. Brown of The History of America's Speedways fame.

Winternational Sprint champions
and race winners by year:

1921 Charlie Roe
1924 Sig Haugdahl
1925 Haugdahl; Bob Green (2nd race)
1926 Burr Lampkin; (2nd race winner unknown)
1935 Gus Schrader (won both races)
1936 Doc Shanebrook (won both races)
1937 Larry Beckett
1938 Buddy Callaway,Miami (won 2 races); Everett Saylor (won other 2 races)
1939 Tony Willman (won 3 of 4 races); AAA sanctioned
1940 Jimmy Wilburn and Ben Shaw won; (champion unknown)
1941 Wilburn (won both races)
1942 Shaw, Joie Chitwood, Ben Musick won races; (champ unknown)
1946 Al Flemmings won 10 lapper; Frank Pop won other 10 lapper; (champ unknown)
1947 Emory Collins and Deb Snyder won
1948 Eddie Adams; Snyder; Harry King, Adams won races
1949 Snyder; Frank Luptow (won 2); Snyder (won 2, including final night)
1950 Luptow
1951 Luptow
1952 Snyder (won final night)
1953 Pete Folse (won final night)
1954 Homer Claytor (won final night)
1955 Bobby Grim (won final night)
1956 Grim (won both 20 lappers)
1957 Grim (won 25 lapper) Feb. 9 last date
1958 Don Carr (won 25 lapper) Feb. 15 last date
1959 Johnny Poulesen (Feb. 14 last date)
1960 Folse; Buzz Barton (won 25 lapper)
1961 Folse (also won 30 lapper)
1962 Folse; Jerry Richert (won 20 lapper); Hershel Wagner and Folse won races: Folse (won 25 lapper)
1963 Folse
1964 Richert (won 30 lapper)
1965 Jim McCune; Greg Weld (won 50 lapper)
1966 Richert (won 4 of 5 races)
1967 Scratch Daniels (won last 3 races, including 50 lapper)
1968 Richert; Bobby Adamson (won 50 lapper)
1969 Darl Harrison; Adamson (won 50 lapper)
1970 Jerry Blundy
1971 Blundy; Bobby Kinser (won 50 lapper)
1972 Blundy; Billy Cassella (won both 50 lappers)
1973 Greg Weld; Adamson (won final night)
1974 Jan Opperman; Lee Osborne (won 50 lapper)
1975 Opperman (won 50 lapper)


And an ad from Illustrated Speedway News, January 7, 1964 for that year's Winter nationals. The race reports have a few rainouts noted and the schedule redone. As far as I can figure out for 1964 it is as follows:

Wednesday Feb. 5 -- rained out
Saturday Feb. 8 -- rained out
Sunday Feb. 9 -- Jerry Richert won the feature
Wednesday Feb. 12 -- Jerry Richert
Saturday Feb. 15 -- Pete Folse
Sunday Feb. 16 -- Jerry Richert

The points for the IMCA as reported in the Feb. 25, 1964 Illustrated Speedway News was:

Jerry Richert, 530
Pete Folse, 296
Harold Leep, 250
Jerry Blundy, 230
Jim McGuire, 220
Jerry Daniels, 190
Carl Williams, 166
Al Unser, 160
Walt McWhorter, 156
Buzz Barton, 110
Dick Carter, 104
Darl Harrison, 80
Jim McCune, 80
Al Murie, 78
Jim Moughan, 76

Posted Image

Apologies for any mistakes I might have made in the transcriptions.
squinting,
bp

#19 fines

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 07:48

Great, Brian! :up: I have bits and pieces, and now I have a framework to put them on! :kiss: Will take me a bit of time, though...

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#20 fines

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 08:24

Originally posted by bpratt
1936 Doc Shanebrook (won both races)
1937 Larry Beckett
1938 Buddy Callaway,Miami (won 2 races); Everett Saylor (won other 2 races)
1939 Tony Willman (won 3 of 4 races); AAA sanctioned
1940 Jimmy Wilburn and Ben Shaw won; (champion unknown)
1941 Wilburn (won both races)
1942 Shaw, Joie Chitwood, Ben Musick won races; (champ unknown)
1946 Al Flemmings won 10 lapper; Frank Pop won other 10 lapper; (champ unknown)
1947 Emory Collins and Deb Snyder won
1948 Eddie Adams; Snyder; Harry King, Adams won races
1949 Snyder; Frank Luptow (won 2); Snyder (won 2, including final night)
1950 Luptow
1951 Luptow
1952 Snyder (won final night)
1953 Pete Folse (won final night)
1954 Homer Claytor (won final night)
1955 Bobby Grim (won final night)
1956 Grim (won both 20 lappers)
1957 Grim (won 25 lapper) Feb. 9 last date
1958 Don Carr (won 25 lapper) Feb. 15 last date
1959 Johnny Poulesen (Feb. 14 last date)
1960 Folse; Buzz Barton (won 25 lapper)
1961 Folse (also won 30 lapper)
1962 Folse; Jerry Richert (won 20 lapper); Hershel Wagner and Folse won races: Folse (won 25 lapper)
1963 Folse
1964 Richert (won 30 lapper)
1965 Jim McCune; Greg Weld (won 50 lapper)

- to start with, I have an additional 1936 AAA race (Apr 19), with top four finishers... except for the winner! : For the record: 2nd Floyd Davis (Ambler/Hisso), 3rd John Moretti (Green), 4th Bob Sall (Sall/McDowell).
- the 1939 races I have with CSRA sanction, and Ralph Hankinson promotion. CSRA and AAA cooperated during late '38/early '39, though... :confused: one of the races (the first?) was on Jan 31
- in late 1949 there two additional AAA races, won by Bill Schindler (Malamud/Offenhauser, 10 miles on Dec 4) and Bill Holland (Nyquist = Matthews/Offenhauser, 7 ½ miles on Dec 11).
- the same in 1951: Tommy Hinnershitz (Hinnershitz = Hillegass/Offenhauser, 15 miles on Nov 25) and Bill Schindler (Beal/Offenhauser, 15 miles on Dec 9).
- I have four races in 1956, race distances unknown: Feb 1, 4 and 11 all won by Bobby Grim (Honore = Hillegass/Offenhauser), and Feb 8 won by Bert Hellmueller (presumably in his 4wd Hellmueller/Ranger)
- in 1965 I have a Feb 7 race won by Buzz Barton (Thomas/Offenhauser) - I believe it was the last IMCA win for an "Offy"!?

#21 URY914

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 13:38

I remember Al Sweeney being the promoter.

Motorcycle races were also held at the track. They wore a steel plate on thier left foot so they could keep it on the dirt as they rounded the corners. I remember one day when I was a kid I rode my bike around back to the back gate and the old guy working the gate left me in the infield for free. Cool!

#22 bpratt

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 04:19

I know that the year by year information has holes. Contacting Allen E. Brown (Michigan) might help. I have a couple old Racing History emails (hard copies, lost the digital versions long ago) where Brown gave as much info as he had on the 1915 and 1916 seasons as well as Minnesota State Fair history as he had to that point (early 2001?). Some of that had holes as well but he's definitely a good starting point. He's still at:
http://www.speedwaysonline.com/

Some 1965 info from the Illustrated Speedway News that's online. Unfortunately the scans weren't all that good, unreadable in some places.

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Apologize for the size of some of the Shack sh*t. Bigger doesn't necessarily mean it will read better but there's always hope it'll help.

Appears that Jim McCune was the point leader at the end of the series.
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#23 fines

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 08:59

Brian, good to know those sh***y scans aren't yours, where did you find'em?

#24 fines

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 12:06

Interesting to go through the reports, you find a lot of familiar names. Guys like Buzz Barton (nearing fifty!) and Red Amick were enjoying their "career autumns" in slightly less competitive surroundings, while others such as Larry Dickson, Wally Dallenbach, Tom Bigelow and Greg Weld were "cutting their teeth"! Carl Williams, Sam Sessions and Larry Cannon would also enjoy some "notoriety" in Sprint & Indy Car circles, with Wib Spalding and Gordon Woolley on the fringes of stardom. Actually, I think Woolley had all the ingredients to become a real great, except maybe for the fact that he was already in his forties - he would, however, along with Jerry Blundy, become a "blueprint" for "outlaws" of the Jan Opperman/Rick Ferkel mould later in the seventies.

#25 Jim Thurman

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 19:38

First, someone needs to get Stu to make the correction of the title to Florida.

Brian, thank you :up: Always interesting stuff from you.

Let me also ask, despite the quality, where did you find those Speedway Illustrated Scans?

Looks like someone had the settings off (my scans came out pretty good, didn't they?). I tried to sacrifice a bit of picture quality in favor of more readable text.

Re: Cavalcade of Auto Racing. I picked up a few of their "annuals" at Cajon Speedway when I was a kid. It was neat seeing even black & white photos of what was being raced around the country. Just photos in those. Later, I picked up a few of Cavalcade's quarterly or "regular" issues, which had some nice historical articles, race reports and columns updating the current season's going ons at various tracks.

I preferred picking up issues of Racing WHEELS newspaper, which were cheaper and I could get more often.

#26 bpratt

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 21:07

The scans were/are available in pdf form at:
http://www.newspaper...com/Browse.aspx
Go to New York state and then under Illustrated Speedway News. (It'll cost some money to look.)

They were put up by Gordon White a couple years ago, and made free for a month. I suppose they are exact duplicates of the original microfilm work done for Gordon.

I worked pretty hard getting them copied. (I think I had pneumonia at the time, so I had some free time. : )

Anyway, that's the quality available. I've got some NSSN/NARN microfilm reels and sometimes the same sort of quality problems arise. Then again same can be said of many newspapers on film from all over the world. It is frustrating but it's not like I'd want to do that sort of brain numbing work myself. (I've got my own brain numbing things to do. ;) )

All I've done is crop the pdf section I wanted, pasted it onto paint, and saved it as a jpeg.

#27 Darren Galpin

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Posted 20 February 2008 - 08:17

I'll admit to having downloaded the lot from newspaperarchives.com. One more thing on the long list of things I have to work through.....

#28 silvermist350

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 19:44

I remember going to Phillips Field before Frank Derry opened Golden Gate Speedway and i still remember Larry Brazils circle 6 and Dave Scarboroughs 5D having grudge matches and my Dad owned the #36 Buffalo Auto Parts Special and i grew up around Pancho Alvarez and Buzz Barton. We lived on Alfred Street across from Johnny Hicks the starter and i also still remember the house fire that took him away . the neat thing about Phillips Field was if you missed turn 1 you went into the Hillsborough River Phillips Field was a flat track . I have been trying to find any pictures or other information but no luck also i remember the fairgroungs downtown and at i4 and 301 but those were the good old days . I enjoyed Golden Gate also and was a Bernard McElwain and Reutimann fan and cant forget the tooterville trolley #1 Kip Pierce who stole the show and some one would do a protest but he was legal also Willard Smiths B1 powered Buick - we always had a good time and history was great and Gordon Solie was a greatest anouncer but the whole track was shocked and mourned the Death of the Great Emil and his son Dale Reutimann who was killed by a drunk driver on US 301 on their way to the track . Golden Gate was built out by itself away from a lot of people but when people moved close by they complained about noise and now it is history but i still miss watching Will Cagle, Buzz Barton, Pete Folse, Jimmy Riddle, Pancho Alverez, Dick Hope and my favorites Buzzie and Wayne Reutimann also Bernard McElwain with the Class - B six cylinder inline motors ---- Great Memories

#29 URY914

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 23:04

silvermist,

There is a old Florida racing website that has a lot of Golden Gate photos, go here

http://floridaracingmemories.com/

#30 Michael Ferner

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 18:59

A bit more on the prewar years (mainly dates), using Brian's original post with additions in green:

Here's a list of Winter national sprint car winners from the Eddie Roche book mentioned last post. Work done by Allen E. Brown of The History of America's Speedways fame.

Winternational Sprint champions
and race winners by year:

1921 Charlie Roe
1924 Sig Haugdahl (Feb 9)
1925 Haugdahl Bud Putman (Feb 3); Bob Green (Feb 14)
1926 Burr Lampkin; (2nd race winner unknown)
1927* John de Palma/Shorty Gingrich (Feb 1); Ray Claypool/Shorty Gingrich (Feb 12)
1928* Fred Horey/Bob Green (Jan 31); Sam Hoffman (Feb 11)
1929 Sig Haugdahl (Jan 29); Swan Peterson (Feb 9)
1930 Shorty Gingrich (Jan 28); Sam Purvis (Feb 8)
1931 Archie Powell (Feb 3); Sig Haugdahl (Feb 14)
1932 Sig Haugdahl (Feb 2); Archie Powell (Feb 13)
1933 Sig Haugdahl (Jan 31); Gus Schrader (Feb 4/pp to 8 & 11)
1934 Gus Schrader??

1935 Gus Schrader (Feb 5 &9??)
1936 Doc Shanebrook (Feb 4 & 15/pp to Mar 1)
1937 Buddy Callaway (Jan 26); Larry Beckett (Feb 14)
1938 Buddy Callaway,Miami (Jan 25? & ??); Everett Saylor (won other 2 races)
1939 Tony Willman (Jan 31, Feb 7 & 11); Bud Henderson (Feb 18); AAA sanctioned
1940 Jimmy Wilburn (Jan 30); Ben Shaw (Feb 3?); (champion unknown)
1941 Wilburn (Feb 4 & 15); Ben Shaw (Feb 8)??)
1942 Shaw (Feb 3), Joie Chitwood (Feb 7?), Ben Musick (Feb 14?); (champ unknown)


A few notes: the term "Winternationals" is a relatively recent one, probably invented in the seventies. Originally, those races were called simply the Tampa Fair races, or later Florida State Fair races (before 1934, it was just the South Florida Flair - the State Fair was still held in Jacksonville, afaik). As such, there was no overall champion, although beginning in the fifties, I think, they started naming a State Fair Champion, using IMCA points - it was the traditional opener of the IMCA National Championships.

I wasn't able to find any info on a number of years, presumably because the relevant issues were missing in the run of the newspapers that were available to me (mostly Tampa Tribune), but generally I found an enormous wealth of very detailed info. A few explanations are due, e.g. about 1925: Haugdahl was, indeed, mentioned as the winner of the opening day's events in the headlines, but when reading through the detailed accounts of the day, it was found that he had "merely" won a heat and a couple of match races; he didn't even start the main event! In the late twenties, it was sometimes difficult to find out what the main event was, though. In 1927, e.g., there were basically two sets of races each day, one for professional out-of-state racers, and one for semi-professional locals. None of the professionals started in one of the races for locals, and vice versa! Additionally, the professional races were possibly run on a points basis, but the overall results were not declared. Some papers named Fred Horey the winner because he had the best results in the heats, but de Palma won the last and longest race. Confusing? You betcha!

Also, I found a number of still dates run at the fairgrounds, which I omitted in order to stay on topic. For the record, those were:

1920 ? (Apr 3)
1923 ? (Apr 6)
1924 W. H. Smith (Mar 24)
1928 Sam Purvis (May 30)
1936 Vern Orenduff (Apr 19); AAA sanctioned

One other thing: about every race report I've found mentioned something along the lines of "the times were not fast, but good considering the state of the track", meaning the track was generally awfully AWFUL - terribly TERRIBLE - disastrously BAD! Dust was always a big problem (as on any track in those days), but the surface was also very uneven, with ruts and large holes, and therefore races were generally very SHORT! When the AAA boys first came to Tampa, they staged a 15-miler, which was about the norm for a AAA event - but about four or five times as long as the average IMCA main event, and three times as long as the longest race held on the track since 1924! No wonder, it took them three years to come back, and then with 5-mile main events! :D

Edited by Michael Ferner, 28 June 2012 - 19:14.