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York Springs, PA – It’s no secret that
the majority of auto racing
during the early days of the sport was
held at fairgrounds ovals around the country.
Thus, it is only fitting that the
sleepy grass-covered hills of the Latimore Valley Fairgrounds hosts
what may be the country’s finest auto-racing museum.
Having heard great things about the
Eastern Museum of Motor Racing for years,
we took advantage of a
rainy day during the World of Outlaws eastern
swing to make our
first visit to EMMR.
It won’t be our last.
What amazed us the most about the
incredible collection of artifacts and memorabilia assembled was the
magnificent manner in which the museum captures the complete
national auto racing scene, while remaining completely true to its
Open-wheel racing, NASCAR, Indy car
and drag racing are all represented in the museum, but the focus is
clearly on the drivers and tracks that made Pennsylvania one of the
country’s top auto-racing states.
The first exhibit you see inside the
two-story building is dedicated to the history of
racing at Latimore
oval track remains a short distance
from the museum, and still hosts
vintage events several times per year.
The main showroom houses midgets and
sprint cars from the very early history of the sport to the most
recent. For example, the line of sprint cars begins with a 1940s
Miller-Schofield Special and 10 cars later ends with Greg Hodnetts’s
Apple Motorsports No. 12.
One of the most interesting exhibits
is Tommy Hinnershitz’s garage. The reproduction of the Flying Farmer’s garage includes the
exact interior and furniture, which was stripped from the original
and fixed into the exhibit. Included with a race car and tools in the exhibit is an
interesting Miracle Power (a Hinnershitz sponsor) display.
While you gawk at the many obscure
items on the shelves and work benches in the garage, you hear
Hinnershitz discussing his racing career via a video screen located
adjacent to the garage. There’s an interesting scale model of
Gasoline Alley in Patterson, N.J. located in the corner, and all the
walls are lined with photographs and promotional posters touting
races mostly at Pennsylvania tracks.
In the numerous display cases
scattered throughout the museum, you may look at items associated
with drivers the likes of Ted Horn, Buster Warke and Bill Schindler.
You will see trophies, old goggles, helmets and other items.
Other displays feature gone-but-not-forgotten tracks like the
Altoona Board Track (the exhibit includes actual boards from the
racing surface), Hershey Stadium and the reading Fairgrounds, as
well as tracks (Williams Grove, Lincoln, Port Royal, Silver Spring),
which today make up the heart of Central Pennsylvania’s racing
As you move into the second display
room, several unfinished Hiram Hillegass race cars sit with
blueprints hanging on the walls above them. Next you move to the engine room, where engines too many to
count, are lined up in a row from oldest to newest.
Among those featured are Hals, Rileys, Offys and an outboard. There are samples of cars and a
display case devoted to the Soap Box Derby, as well as various
drag-racing cars and drag-racing memorabilia. Next, you see the Indy car corner,
which includes photos and other paraphernalia dedicated to Indy car
racing. It features
Rodger Ward’s 1963 Watson roadster and one of Andy Granatelli’s
cars, which was driven by Mario Andretti.
The stairway to the second floor is
lined with countless event and advertising posters for tracks
throughout Pennsylvania. The second floor is mostly dedicated to stock-car
(particularly NASCAR) racing, with various early-day and more recent
cars, including a Ricky Rudd-driven Tide Ford. Also included on the second floor is a display, including a
solar-powered car, which looks to the future of auto racing.
The final room we visit is the
library, possibly one of the most complete in auto racing. The room filled with glass cases includes an entire wall of
material donated by NSSN Editor Chris Economaki. It was haunting to see our own
handwriting on display via a note we wrote to Chris several years
ago, which accompanied an artifact that had been given to him, and
is now part of the museum. Through the years, we’ve made a
tradition of touring the Gettysburg Battlefield during our visits to
the Central Pennsylvania sprint-car circuit. From here on, the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing.
100 Baltimore Road
York Springs, PA
PO Box 688
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
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