WHAT IS EASTERN MUSEUM OF MOTOR RACING?
Just over 25 years ago, the founders of EMMR understood the
significance of the name
"Eastern Museum of Motor Racing."
Use of the term "Motor Racing" is most
significant due to the continuous increase of interest in all
forms of "Motor Racing" beginning to emerge 25 years ago.
Fortunately, the term "Motor Racing" was selected and not more
narrow terms such as "auto racing', oval track racing", or "open
wheel racing". From the start, the EMMR intention has been to
appeal to all motor sports interests. Due to the South Central
Pennsylvania location of the museum, the initial efforts we to
provide support for the forms of racing so long dominant in the
area. In historical order, the major categories of racing have
been "Big Cars" (with close ties to the Indianapolis 500),
Midget racers, Sprint Cars, Modified Stock Cars and today's
Winged Sprint Cars.
These core elements of motor racing
remain today, with the addition of dozens of motor sports
categories, all welcome and all included or in the process of
being included in the EMMR. The major categories joining EMMR in
the new century include Winston Cup, Drag, Sports/Formula,
Motorcycle, Airplane and Boat racing. Motor Racing has a
universal appeal and EMMR intends to respond to the "rainbow" of
motor racing activities.
A museum is defined in the American
Heritage Dictionary as an institution for the acquisition,
preservation, study and exhibition of works of artistic,
historical, or scientific value. History in the same volume is
defined as a narrative of events and a chronological record of
events. History begins with a first recording of events and
continues with events as recent as yesterday. EMMR has no time
frame and we will continue to research the past and record
The significance of the name "Eastern"
in the EMMR title requires comment. No section of the United
claim a more dominant place in the
history of Motor Racing that the area included in a one-hundred
radius of the EMMR site. The eastern
seaboard became the area for large numbers of motor racing
the earliest time due to the large
population, the industrial revolution and the agricultural
strength of the area. The large population was seeking diverse
activities, the industrial revolution created the technical
needed for motor sports (which should
not be confused with the emergence of the automobile industry in
southeast Michigan), and above all the agricultural strength of
the area resulted in the construction of
exposition grounds to support agriculture.
The exposition grounds contained race
tracks for various horse events and these race courses would
early in the
century past include motor vehicles,
called "race cars". The East had the large population,
exceptional technical skills and above
all, race tracks. The history of these exposition grounds is
important to EMMR. Over a dozen of these
major exposition grounds were within a one-hundred fifty mile
radius of EMMR. The Latimore Valley
Fairgrounds, location of the EMMR, is a restored site which in
future will be expanded to enhance the activities of EMMR.
EMMR is national in scope due to the
fact that those who came to participate in the East for many
years would represent the nation from coast to coast and border
to border. Motor sports participants from over 40 states
traveled to Central Pennsylvania in search of fame and fortune
for much of the twentieth century. "Eastern" is also an
appropriate name due to the large number of local participants
who gained national fame. The measure of the talent who came to
the East is found in the relationship between Williams Grove
Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania (just up the road from
EMMR) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There
was a mid twentieth century "American
Era" at Indianapolis dominated by drivers and cars from the
United States. From 1946 to 1964 the Indianapolis "500" was all
American, with few exceptions. During that eighteen year,
nineteen race time period over 100 drivers who qualified for and
raced in the Indianapolis "500" would race at Williams Grove.
Fourteen Indianapolis winners of seventeen of nineteen races
between 1946 and 1964 raced at Williams Grove. Twelve national
Indianapolis car champions accounting for the entire nineteen
year period also raced at Williams Grove. Many Indianapolis
starters in the years prior to the opening of Williams Grove in
1939 raced in the East at Langhorne (PA) Speedway and the great
fair races at Reading and Allentown in Pennsylvania, as well as
Trenton and Flemington in New Jersey, and Harrington in
Delaware. In addition to Langhorne and Trenton, which were
regular Indianapolis car events, races for these cars and
drivers also took place at six other locations within the 150
mile radius of EMMR.
Other national core forms of racing also
have a strong area heritage. NASCAR held long distance "new car"
races at Langhorne Speedway in 1939 and
continued for the duration of the track. The modern Winston Cup
races at Pocono International Speedway
and Dover Downs Speedway provide histories which should be
recognized at EMMR. National Drag Racing
stars began appearing in the area in the 1950's. In the road
category, the Fairmont Park races in
Philadelphia, beginning in 1908, were significant world-wide.
Watkins Glen (NY) race was won by Frank
Griswold from Wayne, PA. This event marked the beginning of
modern road racing in this country. Hill climbs were contested
at several Pennsylvania locations. Flat track professional
motorcycle racing was held at Langhorne, Williams Grove and many
other area fairground tracks.
The EMMR goal is to grow and expand in
order to preserve history and provide knowledge not only about
all forms of racing, but also the
lifestyles of those involved in the agricultural expositions so
to Motor Racing in the century past.