For my father's 70th birthday
my mother wanted to do
something special. We had a
nice gathering at my
brother's home in New Berlin
and celebrated with a great
meal, cake and presents. I
think he may have gotten a
Lincoln universal for his Hot
Rod and a John Deere
(model) Tractor that my
nephew Charley quickly
claimed. Great day. But Mom
had other ideas "Why don't
you take him down to
Pennsylvania to that race
you're always talking about?"
Now that was a great idea
and I went to work on
securing tickets to the
Williams Grove National
Open, it was a simple phone
call and we had reserved
seats on Beer Hill for
Saturday night. Another call
got us a Hotel room within a
few miles of the track for a
mere $45.00, another great
deal. Dad came down and
spent Friday night, the
weather looked great and so
on Saturday morn I bid my
faithful boys adieu (and told
them to be good) while we
headed to Mechanicsburg,
Pa. to enjoy some of the best
sprint car racing on this
planet. The ride was
uneventful, Pennsylvania has
some of the nicest views you
can enjoy while riding, the
air was crisp, not a cloud in
the sky. Upon arriving at the
track you get a feeling of the
history that permeates these
grounds. In the parking lot
off of the backstretch they
were setting up for an
auction. There were a few
sprint cars in the lot being
worked over and you could
walk right up and learn a fair
amount just by being
sociable. In the flesh you can
see the technology involved,
the finish on these cars is
impeccable, I took hold of a
right front and spun it, it was
as light as a feather. Neat
cars, not cheap. One fellow
we were talking with figured
the engines were in the
$40,000.00 range and make
around 800 Hp, all this in a
1250 package with wings to
hold them to the track makes
them quite the rocket. Over
to the track the grader is
making his way around, the
red clay looks to be in good
shape. I'm standing on the
bridge across the backstretch
overlooking the track, you get
a good idea of the layout from
here, it's a paperclip. Long
straights, sharp flat corners,
especially 3 and 4. Beer Hill
atop the third corner looks to
be the place to be. OK - I'm
sufficiently pumped, let's go
find the Hotel and the
Eastern Mutual Museum of
Racing. After all, that's a big
part of this trip too. The Hotel
is fine and the Wolf diner
next door has good food, just
like the lady who I made
reservations with told me.
Now it's off to Baltimore Road
in York, we only make one
wrong turn and find the
Latimer County Fairgrounds
and the EMMR. What a place!
The museum was started by
the Williams Grove Old
Timers who pooled their
resources and purchased
this  1/2 mile Fairgrounds
racetrack and surrounding
territory to build their
museum. The track is nearly
round in shape, narrow and
I'll bet pretty fast for a sprint
car in the 1930's when they
were running here. The
Museum is chock full of
wonderful racing nuggets -
Indian and Harley flat track
racers, midgets, sprint cars,
engines, Ted Horn's personal
belongings, Tommy
Hinnershitz's garage and
Miracle Power Spl., Hiram
Hillegas' shop and
unfinished aluminum skins,
Ken Hickey's tools, 30x90
bugs, Stock Cars, a salt flat
car, dragster and under the
staircase – a Miller…
Fantastic place, we promptly
joined the EMMR and went
into the Library where we
met some great guys and
chatted it up. Joe Heisler was
taking care of the gift shop
and gave me a great Les King
photo of Bryan Osgood at
Wlliams Grove with the
checkered, just a great place.
On the way out we gave
EMMR director Guy Brown a
ride back to the Grove, on the
way he took us down to the
Latimore Valley track for
some photo opportunities,
nice guy. A quick nap at the
hotel and then bundle up for
the races, long johns were a
good idea. You’ve probably
heard that Beer Hill is full of
crazy people, that’s only
partially true – they’re crazy
about sprint cars and do they
know their stuff. Talk about
luck, the fellow I’m sitting
next to strikes up a
conversation and eventually
we get around to what we
have raced… his name is
Fred from New Jersey and
once I told him we raced
Flathead Fords his eyes lit
up. “I had a flathead in a ’34
Ford coupe on the street, it
had a radius tappet cam in
it.” Now he’s got my full
attention, ‘What brand?” I
asked. “A Schooler.” OK, now
I’m thinking. In my talks with
Speedy Spiers, who worked
at Schooler, there was only
one guy from New Jersey
who used those cams. I had
to know, “Where did you ever
hear about Schooler and get
that cam?” Fred replied, “Oh,
my buddy Frankie had it.”
Bingo! Not only that but our
view was great, we could see
the whole track and once the
sun went down, wow, you can
see the vortex coming off the
wings of these cars as they
blast down the backstretch at
140 mph. 56 sprints time
trialed, after heats, the dash,
D, C, and B mains – 28 cars
lined up for the National
Open. Kinser was out early
and it looked like Jason
Myers had ‘em covered until
a red flag for a flip off of turn
4, (I actually saw it better
later on the speed channel
replay..) took downa light
pole. The cars were allowed to
refuel and I’m not sure but I
have to believe that Sammy
Swindell made an
adjustment because he was a
rocket after that and opened
a big lead. He faded a bit at
the end but had just enough
to hold off a fast closing
Lance Dewease for the win.
As he exited the car he said
“This is for the old guys!”  -
We’re not that old! All in all a
great night, as we were
leaving my father reached in
his wallet and gave Fred his
card. I related “If you get to
talk to Frankie, and he’s got
any Flathead stuff left, give
us a call.” He promised he
would and we found our
truck out in the cornfield
where we’d parked – with NO
parking ticket, just as the
local police had promised
when I asked if it was ok.
This community knows how
to treat race fans. We got
back to the hotel by midnight
and crashed, up in the
morning and back on the
road home.  A great road trip
that only got better the
following week… to be
continued.... (scroll down...)
John Gerber was hot stuff.
Charley, Dad, Aunt Marina and Carol Turner at Dad's 70th.
1250 lbs + 800 HP = Rocket.
From the bridge off the backstretch looking towards turn 2.
The EMMR.
Joe Barzda's engine.
Nice sprinter, there were many here.
Can you imagine how long it took to paint this?
View from Beer Hill.
You didn't miss anything from here..
Ready for the feature.
Off they go..
More from the EMMR...
Harley and Indian Flat-trackers
Dad at Hiram Hillegas' Shop
The Ellis Brother's Sprinter has a Red Ram for power.
Ever see a sprint car with a Ranger engine?
The Peters Offy.
How about this T?
220 Offy.
Ouch! Check out the Rods.
Tommy Hinnershitz's Garage.
Offy valve cups - look like flathead radius lifters.
Van Johnson's Goggles.
Ted Horn's Tank.
Bill Schindler looks after Williams Grove.
Wall of Fame.
Dad checks out an Ardun.
HAL.
FI Flathead.
Salt flat belly tank.
The Bugs (30x90).
Millers.
Miller DOHC Straight 8.
Ray Kables #90.
Fuel Injected Flatty.
Bobby Abels bug.
Gays Biro Roadster.
Kenny Welds Super.
Again.
Another bug, this had torsion rear suspension.
And a good looking flatty.
Mert Stines Modified.
Gary Wolford's A1.
Turn 1 Latimore Valley.
Turn 4.
Turn 3.
Front stretch.
The start of the 40 Lap National Championship.
The Sus is 1 mile wide at Hirrisburg.
Great trip with Dad.
~ Road Trips ~
Dad's 70th, Williams Grove
Nationals 2010 & Eastern
Mutual Museum of Racing.