Back in 1975, a small group of racing enthusiasts known as the Williams Grove Old Timers, gathered near Harrisburg, Pa. They shared a common interest in the early days of American motor racing and a desire to preserve the history of that bygone era. To serve this purpose, they immediately planned the construction of a public museum of racing history to be known as the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing.
The museum is built on a wooded hillside overlooking the historic Latimore Valley Fairgrounds and Racetrack near York Springs, Pa. Along with establishing one the the premier racing museums in the country, the 40 acre fairgrounds and racetrack were also passionately restored to their original beauty. This creates an almost magical atmosphere that makes EMMR a 'living museum'. Several times each year EMMR holds public events where these historic cars are again brought to life and can be seen as they were meant to be seen ... On the Racetrack!
Along with these vintage racecars, friends, families, fans and competitors alike reunite to reminisce about the glory days of yesterday. Not only do they relive fond memories and renew old friendships, they create new ones for the generations that follow. Whether you are walking through the museum, the fairgrounds, or the infield of the racetrack, you can often hear first-hand accounts from some of the very men who became legends in these machines. Become a member of EMMR today and help to preserve that history.
Just over 25 years ago, the founders of EMMR understood the significance of the name 'Eastern Museum of Motor Racing.'
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.
MUSEUM 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 present.
EASTERN The significance of the name 'Eastern' in the EMMR title requires comment. No section of the United States can claim a more dominant place in the history of Motor Racing that the area included in a one-hundred fifty mile radius of the EMMR site. The eastern seaboard became the area for large numbers of motor racing events from 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 skills 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, individuals with exceptional technical skills and above all, race tracks. The history of these exposition grounds is most 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 the future will be expanded to enhance the activities of EMMR.
NATIONAL SCOPE 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 racing category, the Fairmont Park races in Philadelphia, beginning in 1908, were significant world-wide. The first 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.
GOAL 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 closely related to Motor Racing in the century past.