Eastern Motor Racing Museum

 

About a year ago, a sprint car photographer acquaintance told me about the Eastern Motor Racing Museum in Pennsylvania. However, I didn’t catch its location, and it wasn’t until Road & Track magazine ran a story about the museum that I resolved to visit it.

So, yesterday I rode from Catonsville, MD up through Westminster, Union Mills, Hanover, and York Springs to the museum. It was a gem! It’s primarily devoted to sprint cars, but it also has smaller collections of other circle track cars and a few drag racers. Even if you’re more of a road racing fan, like I am, the museum was a ton o’ fun to tour.

Here’s part of the sprint car and “midget” collection. The yellow midget in the foreground was raced at one time by Mario Andretti and his twin brother Aldo (among a number of other well-known drivers).

Some of the cars are restored to within an inch of their lives, such as this full-bore sprint car. (Note that this guy’s sponsor seems to have contributed a lot of chrome to the effort!)

Other cars are in their original condition from when they were last raced. This one, for example, sat for 51 years in a barn until discovered a few years ago!

Most sprint cars have rear-wheel brakes only, operated by the hand lever on the side of the car. This Dodge Hemi-powered racer also has front brakes, perhaps on the theory that it takes a lot to slow down a car with what must be an 800-lb motor!

The museum also has a few racing and street motorcycles, including this pair of Indians. The restored one in the foreground was a flat-track racer, while the unrestored one in the back was a factory hill-climb special–its brakes were provided by gravity alone…

This street Indian has the old-style foot clutch and hand shifter. It also has a diabolical looking front suspension, including a quarter-elliptic leaf spring! Motorcycles have come a long way…

Since the museum wasn’t that busy on Sunday morning, Brandon served as my tour guide. He was friendly and extremely knowledgeable, and he pointed out a ton of interesting and little known bits of information along the way. Here he is sitting in a VW-powered sprint car.

Here I am, attempting to sit in a Chevy-powered sprint car that Brandon helped build. This is as far as I got, since my right leg is jammed between the non-removable steering wheel and the seat! (By comparison, my SCCA Spec Racer had a ton of leg room, but not as much head room below the roll cage.)

One of the neatest exhibits was a complete transplant of local hero Tommy Hinnershitz’s workshop from his garage to the museum! It had all kinds of tools, parts, paperwork, etc., right down to the Williams Grove set-up information chalked onto the blackboard from Tommy’s last race!

Back in the days, when you qualified for the Indy 500, they gave you a special knock-off hammer. Most drivers framed theirs and hung them on the wall. Tommy H. used his, as is evident by the welded repair!

In addition to the cars, they have an impressive collection of sprint car engines from across the decades, including rare OHV and DOHC conversions of Model T, A, and B Ford engines. Not to mention Zora Arkus-Duntov’s famous “Ardun” hemi cylinder head conversion!

The collection is rounded out by a couple of Indy cars, including a classic Indy roadster driven by Roger Ward…

And a few NASCAR stockers…

And some miscellaneous oval track racers, such as this roadster, modified, and stocker. Note also the solar-powered race car leaning against the rail on the left!

The dragster collection is shown here. The soap-box derby cars are out of sight, off to the right. As is the racing snowmobile. This collection is almost as eclectic as it is outstanding!

Did I mentioned that the museum is located next to the historic Latimore Valley Fairgrounds, complete with its own dirt oval? Occasionally, they exercise some of the museum’s collection on this track–and will be doing so this coming Sunday (September 10th) from about 12:00 to 3:00. If I weren’t going to the club picnic, I would definitely be there! Here’s a section of the racetrack, which preserves most of its original “safety features.”

All in all, it was a wonderful little museum. And the price was right, too: FREE! It might make a fun BMWBMW ride destination one of these days, although it will close for the winter at the end of October. For anyone interested, here is their web site: http://emmr.org/

Rick F.

Rick

Written by Rick

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