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4th Quarter Newsletter

May 26th, 2022 | Blogs 26th, May at 11:34 AM

In Conjunction With The
4th Quarter 2020

I feel relatively sure we have never experienced a year that we were more glad to see come to an end than 2020. As we continue to confront the virus and process its deadly impact, we now have reason to be optimistic as vaccines are slowly being administered. So, let us keep the faith and respect each other in the process.

Many speedways either cancelled or altered their winter banquet routine, Bedford was one. We will recognize the 2020 Bedford Champions from each class. In the Super Late Models Jeff Rine captured 4 feature wins in the Elbin 92 and pulled down his 6th point title, closing within 1 of all-time leader Jack Pencil’s 7. Spike Moore was both the Late Model Sportsman champion and theleading feature winner with 3 victories. In the Modifieds Mike Altobelli Jr was the driver to beat garnering 5 feature wins while earning his first point championship. Consistency was the name of the game for Semi-Late point champ Bill Replogle as he captured just 2 feature wins in this always competitive class. Pure Stock point champion Dalton Ritchey picked up 3 feature wins and numerous up-front finishes on his way to his first title. In the 4 cylinder class it was the consistent driving of Darren Howsare and his 2 feature wins that earned the point championship. Overall, 2020 had to be deemed a success on the Bedford track despite all the unique distractions and challenges for the Speedway’s Officials. The fan base also deserves enormous credit for supporting the track each and every week. The Museum of Speed also wishes to congratulate all last year’s point Champions, and each and every driver that towed into the Bedford pits last year. Thank you.

In this episode of the historical corner, we conclude our examination of the controversial pari-mutuel wagering referendum confronting the voters of Bedford County in the spring of 1965. To illustrate how far back this topic was discussed, on July 18th, 1953 the Bedford Gazette sports editor ran a story that highlighted the revenue generated for Allegany County and the State of Maryland each time the Cumberland
Fairgrounds conducted a session of legalized pari-mutuel horse racing. He emphasized the amount of vehicle traffic heading south through Bedford County towards the Fairgrounds each time they raced, business and tax revenue leaving Pennsylvania.

Fast forward 12 years and now of all locations Bedford County found itself one election day short of receiving a coveted State issued pari-mutuel permit for the fairgrounds. The referendum on the spring ballot gave every eligible voter in the County the right to approve or defeat the projected $6 million sports complex that would include a legalized horse racing operation. ‘For some it was the economic opportunity of alifetime, but for many it was a moral issue that required a virtuous response. Primary
election day, May 18th, dawned sunny and pleasant. On a day when few County races of any significance were being contested voters poured into the polling houses in unprecedented numbers to voice their opinion. Early returns that evening, mainly from Bedford Borough and Township, tallied at one point almost 1,600 votes approving the referendum. Optimism among the supporters ran high well into the evening, back slaps and hugs were in order. But as the evening drug on and the smaller rural precincts reported their results, the vote lead dwindled along with the mood in the room.

Ultimately the no’s prevailed by defeating the referendum by 655 votes out of more than 13,000 votes cast that day, a day that will forever have undetermined significance in County history. We can only speculate what might have been. But we do know six years later in 1971 Pennsylvania legalized public gambling when the lottery was instituted. Some of the same people that vehemently opposed the horse racing referendum now patiently stood in line at local outlets to purchase their gambling tickets. So apparently to some it was not really a moral problem with wagering, but perhaps with the fear of the unknown. The opportunity was dead, so the developers packed up and left town.

The Fairgrounds once again seemed destined to be silent with little activity other than the 7 days during fair week each summer. However, that would change a mere two months later when Breezewood businessman Roy Morral worked out an agreement with the Fair Association to promote weekly auto races beginning after the
1965 Fair. Within a 3 month span Bedford transitioned from hosting a professional sports complex which included horse racing, to a weekly auto racing track that continues today. If the wagering referendum was approved there is absolutely no way auto racing would have continued beyond the 1965 Fair race. The track and facilities would have been modified to accommodate horses and only horses. So in essence as a lifetime auto race supporter, I’m grateful how everything played out, yet I still wonder what if. Fifty-five years later we celebrate and embrace our rich auto racing heritage at Bedford and thank the car racing enthusiasts that unintentionally paved the way for horsepower rather than horses by rejecting the 1965 referendum.

On a regretful note, the Museum of Speed’s annual February preseason fundraising party has been cancelled for this year. A decision was required last month to have proper time to not just rent a venue, but also organize all that is essential to assemble such an event. The Museum’s Board of Directors will miss this opportunity to promote our sport while sharing an evening with a lot of great race fans and some of our region’s all-time best racers, past and present. We will also miss one of our key early season fundraising events, but like you we’ll make some adjustments and withstand the shortfall of revenue normally generated from this social ·gathering. We wish to thank everyone that has supported our previous parties and look forward to future events.

First practice at Bedford, March 27th. Follow us on the web at, museumofspeedatbedford,, or email at, [email protected].

3rd Quarter Newsletter

May 26th, 2022 | Blogs 26th, May at 11:33 AM

In Conjunction With
3rd Quarter 2020

The history books will someday show that very few activities or events in 2020 resembled life as we knew it prior to this year. Virtually everything was affected by either a postponement, total cancellation, or a modified agenda. Race tracks waited for the maximum restrictions to be lifted, then like many other businesses they cautiously opened with overwhelming support from the racers and the racing community for the balance of the season. However, schedules were modified and as a result some special events had to be eliminated due to the reduced length of the season.

The Southern Pennsylvania Historical Auto Racing Commission was adversely affected by missing out on several opportunities for fundraising events. The Museum organization was working in conjunction with Bedford Speedway to promote and stage a Saturday event featuring track time for our region’s vintage race cars from yesteryear. Circle track hot rods from several clubs also were to be given time to showcase their skills with a class of cars from a bygone era. It was to have been a full day for these owners to relive memories and display this type of racing equipment which they are most passionate about.

The Museum Members were also planning a formal program for existing Members of the Bedford Speedway Hall of Fame, along with an Official Induction Ceremony for new Members. The Induction of two gentlemen eventually did take place before the Labor Day 55 lap event for the Super Late Models. Altoona’s Tom Gill was posthumously inducted as the former team owner of the very recognizable and front running Super Late Model# 55. Tom also worked in numerous capacities for a number of years at both Bedford and Hesston Speedways. He was respected by the racing fraternity for his dedication to the sport that he and his wife Mary Ann shared together. The other honoree was the National Dirt Hall of Fame driver Gary Stuhler. The Greencastle veteran has over 350 career feature wins to his credit extending back to 1975, when he won the 3rd race he entered at Lincoln. Gary’s 27 wins at Bedford positions him 4th on the all-time feature wins list, including the 2007 Labor Day 55. Stuhler continues to be one of the most popular drivers on the area’s late model circuit. The MoS was honored to be part of this presentation.

The MoS Members were able to sell Museum related items during the season in their booth under the grandstand at Bedford. We sincerely appreciate the support and friendship from the fans and thank promoter Joe Padula for his cooperation. We also want to mention Advisory Board Member Bill Henderson for
his many volunteer hours operating the sales table.

This month’s episode of, “As The Memories Turn,” will take us back to 1964/65. Never in the history of The Bedford Fairgrounds and its historic race track was there a more crucial time when auto racing, especially weekly racing, may have never materialized. In late 1964 a group of Western PA investors had an opportunity to acquire a gaming license from the State to operate a pari-mutuel horse racing facility. The group chose Bedford as the ideal location due to multiple factors, including its roads, motels, and the proximity to larger urban areas. At the time Bedford was considered a trucking town with several major companies maintaining terminals at the turnpike interchange. The developers also had a retainer on a large parcel of mountain ground adjoining the fairgrounds to the south. This area was to be developed for residential building lots, a golf course, and a ski resort on Wills Mountain. The creation of the Sports Complex was estimated to be a 6 million dollar investment by the group at the time. But everything hinged on the group’s ability to race horses and offer legalized wagering. The wheels were in motion, and so was the controversy. In 1965 there was no PA Lottery, no scratch off tickets, no church bingos, and no gun raffles. So, the battle lines were soon drawn, with the urban communities like Bedford and Everett supporting the project due to the economic impact it would provide the County, plus the anticipated tax revenue it would generate. However, the rural regions of the County were led in part by Clergy Members who were outspoken and vehement about how gambling would permeate throughout our communities. As winter turned into spring the rhetoric only intensified between the two factions as the developers waited for approval to start work. They also kept reminding everyone that if horse racing was not part of the equation, they would withdraw their offer to proceed with the project. So, it was determined that the only way to settle the debate fairly and give the public a voice in the decision was to put it on the 1965 spring ballot as a referendum. So on Tuesday, May 18th, 1965, Bedford County voters went to the polls in record numbers to determine the immediate future of the region.

In part 2 in the next newsletter we will reveal the results of the vote and examine the consequence of that day and its long-term significance.

1st Quarter Newsletter

May 26th, 2022 | Blogs 26th, May at 10:01 AM

In conjunction with the MUSEUM of SPEED at THE BEDFORD FAIRGROUNDS
1st Quarter 2020

As I write this newsletter in late March 2020, much has changed in the world of racing since we last met. In fact, much has changed around the world in general as we deal with this invisible, suffocating virus. What appeared to be a promising Spring of racing activity is currently on pause for an undetermined length of time until this virus pandemic can be reversed and checked. In the realm of the global picture of humanity, racing seems quite trivial at this time. But in an effort to be optimistic while maintaining a positive attitude we’ll briefly divert our attention in order to share some pertinent racing information and happenings.

The Southern Pennsylvania Historical Auto Racing Commission, (SPHARC), conducted their 3rd preseason fund raising party on February 29th at the Bedford American Legion. And once again a sellout crowd of racing dignitaries, guests, and fans were greeted by the Museum of Speed Board of Directors. The evening included several special moments and presentations, including unveiling the Museum Building’s design and layout. The Board, along with our architectural firm Stiffler & McGraw, spent the past fourteen months tweaking the buildings design. This was a critical phase of our project, but from the inception we had a vision of just what we felt would represent the image of a Speed related Museum. The two-story design must attract interest from potential public and private funding sources. The exterior has clean sleek lines with the strong semblance of an automotive or industrial appearance. Due to the terrain difference in elevation each floor will have drive in access for vehicles. There will be a first floor outside paddock area to display equipment, and a second-floor open air and glass enclosed viewing section. The interior will include a large modern computerized research library, a fully stocked gift shop, over 15,000 square feet of uninterrupted exhibit space, and ample room to conduct seminars and round table discussions. The open floor plan will permit multiple creative options to arrange vehicles and displays. We are very pleased with the design.

The party’s guests viewed a 20-minute highlight video from each of the fifteen racing personalities interviewed at this point in time. The video began with International star Mario Andretti mentioning his two failed attempts to race at Bedford in 1960/61 and concluded with a special yodeling rendition by our own Bedford County legend Jim Kennedy. Jim is an entertaining individual, but more impressive is the fact that if he crawls into his sprint car this year and turns a lap it will be his eighth decade competing behind the wheel of a race car. Truly an amazing feat at any level of racing or any competition in a sports arena.

The Directors want to thank all the Individuals and Businesses that contributed to the success of our event by donating merchandise or products. To all the volunteers that organized, served, sold, or helped in any way, Thank You. And finally, special recognition goes to artist Jeff Lindsay for donating four of his professionally drawn race sketches for our auction. They are a fan favorite.

In conjunction with the Museum Building project a discussion ensued centered on the benefit of designating the Bedford Fairgrounds Speedway a State Historical Landmark. By establishing the track with a Historical Marker, it will serve to enhance the tracks status to the general public, not only as a race
track with historical significance, but it will also serve to highlight another attraction along the Lincoln Highway corridor. The tracks historical designation may increase the opportunities for the Museum Board to pursue future funding at the State level. It will also create additional interest from the
private sector.

With the current restrictions in place no one knows when life will return to normal, the virus will dictate the timeline. As governments and businesses come to a complete stand still our current ability to market the project is also on hold. But planning moves forward in anticipation that schedules will be
restored soon. The Museum Board and Bedford Speedway Officials have discussed· promoting a daylong celebration for vintage race cars and hot rods on Saturday June 6. The idea is to give these race car enthusiasts an entire afternoon to turn laps around the half mile speedway. Contacts and plans
were evolving with several individuals and clubs when the shutdown occurred. But if we get back on track, literally, please keep that date in mind while checking out the Speedway’s and the Museum of Speed’s social media sites. Also, later this year will be the 3rd Annual Keystone Cup Classic on
Friday September 25th and Saturday September 26th. We will once again schedule a full day of entertainment and activities on Saturday to raise funds for the future Museum. With $ 20,000.00 going to Saturday’s 60 lap super late model feature winner, there is bound to be plenty of invading hot shoes in
town competing for the richest purse in Speedway history. Who could forget last year’s barn burner won by Rick Eckert.

Once again please keep checking our web page and face book site for updates and schedule changes. Our web page for additional information is, if you wish to email us with any questions: [email protected]

Our face book site is continually gaining followers as our Museum’s historians share their racing pictures, stories, and knowledge.

Thank You,
Jake Hoover

Check out our new Facebook page.

March 25th, 2018 | Blogs 25th, March at 9:57 AM

We would like to invite everyone to head over and like our new facebook page to keep up with the latest news and happenings at the Museum of Speed at Bedford.

Our facebook address is