By Shawn Brouse
Selinsgrove, Pa – When Selinsgrove Speedway hosts the USAC Silver Crown Series for Championship Dirt Cars on Sunday, August 9, for the first time in series and oval history, it will be honoring the track’s original winner, Bill Holland.
Holland won the inaugural race at the track on July 20, 1946 and that in itself was historic.
But Holland’s entire historic career is also meant to be feted with the race that itself, by virtue of carrying a USAC sanction, will also be making history as the Bill Holland Classic 74th Anniversary Race.
The USAC event will be just the second time ever that Selinsgrove Speedway will be hosting a USAC race.
The first event, a regular sprint race, was back on July 17, 1971 and it was Linglestown driver Mitch Smith that topped the USAC boys while competing on a temporary permit as granted by USAC officials to a select few local drivers that wished to join in the fun.
On that night, Smith drove a Gary Wasson-owned sprinter to what was billed as a “super blitz of USAC.” It was an occurrence that was virtually unheard of at the time, anywhere that USAC went.
But not only did local boy Smith win, he led a one-two-three finish by locally permitted drivers against the USAC invaders.
Sixth starter Smith took second from U SAC kingpin Larry Dickson on lap 14 and then drove around USACer Lee Kunzman on a lap 15 restart for second.
It took until lap 29 for Smith to go low on leader Osborne to get the lead and run to the 40-lap victory over Osborne and Bobbie Adamson.
Local turned USAC start Toby Tobias was fourth with Kunzman finishing fifth.
That race in 1971 took place just three days shy of the 25th anniversary of the first ever race held at the new Selinsgrove Speedway on the afternoon of July 20, 1946, won by Willard “Bill” Holland.
Holland began his illustrious racing career in his mid 20s in 1932 and before he retired in 1959, he had accumulated 53 sprint car wins across the East and Midwest while competing with AAA as well as in unsanctioned events.
In 1946 alone, Holland notched 16 sprint victories.
Holland was the 1941 AAA East champion and took second in the national AAA title fight in 1947. His USAC “Big Car” days spanned from 1936 – 1954 during which time he put up over 150 podium finishes.
The 1949 Indianapolis 500 found Holland throttling to victory to go along with second-place Indy finishes in 1947, 1948 and in 1950.
Bill Holland of Philadelphia was the son of a turn-of-the-century major league baseball player who inherited his father’s athletic abilities that found him proficient in roller and ice skating, leading to a tryout for the 1932 Olympic Winter Games.
Late in his racing career as well as afterward, Holland owned and operated a number of roller skating rinks from Connecticut to Arizona before succumbing to Alzheimer’s Disease in 1984.
Holland was posthumously inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2005.
The 74-lap, $8,000 to win, USAC Silver Crown Series Bill Holland Classic 74th Anniversary Race at Selinsgrove Speedway gets underway at 7 pm, August 9.
The USAC East Wingless 360 Sprint Series is also on the racing card.
Adult general admission is set at $25 with youth ages 12 – 17 admitted for $15. Kids ages 11 and under are admitted for FREE.
Advanced tickets can be purchased by emailing contact information to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Gates for advanced ticket holders will open at 4 pm with regular general admission gates opening at 4:30 pm.
There will be no racing at the track on August 1.
Keep up to date with all the latest speedway news, results, information and race status by visiting the speedway’s official website at www.selinsgrovespeedway.com or follow the track on Twitter and Facebook.
July 17, 1971 USAC Sprint Car Feature Finish At Selinsgrove Speedway: 40 laps – 1. Mitch Smith, 2. Lee Osborne, 3. Bobbie Admason, 4. Dick Tobias, 5. Lee Kunzman, 6. Joe Saldana, 7. Bruce Walkup, 8. Tom Bigelow, 9. Pancho Carter, 10. Larry Cannon, 11. Greg Weld, 12. Darl Harrison, 13. Rollie Beale, 14. Bill Koepfer, 15. Leigh Earnshaw, Jr., 16. Larry Dickson, 17. Gary Bettenhausen, 18. Jimmy Kirk, 19. Jimmy Sheaffer, 20. Lennie Waldo