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36B. Spectators at State Fair Auto Races ~ 1939
Era: 1931-1950   Publisher: Anonymous 

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In this 1939 view, spectators line the fence to watch the auto races. 24,000 people watched them on Sunday, August 27th. Fair officials had promised to “scour the country” to bring in racers who could end the reign of Emory Collins of Le Mars, and Gus Schrader of Cedar Rapids. However, Collins and Schrader still won most of the races, setting records along the way against Bobby Sall, Bud Rose, Ben Shaw, Jimmy Wilburn, and others. Auto races at the Fair dates back to 1901, when there were races between Fred Tone (of the Tone’s Spices family) in a “Locomobile”, and Rollie Fageol in the “machine he invented, a Geneva.” Both were steam-powered autos, and their lap times convert to a blazing speed of 17 to 26 miles per hour! Tone later became the chief engineer of The American Motor Car Company in Indianapolis. Fageol and his brothers moved to Oakland, CA and started a company making trucks and buses that later evolved into Peterbilt. Famous drivers who have raced at the fair include Eddie Rickenbacker, Louis Disbrow, Ramo Stott, Ernie Derr, A. J. Foyt, Joe Merryfield, and Doug Wolfgang.

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