The Fascinating History of Motorcycle Races in Bucks County

Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is home to a fascinating history of motorcycle racing. From the first series car race in the Northeastern United States to the last race at Langhorne Speedway, the area has seen its fair share of thrilling events. Langhorne Speedway was a renowned auto racing circuit located in Middletown Township, Bucks County. Built by a group of Philadelphia racing enthusiasts known as the National Automobile Association (NMRA), the first race was held on June 12, 1926. Freddie Winnai from Philadelphia qualified in 42.40 seconds, setting a new world record on a 1.6 km circuit and went on to win the 50-lap main event. In 1965, Fried and Gerber reconfigured the track layout in a D-shape by constructing a straight line on the back straight and paving the uneven dirt surface with asphalt.

However, as suburban growth took hold of the racetrack with the construction of Levittown in the area, developer offers became too tempting to refuse. Fried and Gerber announced the sale of the property to the mall's developers in 1967, but the circuit was maintained for five more seasons. The last race at Langhorne took place on October 17, 1971, and Roger Treichler won the National Open for modified series cars. Immediately after its closure, the property was razed to make way for a new shopping complex. The current space has a Sam's Club, a Restaurant Depot warehouse and a CarMax dealership, where the boxes and grandstand were once located. Langhorne moved to southern New Jersey and became Bridgeport Speedway in Bridgeport, New Jersey.

The track became known as one of the most dangerous tracks in motor sports due to its high speeds on the mile-long rough land surface. Larry Mann, Frank Arford, Bobby Marvin, John McVitty, Joe Russo, Mike Nazaruk and Jimmy Bryan died running on this track. At the first National Open in 1951, a major accident blocked the track and burned driver Wally Campbell. Several other prominent drivers were injured in accidents at Langhorne Speedway. In 1965, one of the most spectacular comebacks in motorsport history began with Mel Kenyon's serious burns and injuries.

Kenyon later returned to racing and placed third in the Indy 500 and won numerous national dwarf racing championships. Probably the most famous area of the original dirt racing circuit was Puke Hollow which earned its nickname due to drivers being inclined to vomit as a result of extreme thrusts when their cars hit deep grooves that formed in this section of the track as the race progressed. When it was reconfigured and paved in 1965, this gap was eliminated. As it was an almost perfect circle until 1965, there were no well-defined curves compared to a more traditional track layout; curves were based on dividing it into four quarters with Puke Hollow being located in the second corner from the starting line. From 1951 to 1971, Langhorne Speedway hosted the Langhorne National Open which became one of the country's most prestigious races for sports and modified cars. Guaranteed starting places were awarded to winners or top finishers who had not yet qualified from special qualifying races held at weekly Northeast and Southeast racetracks. It was common for more than a hundred cars to attempt to qualify for this event. From 1951 to 1957, it was sanctioned by NASCAR while Supermodifieds competed with Modifieds and Sportsman cars in 1961 and 1962. Dutch Hoag was its most successful driver winning five times and being the only one to win both on land and on pavement. The Speedway also hosted championship motorcycle races approved by AMA between 1935 and 1956 as well as championship car races approved by AAA between 1930 and 1955 and USAC from 1956 to 1970.

Hankinson participated in 100-lap races for AAA Championship and continued organizing shorter speed car racing events on its circular track. Difficulties in preparing it for races as well as management disputes led it to bankruptcy until Ralph Pappy Hankinson took over in 1930. In September 1949, Langhorne hosted fourth race of first NASCAR year called Strictly Stock which Curtis Turner won. The Big Buck facility is currently owned by Henry Turner's family who are big fans of GNCC Racing. Since 1972, Langhorne National Open has become modified Race of Champions race run exclusively on pavement at several tracks in Northeast with its history combined into National Open.

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