EARLY STOCK CAR RACING EXHIBIT AT THE MUSEUM
Early Stock Car Racing on Exhibit at the Museum
Recently Ron Hassemer stopped at the museum and explained about his father, Harvey Hassemer, who raced at the Seymour Fairgrounds in the 1950s and 1960s. Since he used to travel with his dad from track to track, he developed a keen interest in stock car racing. Ron constructed a large 6’ by 19’ model of a vintage racetrack complete with over 60 authentic model cars. This is a fun exhibit and is on display at the museum during July. Ron wrote the following description of stock car racing during the 1950s and 60s.
Those were the days… Drivers brought their stock cars to the track towing them with the family car or truck. They raced the same stock car on dirt tracks throughout the 1950s and early 1960s at county fairgrounds in Manitowoc, De Pere Luxemburg, Seymour, Shawano, Plymouth, Chilton, and Oshkosh and at the Outagamie, Shiocton, Simmets, and 141 Speedway to name a few.
There was only one division of racing. Time trials consisted of two laps, one lap at a time, so drivers could adjust their cars to make them faster for the next timed lap. The cars that timed the fastest would be required to start in the back of the pack and race their way to the front, which made it exciting not only for the drivers, but also for the spectators. There were four ten-lap races, a 15-lap semi-feature, and a 25-lap feature.
Some nights more than 60 cars would show up, so there would also be a consolation race for non-winners to earn some tow money. Fifty per cent of the gate went to race winners. They would also receive a checkered flag, and during the county fair or mid-season get a trophy. At some tracks, the first rollover would get a case of beer.
The cars were mostly coupes with a few sedans. Parts were usually found at junk yards, and the tires were regular street tires (6/70 x 15”), and they burned regular gasoline. Frequently after the races, drivers and fans would stop at local bars free lunches of raw beef, onions, and cheese and crackers.
The Seymour Community Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00. There is no admission charge. Donations are appreciated. Ron will be at the museum on Sunday afternoons to chat with racing enthusiasts.