On Sept. 5, 1936, a young, promising driver from Missouri won the inaugural Fair race held at the Bedford Fairgrounds Speedway.
The speedway is one of the oldest of its kind in existence, having held racing every year since the 1936 season with the exception of 1942-45 due to World War II.
From the initial winner of Billy Winn in 1936 to those who have won the race in the last few season, drivers from all around come to the track for the annual Fair race and this year will be no exception.
For the third year in a row, the speedway will attempt to hold two dates for the annual Fair races.
The annual Fair races will be held on Sunday and Friday of the 2019 Bedford County Fair. Sunday’s action is the Elmer Ruby Memorial as the Mason Dixon Shootout will return with Late Model Sportsman, Laurel Highland Racesaver 305 Sprints, Pure Stocks, and 4 Cylinders will all battle for the chance to be a Fair race winner.
Both the Charlie Walter Memorial and the Mason Dixon Shootout were rained out earlier this month and were rescheduled to be part of Fair race action.
The Boyd Arnold Tribute will run that Friday with the Late Models, Modifieds, Semi Lates, and Pure Stocks will all vie for their chance.
“It’s hard to believe it’s already Fair time in Bedford,” promoter Joe Padula explained. “We are looking forward to two fast-paced racing nights with full pits and a packed crowd.
“The Bedford Fair race is one of the biggest races for the year for us, and obviously every driver wants to win on that night,” Padula added. “By doing two nights of racing we are able to allow all of our divisions to race on the big Fair stage. Motorsports is huge in Bedford County and by making the shift to two racing nights at the Fair we are able to give all of our drivers the opportunity to race at the Fair.
“The Fair race is a Bedford tradition dating back to the first race in Bedford in 1936, and for decades it has been a highlight on the racing calendar. For the drivers and fans, racing in front of the large Fair crowd, with the rides and the lights in the background creates a must-see experience. While the Fair hosts a variety of other events during Fair week, none are as big or bring the crowds in at the level that the racing does.”
Both Ruby and Arnold were key parts to the speedway.
Arnold was one of the first-generation race car drivers from Bedford County, beginning his career in the 1950s and winning throughout the area.
Two races were scheduled a year ago, but much like this past spring and summer seasons, the first night was a complete washout following heavy rains. The speedway caught a break as the sun reappeared that Friday night and five races go into the books.
Winners from last year’s event included Robbie Black (Super Late Models), Justin Weaver (Late Model Sportsman), Drake Troutman (Modifieds), Bob Jay (Semi Lates), and Denny Pittman (Pure Stocks). With the exception of Pittman, all are track regulars this season.
Two years ago, both attempts were a complete washout, but the track opted to run the day following the conclusion of the Fair.
This season has been plagued with rain. It took the Bedford Fairgrounds Speedway seven tries to get the season off to a start.
“It seems like rain has been a constant threat to racing this season; every track in our area has been struggling with a large number of rainouts,” Padula noted. “We are trying our hardest to get as much racing in around the raindrops as we can, and of course we hope we can get both races in as scheduled.”
This season has been highlighted with many first-time winners at the track and many will be determined to try and write their names into the history book when the green flag waves for the Elmer Ruby Memorial and the Boyd Arnold Tribute.