When Bill Holland came to Fort William in about 1952, just as jalopy racing was just starting at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition track, many of the local drivers at the time had high hopes of going to Indianapolis one day...and many of the racers here had the moxie for it, but most didn't have the financial resources, sponsors, or the time.
Bill Holland(born Dec. 18 1907, died May 19, 1984) - Bill was an American race car driver from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1949. On Nov. 14, 1951, Holland was suspended from AAA Indy Car Racing for one year after competing in a three lap Lion's Charity Race at Opa Locka, Florida, being part of an older NASCAR event. During this hiatus, Bill came here to Fort William to race and wow the fans. The AAA has a strict rule forbidding its drivers to participate in any race other than its own. This was later changed and that rule no longer exists as other drivers like A. J. Foyt has done so by driving NASCAR as an Indy Car regular. Bill Holland won the first ever automobile race at Selinsgrove Speedway in Pennsylvania on July 20. 1946.
These pictures were taken here in Fort William at the CLE track in about 1952. It was rare that such talent would come to entertain the locals in those days. A number of other Indy type cars came out to this event as well. Thanks to Brian Pero for the loan of these two photos.
A 1948 photo of Bill and his car taken one year before he won at Indy.
A great colour shot of Holland in the #2 car and his team mate Mauri Rose in the #3 car.....Mauri went on to be a rare 3 - time winner at Indy, but he never came here to Fort William. Their major sponsor was Blue Crown Spark Plugs. Check out the second photo from the top of this post to see Blue Crown Spark Plugs printed on his car. Next is the program cover for the year Bill won at Indy.
Here is a Blue Crown Spark Plug advertising box and a photo of Bill taken a year later in 1950. Johnny Parsons won the race and Bill and Mauri came second and third.
This is a photo of Bill on the Rutland Fair program from Vermont in 1949. On the program was also a photo of Ward Beam's auto daredevils. The last photo here shows what Bill's Indy Car looks like today...also a good read.
I hope you enjoyed this little bit of Indy history as a piece of our own dirt track racing history here in Fort William and Port Arthur.
Click on most photos to enlarge!