SELINSGROVE, Pa – When Selinsgrove Speedway hosts the USAC Silver Crown Series on Aug. 9 for the first time in series history, it will be honoring the track’s first winner, Bill Holland.
Holland won the inaugural race at the track on July 20, 1946, and that in itself was historic.
But Holland’s entire historic career is also meant to be feted with the race that itself, by virtue of carrying a USAC sanction, will also be making history as the Bill Holland Classic 74th Anniversary Race.
The USAC event will be the second time that Selinsgrove Speedway will be hosting a USAC race. The first event, a sprint car event, was back on July 17, 1971 and it was Linglestown driver Mitch Smith that topped the USAC field while competing on a temporary permit as granted by USAC officials to a select few local drivers that wished to join in the fun.
On that night, Smith drove a Gary Wasson-owned sprinter to what was billed as a “super blitz of USAC.” Not only did local boy Smith win, he led a one-two-three finish by locally permitted drivers against the USAC invaders.
Sixth starter Smith took second from USAC kingpin Larry Dickson on lap 14 and then drove around USAC regular Lee Kunzman on a lap-15 restart for second. It took until lap 29 for Smith to go low on leader Osborne to get the lead and run to the 40-lap victory over Osborne and Bobbie Adamson.
Local turned USAC star Toby Tobias was fourth, with Kunzman finishing fifth.
That race in 1971 took place just three days shy of the 25th anniversary of the first race held at the new Selinsgrove Speedway on the afternoon of July 20, 1946, won by Holland.
Holland began his illustrious racing career in his mid 20s in 1932 and before he retired in 1959, he had accumulated 53 sprint car wins across the East and Midwest while competing with AAA as well as in unsanctioned events.
In 1946 alone, Holland notched 16 sprint victories.
Holland was the 1941 AAA East champion and took second in the national AAA title fight in 1947. His USAC Big Car days spanned from 1936 to 1954 during which time he put up more than 150 podium finishes.
The 1949 Indianapolis 500 found Holland throttling to victory to go along with second-place Indy finishes in 1947, ’48 and in ’50.
Holland was the son of a turn-of-the-century major league baseball player who inherited his father’s athletic abilities that found him proficient in roller and ice skating, leading to a tryout for the 1932 Olympic Winter Games.
Late in his racing career as well as afterward, Holland owned and operated a number of roller skating rinks from Connecticut to Arizona before succumbing to Alzheimer’s Disease in 1984.
Holland was posthumously inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2005.
The 74-lap, $8,000 to win, USAC Silver Crown Series Bill Holland Classic 74th Anniversary Race at Selinsgrove Speedway gets underway at 7 p.m., Aug. 9.
The USAC East Wingless 360 Sprint Series is also on the racing card.
Adult general admission is set at $25 with youth ages 12–17 admitted for $15. Kids ages 11 and under are admitted for free.