Celebrating 50 Years of the Lunar Landing and 100 Years of Racing!
50 years ago this weekend, mankind succeeded at something incredible that we celebrate to this day as one of our greatest achievements, we landed on the moon. In a space race against the Soviet Union, it would be 2 brave Americans, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong who crossed the finish line first. To this day, the men and women of the Apollo missions are celebrated as American heroes. They are the subjects of movies, documentaries and TV shows still being produced all these decades later.
Because the American people just love a good story of bravery and pure determination, the respect and love for these heroes will endure for centuries. That same drive in us all to witness feats of bravery, to root for the underdogs and those who will put their lives in danger for us, is what has kept the dream of dirt track racing alive in Middletown, NY for 100 years.
Much like those early astronauts, the early drivers of race cars were plotting dangerous courses through uncharted territory. In both cases, these men and women risked their lives for the advancement of a dream, many even lost their lives. It is difficult to measure the value of entertainment against the value of technological advancements but it can be said without a doubt that both NASA and professional racing have been responsible for many innovations in safety and improving the quality of peoples' lives. Most people know that the space race was responsible for developing a lot of the communications and digital technology that we are so dependent on today, but not as many may be aware of how much racing has contributed to innovations in transportation safety. In pushing their vehicles to the limit, stock car drivers have always been the ones to put it on the line to test new theories in safety equipment, its a dark and unfortunate truth that in the early days of racing at OCFS, there were deaths and serious injuries. Over the many decades since their first race in 1919, safety of race cars has improved drastically at Orange County and all race tracks across the world, with even the worst of wrecks rarely resulting in death or serious injury. What's even better, is that over a century worth of innovation in racing safety has been applied to the cars we drive everyday.
Back in '81, it must have been apparent to promoters at OCFS that there was a shared love of astronauts and racing among the American people, as Richard F. Gordon was selected as the Parade Marshal for Eastern States Weekend. Gordon was an astronaut and American hero who piloted the 3-day Gemini II mission in 1966 and occupied the command module seat for the Apollo XII mission in 1969. 1981's 200-lap ESW feature race was won by Brett Hearn, his first time as a repeat winner. Hearn would go on to win this race another 10 times in his ongoing career. He is the all-time leader of ESW wins with a total of 12, second to him is Danny Johnson with 6.
Who were some of your favorite guests of honor throughout the years at OCFS? Let us know on our Facebook page!