Back in October, we told you about the Fairchild National Sports Car Races that took place at the airport in 1955.
If you weren’t around in ’55 — or you were, and you’d like to relive those glory days — we’re going to give you the chance this fall.
Make plans now to join the Washington County Historical Society and Hagerstown Aviation Museum on Oct. 23 for a special event that will commemorate the Fairchild National Sports Car Races.
In addition to a vintage car show featuring several vehicles that participated in the races, the event will include lectures, guided tours of the Fairchild Aircraft flight test hangars and factory building, and a commemorative start-stop on the historic runway.
To quickly recap the event we’re celebrating, the Fairchild National was the 12th race in the 1955 SCCA National Sports Car Championship season, taking place at what was then the Hagerstown Municipal Airport on Oct. 16, 1955.
It was the first event of its kind to take place in Hagerstown, and was made possible by members of the Fairchild Aircraft Employee Recreation Association. Seven individual races were run on a makeshift, 2.4 mile closed circuit track built on the airport runway.
Although it wasn’t a “pro” racing event, it still drew 200 participants and a crowd of 15,000 spectators. Veteran racers World Champion Phil Hill, Briggs Cunningham, and Sherwood Johnston were among the drivers, while others, like actor Jackie Cooper, simply competed for the thrill.
The day’s final event, the second annual Presidents Cup race, was a 100-mile race in which 40 racers, including the previous year’s winner Bill Spear, competed for the coveted Presidents Cup. Sherwood Johnston, driving a Jaguar D-type, was declared the winner.
Johnston received a replica of the Presidents Cup and an invitation to the White House, where he would receive personal congratulations from President Eisenhower, who had planned to attend the ceremony at Fountain Head Country Club, but had to cancel because of illness.
Despite the enthusiasm and revenue the races generated, the Fairchild National Sports Car Races never again occurred in Hagerstown … until now.
In preparation for this year’s event, we are putting out a call for any and all vehicles that participated in the races. We’d love to see them make their way back to Hagerstown for this historic commemoration.
And if you have any knowledge of the Fairchild National Sports Car Races, or even attended the races, we’d love to speak with you. We’re eager to learn more about this one-time event, and gather oral histories so it may never be forgotten.