The Keystone Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced the first inductees into the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Hall of Fame. They are: Bowman Brown Sr., Roger Huston, Max C. Hempt, Delvin Miller, Dave Palone, Ed Ryan, Lawrence Sheppard, John Simpson Sr., Paul E. Spears and Mary McCune (veteran).
All but Mary McCune were elected by the membership of the Keystone Chapter from a list of candidates prepared by the Chapter's Hall of Fame Committee. This Committee also selected Ms. McCune as a "Veteran” honoree by the Hall for her achievements in the sulky sport before the modern pari-mutuel era. This format will be used for the first couple years of selecting inductees; after a large part of the sport's modern pioneers have been honored, the intake each season will be smaller.
A Keystone Chapter website, focusing on honoring this initial Pennsylvania Hall of Fame class, is currently under construction. There will be ceremonies at tracks and other important gatherings honoring Hall of Famers of a particular area in the next few months. A search for a place for a permanent display honoring the Pennsylvania Harness Hall of Famers would benefit from any and all suggestions.
Here are brief biographies of the inaugural Pennsylvania Harness Hall of Famers (much longer bios, giving more idea of the depth and breadth these Hall of Famers had on Keystone harness racing, will appear on the shortly-following website):
BOWMAN BROWN SR. – President of the important trade publication The Harness Horse; vice-president of the sales company holding the huge annual autumn auction in Harrisburg PA; breeder of top sires Hickory Smoke (a Hambletonian winner) and Hickory Pride.
ROGER HUSTON – "The Voice” of Harness Racing; racecaller and TV host at The Meadows racetrack; announcer for the Little Brown Jug and Grand Circuit Week in Delaware OH; master statistician; probably the most-traveled – and busiest – racing announcer in the sport's history.
MAX C. HEMPT – Founder and operator of Hempt Farms, the "Home of the Keystones,” with the likes of Horse of the Year Keystone Ore going on to be champions. Owned Hambletonian winner Stenographer. Influential and longtime member of the sport's leading organizations. A 6'8” talented amateur driver,
DELVIN MILLER – "Mr. Harness Racing,” "Harness Racing's Good Will Ambassador. Master horsemen in eight different decades. Founded The Meadows. Stood Adios, arguably the sport's most influential sire. Introduced many celebrities to the sport. Suggested Meadowlands be a mile track. Friend to all.
DAVE PALONE – The leading dashwinning driver of all-time in North America, with over 16,000 visits to the winners circle, and fast closing in on the world record of the German Heinz Wewering, which will likely be about 17,000 when Dave goes even. Has led the Meadows driving ranks for over two decades.
ED RYAN – A leader in the home construction business, Ryan and business associate Joe Hardy purchased The Meadows in the 1970s, and under Ryan's stewardship The Meadows helped usher in the eras of telephone wagering and television broadcasting. Also a noted amateur driver.
LAWRENCE SHEPPARD – The pioneer of the Hanover Shoe Farms dynasty, Simpson began with the 1926 purchase of the Cox disbursal to acquire the top broodmares and, later, stallions, to build the leading Standardbred nursery in the world. President (1950-1958) of the U.S. Trotting Association.
JOHN SIMPSON SR. – A top-level horseman when joining the Hanover team as trainer/driver, Simpson continued to produce champions, and then became Lawrence Sheppard's personal choice to take on oversight of the entire Hanover dynasty. "Sire” of two national Hall of Famers, John Jr. and Jim.
PAUL E. SPEARS – Parlayed his entre to Hanover as an accountant into progressively-more responsible positions in Hanover administration, rising to the farm's President and Chairman, and in the Sales Company management. The most successful high-level amateur driver of the last 50 years.
MARY MC CUNE (Veteran) – A "driving force” behind the promotion of amateur racing across the country for the first half of the 20th century. Set a world record to wagon for an amateur, the 2:05 ¾ with the trotter Mignola when Ms. McCune was only 17 years old.(Keystone USHWA)