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Dover Downs founder inducted into Delaware Hall of Fame

June 04, 2008
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The late John Rollins, a visionary business leader who brought world-class sports to Delaware in the form of NASCAR motorsports and personally kept the sport of harness racing alive in the First State during the 1980s when its future was threatened by competition from neighboring states, was inducted posthumously into the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame on May 22 in ceremonies held in Wilmington, Del.

Rollins was co-founder of Dover Downs and at one time owned Brandywine Raceway, Dover Downs and was a major shareholder in Harrington Raceway. In addition to owning racetracks, Rollins was a strong supporter of harness racing as a horse owner.

Rollins subsidized the sport for a number of years in the 1970s and 1980s. Rollins was also a member of the Amicable Stable, a partnership that raced the legendary pacer Albatross, who dominated the sport in the early 1970s, winning 59 of 71 lifetime starts against the top competition in the world. Albatross went on to become the most productive stallion in the sport at that time. Another horse Rollins raced was the fast high class pacer Jefferic Adios, who set the track record at Dover Downs that stood for several years.

In addition to his interest in Standardbreds, Rollins, served as chairman of Dover Downs and oversaw the growth of Dover Downs International Speedway. The facility is now the world’s second-leading motorsports venue, attracting more than 500,000 auto-racing fans annually.

Rollins, a native of Georgia,began his career in Delaware in automobile sales. He later owned a high rated radio station, and was involved in several other businesses during his long and successful career. Rollins also ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor of Delaware. He later said, “That was the best thing that could have happened to me. If I would have been elected, I never would have become as successful as I later became.” (Dover Downs)

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