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Harness Racing Museum seeks help with driving colors

August 27, 2009

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The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame has received a $2,440 grant from the Greater Hudson Heritage Network for the treatment of Richard McMahon’s silk driving jacket; the work will be executed by textile conservator  Gwen Spicer, Spicer Art Conservation, LLC
“Dick” McMahon was born in Fredonia, Kansas, about 1880. Around 1896, he started as a groom and learned the art of driving trotters with the Steward Brothers of Kansas City, MO. His first claim to fame was with the pacer, Major Muscovite, at the turn of the century. He maintained a public stable until he became a private trainer with Calumet Farm in Kentucky. With the Calumet horses he won many stakes, including the 1931 Hambletonian with Calumet Butler. McMahon, who was rated one of the best harness drivers of his time, retired from racing after the 1931 season to manage Calumet Farm. He died in Kentucky in 1945 and was elected an Immortal of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1958.
The Harness Racing Museum’s Carol Fleming Messenger Fund for the Care and Conservation of Drivers’ Colors continues to be a driving force behind the conservation treatment of the Museum’s silks collection.  Established in 2004, the Messenger Fund has raised $39,400 through grants and individual sponsorships which have to date helped to preserve eight drivers’ jackets and nine caps. Projects completed this year include the jacket and caps of Immortals Gabe Cartnal, Henry Thomas and Lon McDonald.
Much remains to be done and further individual and grant funding support will be sought in the coming year to provide for the colors that remain un-sponsored at this time. The jackets and caps of the following renowned reinsmen have been prioritized for care but as yet remain without a funding sponsor:
Ralph Baldwin

Tom Berry

Harry Burright

Will Caton

Charles Coburn

Guy Crippen

Jimmy Cruise

Vernon Dancer

John Dodge

Charles Fitzpatrick

W. Forester Gibbons

Clint Hodgins

Joe O’Brien

Nat Ray

Sanders Russell

Ira Ryerson

Frank Safford

Bi Shively
Specific estimates can be obtained for those interested in helping with this important project to preserve harness racing's important memories, however as a general guideline, 
the cleaning and/or treatment of a single jacket may range in cost from $350 to $3,500 depending upon condition. The cleaning and/or treatment of an individual cap may range in cost from $200 to $1,500.  These are broad general estimates.  Donations of any amount are invited. They can be sponsor-specific or not and according to donor instructions will be acknowledged on exhibition labels and in all announcements.
To adopt the colors of one of these memorable characters contact Rebecca Howard, manager of the Museum’s Historic Collections Department at 845.294.6330 or email hrmcol@frontiernet.net. (Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame)
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