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<Automobile Races, Race-car Drivers>

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Higgins, Norman
Birth Year : 1941
Death Year : 2007
Norman Higgins, born in Lexington, KY, was a graduate of old Dunbar High School. He was employed at Southland Printing and Publishing, where he ran the printing press. Though he received many awards for his car racing, Higgins was also well-known as an exceptional drummer. He played all over Kentucky and the U.S. with greats such as Roland Kirk, Billy Preston, Sonny Stitt, and Kentucky native, Les McCann. Higgins was also part of the Lexington Jazz Project's original lineup. For more see J. Hewlett, "Norman Higgins jazz drummer dies," Lexington Herald-Leader, 01/05/2007, City/Region section, p. B4.


Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Automobile Races, Race-car Drivers
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Jones, Frederick M.
Birth Year : 1892
Death Year : 1961
Frederick M. Jones was born in Cincinnati and was later moved to Covington, KY. Some sources state that he was actually born in Covington, KY, in 1893. He was the son of John Jones, who was white, and an African American mother. Frederick Jones was raised by his father until age seven, when he was placed with the local Catholic Church; his mother had left the family when Jones was a baby. At the age of 11, Jones ran away from his caretakers at the Catholic church and found a job in a garage in Cincinnati, OH. He became a full time employee at age 14. Jones was attracted to mechanics and is credited with building the first practical truck refrigeration system in 1949. He also built cars from spare parts and raced them. He was a soldier in World War I; while in the service he studied electricity. In 1939 he patented a ticket dispensing machine for movie houses, his first patent (#2,163,754). Frederick M. Jones was posthumously awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1991 by President George H. W. Bush; Jones was the 1st African Ameican to receive the award. For more see Distinguished African American Scientists of the 20th Century by J. H. Kessler; and "Frederick McKinley Jones" in Encyclopedia of World Biography, vol. 20, 2nd. ed., 2004.

See photo image and additional information about Frederick M. Jones at The Faces of Science website.
Subjects: Inventors, Military & Veterans, Automobile Races, Race-car Drivers, Migration South
Geographic Region: Cincinnati, Ohio / Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky

Kentucky Speedway Incident
Start Year : 1928
In 1928, African American auto mechanic and racecar driver Charlie Wiggins was driving the pre-race qualifying lap at the Kentucky Speedway in Louisville, KY, when white fans protested: the Speedway was "whites-only." A mob broke through the protective fence around the track. Police officers held back the mob, and race officials ordered the Kentucky militia to arrest Wiggins for his own safety. The police quickly took Wiggins away in a paddy wagon. Wiggins was placed in a jail cell until nightfall, when he could slip out of town. A police report was filed stating that Wiggins was arrested for speeding. Wiggins would go on to win more races than any other African American racecar driver. For more see D. Hunt, "Brothers in pit, not on oval: a tale of Black drivers," The Philadelphia Tribune, 08/15/2003, vol. 119, issue 78, p. 2C; and For Gold and Glory: Charlie Wiggins and the African-American Racing Car Circuit, by T. Gould.
Subjects: Automobile Races, Race-car Drivers, Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Louisville Auto Derby, 1925
Start Year : 1925
The Louisville Auto Derby was to take place at the Kentucky State Fair Grounds in early May of 1925. Six of the driver applicants had raced in the Chicago and Indianapolis races. The Louisville race was one of a series sponsored by the National Colored Automobile Association, which was established in Indianapolis, IN, in January of 1925. A 50-mile race took place at the Hoosier Speedway the 25th of May. For more see "Louisville automobile races to be on fair grounds," Baltimore Afro-American, 05/09/1925, p.A6; and "West to begin series of automobile races," Baltimore Afro-American, 05/23/1925, p.28.
Subjects: Automobile Races, Race-car Drivers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Ray, Joseph R., Jr. "Joie"
Birth Year : 1923
Death Year : 2007
Born in Louisville, KY, Joseph R. Ray, Jr. drove in his first race in 1947. He is sometimes called the World's Only Colored Racing Driver. He has also been confused with race car driver Joie Ray, who was white, the driver who started 25th in the 1952 Daytona race. The African American Joie Ray was the son of Joseph Ray, Sr. For more see "Joie Ray" in Biographical Dictionary of American Sports. Outdoor Sports, edited by D. L. Porter; M. Grant, "Pioneer auto racer Ray dies at 83," Courier-Journal (Louisville), 04/17/2007, Sports section, p. 5C; and P. Sullivan, Brick by Brick, a Joie Ray biography, 2008.

See photo images of Joseph R. Ray, Jr. at the Legends of NASCAR website.
Subjects: Automobile Races, Race-car Drivers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

 

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