Roscoe "Pappy" Hough

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Roscoe "Pappy" Hough


A talented driver, innovative mechanic and noted car owner who subscribed to the idea that more was often better, Roscoe "Pappy" Hough (November 22 1903 - June 17 1996) made his living in automotive racing and his professionalism in all aspects of his illustrious career set a high standard for those in Motorsports everywhere.

Although best remembered for his busy race shop in the "Gasoline Alley" section of Paterson, New Jersey, the Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Hough started driving "Big Cars" (Sprint Cars) in the 1920's in the Midwest and then switched to midgets in the middle 1930's.

One of the finest pre-World War II Midget drivers, Hough also raced in Buenos Aries, Argentina, in the winter of 1938 and eventually moved to the East.  The winner of 44 victories alone in 1941, he was able to make a pretty good living wherever he raced as his individual efforts and initiative allowed him to outperform his competition.

Hough - who got his nickname from his take-charge leadership of 10 Eastern Midget racers who raced throughout the West one winter - assembled a formidable squad of five top-flight Midgets in the 1940's that were numbered from 78-82 and known as the "Five Little Pigs."

With Hough also driving, his team barnstormed throughout the East and into the Midwest often racing seven days a week and twice on Sunday.  To keep everything moving along in an orderly fashion, Hough's machines all traveled on one double-deck trailer but he would sometimes send a couple of his cars and drivers to different tracks so that they did not compete against themselves.  And occasionally he sent his cars and drivers by air freight to distant tracks.

As a team owner, Hough employed 40 of the top Midget drivers-such as fellow EMPA Hall of Famers Bill Schindler, Fred"Jiggs"Peters and Nick Fonoro Sr.-and whether racing outdoors or indoors his rides were always considered as some of the best in the business.

He was also a rather skilled craftsman who built dozens of cars over a 30 year period that included the first tube-chassis Midgets in the East.  He also created one of the first quick-change rear ends - known as "Hough rears" - that were in great demand and his first Ford V-8 powered Midgets stood up well against the Offy-powered cars.

When Midget racing began to fall off in popularity, Hough took a brief fling into Stock Car racing with his two-toned No. 81 1937 Ford Coupe and as he did as a Midget racer he was more than capable of finding the checkered flag.  He also raced in NASCAR's Grand National (Cup Series) with his 1950-1952 Fords and when NASCAR began what it called its Short Track Division - basically a Sportsman series - he became its first-ever champion in 1951.

On July 2, 1950, Hough and his son Lee set a record at the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at the half-mile dirt Monroe County Fairgrounds in the Rochester, New York, with their 18th and 25th place finishes, respectively, behind winner Curtis Turner as they became the first father and son duo to compete together in a NASCAR race.

In all, "Pappy" made 21 starts in NASCAR's Grand National Division (1950 - 1952 and 1955) with his best finish in his No. 81 Ford behind winner and fellow EMPA Hall of Fame member Lee Petty in a 200-lap race at Rochester on July 31, 1951.

           Roscoe “Pappy” Hough reportedly raced at some 560 tracks and is said to have won over 1,000 races as a driver and car owner, and after he retired from racing he continued to work on racing cars for the rest of his life in his Wayne, New Jersey, garage.  One of racing’s true characters and the first president of the Atlantic Coast Old Timers Racing Club – who served in that capacity from 1983 until his death – he claimed that he continued to keep spry and active due to the fact that he gave his joints a rubdown with WD-40 each night before he went to sleep.

Courtesy of EMPA 2014