ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — For over 30 years, Michael Halloran has been searching for and collecting pieces of memorabilia for the old Altoona Speedway which held racing events throughout the 1920s and early 1930s.

Halloran said he became interested in collecting items from the long-gone wooden board track in Tipton because of his interest in local history and classic cars.

“I bought a program from one of the races at a local auction and going through that I was fascinated by the old advertisements for the cars, gas stations and business places. I thought it would be entertaining to find more. It motivated me to look for more,” Halloran said.

His initial success at finding items locally also motivated him to expand his search. Halloran’s collection consists of numerous photographs, postcards, newspaper clippings, event programs, ticket stubs and more.

The collector explained that most of the people who had initially saved the memorabilia from the now century-old race track had passed away, leading the items to come up for sale.

“I was buying them from antique dealers, and family members. I went to some efforts to advertise I think in all the newspapers in Blair County looking for things from there,” Halloran said.

As he sought to find memorabilia, Halloran said some of the items even found him as people would approach him to ask if he was interested in certain items.

While talking about some of the items he’s collected, he told a story about a particular photograph he discovered that piqued his interest.

“I bought a group of photographs and I had to buy them as a group in order to buy them. There was an airplane crash in the group of photographs,” Halloran explained.

He then brought the plane crash photo home and began researching to find out the story behind it. Halloran’s search eventually led him to a man who was once a major investor in the speedway and who explained how the crash happened.

“He said they hired this airplane in 1926 to put on an air show before the race just to entertain the crowds which they got up to 70,000 people there. The only condition they put on this pilot was he was not to try to land on the track because they were afraid of fire destroying the track. There were several board tracks that were burned down even before they were used,” Halloran explained.

The story goes that the pilot whose name was Lloyd Yost of Reading, PA was doing aerobatics before the race and had crashed the aircraft in the infield of the track.

Yost was taken to an area hospital and released several weeks later. Halloran said the pilot returned to the track and retrieved his crashed plane.

“So, he disassembled the plane to a degree, took the wing off and used the tunnel under the track which was used for cars to get in there. He actually got that airplane out of the infield and took it back to Reading,” Halloran said.

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Prior to the plane crash, Halloran said he found old newspaper articles and photos that showed the speedway also held a parachute jump before the same race. He explained that two men who were colonel’s in World War I parachuted down to the track.

“In the newspaper article leading up to this race, the guy that was going to do the parachute jump, I’m sure to stimulate interest, said the science of parachuting has really improved over what was available in World War I and the parachutes actually open 90% of the time. Which I thought was pretty amusing to say when you’re going to be the guy jumping out of an airplane,” Halloran said.