Auto racing's first African American father-son duo photographers spread love of sport to children

A father and son duo in New Jersey are known as auto racing's first and second black photographers, and one is taking his love of the sport and spreading it to some very special children.

News 12 Staff

Feb 20, 2020, 12:24 PM

Updated 1,553 days ago

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A father and son duo in New Jersey are known as auto racing's first and second black photographers, and one is taking his love of the sport and spreading it to some very special children.
In a quiet neighborhood off Route 516 in Old Bridge, a race track once brought thousands of people together and thanks to people like Ace and his father, memories of Old Bridge Speedway survive.
In the 1950s, the father became the track photographer, breaking into a sport not known for diversity. Traveling with his dad, Ace began building friendships with racers, relationships which would last a lifetime, such as with New Jersey State champion Sammy Beavers.
"Ace's father was a very down to earth man and we never looked at him as racial or anything like that," says Beavers. "He made people happy, and Ace Jr. came along and he's doing the same thing trying to make everybody happy."
Together with some other big names in the sport, they got together and held auctions, selling photos and racing memorabilia. The proceeds went to the Matheny School and Hospital for special needs children, an annual Christmas party featuring racers and their cars would become their signature contribution.
“When Ace Sr. died unexpectedly back in 1973, his son Ace Jr. stepped into his father's shoes on the grounds of what was the Flemington Fair Speedway as the official track photographer," says Beavers. "It's a role Ace would hold until the final race was run in the year 2000."
The Eastern Motorsports Press Association hands out its most prestigious annual award in the father and son's honor, because of their contributions to the sport as being the first African American official track photographers.
Ace passed along his love of racing to his two sons. Tommy is an accomplished go-kart and marathon racer while John John can be found with his dad still traveling the New Jersey racing circuit taking photos and preserving memories.


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