A thinking man’s racer who thoroughly evaluated track conditions and was not afraid to try new things to make his car work better, Lynn Paxton (January 19, 1944) of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, was one of Central Pennsylvania’s top open-wheel racers for 20 years. A threat to win anywhere that he raced, he also had 14 dirt Late Model victories during his stellar career.
Paxton’s interest in racing cars came as a result of his father Melvin’s ownership of a garage and motel that catered to racers and sat just four miles from his hometown’s famed Williams Grove Speedway. And when his father began to lease-out garage space to local racers, young Paxton helped the tenants by cleaning parts and lending a hand whenever he could.
By 1961, Paxton was an assistant mechanic for driver Fred Putney on Harold Hank’s team at near-by Silver Spring Speedway and he got his first chance to drive a race car in the track’s annual Mechanic’s Race where he finished second. Then after he graduated from high school in 1962 Paxton – who was now a mechanic renting space in his father’s garage – began racing his 1947 Ford in Hobby Division events.
Still working with the Putney/Hank team, Paxton moved up to the Class ‘A’ Sportsman in Forrest Brenneman’s No. 88 at the half-mile dirt Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway. He then bought a 1932 Ford coupe Modified and raced it with the engine out of his 1959 Corvette and when Putney was released from the Hank car Paxton got the ride in the fuel-injected “Bug.”
In 1965, Paxton joined the Air National Guard and upon return from duty he put a Holman-Moody Ford engine in a brand new CAE- built “Bug” which he raced with great success for three seasons (1965-1967). He was then offered a ride in H.L. “Shorty” Emrich’s red, white and blue No. 1 Emrich Chevrolet Sprint Car and ran quite successfully there for eights seasons (1968-1975) and with his teammate, EMPA Hall of Famer Bobby Allen.
In 1976, car-owner Paxton ran just 55 races with his No. 1x with sponsorship from Maynard Boop and won 17 of them. That association with Boop and mechanic Davey Brown Jr. and engine-builder Davey Brown Sr. continued through 1982. Then Paxton finished his career in 1983 in EMPA Hall of Fame car owner Al Hamilton’s white and red No. 77.
The winner of 224 Sprint Car main events, Paxton won a bushel of championships.
The popular driver – who prided himself in being a hard, clean and fair racer – won the 1969 Hershey (Pa.) Stadium title, the 1972 Bedford (Pa.) Speedway and Hagerstown (Maryland) Speedway championships and he was the 1972 Tri-State Spring Champion.
Then, in 1974, Paxton was the Keystone Auto Racing on Speedways (KARS) Champion, which honored the best driver in a season-long series of Central Pa. races at Williams Grove, Selinsgrove and Penn National Speedways in Grantville. He also won the 1974’s Selinsgrove and Penn National championships and the Tuscarora 50 at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway.
In 1979, car owner Paxton won 26 races – with World of Outlaws wins at Five Mile Point Speedway in Kirkwood, New York, Port Royal and Williams Grove – and was the Selinsgrove, Williams Grove and KARS Champion. Then, in 1980, he won 21 races – including World of Outlaws wins at Selinsgrove, Cayuga County (N.Y.) Fair Speedway and Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, New York – and his third KARS title. And in 1981 he claimed another Williams Grove title.
In 1982, Paxton won his first Williams Grove National Open and then in 1983 he won the Port Royal season championship and his second Williams Grove National Open. And that repeat triumph at The Grove’s biggest race – and Lynn Paxton’s last Sprint Car victory – came in fine style as he led every lap of the race on the track where he had 43 career feature victories.