The Racing Story of #39 and Ray & Martha Trone

Trone's Special #39

In these days of high dollar sponsorship and the skyrocketing costs of racing, it is hard to imagine there was ever a time where a family owned and run racing team could have survived for very long. Ray and Martha Trone, owners of Trone’s Sunoco in West York (PA), did what by today’s standards would seem impossible. From 1951 through 1971 they owned and operated one of the premier racing teams ever to hail from the Central PA region.

"Anyone who attended races at Bowling Green, Lincoln, Williams Grove, Port Royal, Reading, Dorsey, Hagerstown, or a dozen other speedways during those years, knew that when that famous maroon and white #39 Trone’s Sunoco Special was there, it was always a serious contender for the win."

#39 Trone's Sunoco '37 Buick

Starting with their first coupe, a 1937 Buick, with a straight 8-cylinder engine with dual carbs, to the modified “bugs”, to the sprint cars, the Trone’s Sunoco Special was driven by some of the legends of the era. Their impressive list of drivers reads like a Who’s Who in racing.

Drivers like Wayne Weaver, George Kessler, Dave Leppo, Bobby Hersh, Johnny Dubendorf, George Weaver, Ed Zirkle, Rick Schmelyun, Donnie Eisenhower, and Tommy Spriggle all drove the always meticulously prepared Trone’s cars to countless victories and championships.

Trone Crew

In the early years, the crew was all volunteers. All the money made racing went back into the racing. The Trone’s team was also one of the first in the area to recognize the importance of looking professional both on and off the track. They began a custom of dressing like a team, donning their matching white overalls, jackets and straw hats.

Because of the popularity of the team, a large fan club was organized. Much of the financing of the team was done through the fan club. This was accomplished through their membership fees, 50/50 drawings and other fundraisers. The grandstands were always full of the fan clubs’ members, proudly wearing their club jackets. Because of this incredible fan support and the success of the team, the Trone’s team became a two car team effort. In addition to the famous #39, they also campaigned the #39Jr.

Sadly, the Trone’s decided to pull out of racing after and accident at Susquehann Speedway. Several family members and a crew member were injured in a freak accident in the pit area. This was a huge loss to the racing community. Their contribution to the sport of auto-racing over the years was substantial.

Trone's Special #39

Although Ray and Martha were no longer a part of the area’s racing scene, the positive effect they and their team had on the sport was to be felt for years to come. It is thanks to the influence of the Trone’s team, and all the other great teams of that era, that racing has reached the exceptional level it has today. Even today, some 30 years after, you will still find the occasional racecar wearing the #39 and painted in those same maroon and white colors in tribute to the legendary Trone’s Sunoco Special Racing Team.


© 2011 Trone Outdoor | Site by Wex Marketing