Gerald Chamberlain is still vividly remembered as "The Everett Express" who won championships at stock car tracks in three states and set records never topped for victories.
In 1992, Dirt Motorsports Hall of Fame inducted 12 drivers in its inaugural class, and Gerald was one of them. In his career he won over 600 feature races, and held track championship at South Penn; Hesston; Fort Ashby , WV; Hagerstown, Md ; Winchester , Va.; Reading ; Penn National; Jennerstowng and Flemington , NJ . He had major wins at Middletown, NY; Lebanon Valley; and Nazareth, Pa.; Five Mile Point, NY; and other New York tracks.
The Chamberlain legend began in the mid-60s, at South Penn Speedway, Everett , where the 1959 Everett High School graduate was track champion in 1964 and 1965. One summer he won 18 of 22 races while doing his tour of duty in the Army. He was also track champion at Hesston in 1965 and won the title at Hershey Stadium track in 1967.
The scene shifted toward the east in late 1968, when his good friend and crew chief convinced Chamberlain to tackle Reading . Tackle it? He threw it for a fall. One magazine writer said the Ford-powered little red wagon" he drove set out on a tear in 1971 that never ended until the season closed in 1972. That effort was never again duplicated. Chamberlain won 22 features at Reading , breaking the old record of 15, in 1971. He broke the record the next year with 31 victories. ln the season, 1972, he won over 80 races, and was a very close second to the top driver in the country, Wisconsin's Dick Trickle. Chamberlain also won two Daniel Boone 200-lap races at Reading . In one of them he had to fight a faulty steering box for the last 140 laps. It was like losing power steering, and he nearly fell out of the car when it was over. He said it felt like having a heart attack. Gus Frear got credit for a miraculous job of patching the box together during a quick pit stop.
Gerald was still looking east for bigger competition, and won track championships in 1974 and 1976 at Flemington , NJ . He was the winner of the Eastern States 200 at the Orange Co. NY Fair, at Middletown , in 1976.
Gerald was described by magazine writers as modest and almost shy, but when it came to driving, he was aggressive and smart. One Reading article said that it was his driving skill which was beating the pants off everyone. Another carried a quote:"Chamberlain really knows how to wait several laps, get that opening, and then make his move. He could be one of the all-time great drivers at this track."
Chamberlain told a writer from Stock Car News:"We don t have any secrets. Everything we do is basically what everyone else does-it's just the teamwork putting us where we are." He has always made it clear that Gus Frear was the other half of the team. ln the big year, 1972, their 76 car dropped out only once in the first 30 features.
Gerald Chamberlain has been inducted into the Hall of Fame and Classic Car Museum at Weedsport , NY . He has also been inducted into the Hall of Fame in Flemington , NJ , Hagerstown , MD , Winchester , Va , plus the hall of fame in the mall on the site of the old Reading Fairgrounds, closed in 1979.
Gerald was married in 1968 and he and his wife Joan have three children, a boy and two girls. Joan said that she often felt that she was fourth in line behind Gerald, the car, and Gus, but she learned to adjust, going to most of the races and taking care of the things that did not evolve racing. Gerald retired from fulltime racing in the early 1980s. He still gets back in a car every so often.
Class of 2006
Bedford County Sports Hall of Fame
Bedford County, Pennsylvania