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Village of Altamont
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Altamont Photo
Local Driver Wins Indianpolis 500
Altamont Speedways – King of Speed – Lee Wallard at age 40 won the 1951 Indianapolis 500 setting a new record.  It wasn’t his first time he competed in the Indianpolis 500.  He led the lead in 1949 for the first 17 laps only to have his fuel tank fall apart.    Originally from Schenectady, New York, Lee Wallard got his start racing regularly at Altamont Speedway half mile track.  He then moved to Meadowdale Road with his wife and two children.

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A week after winning the Indianpolis 500 on Memorial Day 1951, Lee Wallard was injured during a auto race in Reading, PA.  He suffered from severe burns when his race car caught fire in the home stretch of that race.  He required 27 skin grafts.  While in the hospital he received a “Get Well” telegram which was an unheard of 125 long and included three thousand signatures from his fans in Tampa, FL.  He was still recovering at Albany Hospital in September when he celebrated his 41st birthday.  Altamont Enterprise encouraged local residents to send him a birthday card including a “Buck for Luck” toward his speedy recovery.  It was reported that over 1,000 cards were received.  He was a prominent dirt track and midget car racer.  After recovering, he decided on a less thrilling occupation.  In 1952 he opened the Lee Wallard Restaurant and Bar at McCormack’s Corners on Route 20.

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