HARRISBURG PA – The Keystone Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport’s leading media organization, has announced five top-level contributors over the history of Pennsylvania harness racing to be the third “class” inducted into the prestigious Pennsylvania Harness Racing Hall of Fame.

The quintet are, in alphabetical order: Joseph Banks, who resuscitated the fortunes of Pocono Downs during a down period in the track’s history; Roy Davis, forever linked with the many champion “Spur” horses named after his favorite soccer club; Mary Lib Miller, wife of the legendary “Mr. Harness Racing” Del Miller and an important contributor in several areas in her own accord; John Simpson Jr., who gave up baseball to go into the “family business” of harness racing and follows his father John Sr. and brother Jim into the PA Hall; and Dick Stillings, an excellent horsemen in his own right but forever associated with Roy Davis in the campaigning of the many “Spur” stakes champions.

Banks was a successful northeast Pennsylvania businessman focusing on the construction industry when taking over Pocono in 1983 and bringing about a change in business at the northeast Pennsylvania track, emphasizing running a “quality business; if my employees don’t know that about me, they soon learn it.” Among the changes he introduced at the mountain oval were a new track surface and a new lighting system along with a refurbished upper grandstand. He also worked closely with area legislators just before the dawn of the state’s racing revolution that reached its peak with the expansion of gaming.

Davis parlayed his success in his Royal Travel Corporation into establishing one of the Grand Circuit’s leading stables for many years on end, with his horses noted by their “Spur” surnames, which results from both the Tottenham Hotspurs soccer club in England and Davis’s early years in Texas. The list of “Spur” champions is too long to be enumerated here, but Davis contributed to the sport in other ways: as a Director of the U.S. Trotting Association and the Hambletonian Society, and as a founding member of the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association.

“The First Lady Of Harness Racing” as noted in her New York Times obituary, Mary Lib Miller achieved part of her success by being married by “Mr. Harness Racing,” Delvin Miller, and assisting his work as he tackled the myriad challenges that the growth of harness racing put in his way. Visitors to western Pennsylvania could always be assured of a gracious reception and meticulous planning of events put together by Mary Lib. She also served as a Trustee of the Goshen Harness Racing Hall Of Fame, and Keystone USHWA named its highest yearly award after her to honor the respect she commanded from within and without the Keystone State.

John Simpson Jr., as noted, joins father John Sr. and brother Jim in the Pennsylvania Harness Hall. While those two went into management of the famed Hanover Shoe Farms, after their racing careers were done, John Jr. stayed as a trainer and driver of champion horses. He enjoyed early success on the biggest stage possible, driving Timothy T to victory in the 1970 Hambletonian at age 27. Throughout his career, he was noted as a developer of trotting females, including Delmonica Hanover and Classical Way, as he amassed $11 million in driving earnings after records were established in 1977, and probably as much before that year.

As Roy Davis was the owner of the “Spur” dynasty of stakes performers, so too was Dick Stillings the horses’ trainer and frequent driver. Stillings did well before his association with Davis and has done so since, but it was with the “Spur” horses that he had the greatest success, with such champions as

Barberry Spur, Jaguar Spur, Gunslinger Spur, Kentucky Spur, Esquire Spur, and Pegasus Spur. Stillings continues on today as one of the most talented, and certainly one of the most respected, of horsemen racing at The Meadows near Pittsburgh.

The fivesome will be honored at the USTA District 7 / PA Fairs Banquet, to be held Saturday, January 20, 2024 at the Omni in Bedford PA; notices of the awards ceremonies will also be sent to the families of all of the honorees.


First PA H HOF class:

Bowman Brown Jr.

Max C. Hempt

Roger Huston

Dr. Mary McCune (veteran)

Delvin Miller

Dave Palone

Ed Ryan

Lawrence Sheppard

John Simpson Sr.

Paul E. Spears


Second PA H HOF class:

Walter “Boots” Dunn

Roger Hammer

Harry Harvey

“Judge” Joe McGraw (veteran)
Jim Simpson


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