Maude Sammons, The First Lady Of The Area Auto Racing News, Passes Away At Age 95

Trenton, NJ – Maude Sammons, the first lady of Area Auto Racing News, passed away early Sunday morning, six weeks short of her 96th birthday. After battling dementia in recent years, she died in her sleep in a nursing home.

Maude and her husband, Leonard J. Sammons Jr. who passed away in May of 1991, started Area Auto Racing News in 1963 because of their joint love of local short track racing.

While her husband outlined the editorial side of the newspaper in the early days, it was Maude who importantly did the bookkeeping. Maude remained a key part of the business, doing work from home after Leonard became ill with cancer.

After his death, she continued to work with their son, Lenny H. Sammons who had taken over as publisher and editor of the publication during his father’s illness. Maude continued in that business role before retiring 20 years ago.

In the late 1950s, Maude began to attend dirt and asphalt races in New Jersey with her husband. Seeing a lack of coverage of those races in the two national racing publications of the time or local newspapers, Leonard first offered to volunteer content to those outlets. When denied, he started his own paper which became Area Auto Racing News.

While Leonard worked the pit area for news, it was Maude and her two young children, Lenny and Pat, who sold papers at 25 cents per copy. In time this meant the family splitting up on race nights to run novelty stands at such tracks as N.J.’s East Windsor and Flemington, and Pa.’s Reading and Penn National.

As time went by, novelty stands were included for special racing events at nearby Trenton Speedway and Pa.’s Allentown Fairgrounds, Langhorne Speedway and Pocono Raceway.

Maude, categorized by people that spent time with her as “an angel,” always supported her husband’s efforts no matter how risky they were.
That included promoting one race together in 1964 at the then quarter-mile paved Fort Dix Speedway, later known as New Egypt Speedway. True to Leonard’s nature, it was promoted as a “little guys” event for the Novice division that became the Sportsman of today. Highlighted by a 50-lap feature, it drew a large field of local drivers from New Jersey and invaders from the former Dorney Park Speedway in Allentown, Pa. But after being rained out earlier in the year, it was held in front of a small number of fans on a very cold night in late October.

After that event it took them 25 years before being involved in another race promotion. That came in 1989 when they helped their son Lenny promote his first race, held indoors at Philadelphia’s Convention Hall.

Unfortunately, Leonard passed away before he got to see his son bring back auto racing to Atlantic City in 2003 in what is now Boardwalk Hall. The Sammons family had sold novelties for indoor races at that building, then known as Convention Hall, before the George Stockinger promotional era ended in 1981.

Maude however, was at Boardwalk Hall and loved the night in 2006 when she watched the races from the balcony with special guest Tony Stewart sitting alongside her!

Maude and Leonard were also heavily involved when their son promoted the first Miller Motorsports show at Pa.’s Valley Forge Convention Center in 1986. Maude then annually attended that event until recently when health issues prevented her from doing so.

Maude always supported the sport and especially the racers in her family. Although neither of her children ever competed, she loved to go to the Quarter-Midget races to watch her two grandsons, Danny and Davey Sammons drive.

She later traveled to Pa.’s Jennerstown Speedway to see Danny race in the Hooters Pro Cup Series; and saw Davey compete in a 410 Sprint Car at N.J.’s New Egypt Speedway.

Leonard and Maude’s daughter Pat dated and later married Billy Mason Jr. who raced at Flemington Speedway in the 1960s. Billy retired from driving to start a family of their own.

Together Billy and Pat Mason took over the printing side of the business, now called Bill’s Printing, located under the Area Auto Racing News office which has been located at 2829 South Broad Street in Hamilton, N.J. since 1964.

Maude was the daughter of the late John & Martha Cooke. Maude was preceded in death by her husband Leonard J. Sammons Jr. and her three sisters and brother.

She is survived by her daughter Pat Mason (husband Bill) and son Leonard H. Sammons; grandchildren Kelly Fox; Michelle Gillispie (husband John), Kimberly Habingreither (husband Mike); Daniel Sammons (wife Ashley) and Davey Sammons (wife Jamie); great-grandchildren Jade Fox; John, Evan, Jacob and Benjamin Burlaga; Madison and Michael Habingreither; and Shane, Ella, Kinley and Teagan Sammons; and great-great grandchildren Evelyn, Aravis and Elanor Burlaga.

Calling hours for Maude Sammons will be 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Friday, March 1 at the Kingston-Kemp Funeral Home, 260 White Horse Avenue, Hamilton, N.J. 08610.

Following the services she’ll be buried next to her husband in Greenwood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers the family is suggesting a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.