More than 50 years after first entering the world of harness racing, Virginia native Winston Lineweaver is still racking up the wins. Lineweaver, recognized in his red and green colors by many throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, has been a familiar face at area fairs since he was a teenager, winning races at meets that a younger generation of horsemen never knew existed.
Lineweaver has now accumulated 1,602 driving wins, many at Pennsylvania fairs. His 1,600th win came on July 23 with catch drive Juniata County at the Honesdale Fair.
"It was great to get to 1,600 wins at the Pennsylvania Fairs because I've been racing there for over 30 years," said Lineweaver, 68. "It's great to win anytime."
Lineweaver got started in the harness racing industry when his father, who'd always had workhorses, got a cheap Standardbred to race at the local fairs. After some years spent at the fairs, Lineweaver officially got his license at Baltimore Raceway in the early 1960s. Years of racing at tracks such as Wheeling Downs and Georgetown Raceway, and of course the fairs that got him started in the business, followed.
"He's raced at fairs I never heard of," said his daughter, Doris Lineweaver. Like her father and mother Eileen, she and her sister Joyce also race horses.
She can recall many of the accolades he's received through the years, including driving titles at Harrington Raceway as well as several Maryland tracks. She's heard plenty of times about the trophy presented to him three days before she was born by actress Elizabeth Taylor.
"He really likes to tell stories," Doris Lineweaver said, recalling the way even horsemen 40 years his junior will gather around her father at the fairs. "The younger generation loves him because he's so interesting. He's seen everything."
Lineweaver was proud to get horses that others had trouble with, such as Mickey Megee (1962,p,7,2:03.4f,$64,259) to the races. He's also had 10 Pennsylvania Fair stakes Horses of the Year, highlighted by Landa Hanover (1991,3,2:00.1f,$33,962) and Sugar Crispins (1991,6,1:54,$390,235).
While many of his better horses have been trotters there have been some notable pacers in Lineweaver's barn over the years, including the Escort-sired invitational pacer Isle C (1980,p,6,1:56.2f,$170,118).
"Horses that they bought cheap," Doris Lineweaver said, "that's what they built their business on."
Along with stories of former horses the senior Lineweaver can also tell you about the changes in racing that have occurred during his more than a half century of involvement in the sport. He's seen the creation of coupled entries and himself was one of the first to feature the first letter of his first name, W, on his driving colors to differentiate himself from the numerous other members of his family on the racetrack.
His daughter says racing has definitely dominated Lineweaver's life, even being the way he met his wife.
"My dad is 12 years older than my mom," she said. "He started driving for my mother's mother when she was just 12. Of course they didn't start dating until she was 20."
While he has slowed down some in recent years, Lineweaver continues to be a regular at the Pennsylvania fairs in the summer and spends his winters helping break yearlings.
"It's what he‘s lived and breathed for 55 years," his daughter said. "It's what he enjoys."
by Charlene SHARPE, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent