Goodyear Zeppelin Race

Third annual Goodyear dealers Zeppelin Race


In the early 1930’s, the Goodyear Zeppelin Company produced a series of framed prints as rewards for Goodyear dealers as prizes for high sales. Sales was based on a two months quota, and participated in by thousands of dealers all over the country. The print shows USS Akron on a mobile mast, leaving her hanger. The frame is made of the sheet metal and rivets used in dirigible construction, and each frame has an engraved duralumin plaque at bottom center of the frame.

The inscription plaque reads:

Reed Brothers
Third Annual Goodyear Dealers Zeppelin Race
July-August 1931

Inscription Plaque

Inscription Plaque

This original Margaret Bourke-White photograph of the United States Airship “Akron” is SIGNED in the lower right hand corner by the famed 20th Century photographer.

Photo is signed by the photographer, Margaret Bourke White

Photo is signed by the photographer, Margaret Bourke White

The USS Akron, first of a class of two 6,500,000 cubic foot rigid airships, was built at Akron, Ohio. Commissioned in late October 1931, she spent virtually all of her short career on technical and operational development tasks, exploring the potential of the rigid airship as an Naval weapons system. During the remainder of 1931 and the early part of 1932, the Akron made flights around the eastern United States and over the western Atlantic, including one trial of her capabilities as a scouting unit of the fleet. While beginning a trip to the New England area, Akron encountered a violent storm over the New Jersey coast and, shortly after midnight on 4 April 1933, crashed tail-first into the sea. Only three of the seventy-six men on board survived this tragic accident. During the search for other possible survivors, the Navy non-rigid airship J-3 also crashed, killing two more men.

Note: Margaret Bourke-White (1904 ­ 1971) is best known as the first foreign correspondent to be permitted to take photographs of Soviet industry, the first female war correspondent, and the first female correspondent permitted to work in war zones.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company was one of Bourke-White’s regular clients during the early to mid-1930s. Goodyear gave prints of her photograph of the USS Akron to its dealers as prizes for high sales, presenting them in frames made of the sheet metal and rivets used in dirigible construction.

40th Anniversary with Goodyear

Lewis Reed was recognized by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. for reaching his 40th year as a Goodyear dealer. Reed Brothers Dodge began selling Goodyear tires in the 1920s.  Below is a letter from Russell DeYoung thanking Lewis Reed for his 40 years “in business together”.

Goodyear Tires

Montgomery County’s Oldest Goodyear Tire Dealer
Montgomery County's Oldest Goodyear Tire Dealer

Montgomery County Sentinel, July 03, 1941

11 responses to “Goodyear Zeppelin Race”

  1. Kathleen Challe says :

    Hello, just came across your information. My grandfather also had a car dealership in NE and I have a print he won with the same frame, same inscriptions, Third Annual Goodyear Dealers Zeppelin Race, July August 1931 but a different picture. A print of a Charles Russell painting. All this is very interesting. Thanks for your info on the subject.

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Hi Kathleen, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to post your comment. The photo of the airship is a very unusual item that is historical and just really wonderful. It’s amazing what you can find when going through all the photos, memorabilia, brochures, etc that spans a dealership’s life. Happy New Year to you and thanks for reading!

  2. Pat says :

    Thank you for this blog! We have one of these prints in its original frame, exactly as you show it. It was won by Jimmy’s Tire Shop in Oregon, my grandfather’s store which just happened to be across the street from a Ford Model-A plant. I got curious about the print, which has been hanging in my mother’s family room for 50 years. How wonderful to see another!

  3. Bradley says :

    I happened to find this blog by accident when looking for information on the Goodyear 1931 Zeppelin Akron pictures. i have one also. My grandfather was a Chrysler / GMC dealer in Western MD (a couple hours from Rockville) from 1929 until his death in 1972. I kept the Goodyear picture and frame. It is interesting this lady is writing about a MD dealership that lasted even longer then my grandfather’s place. I grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s so remember much of what is described. Thank you

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Hello Bradley! The signed Bourke-White photo is a very rare historical item. It is also a wonderful keepsake to share with family that provides a glimpse of the past, and that your grandfather played an important part of automotive history. I hope your visit here brought back some good memories of your grandfather and his dealership. Thank you for visiting and the follow!

      My Best Regards,

      • Ron Flournoy says :

        I found your blog when I was looking for information on the Goodyear 1931 Zeppelin races and the Akron picture in the Duralumin frame. My great uncle also had this item exactly as you show except with his name as the winner. I have the frame with customized engraving but the Akron print was damaged beyond salvage some years ago. I am trying to find a way I might get a replacement Akron print for the frame but so far no luck. Do you have any suggestions??


      • Reed Brothers says :

        Hi Ron,

        I really wish I could help you, but unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to your question. If you haven’t already done so, you might want to check online auction sites or Ebay. Thanks for taking the time to visit and good luck in your search.

        Best Regards,

      • Bradley Teets says :

        The few I have seen are still in the original frames. I assume all the pictures are prints so you might find one in good quality that could be reproduced by a high quality digital commercial printer to fill your frame? Just a thought. I doubt if you will find many era pictures of any quality not still in their original frame.

      • Ron Flournoy says :

        Thanks for the good suggestion. I believe I read that you have one of these original Akron photos still in a frame. Would you be willing perhaps to help me have a photo reproduction done from your print using a professional photographer?


  4. Jim Bagley says :

    I have one of these awarded to McWhorter- Selman Chevrolet.

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Hello Jim,

      The photo of the airship photographed by Bourke-White is a very rare, historical item. Hang onto it …it brings in anywhere from $3000-$7000+ at auctions, depending on its condition.

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving your comment!

      My Best Regards,

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