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

Third Annual Goodyear Dealers Zeppelin Race


In 1931, 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 the maiden launch of the USS Akron leaving the Goodyear Zeppelin air dock at Akron, Ohio. The engraved plaque at the bottom center of the frame reads, “Winner – Reed Brothers, Third Annual Goodyear Dealers Zeppelin Race. July – August 1931.” This frame is made of duralumin used in the girder construction of the United States Airship “AKRON” built by the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation”. The print is signed in the lower right-hand corner by the famed 20th century photographer, Margaret Bourke-White. During the early years of the Depression, Goodyear was one of Bourke-White’s most important clients. She made this image of the airship Akron when it was removed from its hangar for the first time.

Built in 1929, the almost unbelievably huge Goodyear air dock in Akron, Ohio, was created as a space where blimps, airships, and dirigibles could be constructed. Evidently building such a massive space created problems, such as indoor rain, and putting the whole thing on rollers so that it could expand and contract with the seasons.

Third Annual Goodyear Dealers Zeppelin Race

Inscription Plaque

Margaret Bourke White

Photo is signed in the lower right corner by famed 20th century 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.

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 Tire & Rubber Co

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

3 responses to “Reed Brothers Third Annual Goodyear Dealers Zeppelin Race Winner July-August 1931”

  1. Jonathan B. Richards II says :

    Good Summer Afternoon Ms. Jeanne Gartner,
    It is once again my pleasure to complement your sense of history and this rigid U.S. Navy airship was another wonderful example of American ingenuity. It is well known that the German and Italian pioneers led the way in this aspect of aviation but in the late 1930s America’s military built three mammoth dirigibles with metallic inner frames similar to the German zeppelin designs. If my memory serves me well the ships were the MACON , AKRON and SHENANDOAH. As a young boy I can remember hearing and seeing one of them in flight when we lived in Georgia. Author John Toland’s fine book I believe titled “SHIPS IN THE SKY”should serve as a good starting point for any of your readers interested in this subject. Sincerely and wishing you good health, Jonathan B. Richards II in Missouri

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Hi Jonathan! Thanks so much for stopping by. Your kind comments are always appreciated and put a big smile on my face! The most unusual place I ever saw a Goodyear Blimp was in the skies over Bordeaux, France in 1973. It was a fascinating experience to say the least. It was low enough that I could actually hear the engines. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen one since.

      Thanks again for visiting and sharing your story!

      My Best Regards,

      • Jonathan B. Richards II says :

        Hello, Jeanne , from very hot and humid St. Louis, Missouri. Thanks for responding to my “Comment” reference your “dirigible” post of last week. Almost everyone is familiar with the spectacularly filmed fiery crash of the “Graf Zepplin” in New Jersey and the fact that America’s reluctance to allow Germany access to helium gas , rather than the flammable hydrogen gas used by the Germans, may have been at least partially responsible for that tragic crash. There is much more to the blimp and dirigible aspect of aviation history. A couple of factoids you might already know are that there was a mooring mast built into the top of the Empire State Building in NYC to which the dirigibles could attach and the Navy dirigibles Akron, Macon and Shenandoah had the ability to carry aboard and launch small bi-planes while in flight.They were mammoth flying machines.
        You mention seeing a Goodyear blimp flying low over Bordeaux, France in 1973. I had a similar experience while on my rural mail delivery route for the U.S. Postal Service in the late 1990s when a Goodyear blimp come over a small town in southwest Iowa at very low altitude heading east to west. I heard it as it approached, stopped my mail delivery vehicle and got out and waved to the pilots as the craft passed overhead. Quite a thrill that was. Best Regards and Wishes for Good Health to you until another time, Jonathan Richards.

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