Third Annual Goodyear Dealers Zeppelin Race 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.

2 responses to “Third Annual Goodyear Dealers Zeppelin Race July-August 1931”

  1. Jonathan B. Richards II says :

    Hello, Jeanne Gartner,
    It has been some time since I communicated with you. I hope you have been well. This article about the rigid framed dirigibles of the early 1930s built by Goodyear is fascinating. I believe the Shenandoah and Macon were the other sister ships to the Akron. Wonderful history and your forebears and the Dodge dealership were right in the middle of it all. Best Regards, Jonathan B. (Jack) Richards in Chesterfield, Missouri.

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Hello Jack, It’s so nice to hear from you again. Your comment made my day!
      Thank you for stopping by…

      My Best Regards,

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