It’s not uncommon for a son to follow his father into the family business, but what is unusual is when the business is recording the history of automobile racing on film. John Lane Jr., better known as Ace Jr., is the son of a legendary short-track photographer from New Jersey, Ace Lane Sr., who photographed short-track action from its earliest days with Ace Jr. by his side, gradually learning what a camera was and how to work one. The father passed on in 1973, but Ace Jr. has been a fixture on the Northeast racing scene since then, and is being honored by induction into the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame in Weedsport, New York, the first photographer ever to achieve that distinction. His enshrinement will take place July 20 at the hall, which is located on the grounds of Weedsport Speedway in central New York.
Ace Lane Jr. came to be a lead photographer for Area Auto Racing News, the track photographer for fabled Flemington Fair Speedway, and shot races for a gaggle of publications at tracks throughout the eastern United States. Ace Jr. follows his late father, who won the Leonard J. Sammons Jr. Award for Outstanding Contributions to Auto Racing in 1995, into the hall. Ace Jr. is a living link to the region’s racing past, having witnessed early action at Hinchliffe Stadium, the Polo Grounds and at the Teaneck Armory, in addition to supplying deadline photography to New Jersey newspapers along with the racing publications he served. Fittingly, the Eastern Motorsport Press Association’s highest award for photography is now named in Ace Jr.’s honor after having been originally named for his father. Ace Jr.’s son J.J., who passed away at age 38 in 2020, won the award in 2018, making three generations of acclaimed photographers in the family. Ace Jr. has also been highly active in kart and R/C racing over the years. I am proud to call this guy a longtime friend and colleague, and salute him at his latest honor.