Hooniverse Asks: What Former Race Track do You Most Wish Was Still Around?

rir-signage-01
I’m fortunate enough to have actually turned a tire at the venerable but long gone Riverside International Raceway. And by fortunate, I mean old.
Riverside fell victim, as was the fate of many tracks, to encroaching suburbia. I’m watching another of my favorites—Irwindale—suffer a similar demise. You’d think that situating that track next to a noisy freeway and in between active gravel pits would keep it safe from the axe, but you would be wrong.
Our favorite sport has seen many of its classic venues fall to the rising tide of residential encroachment or business park blight, and that has left us without a lot of asphalt, but with a bunch of memories. It’s those memories that I want to tap into today in asking you: which long gone race tracks do you most wish were still around?
Image: raincrosssquare

0 Comments

  1. It’s technically still there, but having seen in person the sorry, dilapidated state it’s in, they’ll never race again at North Wilkesboro and it’s a damn shame. The quintessential “birth place” of stock car racing (I know, along with a dozen other rutted trails in the middle of a cow pasture, but still) – not only had the historic value but produced some really exciting racing to boot.
    http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.2160027.1427164167!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_635/north-wilkesboro-speedway.jpg

  2. All of ’em. I know that they are a terrible utilization of land, but dammit, I want more tracks. Tearing down tracks makes the world track poorer. Race tracks are a finite resource, and they aren’t being replenished at the rate that they are being harvested for their precious, precious land.

    1. It’s not even that the land is being “harvested.” Tracks are being driven out of business by noise objections. Re-purposing the land is often just the inevitable outcome once the tracks go silent.

  3. I too am old. Ascot Park – the busiest dirt track in America came to an end in 1990. As a kid in the late ’50s and early 60’s, I’d watch the jalopy races broadcast on the local channel, announced by Dick Lane, every Saturday. My parents thought it strange that I preferred racing to cartoons.

  4. Texas World Speedway….
    Wait, it’s still around? But it was supposed to have been closed a year ago?
    But they’re still hosting events?

  5. The most important turn at Circuit of the Americas is turning a profit. Let’s hope they make it.

  6. El Toro. It’s a disused Marine Corps Air Station with two parallel 2.5-mile runways, which hosted the old Top Gear USA track and all of Orange County’s autocrosses. While the runways aren’t entirely gone (the facility was turned into a park rather than condos, which means work moves more slowly) the days of 2+ mile autocross tracks with 60mph average speeds are over.

  7. Meadowdale International Raceway was a world-class facility when it was built in the late ’50s in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. It closed within a decade and is now a forest preserve where you can walk the track layout. Lots of crazy elevation changes and a big parabolic curve leading onto the really long pit straight. It’s a clockwise circuit and the first turn (all the way to the right on the track map) goes probably 70-100 feet downhill throughout, then it climbs back up where the pedestrian bridge is at the bottom of the map.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meadowdale_International_Raceway
    http://www.silhouet.com/motorsport/tracks/meadowda.jpg

  8. Mid America Raceways in Wentzville, MO. I’ve heard so many stories from old motorcycle racers in St. Louis and further afield, and they all say the same two things: 1) the track was in such horrible disrepair for most of its existence that they had no business racing on it, and 2) they loved that track more than anywhere else they ever raced. I wish I could have seen them take to the grid at least once, but it had closed by the time I moved to StL.
    Just read the comments here: http://www.riderfiles.com/mid-america-raceway-the-worlds-longest-paved-motocross-track/

  9. Besides Riverside and the way-ahead-of-its-time Ontario Motor Speedway for selfish, SoCal local reasons, my nomination has to go to the world’s first facility built specifically for motorsports (opening in 1907, two years before Indianapolis), Brooklands. It closed for World War II, never to reopen, though large portions of the banked, kidney-shaped Outer Circuit still exist, sprinkled among the office parks and copy-paste cul-de-sacs.
    http://assets.blog.hemmings.com/wp-content/uploads//2015/02/Brooklandslayout_700.jpg
    http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/03/04/56/3045623_246ee7d5.jpg

    1. Wow, if only I’d known about that section of the A318 with the banking beside it when I went to the Brooklands museum years ago!

  10. Hales Corners Speedway in Hales Corners Wisconsin. 1/4 mile clay track that was a craphole and so much fun! Apparently a home improvement store (menards) and complaining neighbors were more important that midwest short-track racing!

  11. “Our favorite sport has seen many of its classic venues fall to the rising tide of residential encroachment…” OK, apologies in advance, but I have to rant a bit here. While I do lament the racetracks of bygone days, I also worry for some existing tracks which are already getting squeezed by this. Laguna Seca is the local, and to me classic, example. I’ve always really liked that track (a favorite of mine in sims), so lucky me that it’s close enough for me to visit occasionally, for the Monterey Historics (or “Rolex Motorsport Reunion” nowadays, but…Historics) and the like. However, it’s become well-known for very strict noise regulations (which, thankfully, can be waived a few days out of the year for events like the Historics), to the point that a couple I know who have been into racing for years have basically just stopped doing any events there, because it’s too much hassle to avoid getting black-flagged for noise regs. It’s also common for cars to have a “Laguna exhaust”, with more baffling, more-restrictive mufflers, etc. specifically to get the car to pass at Laguna, where everywhere else they can run much simpler systems. Enthusiast forums have no shortage of “How’d you guys pass the Laguna noise check?” threads (which I discovered by accident when trying to learn more about said noise regs). Why are their noise limits so low? Well, because people in the nearby-ish residential communities complain. Which would be all well and good…if those communities had existed when the track was built. But Laguna Seca was, sensibly, built out in the middle of nowhere, because hey, we probably don’t want to disturb a bunch of people. Specifically, it was built in 1957, on land that was originally part of Fort Ord, which, among other things, hosted an artillery range — also not the quietest of facilities (though admittedly it sounds like that was significantly earlier in the Fort’s history, back when it was still a Camp rather than a Fort). You can still see warning signs about unexploded ordnance and such from the track’s access roads. At any rate, my point is, look, you don’t get to be all surprised and offended about noise when you build your house/subdivision/whatever nearby an existing and active racetrack! Ya think maybe you should have researched that a little before making such a major construction or purchase decision?
    Now, I may have some of my history or order of events wrong; I don’t claim to be an expert on this subject. There may have been some houses already in existence nearby to that area when Laguna Seca was built. However, being that it was built in 1957, I’m betting that even if such places existed, they are not likely still occupied by their original purchasers, who would be the only ones with a really valid complaint. If you move next to an active racetrack, the same logic applies. If you’ve lived there since before the track was built, and your concerns/objections were overruled, sorry about that, and you certainly have cause to be annoyed. Everybody else, the track was there first. If you’re a motorhead, you’ll probably love living there. If not, live somewhere else or install some soundproofing. I’d hate to see a track like Laguna Seca join the ranks of the lost racecourses of yesteryear because of ex-post-facto NIMBY-ism.

    1. Great submission, and where else are you going to see a Mini Moke racing a Ferrari 250LM?!?
      SPIR was a very fast track too, lap record of 1:04.3 for the 2 mile circuit so just under 120mph average speed! Set by John Bowe in 1986 in the Veskanda.
      One I would have liked to have seen in action, but I can’t really nominate as wishing it was still in action because it was pretty dangerous, was Catalina Park at Katoomba.

  12. Edmonton International Speedway. Built in Edmonton, Alberta, way up north! yet, saw Can-Am, F-5000, Trans-Am and F-Atlantic in the Villeneuve, Rosberg, Rahal era of that series. Attendance at Can-Am was 40,000 in a city with 325,000 people. A pretty nice track too, 2.6mi circuit with drag-strip main straight, a tricky decreasing radius turn, a ‘carousel’ and a swamp.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here