Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

Last updated
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
ThompsonInternationalSpeedwayMap.svg
Location205 East Thompson Road
Thompson, Connecticut 06277
Time zone UTC -5 (UTC-4 DST)
OwnerDonald and D.R. Hoenig
OperatorDonald and D.R. Hoenig
Broke groundSeptember 21, 1938
OpenedMay 26, 1940
Former namesThompson Speedway (19401970)
Thompson International Speedway (19711977)
Major events NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
International Supermodified Association
Northeastern Midget Association
Oval
Surface Asphalt
Length5/8 mi (1 km)
Turns4
Road Course
SurfaceAsphalt
Length1.7 mi (2.7 km)
Turns11

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (TSMP), formerly Thompson Speedway and Thompson International Speedway, is a motorsports park in Thompson, Connecticut, featuring a 58-mile (1.0 km) asphalt oval racetrack and a 1.7-mile (2.7 km) road racing course. Once known as the "Indianapolis of the East", it was the first asphalt-paved racing oval track in the United States and is now under the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banner. Each year Thompson hosts one of the great fall variety events "The World Series of Auto Racing" highlighted by the International Supermodified Association and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. This event frequently draws over 350 race cars in 16 separate divisions over three days.

Contents

History

An East Series car at Thompson in 2009 Corey LaJoie 07 Ford Thompson 2009.jpg
An East Series car at Thompson in 2009

Following cleanup from the hurricane of 1938, John Hoenig built a combined 58-mile (1.0 km) paved oval and 1.7-mile (2.7 km) road racing course on his farmland in the northeast corner of Connecticut.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Thompson's Sunday night program was a who's who of modified greats such as Carl "Bugs" Stevens, Fred DeSarro, Fred Schulz, Ron Bouchard, Ed Flemke, Leo Cleary, Smoky Boutwell, and Geoff Bodine. During this period the track hosted memorable special events which drew legendary Southern drivers like Ray Hendrick in the famous "Fireball" #11 to battle the locals. Other surprise stars included Long Island's Fred Harbach and Rene Charland from Massachusetts.

In the late 1970s, the track drew 55 winged Super Modifieds to their World Series race. By owner's choice, all 55 started. During the energy crisis of the 1970s, Thompson hosted a unique division called the "Open Competitive" division which merged the Super Modifieds with the Modifieds. Later, Thompson tried a lower-cost stock-cylinder-head modified division, which chased away some of the tracks regulars. Until the 1980s the track had a unique barrier outside turns 1-2 and 3-4 made of dirt fill.

Today

Hoenig's grandson D.R. and great-grandson Jonathan continue to operate the family-owned facility. As of June 1, 2013, the Hoenig family began work to reconstruct the 1.7-mile road course with and accompanying paddock and staging areas, and the website reflected the renaming of the facility to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. The newly rebuilt road course celebrated its "soft opening" with the New England Region of SCCA on the weekend of June 6–8, 2014. [1] Thompson created a private club for individual use of the road course, the website (http://www.thompsonspeedway.com/index.php) notes that "The Club" will be limited to 200 members.

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park continues to run NASCAR-sanctioned races on the oval track, with 10 oval events scheduled for 2019. The two largest events, The Icebreaker and The Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing, are traditionally New England’s season opener and season finale. Both multi-day events draw several hundred race cars from up to 18 divisions. The Road course hosts many more events such as SCCA major and regional races, vintage race festivals, high-performance driving events (HPDEs) and drifting.

The park has hosted four events for the 24 Hours of LeMons series. The first was in August 2015 [2] , and the most recent was in August 2018. [3]

In June 2017, the park hosted two rounds of the 2017 Global RallyCross Championship using a combination of the road course and a dirt track. [4]

Use in simulations / games

The current layout appears in the online racing simulation iRacing where it is laser scanned for millimeter accuracy.

A recreation of the track as it appeared in 1970 is included in the retro-themed game NASCAR Legends.

Notable race results

Atlantic Championship Series

YearRace winnerTeamCarEngine
2014 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Daniel Burkett K-Hill Motorsports Swift 016.a Mazda-Cosworth MZR
Flag of the United States.svg Ethan Ringel One Formula Racing Swift 016.a Mazda-Cosworth MZR

Deaths

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park has also endured some tragic moments which have claimed the lives of the following competitors: David Peterson (1977), Tony Willman, Fred DeSarro, Harry Kourafus Jr., Dick Dixon, Corky Cookman, Tom Baldwin, Sr., John Blewett III, and most recently Shane Hammond (April 6, 2008). DeSarro's death prompted a memorial fund-raiser which drew the largest crowd to date and the Northeast's best drivers in an open competition Modified race with no purse. Both Evans and Bodine mounted their cars with wings. Baldwin and Blewett died while competing in the same race on the tour, three years apart.

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References

Coordinates: 41°58′54″N71°49′30″W / 41.9817°N 71.8250°W / 41.9817; -71.8250