Watertown Speedway

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Watertown Speedway was a 1/2 mile dirt oval raceway located at the Jefferson County fairgrounds in Watertown, New York. Located in the Thousand Islands region, it drew competitors and fans from both sides of the Canada–US border

Dirt track racing is a form of motorsport held on clay or dirt surfaced oval race tracks often used for thoroughbred horse racing. Dirt track racing started in the United States before World War I and became widespread during the 1920s and 1930s using both automobiles and motorcycles. Two different types of race cars dominated—open wheel racers in the Northeast and West and stock cars in the South. While open wheel race cars are purpose-built racing vehicles, stock cars can be either purpose-built race cars or street vehicles that have been modified to varying degrees.

Stock car racing form of automobile racing

Stock car racing is a form of automobile racing found mainly and most prominently in the United States and Canada, with Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, Great Britain and Brazil also having forms of stock car auto racing. Traditionally, races are run on oval tracks measuring approximately 0.25 to 2.66 miles. The world's largest governing body for stock car racing is the American NASCAR, and its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the premier top level series of professional stock car racing. Top level races typically range between 200 to 600 miles in length. The cars were originally production models, but are now highly modified.

Jefferson County, New York County in the United States

Jefferson County is a county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 116,229. Its county seat is Watertown. The county is named after Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States of America. It is adjacent to Lake Ontario, southeast from the Canada–US border of Ontario.

Contents

History

In 1955 Howard Rowe and Douglas Atkinson promoted the Star-Lit Park Speedway, a mile and a half European style dirt road course that was built by Fred Kleemeier on outer Washington Street in Watertown, NY. It hosted only one race in 1955 and closed mainly because of severe dust problems. The following year, Rowe and Atkinson turned their efforts toward racing at a former horse track at the county fairgrounds, located on Coffeen Street in Watertown.

In the book "The Legends of Watertown Speedway," author David Stoodley writes: "In January 1956, several prominent Watertown area enthusiasts decided that something should be done about forming an organization to promote the return of stock car racing to Watertown and the north country. In a meeting held on March at the Watertown YMCA, seventeen men gathered and successfully organized the Northern Stock Car Club (NSCC). Officers elected were Douglas Atkinson, president; Howard Rowe, secretary/treasurer and Lloyd Smith, Austin Kilburn and Carl Walts as vice-presidents. [1]

At a later meeting, according to Stoodley, the NSCC became a corporation. Stoodley noted that in April 1956 the NCSS signed a lease with the City of Watertown for $101.50 per week for use of the Jefferson County Fairgrounds track. The first race at the speedway was held on Sunday afternoon on May 15. The races were switched to Saturday night by the end of June. The speedway continued in operation for two decades.

Because of its close proximity to the Canada–US border, many drivers competed at the Kingston Speedway on Friday nights. The same rule book was used by both race tracks.

Kingston, Ontario City in Ontario, Canada

Kingston is a city in Eastern Ontario, Canada. It is on the eastern end of Lake Ontario, at the beginning of the St. Lawrence River and at the mouth of the Cataraqui River. The city is midway between Toronto, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec. The Thousand Islands tourist region is nearby to the east. Kingston is nicknamed the "Limestone City" because of the many heritage buildings constructed using local limestone.

Track Champions were Bob Zeigler (3), Dutt Yanni, Dell Crill, Dick May, Frank Andre (2), Neal Tooley, Fred Gibson, Tony Blake, Chubby LaRoux (2), Gary Reddick (2), Guy Robinson (2), and Bud Hinman. Zeigler, May, Andre, Reddick and Robinson have all been inducted into the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame. [2] Andre, Gibson and Blake were inducted into the Kingston-District Sports Hall of Fame. [3] Yanni was inducted into the Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame. [4]

Dick May was a NASCAR driver who competed in 185 races in the NASCAR Grand National/Winston Cup between 1967 and 1985.

The Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame was established in 1992 to recognize individual achievements in the sport of stock car racing. It is located at 1 Speedway Dr., Weedsport, New York.

Oswego Speedway

The Oswego Speedway is a race track in Oswego, New York. It was built in 1951 and today is an asphalt race track. The track is the Labor Day Weekend home of the 200-lap, non-wing, big-block supermodified Budweiser Classic and Race of Champions. In 2016 Oswego Speedway hosted the 45th edition of World Racing Group's Super DIRTcar Series Super DIRT Week. The speedway was covered by approximately 6,900 cubic feet of clay for DIRTcar modified drivers to compete in the NAPA 300, the richest dirt modified race in the world. The event took place Oct 5-9, 2016.

May went on to compete in 185 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup division between 1967 and 1985. [5] May’s car owner and crew then began to mentor a new driver, Bob McCreadie, who went on to be inducted into the Lowe's Motor Speedway Walk of Fame, the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame, and the Eastern Motorsport Press Association Hall of Fame. [6] McCreadie is the father of former NASCAR driver Tim McCreadie.

(Barefoot) Bob McCreadie is an American Dirt Modified racing driver. He is an inductee to the Lowe's Motor Speedway Walk of Fame, the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame, and the Eastern Motorsport Press Association Hall of Fame.

Tim McCreadie is an American Dirt Modified racing driver. He currently drives the #39 Sweeteners Plus Late Model. In 2007 he ran a partial schedule in NASCAR West Series, ARCA RE/MAX Series, NASCAR Busch Series, and World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Through the 1960s, Rowe and Atkinson joined race director Ira Vail in promoting the New York State Fair Championship. [7]

Ira Vail was a Canadian-American racecar driver and auto racing promoter. He was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

By the spring of 1975, racing operations had moved to the Can-Am Speedway in La Fargeville. Rowe and Atkinson along with fellow area promoters Tom Coughlin, and Bob Thurston were honored in 1996 by the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame for their contributions. [8]

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References

  1. "The Legends of Watertown Speedway". Speedway Press. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  2. Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame
  3. Kingston & District Sports Hall of Fame
  4. Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame
  5. goNASCARgo
  6. BAREFOOT - The Autobiography of Bob McCreadie
  7. Midstate Antique Stock Car Club
  8. Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame