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Mike Kamm Profile
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Historic racing in the Capital District


Here's a subject I have been contemplating starting a thread on for quite some time. I have always been interested in historic racing, but haven't really ever talked much about historic oval racing.

It's amazing to me how popular this type of racing was in our area. There were so many small ovals in the capital region in the late 50's to mid 60's that you could literally race every night!

ImageImage

The following is an example of what I am talking about. I live in Poestenkill, and in a one mile radius from my house, there are two former race tracks alone: Pine Bowl Speedway and Rt. 66 Speedway.

Here is a short list of the tracks that were in the immediate Capital region. The first six on the following list were within about 15 miles of each other!

Empire Raceway was a 1/4 mile paved oval located in Menands, NY (just over the river from Troy).

RT.66 Speedway (re-named Hollywood Bowl for 1 year only...1960), was a 1/3 mile dirt oval located southeast of Troy, (technically in Poestenkill), NY.

Pine Bowl Speedway was a 1/4 mile paved oval located in Poestenkill, (south of Troy, New York).

Burden Lake Speedway, was a 1/4 mile dirt oval located near Burden Lake, NY. (technically in Averill Park). It was operated from 1948 to 1956. Pete Corey & Kenny Shoemaker both started their driving careers at Burden Lake. Nothing remains of the track today.

Carrolls Grove Speedway on Carrolls Grove Road (just off Hoosick Road - Rt.7, in Brunswick, NY.)

Shippy's Speedway Brunswick, NY (near Eagle Mills) Opened in the late 30's!

Victoria Speedway was a 1/2 mile dirt oval (originally a horse track) located west of Guilderland, NY.

State Line Speedway was a 1/2 mile dirt oval located on the NY-VT state line west of North Bennington, Vermont.

White's Beach Speedway was a 1/4 mile dirt oval located on the west side of Ballston Lake, near the town of Ballston Spa, New York.

Clearview Speedway was a 1/3 mile dirt oval located in South Westerlo, NY.

This is by no means a complete list and does not include the tracks that are still in business today like Lebanon Valley Speedway, Fonda Speedway, and Albany-Saratoga Speedway.

A little local racing history written by my neighbor Ken Gypson.....

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Rt. 66 Speedway, Poestenkill, NY

RT. 66 Speedway was opened in 1950 by Harold Garstang and Bud Heffner. Harold had promoted, drove at, and sponsored cars at the Burden Lake Speedway with the land owner Charlie Whitford. They had a falling out over the beer stand. This track (Burden Lake) is the oldest in Rensselaer County post WW2. (Shippy's Speedway in Brunswick ran pre-war but never re-opened after the war. I believe this is the oldest track in Ren County) Anyway, Harold had a garage on the hill of turns 3-4 which is the corner of route 351 and 66. Some of the drivers that drove at RT 66 were:

Boyd Sousi, the Wait brothers, Jack Sweeney, Dick Canfield, Lou Hacker, Ray French, and a black driver by the name of Johnny Kettel.

In 1960 Ed Ryan who was promoting Pine Bowl and Rhinebeck Speedway took over and renamed it Hollywood Bowl...there was a drive-in movie theater just east of the track called the Hollwood Drive In...hence the name. Most everyone though, knew it as the Hollywood Hole. (The Hollywood Drive-In is still open and showing current movies).
The track closed at the end of the season never to open again...but....one really neat thing happened that last year. A very young Mario Andretti drove a cream colored, Crosely powered TQ midget there under the American TQ Midget Racing Association.

Here are some great photos I got from the wall inside Bubie's General Store in Poestenkill.

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Image

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Pine Bowl Speedway circa 1955

This track was opened in 1948 as a dirt oval. For the 1949 season they paved just the corners. For the 1950 season the track pavement was completed. The track operated this way through 1965 but closed mid season in 1966.

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Another shot of Pine Bowl. I don't know what was going on here. Either this is a shot from the pit area [inside the oval] or maybe they were having a demo derby this day? If so, I feel sorry for the guy in the Beetle!

I will soon have some pics of my friend Ken's #67 1937 Ford Tudor flat back coupe that is a survivor car from this track. It is still flathead powered and is completely intact from back in the day.

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Another picture from Pine Bowl Speedway.

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More great posters from the wall in Bubie's General Store.

Thanks goes out to local racing historian, Ken Gypson for the majority of the information in this post.



Last edited by Mike Kamm, 4/29/2008, 10:27 pm
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zx2 2000 Profile
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Re: Historic racing in the Capital District


I'll add three more:
Whites Beach.
State Line
Victoria
and then there was a small track in Perth,probably one of the oldest.
Oh yeah, Altamont Fairgrounds
guess that's more than three. emoticon

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Re: Historic racing in the Capital District


Short track racing was huge in the 50's and 60's. Even before that, back in the days of board tracks, it was huge. Back in the day (pre 50's) ladies would wear their nicest dress and the men wore suits to the dirt track races. It was a huge deal to be at one of these events, as much a social event as it was a racing event.

Nice post Mike, some interesting things in there.

Where is this Bubie's General Store?



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Mike Kamm Profile
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Re: Historic racing in the Capital District


quote:

NYracefan wrote:
Nice post Mike, some interesting things in there.

Where is this Bubie's General Store?


Thanks Jeff,

Bubie's is at the corner of Routes 351 and 355 in the center of Poestenkill. They usually have a classic car or two out there on display at any given time. There have been a few Crosley's there in the past, but this month there is a Corvair van. In the summer they have a cruise night/car show twice a month there. There is an ice cream window as well.

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Re: Historic racing in the Capital District


quote:

ZX2 2000 wrote:

I'll add three more:
Whites Beach.
State Line
Victoria
and then there was a small track in Perth,probably one of the oldest.
Oh yeah, Altamont Fairgrounds
guess that's more than three. emoticon

Thanks for adding to the list Richard. I welcome all additions and corrections. I'll add those tracks to my original post.

Were these the days or what?

Image

Any know who this guy was?
9/29/2007, 1:10 pm Link to this post Send Email to Mike Kamm   Send PM to Mike Kamm
 
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Re: Historic racing in the Capital District


Image

Is this how they used to save money at the toll booth? [less trailer wheels on the gound].
9/29/2007, 1:15 pm Link to this post Send Email to Mike Kamm   Send PM to Mike Kamm
 
turbo29dfc Profile
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Re: Historic racing in the Capital District


men,

you should ask #95 about this...more over to ask his gramp, Huck. I know both he and my dad did some , what they called "jollopie" racing?

Ive seen a scrap book that Huck has with lots of photos in it. And remember he also raced NASCAR with Lee Petty and Jr. Johnson.


I have a picture of what my dad raced.

this is neat.

I wish it was still this way

Besides it still kills me that Mike is now "so in to dirt" racing....

"Anything can Happen"

ICE IS COMING!!!

DC~ 07'champ #29



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Darryl F. Carl
Albany Speed Shop
129 School Road
Voorheesville, NY 12186
www.albanyspeedshop.com
9/29/2007, 1:19 pm Link to this post Send Email to turbo29dfc   Send PM to turbo29dfc
 
Mike Kamm Profile
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Re: Historic racing in the Capital District


quote:

Turbo29DFC wrote:
I wish it was still this way.

Yes, I know what you mean Darryl, but it's really not that much different today. At least as far as the enduro class is concerned. We are still racing throw away cars with a little safety equipment in them. That's what most of those local guys were doing in the 50's.

Still surprised about my interest in dirt? I've always liked the Jalopy cars and almost built one to run with the vintage stock car clubs. At the time [about 20 years ago] I had built a '63 425 Buick Nailhead race engine [roller cam, Hilborn injectors, ported heads] with a Ford Toploader cast iron three speed trans behind it. I looked into the vintage stock car scene and found out that those clubs don't want historic stock cars with that kind of power. They wanted to see flatheads, inline sixes, or small eights with two barrels on them. The deal breaker for me was that they don't actually race. They run exhibition style and a winner is pre-determined at each event, so everyone gets a chance. I ended up selling the engine. emoticon
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zx2 2000 Profile
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Re: Historic racing in the Capital District


quote:

Mike Kamm wrote:

quote:

ZX2 2000 wrote:

I'll add three more:
Whites Beach.
State Line
Victoria
and then there was a small track in Perth,probably one of the oldest.
Oh yeah, Altamont Fairgrounds
guess that's more than three. emoticon

Thanks for adding to the list Richard. I welcome all additions and corrections. I'll add those tracks to my original post.

Were these the days or what?

Image

Any know who this guy was?



That's Kenny Shoemaker

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Richard C. "Dick" Vedder
AMEC Chief Steward
9/29/2007, 6:42 pm Link to this post Send Email to zx2 2000   Send PM to zx2 2000
 
Mike Kamm Profile
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Re: Historic racing in the Capital District


Ding Ding Ding.... Correct!

In fact, I have an autographed copy of Lew Boyd's book: "The Shoe" the Kenny Shoemaker story

Image

I just checked online and the book is now out of print. Glad I got mine, it's a great book. With my renewed interest, I think I'll read it again. emoticon
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