Wow, before you notice it something you cherished is soon departed. Like a friend who you wished you visited more, passes on, the regrets hang like tinsel and sing their requiem and depart.
The same can be said for a venue such as a racetrack or a fair. Like a lover who left to some other place, the pain is very real. Or the same as losing a pet because a lot of life transpired and the loss felt like a fog that was slow to clear. You might go by the old track where it was falling into disrepair and the ache and the longing came back full force.
The once thriving action track now is a Shopping Mall or at least it was. Was this result of hometown haters who would have no part of racing? Knoxville, Iowa’s Knoxville Speedway is the talk of the town, yet a scurrilous lice-infested skin flint or two, complained like Elvira Gulch and Toto. I’ll get your my pretty as her alter-ego the Wicked Witch of the West, (the mean one) broke a community’s heart.
The track formed in 1915 survived The Depression, the Cold War and the Miasma that was Bill and Hillary Clinton. It suffered a lot indeed and the wrecks were spectacular, featuring many a race car flying into the retaining walls and fences. The final requiem was heard in 2002, after 83 years of entertainment. At one time greasy concessions gave way to a more nuanced menu of eclectic fare like funnel cakes and cotton candy. Well that was about the same time as drive-in theaters that may be coming back to select locations across the country.
The safe barrier was also tested there which led to tracks improved safety. It also hosted a myriad of great drivers. Myself I remember Doug Hoffman, Brett Hearn, and even Ray Evernham who was severely injured during the paved-era. Many big events happened there featuring hotshoes from all over the east coast and beyond.
From 1995-1998 it hosted 4 NASCAR Truck Series races along with Big Block Modifieds, Late Models and other series of the same type. It routinely ran against East Windsor who also had the dubious distinction of the wrecker ball. The fate of other tracks hangs in the balance as well and I remember Hales Corner Speedway, Old Shangri_La in Owego, NY. Other losses include the Tampa Fairgrounds and Golden Gate Speedway where the Reutimann’s raced forever and still do at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Florida. Even East Bay was shuddered for awhile until it was reacquired by local owners.
Trust me, these memorials and a whole lot more are routinely happening across the country and it is history lost and remember these facilities are family-fare and most owners realize that future generations will be the kids of yesteryear and today.
Please do not let the hubris of today’s generation condemn many more tracks. It is in our best interest to promote and even help the tracks keep their doors open. There are people who do not care and quite frankly would destroy if they could. The same people who got curfews to racing and who built their homes around the mechanized chariots of fire, where families are indelibly linked to the drivers. A constituency that is called ‘redneck’ or in ‘fly over country’. Politically correct are also saying that tracks are not environmentally friendly. If they are not careful I might give them another footprint to worry about.
So please get out there to your local tracks and wherever you wish, just send these pilots the sense that they are appreciated. Race tracks and their fans stand head and shoulders about anybody else when it comes to God and country and our servicemen.