but not forgotten... those grand old racetracks. Part II
By Steve Williams
Mount Carbon ran in the 1950ís at the same time as Circle-M and Fort Lebanon. Now a housing development Iím told that the pit sign-in shack still sits in the woods. The track sat right out at the face of the mountain above a bakery and could be seen from Route 61.
Circle-M in Auburn, PA is very much in tact. The land is owned by a relative of the builder Eddie Mates. The high banked track also used to host rodeoís and some of the seats were from an old theater in Pottsville. The 3rd & 4th turn fence is still there and was boards stuck side by side vertically in the ground. Lights seating post and a concession stand was still there a few years back when I visited.
Fort Lebanon sits on heavily posted land owned by a hunting club and is little more than a narrow path through the woods. Built in 1954 by Joe Hendricks and Doc Reichert the track only raced in 1955 before being put out of business by Circle-M just 3 miles away. Hendricks son Drick who went on to other coal region racing fame was the first winner and Russ Smith was the track champion.
Berne Speedway sits west of Hamburg between the river and railroad tracks it was also done in by Circle-M and ran during the mid 50ís. The speedway never had any seating and Iím told is now an area a local chemical company uses for testing and nothing remains.
To the north in Mahanoy City was Municipal Stadium. The Mahanoy City High School sits on top of the track sight. Charlie Williamson was the promoter and ARDC midgets were popular.
Shenandoah was a Ĺ mile and is also now a school. Aerial photos show the contour of the turns. Alan Brownís History of the American Speedway says they ran midgets pre WWII.
Ringtown also had a pre WWII track in the SW part of town near the "Hanger Plant" as I was told. There is a large oval there now built for horse training but the speedway was much smaller and sat on the western fringe of the horse track.
Brandonville, just over the hill from Ringtown had a track that was later turned into a drive-in. The contour of the track is still somewhat there.
A couple in the Harrisburg area that are worth the visit:
Blue Mountain Speedway a big square half mile with about ĺ of the track remaining. Grandstands and concession stands remain. On the Blue Mountain Parkway across the mountain from Linglestown.
The Harrisburg Fairgrounds raced in the early 1930ís but if you know where to look you can see it while driving by at 70mph. It sits at the intersection of Routes 83 and 283 just east of the Harrisburg East Mall. Looking to be about a 5/8 mile the track was later a drive in.
Penn National in Grantville is hard to include on this list because it seems like I just went there last year and watched Lynn Paxton kick the snot out of the Outlaws but its been closed for about 5 years now and sits on the grounds with the horse track.
Just 10 miles away was the scene of some great midget action. The Hershey Park Stadium, still in use for football, soccer and concerts.
Up Route 22 was Fredericksburg Stadium in the west end of town. An old ballpark its now used as a junkyard. Bleachers and lights are still visible. Racing included midgets and sportsman until around 1975.
On your way out to Fredericksburg, stop by Lindaís Speedway. The track started life as a big square half mile which Iím told was never used. It was later shortened for modified sportsman and later micros.
Up north there are a number of old tracks to visit. The most interesting one is Berwick - Beach Haven just off Route 11 on Speedway Road. This is another track I was just at but it closed in the early 80ís with Ed Spencer winning the last feature and Billy Shipman of Sunbury in 2nd. The big half mile circles a pond so take your pole when you go exploring for some great fishing. The huge grandstand that looks as if it would easily seat 5000 probably never saw more than a few hundred, still stands as does the announcers booth, concession stand, flag stand and catch fence. The interesting find here is in the weeds off the backstretch. An amusement park was constructed in an area that is now swampy. It looks as if with a little sprucing up the place could race this summer. The track was built by George Perluke who is an interesting story in himself.
Further north near the Tioga Hammond Lakes was Tioga Fairgrounds. Sitting pretty much in the middle of the little town it is now an open field with the contour of the turns still visible.
On your way up 15 to Tioga at Liberty on the west side is Liberty Speedway. You can go there and rent the track and street stock type cars and race with you friends. Where else would you see a big old Chrysler racing a Fiero.
Also along the way is the Mansfield Fairgrounds right at the intersection of old Route 15 and Route 6. Now a school and athletic field the only thing that remains is an old entrance building to the fairgrounds. I donít know if they ever held racing but they used to host stunt driver competitions.
Down here in the middle part of the state you can find some remains of the Lewisburg Fairgrounds. Located on Fairgrounds road a good time to visit is on Wednesday when the local farmers come to auction with some great produce. There are still some old fairgrounds buildings even though the fair went bankrupt in the 1930ís. The track was squeezed in between Bull Run and the road. The grandstands which stood into the 1950ís, straddled the creek and footers are still visible. To the north a turn contour is visible near the baseball field.
Just across the Susquehanna River from Lewisburg was the Montandon Speedway with only some posts hidden in the woods still there.
Another central PA 1950ís jalopy track Catawissa actually sits pretty close to current dragstrip Numidia Raceway. The track is now a pond on the grounds of a hunting camp.
I didnít forget the straight liner fans either. My first old race track find way back when was the Kreamer Dragstrip. At the time of discovery the 1/8 mile strip had bleachers and buildings. Pretty much put out of business by nearby Beaver Springs Dragway in the 1950ís the track is now a barn.
The final old track is Green Pine Dragstrip. Also a 1950ís & 60ís strip, it sits on the south side of the mountain south of Williamsport. The 1/8 mile pad still sits in the woods and had Joe Amato as one of its competitors.
Some of the other tracks Iíve been to are Trenton and Harmony, NJ, Marlboro, MD, Langhorne, Pocono Sunrise, and Latrobe 10 years before it reopened.
If you want to visit these old places, keep in mind that they a usually on private property, some are heavily posted, and the privacy of the owner should be respected.
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