Marlboro Motor Raceway
1952 - 1969
by Larry Jendras, Jr.

Built in 1952 by Eugene Chaney and located on Rt. 301 just south of Rt. 4. The first track was a 1/3 mile dirt oval which opened on 7-21-52. The dirt surface remained throughout 1953 and was then paved for the 1954 season. Also added that season was a road course which utilized part of the oval.

Sportsman-Modified stock cars, late models and NARA sprint cars opened the first season of racing. The weekly races ran under the sanction of the Northern Virginia Stock Car Club. They also sanctioned the popular late model races held about once a month.

Some drivers who cut their teeth on the dirt and early asphalt days were Elmo Langley, Rex White, Bill Morgan, Reds and Hoss Kagle, Reds Fowler, Glenn Guthrie, Mack Hanbury, Bill Dove, Wes Morgan and even few visits from Jim Hurtibise and Hilly Rife, future Lincoln Speedway promotor. There were also events co-sanctioned with the Free State Stock Car Club of Baltimore and drivers from the Richmond area.

Marlboro encouraged late model racing creating a circuit with other area tracks. The turnout and quality of cars rivaled NASCAR’s Grand National division. Soon many New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and even New England drivers were showing up for the events. On Oct. 16, 1955, they ran a 500 lap late model race with Charlie Dyer winning in a Chevy. Drivers such as Pappy Hough, Dick Dixon, Al Tasnady, Elmo Langley, Bill and Wes Morgan, Bill Brown, Nace Mattingly, the Kagles and Frankie Schneider were making the events. 

After 1954 with the addition of the road course, Marlboro Motor Raceway started to gain national attention with its sports car events. Dr. Dick Thompson was one of the early winners on the course, which featured a 6 hour endurance race. Some of the racers in the following years who would gain national fame were Roger Penske, Mark Donohue, Walt Hangsen, Hal Keck, Bob Tullius, Sam Posey, Bruce Jennings and on and on.

Several novel races held at Marlboro were a Late Model race held on the road course on Oct. 14, 1956 and won by Frankie Schneider, a Sportsman-Modified race held on the shorter road course on June 29, 1958 and won by Johnny Roberts and a late season race called the Refrigerator Bowl which mixed sports cars, stocks and even a midget in one feature race.

In the early 60’s, the oval became a NASCAR sanctioned track and a stop for the “Eastern Bandits”. New England points chasers Ed Flemke, Dennis Zimmerman, Red Foote and Rene Charland would hit every track possible along the East Coast to gain NASCAR points. They usually did quite well at Marlboro and nearby Old Dominion.

The highly popular Trans-Am pony car circuit of Mustangs, Camaros, Cougars and Darts made two stops at Marlboro in 1966 and 1967.

Oval track racing had stopped after 1964, but had one last try in 1969. Former late model driver Volney Schulze reopened the track for Wednesday night racing on April 9, 1969 with NASCAR Late Model Sportsman and Cadet divisions running. Only a few events were held before poor crowds ended the shows.

Sports car racing continued through 1969 and the racing at Marlboro ended that year. Today the remains can still be seen from Rt.301. 

1953 Action at Marlboro Raceway
John Ward Photo

Hilly Rife spins in the 4th turn - 1953
John Ward Photo

Drivers in the Marlboro era created one-of-a-kind cars each with a personality as unique as its driver. Today much of that originality is gone since race vehicle drivers are able to purchase many off-the-shelf auto parts to compete with the performance of other cars and drivers.

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Last Updated: February 18, 2015 10:14 AM