Islip Speedway – Local Auto Racing 1947-1984… Genesis Of Some Great Auto Racing Trivia

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Islip Speedway – Local Auto Racing 1947-1984… Genesis Of Some Great Auto Racing Trivia


The Islip Motor Speedway, which opened in 1947 and closed its doors in 1984 was a popular local auto-racing track and is remembered fondly for being the source of some great auto racing trivia.

The shortest track on record ever driven on by the top dogs of NASCAR was the .20 [2/10 mile] oval track at Islip Speedway in Islip, New York.

Islip Speedway is also the home of the first ever Demolition Derby. In 1958, owner Larry Mendelsohn promoted the first recorded Demolition Derby, making the Islip Speedway, “the Birthplace of the Demolition Derby”.

NASCAR – Grand National Events where held at Islip Speedway from June 1964 to July 1971, except for the years 1969 and 1970.

Some of the NASCAR Grand National Highlights at Islip Speedway where as follows:

Billy Wade was NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 1963. He won only four [4] races in his career. His four [4] consecutive victories came in 9 days from July 10 to July 19, 1964, one of which was won at Islip Speedway while driving for Bud Moore. Billy Wade died while testing tires in Daytona, Florida.

Richard Petty’s 1967 season was and will be the most dominant season ever run. The season earned him the title “The King.” 27 wins in 49 races.

Richard Petty’s 1971 victory marked the last NASCAR Grand National event held at the Islip Speedway.

In 1966, Bobby Allison brings home the 2nd of his 84 career wins and the 11th of 84 in 1968.

Islip Speedway became a casualty of NASCAR’s march of progress. In 1972, NASCAR entered the modern era with 31 races. Winston became the major sponsor and demanded that all races fewer than 250 miles in length dropped. With the loss of NASCAR events, Islip lost its drawing card.
Demolition Derby – As mentioned above, Islip Speedway is known as the “Birthplace of Demolition Derby”.

The only real qualification needed to participate in a Demo Derby is a valid driver’s license.

The cars used are generally rust buckets, gleaned from salvage yards, salvage auctions, repair station back lots, people’s backyards, and country fields and barns. Most are American made sedans and hardtops, or station wagons.

The old cars prepped by removing all glass except the windshields, grilles, headlights, rear seats, and side-view mirrors, have their standard gas tanks removed and usually replaced with a 5-gallon plastic container mounted securely in the area of the extricated back seat. This is for obvious safety reasons. Likewise, the car battery mounted by the front driver’s seat is so instead of in the engine compartment where batteries are usually located.

To win a Demolition Derby usually means you have the last car running under its own power.

In its hay-day, Demo Derbies played on television on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” and even raced at the Old Polo Grounds in New York.

As happened to many old local auto-racing tracks, Islip Speedway went the way of the wrecking ball and the property turned into a shopping mall.


Source by Bill Wallmuller

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