Local Stock Car Short Track Nostalgia

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Local Stock Car Short Track Nostalgia

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What was your earliest memory of auto racing? I remember watching a weekly TV show called “Jalopy Races From Hollywood”. This was my earliest memory of having interest in following the sport of auto racing.

One of my most favorite memories when growing up in the 50’s and 60’s was being able to hear the auto racing action [stock cars and open cockpit midget] at Freeport Speedway in Freeport New York, from two [2] towns away. They ran races during the summer on Tuesday night, Friday night, and Saturday night. Going to the races as a spectator was also a rush for me.

I loved everything about it, the smell of racing fuel, burning rubber, sawdust and hot dogs from the food concessions. During the late 50’s and early 60’s the racing drew large crowds of spectators. I can see in my minds eye to this day, all the activity, the vendors selling race collectibles, the sound and smell of the concession stands [pop corn, hot dogs and the like. I can still hear the beer vendor as his went up and down the stands yelling out the familiar phrase of “Get Ya Cold Beer Here” Of course I was too young to become one of his customers. Other vendors sold copies of Speedway News, programs, hot dogs, replica racing flags and many more items.

Some of the great racers that ran a Freeport Stadium are Les Ley, Jim Lacy [One of my favorites], Bruno Brackey aka the Flying Mailman due to his day job, George and Ed Brunnhoelzl, George Brunnhoelzl Jr. [George Jr. built the famed Brunnhoelzl jack used by many NASCAR Winston Cup teams today.], Axel Anderson, Richie Evans, Jerry Cook, Charlie Jarzombek, Gary Winters, Fred Harbach, George Wagner, Bill Spade, Tom Baldwin, Red Raynor, Reinhardt and many more.
Freeport Stadium had gone through a series of different promoters over the years. This list included the names Kedenburg, Larry Mendelsohn, Duke Donaldson, and Don Campi. Duke Donaldson was well know as the voice of Freeport Speedway. As the track announcer, Donaldson for many years opened a race event with announcing, “Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to Freeport Stadium, the oldest continuously-run racetrack in the United States” and thanking everyone for visiting “Freeport Speedway in tropical Freeport.” His style did much to create a feeling of great action and professionalism for any given race event.

The second half of the 60’s began a decline in the popularity of stock car racing in Freeport. There were still many promotions being done but paid attendance declined.

Racing at Freeport took a final curtain in 1983 after 50 years of continuous operation.

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Source by Bill Wallmuller

Photo by seblinux78

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