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Trenton Speedway to be remembered

Great IndyCar venue missed by many
Friday, November 21, 2008

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Aerial Photo of Trenton Speedway after it was widened to 1.5-miles
Gone but not forgotten is the famed Trenton International Speedway which was located on the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds in the capital city.

The track, which closed in 1980, offered everything from Indianapolis Cars, NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup), Modified stock car, Midget and Sprint Car competition.

But, when the Motorsports 2009 Race Car & Trade Show is presented at the Atlantic City, NJ Convention Center, January 16 & 17th, Trenton International Speedway will again be in the spotlight as one of the key attractions of the weekend.

“In my younger years I spent a lot of time at the speedway. My family operated the souvenir concession,” said Motorsports 2009 produced Len Sammons. “It is a shame that there has been little or nothing done to remember what a great speedway it was. We are going to try to change that with our trip down ‘memory lane’ at our show.”

For the Motorsports 2009 weekend, many of the race cars that were seen in action at Trenton International Speedway will be on view. And, plans are in the works to have a number of the drivers and team members who participated there at the show to meet the fans.

Fans and racers are encouraged to bring Trenton-related memorabilia such as scrapbooks, photos and raceday programs. And, the many vintage racing clubs that annually participate in the show will have Trenton Speedway as the theme for their displays.

Originally a dirt oval, Trenton became a one-mile paved track in the mid-fifties. By the 1970s, until its final race, Trenton Speedway was a peanut shaped one and one-half mile track. Overall, it produced some exciting racing events throughout the years. Notable organizations such as NASCAR, USAC, ARDC and URC sanctioned the events.

The final race run at Trenton was for the asphalt Modified stock cars, in June, 1980. That scheduled 134-lap event, which was called official after 79 circuits due to rain, was won by Geoff Bodine. Many time NASCAR Modified champion Richie Evans finished close behind with N.J.’s John Blewett Jr. third. Bodine ultimately became a Daytona 500 winner.

“Having worked there as the public relations director for several years I have a lot of fond memories and great stories,” said Motorsports 2009 public relations director Ernie Saxton. “It was indeed a great racing facility. I remember Jimmy Clark racing there and Janet Guthrie making what I believe was her initial run in an Indianapolis car at Trenton. It will be exciting to get a chance to see some of the old cars and the old timers that participated in events at Trenton.”

The first time that Colin Chapman brought his rear-engine Lotus Indy Cars to the Brickyard in 1963, he entered two of them for Dan Gurney and Jimmy Clark at Trenton, NJ Speedway (then a 1-mile paved oval) to test his concept and work the bugs out.  It was a record attendance for Trenton Speedway to see the great Jim Clark race, a record that would never be broken even though the famous track held races for another 20 years......which of course just goes to prove that fans will turn out in large numbers when "heroes" are in the starting lineup.


1963 Trenton, NJ Photos by Mike Calla Wheels of Speed

1972 w/Unser

1973

1974

1975

1977

Mario Andretti Trenton, NJ Photos by Mark Cipolloni

The fairgrounds and speedway location has since been turned into an industrial complex and is also the site of the New Jersey Sculpture Gardens and the very classy Ratz Restaurant.

More details on just how Trenton International Speedway will be remembered at Motorsports 2009 will be released in the very near future.

The Motorsports 2009 Race Car & Trade Show will fill close to 300,000 square feet of the Atlantic City Convention Center and will offer just about everything imaginable in motorsports. Attendees will have the opportunity to collect autographs from a variety of national and regional racing figures.

And as Motorsports 2009 takes place during the day on January 16th and 17th, the Gamblers Classic Indoor Auto Races will be take place at night at Atlantic City’s famous Boardwalk Hall.

Information on both events can be had at www.aarn.com. Ticket information is also available at the site or by telephoning 609.888.3618.

AAA Championship Car

Season Date Winning Driver Chassis Engine
1949 June 19 Myron Fohr Marchese Offy

USAC Championship Car

Season Date Winning Driver Chassis Engine
1957 September 29 Pat O'Connor Kuzma Offy
1958 March 30 Len Sutton Kuzma Offy
1958 September 28 Rodger Ward Lesovsky Offy
1959 April 19 Tony Bettenhausen Kuzma Offy
1959 September 27 Eddie Sachs Meskowski Offy
1960 April 10 Rodger Ward Watson Offy
1960 September 25 Eddie Sachs Kuzma Offy
1961 April 9 Eddie Sachs Ewing Offy
1961 September 24 Eddie Sachs Kuzma Offy
1962 April 8 A. J. Foyt Meskowski Offy
1962 July 22 Rodger Ward Watson Offy
1962 September 23 Don Branson Watson Offy
1963 April 21 A. J. Foyt Meskowski Offy
1963 July 28 A. J. Foyt Trevis Offy
1963 September 22 A. J. Foyt Trevis Offy
1964 April 19 A. J. Foyt Watson Offy
1964 July 19 A. J. Foyt Watson Offy
1964 September 27 Parnelli Jones Lotus Ford
1965 April 25 Jim McElreath Brabham Offy
1965 July 18 A. J. Foyt Lotus Ford
1965 September 26 A. J. Foyt Lotus Ford
1966 April 24 Rodger Ward Lola Offy
1966 September 25 Mario Andretti Brawner Ford
1967 April 23 Mario Andretti Brawner Ford
1967 September 24 A. J. Foyt Coyote Ford
1968 April 21 Bobby Unser Eagle Offy
1968 September 22 Mario Andretti Brawner Offy
1969 July 19 Mario Andretti Brawner Ford
1969 September 21 Mario Andretti Brawner Ford
1970 April 26 Lloyd Ruby Laycock Offy
1970 October 3 Al Unser Colt Offy
1971 April 25 Mike Mosley Watson Ford
1971 October 3 Bobby Unser Eagle Offy
1972 April 23 Gary Bettenhausen McLaren Offy
1972 September 24 Bobby Unser Eagle Offy
1973 April 15 A. J. Foyt Coyote Foyt
1973 April 15 Mario Andretti Parnelli Offy
1973 September 23 Gordon Johncock Eagle Offy
1974 April 7 Bobby Unser Eagle Offy
1974 September 22 A. J. Foyt Coyote Foyt
1974 September 22 Bobby Unser Eagle Offy
1975 April 6 A. J. Foyt Coyote Foyt
1975 September 21 Gordon Johncock Wildcat DGS
1976 May 2 Johnny Rutherford McLaren Offy
1976 August 15 Gordon Johncock Wildcat DGS
1977 April 30 Wally Dallenbach, Sr. Wildcat DGS
1978 April 23 Gordon Johncock Wildcat DGS
1978 September 23 Mario Andretti Penske Cosworth

[edit] CART Champ Car

Season Date Winning Driver Chassis Engine Team
1979 June 10 Bobby Unser Penske Cosworth Penske Racing
1979 June 10 Bobby Unser Penske Cosworth Penske Racing
1979 August 19 Rick Mears Penske Cosworth Penske Racing

[edit] NASCAR Grand National/Winston Cup

Season Date Winning Driver Manufacturer
1958 May 30 Fireball Roberts Chevrolet
1959 May 17 Tom Pistone Ford
1967 July 9 Richard Petty Plymouth
1968 July 14 Lee Roy Yarbrough Ford
1969 July 13 David Pearson Ford
1970 July 12 Richard Petty Plymouth
1971 July 18 Richard Petty Plymouth
1972 July 16 Bobby Allison Chevrolet

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