Wall Township (N.J.) Speedway closes

Wall Township Speedway General Partners Managing Member Timothy H. Shinn announced March 14 that the 57-year-old oval has closed.

"It is with an extremely heavy heart that I must, at this time, formally announce the closing of our beloved Wall Township Speedway, formerly known to the vast majority of us as Wall Stadium," said Shinn in a letter posted on wallspeedway.com Friday night. "Unfortunately, we find ourselves joining the long, ever-growing list of short tracks across the country which have been forced to close."

Shinn, in his two-page letter, said that he and his three co-owners "did everything in our power since 2002 to provide top quality short-track racing and keep the Speedway open.

"We've made numerous attempts to create a scenario which would enable us to continue with the Speedway operation," said Shinn, of Manasquan, "all to no avail. Please also know that this decision was made on March 14, 2008 as we were still exploring certain options available to us in an attempt to remain open for the 2008 season; again to no avail."

Shinn made his announcement before the Garden State Quarter Racing Club was to hold an annual swap meet March 15 and a novice racing school March 16. Although the swap was cancelled due to forecasted bad weather, GSQMRC President Wayne Wilson said that March 16's classes and its remaining season on "Little Wall" was to continue as scheduled. "I had word from Tim Shinn months ago that we would run whether 'Big Wall' was open or closed," said Wilson, of Old Bridge. "We've a separate insurance policy."

Children seven- to 16- years-old have competed in scaled midget cars on a separate 1/20th-mile concrete oval since 1993. The Quarter Midgets of America-sanctioned club is to run on most Sunday mornings March 29 – Nov. 11.

How long the GSQMRC will run at "Little Wall," however, depends on the 48.46-acre industrial-zoned property's fate. There is no word about the land's future use.

There may be movements of vehicles and equipment owned by the managing partners' companies for now. A date has not been set for the Garden State Vintage Stock Car Club to remove its "Racing Through Time" museum.

"Our Board of Trustees will meet on or before our March 18 monthly meeting," said GSVSSC President Ray Shea, of West Long Branch. "I got the news Friday night. We've had 100 percent support from the start – first with the Nicol family and then with Tim Shinn and Fred Archer."

The banked, paved one-third-mile oval will miss its first season since builder Tom Nicol opened it on Memorial Day 1950.

Wall hosted weekly stock car racing plus midgets and other visiting tours. Its headlining modified stock car drivers included the likes of Bobby Allison, all-time Wall feature winner Gil Hearne, NASCAR modified king Richie Evans and Frankie Schneider. Martin Truex, Jr., of Mayetta, and Ray Evernham, of Hazlet, won several features here on their ways to respectively become 2004-05 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion and three-time Sprint Cup titlist crew chief. Wall once hosted a Sprint Cup race July 26, 1958. Jim Reed, of Fishkill, N.Y., held off fellow 1957 Chevrolet drivers Rex White and Buck Baker to win the then-NASCAR Grand National 300-lap race.

Curtis Turner, of Roanoke, Va., won Wall's sole NASCAR Convertible division race, in a 1956 Ford, after 300 laps July 14, 1956.

Wall pioneered the nationally-known post-Thanksgiving Turkey Derby annual in 1974. USAC Ford Focus and NASCAR midgets, The Race of Champions, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the American Three Quarter Midget Racing Association, the American Micro Stock Racing Ass'n., United Racing Club sprint cars, the International Super Modified Ass'n. and the 4Cylinder Supermodifieds were among Wall's visitors.

Wall Stadium's other uses included a gridiron for the 1957 New Jersey Sharks semi-pro football team and as a 1960s concert venue.

Second-generation owner Tucker Nicol, of Brielle, sold Wall Stadium to Shinn, Dale and Glenn Creamer, Joseph Sanzari and Tom Mauser in 2002. Fred Archer succeeded Mauser as a General Partner. The Creamers, of Hackensack, and Sanzari, of Ho-Ho-Kus, are well-known New Jersey highway builders; Newark native Archer is a steel erector; former modified stock car owner Shinn owns United Crane Rental, of Kenilworth. The four co-owners made several improvements. Steel guardrails replaced wooden planks and a fifth-mile inner oval was added. The inner oval was used for a Sunday afternoon series for go karts and scaled race cars.

Wall returned to NASCAR sanctioning, allowing its drivers to compete for divisional and national Whelen All-American Series championships. As a NASCAR Home Track, several star Sprint Cup drivers made special appearances and ran in match races.

WTS also hosted the SCCA Formula Drift series 2005-07.

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