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webby 04-16-2009 05:43 PM

Englewood Speedway - Denver Colorado
The birth of what would become one of the fastest short track speedways West of the Mississippi started with two men, Ed Clark and Carroll Quelland, who together owned many properties around the Denver area. One of the lots was a desolate 15 acre field of weeds in what is now the small Southwest suburb of Sheridan, CO. The site was between Clay Street and South Federal Blvd., along the North side of West Oxford Ave. At the time, South Federal deadened at Hampden Avenue.

Originally, the two men were interested in buying a Midget race car when Ed’s brother John convinced them to build a racetrack instead. John Clark was running a concessions business at race tracks and rodeos around the region, and this new track, just a few miles out of Denver, would be a perfect place to center the business.

Work began on the vacant lot towards the end of 1946, and by the spring of 1947, what might have been a quarter mile dirt oval, was carved out of the field with the straight-aways running East and West.

There might have been a few nonsanctioned races run on this dirt oval, as early photos suggest, but the track was quickly paved for the inaugural Memorial Day race of the 1947 season.

A June 5, 1947 blurb in the Englewood Enterprise claims that local police estimated they handled 6,000 cars in the area, and that attendance was 8,000 or more on that ‘first’ day of racing at Englewood Speedway. An armored car was even summoned to take care of the proceeds which were said to be around $15,000. That was some awesome money for 1947, and an enormous amount of race fans crowding into the area if the news clip is to be believed.

Oddly, a June 12, 1947 Englewood Speedway ad announces the “Grand Opening” of the track for the June 15 race featuring Midget auto races on the “Brand new asphalt quarter mile track”.

The Colorado Automobile Racing Club started sanctioning races at Englewood Speedway in 1947 after their inaugural season at the Brighton Fairgrounds with their Hot Rods, which were mostly V8 Fords and 6 cylinder Chevys. Midget auto racing also took over the speedway a couple nights a week.

It seems noise complaints started coming in as soon as the races started up at Englewood even though the track was far from any houses. “At the time,” says Betty Ruth Codner, “there was a huge turkey farm across the road, and when they started racing, the turkeys wouldn’t lay!”

By the end of the ‘40’s, the Hot Rods had morphed into what was known as the Roaring Roadsters, which were built more with speed in mind, than safety. These little open wheeled cars were real dangerous as some of the sports top pilots were getting killed or seriously injured in accidents at Englewood and other local tracks that hosted them. This factor might have played a part in the decision by Clark and Quelland to either put the speedway up for sale, or close the track altogether and build something else on the site at the end of the 1949 season. ~ Jerry Lee

Enter Charlie Codner. Charlie was a motor builder and the owner of the famous “yellow and black #99” Roadster that claimed the first four championships at Englewood with both Red Fitzwater and later Don Padia at the wheel. Codner purchased the track in early 1950 on a whim, and without even telling his wife Marion. She found out by reading it in the newspaper. ~ Jerry Lee

“I don’t want to say it,” remembered Marion, “but I thought buying the track was the most foolish thing he ever did!” Regardless, Englewood Speedway became a family run business with Charlie, wife Marion, sons Don and Richard, daughter Charleen, and Don’s wife Betty Ruth doing most all of the work to keep it going. John Clark also continued to run the concessions up until the track’s closing in 1979. ~ Jerry Lee.

“Can’t you just smell the popcorn? John Clark’s concessions at Englewood were located just through the tunnel under the main grandstands.” ~ Jerry Lee

The C.A.R.C. continued to sanction races at Englewood in 1950 and 1951 while the Roaring Roadsters were eventually phased out and the less expensive Jalopy races took over. Midget races were still a popular attraction at the track as well.

At the beginning of 1952, the C.A.R.C. moved their club over to Ben Krasner’s Lakeside Speedway, and the Rocky Mountain Stock Car Racing Association was formed to sanction the races at Englewood. Codner also revamped the facility that year by reconfiguring the grandstand seating from the South side to the North, installed a higher catch fence, better guardrails, and converted the track surface from asphalt to dirt. It was also once reported that the track became a 3/8 mile oval, and the surface might have been clay at one time. ~ Jerry Lee

The popularity of the sport really boomed in the ‘50’s as the term “Jalopies” was soon replaced with “Stockers”, and the weekly events became a family thing to do. Charlie Codner also added other events to the evening’s racing entertainment like Demolition Derbies...

Motorcycle races, Powder Puff races...

Gotta LOVE the 'style' of Don Styes Flagging! His face doesn't have to be seen, but 'You just knew it was him'. He was one of the best! ~ Rick.

Burro races, Moto-Polo, spectacular fireworks shows, clowns, daredevil stunts, and other fun oddities to help fill the stands and give the crowds more bang for their buck. Including Spectator Races! ~ Jerry Lee

Stock car races at Englewood Speedway could also be heard on KTLN radio as early as 1952, and by the mid ‘50’s, once television became the more popular medium, races could be seen on KBTV channel 9 with Grady Franklin Maples calling the action. ~ Jerry Lee.

Charlie’s health was starting to deteriorate by 1960, so to alleviate a lot of work on the family’s part, Englewood’s third mile oval was paved to help make it easier to maintain. Concrete walls replaced the old metal guardrails and wooden posts around the oval, and the pit area was moved from the infield to the East end of the track and along the South back stretch. The new banked asphalt oval attracted more racers from around the region as the speeds increased, and was a hit with the race fans as they no longer had to deal with the stifling dust that came with dirt track racing. Though the track is paved now, notice in the upper right hand corner, the old water tank from the dirt track days still stands. ~ Jerry Lee

Charlie Codner passed away on March 26, 1961, leaving Marion and son Don to run the festivities at Englewood. Richard had just come back from a stint in the service and didn’t become actively involved in the family business again until the late ‘60’s. ~ Jerry Lee

During the early to mid ‘60’s, the Stockers were becoming faster and more sleeker looking as guys were starting to cut down and narrow the full size coupe bodies of their cars. More innovation was put into the motor building and the cars were being referred to as Modifieds while each new season brought new rule changes. ~ Jerry Lee

In 1964, the Codner family introduced a new type of racing to the area when they paved an ‘X’ through the infield at Englewood and showcased Figure 8 racing. At the time, Figure Eight racing was catching on throughout the East Coast, and hosting these events gave Englewood Speedway a much needed shot in the arm as spectators nearly doubled at the gate to witness their antics, and hundreds started building these inexpensive type cars to race. ~ Jerry Lee

The Rocky Mountain Stock Car Racing Association uprooted their club to run at the recently built Colorado National Speedway after the 1964 season at Englewood, and the newly sanctioned Englewood Racing Association started their Modified/Figure 8 show at the track in 1965. It was then when the speedway coined its famous catch phrase “The Wildest Show on Wheels” for promotional ads. ~ Jerry Lee

From the ERA Archives: This is what's believed to be a program cover from the ERA's very first race in 1965. ~ Rick

For the remainder of the 1965 season the ERA program covers looked like this. ~ Rick.

By the 1967 season, Englewood Speedway added a Late Model division to the attraction, and formed the Arapahoe Racing Association with Late Models and Figure 8’s running on Saturday nights, and the E.R.A.’s Modifieds and Figure 8’s on Sundays. ~ Jerry Lee

More improvements were made at the track during the late ‘60’s when high rise grandstands were erected along the West end, and more seating added to the Southwest corner to accommodate the crowds. The old concrete flag barrier in the infield was also removed and replaced by a small perch above the start/finish line on the catch fence. ~ Jerry Lee

At the start of the ‘70’s, it was Richard Codner’s turn to take the reigns of the family business and become both general manager and promoter of Englewood Speedway. Rich also brought new and exciting ideas to the track to draw crowds and keep racing as inexpensive as possible. The Football Derby, Chain Races, Orval the Daredevil Clown, motorcycles jumping buses, crashing cars through thick blocks of ice, Mini Stocks, Women’s Demo Derbies, Street Races, Sportsman, and the Claimer division were just some of the tricks Rich had showcased for the delighted fans who came through the gate each week during the ‘70’s. ~ Jerry Lee
“The track crew springs into action after this Mini Stock accident along the back chute in 1977, which features Englewood’s famous “Welcome” sign. For a short time, this was the only building left standing once the track was leveled for construction of the Business Park.” (Jerry Lee McGuire photo, Jerry Lee McGuire collection)

One of the 'unusual events' Rich Codner, in accordance with the Sports Car Club of America brought to Englewood Speedway was this 'Auto Cross' event in the spring of 1978. ~ Rick
Not your typical line-up in the pits at Englewood Speedway. On a chilly weekend morning in March of 1978, the speedway held a Sports Car Club of America non-spectator Auto-Cross event. I'm not sure if an event like this was ever held at the track prior to, or after this, but there was quite a turn out of American Muscle and Foreign Mini Cars.

Englewood Speedway 1979. At the time this photo was taken, I'm not positive anyone knew for sure, ( including the owners/management of the track ) this would turn out to be the last year of operations for Denver's "big" 1/3 mile speedway. Sadly, of course, as things turned out, it was. But this photo, taken early spring of '79, at a time, when one of the best, most exciting season's the track ever hosted, was about to unfold before the Colorado Racing Community's very eyes.

If ya all will be so kind as to follow with me, the cars on track at the time this photo was taken, I'll go down the list...Oh, and one other thing, with my apologies to, and not to put words in track announcer Jerry Van Dyke's mouth, but if he had had the mic turned on this day, it may have sounded something like this..."Coming out of ( turn ) four, we've got a spinner! It's the black ERA Chevelle Sportsman number 5, we need to get the driver info on that car. And JUST coming down the front chute, heading into turn one, is the White Ford Falcon late model number 13 of Kenny Clark, followed close behind by Darrell Stingerie's Dodge Aspen number 78...and WATCH OUT! over there in turns one and two!, Rick Carelli in the 6 car takes another spin! The crew on that car has gotta be working on the setup today...tryin' to get it dialed in. ( As we proceed to the cars coming out of two, we may have heard ) He got it gathered up though, and now leads 60, Eddie Marquez and Kenny Clark in 13, as they get ready to motor down the back chute! And ON the back chute we have two Mini-Stocks! The orange 77 Datsun 510 of Bob Folken and a blue VW bug. We need to get the drivers name on that one as well. As the "Eights" come across the X headed into the "pit" turn, Dave Cupp in 15 leads his brother Rick in the number 12 "stop sign" car, and 81, Dave Smith brings up the tail end, in his '54 Ford. Dale Ward in "NASTY" is JUST about to make his way across the "X"! WATCH OUT!"

Ahhh,... them were the days. Almost 30 years ago? Say it ain't so!

A couple of things I'd like to point out in this photo, (and will be almost impossible to see in this format, but...) is the Pink Mail box in the lower right corner, that I think was the depository for "suggestions" and also the drop off point for the "You Can Win" a Thousand dollar contests they used to have, if a fan could guess the "top five finishers in order" of certain Late Model Main Events. The wooden Englewood Speedway sign, (that replaced the cool old neon one) is also (barely) visible in the right side of the shot, just above the turn two grandstands... ~ Rick.

Unfortunately, what was once a great speedway in an undeveloped area in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s, became a nuisance (according to the Environmental Protection Agency) in the late ‘60’s and ‘70’s as housing and businesses swallowed up the surrounding area around the site. Continuous noise complaints and the mid ‘70’s energy crunch didn’t help matters either, and soon the land that Englewood Speedway sat on became too valuable to be used as a racetrack just two nights a week for five months out of the year. All of the divisions were increasingly waning and becoming more expensive to run, as the car counts became low during the ’78 and ’79 seasons.

The handwriting was on the wall as they say, but no one really realized that when that last checkered flag flew on the last night of the 1979 season, they had seen their last race, bought their last program, ate their last hot dog, spilled their last beer, fought their last traffic jam out of the parking lot, and had their last whiff of the ambiance that was Englewood Speedway. After 33 seasons of “The Wildest Show on Wheels”, the track lights went out for good. ~ Jerry Lee

A January 20, 1980 news article both shocked and confirmed to all that the track would not open for the new season, but instead would be leveled for the start of construction of an industrial area called Sherwood Business Park. “We were going to call it Speedway Business Park” said Rich Codner, “but then we figured nobody would remember the speedway in two or three years.” ~ Jerry Lee

Thanks to Mike Bremkamp we have a couple of great (but sad) photos to remember Englewood Speedway by. This image shows the Main Spectator Gate locked for probably the last time. The Main Ticket Booth is visible immediately to the left as is the Main Grandstand and the Announcers Tower. Directly forward and all the way down the walk way is the pits. Just to the right is the 'Track Shak' souvenir stand and the track it self is just beyond that. ~ Rick.

Through February and March of 1980, grandstands were flattened, buildings were leveled, asphalt was ripped out, and 33 years of memories were torn from the earth and hauled off in big dump trucks.

For a very short time there remained one lone building on the freshly leveled dirt lot. It was the old ticket booth building from the early ‘50’s that later served as a storage shed along the backstretch. In huge painted letters on the North side of the building, a big sign still proudly proclaimed “YOUR ENGLEWOOD SPEEDWAY WELCOMES YOU”, as if in defiance of the change going on around it.

Soon, it too disappeared. ~ Jerry Lee

For our ARM visitors who may not have had the good fortune of attending Englewood Speedway I'd just like to describe where Mike Bremkamp was standing and what we are looking at when he took the above photo.

Mike is standing in what was the pit area looking directly West and basically down the 'back chute', visible also is the famed 'X' of the Figure 8. The turn 3 & 4 wall has already been demolished as has (what appears to be) turns 3 & 4 of the asphalt. Turns 1 and 2 are visible in the distance just below the high rise grandstands that Jerry Lee mentioned as one of the many track improvements made in the late '60's and early '70's. Next to those to the left is the silver concession stand, some more (smaller) grandstands and the yellow building just beyond those stands (coming back towards the photographer) is the restrooms Rich Codner added just about in time for the 1970 season. Directly to Mike's left is the pit shack and in front of him is what appears to be debris from the scoring and line-up platform that sat just about smack dab in the middle of turn 3 & 4. ~ Rick.

- Written by Jerry Lee McGuire and Rick Wasilko

webby 04-16-2009 06:04 PM

Re: Englewood Speedway - Denver Colorado
Rare video of Modified Stock Cars at Englewood on dirt (Courtesy of Rick Wasilko)

CARC Coupes at Englewood 1960 (Courtesy of John Guttormson)

Englewood Speedway practice (1975) (Courtesy of John Guttormson)

rapid30 05-18-2009 12:18 PM

Re: Englewood Speedway - Denver Colorado
4 Attachment(s)
Here are some of Richie Sherrill's pictures of his Dad Cal at Englewood.

lakeside #29 05-20-2009 03:54 PM

Re: Englewood Speedway - Denver Colorado
The Englewood Saturday night Late Model/Figure 8 show in the '70's had to one the best, if not the best weekly shows in the country. The stands would be packed, the pits would be full, and the action seemed endless. They had a huge consession stand behind the main grandstand that was always crowded. There was a weekly souvenir program that was edited by Rich Codner's wife Candy, She ran a gossip column that really pushed the limits. It was a status synbol to be included, but it could be very embarasing. I used to wonder how many lawsuits were filed.
I remember one night when announcer Jerry VanDyke told the crowd that they had just finished timing 60 figure 8 cars and 38 late models. Car counts like that were generally about that high on a weekly basis.
The pits parties after the races would go on and on, Rich Codner would turn off he lights, but nobody would leave. It was unreal.
Another treat at Englewood, at least in the pits, were "Sam's Burritos'. Sam Soria was the gateman on the east pit gate onto Clay Street, he was also a heck of a cook. He would make burritos and bring cooler loads of them and sell them outside the pit gate. They were $.50 each. What a deal, they were great.
I had a lot of fun at Englewood, I really miss it.

Chris Ertler

webby 07-17-2009 03:27 PM

Re: Englewood Speedway - Denver Colorado
Another Rick Wasilko video.

Modifieds at Englewood Speedway sometime in the '50's when it was dirt.

Jerry Lee 07-09-2010 10:25 AM

Re: Englewood Speedway - Denver Colorado
I thought I’d share this pic of some “famous” Englewood program sellers taken in 1976. Candy Codner had just bought us all these really cool “neon orange” Englewood Speedway jackets with our name on them (mine was stolen just a few months after I got it. Damn!), and she took our picture to print in the program that year.
(Photo by Candy Codner/J. L. McGuire collection) From left to right are:

Me!: I started selling programs at the track in the early ‘70’s when I was just 11. I later worked the parking lot and did other odd jobs until Englewood closed down. I then embarked on a 30 year rock n’ roll career, did a lot of announcing at both S.C.R and R.M.N.S. as well as the Colo. Auto Racing Network cable TV show, published a book on Englewood Speedway, and wrote a brief history of the track which appears here on ARM. The late Rick Wasilko added a few bits to the story.

Pam Boyer: Pam’s brother George was one of the top selling program hawkers for years. Her dad Harold Boyer raced Stockers in the ‘50’s and early ‘60’s and printed programs during that same era. Her mom Sandy worked at Englewood for many years at the front gate and took over printing the programs in 1977 once Candy Codner gave it up.

James Holmes: We just knew him as “J.J.”, but this kid went on to become the most famous of us all, announcing second fiddle to the late great Ted Douglas at Colorado National Speedway, and also co-hosted Ted’s weekly racing show on television. I wonder what he’s doing now? Probably a famous TV anchor somewhere, no doubt. He was good!

Robbie Olson: Another kid who grew up at Englewood with “famous” racing parents. His dad Bob Olson had cars out there for many years, and performed so many duties at the track I couldn’t even begin to list them. Robbie’s mom Pat (a.k.a. “Crazy Pat”), did a lot of jobs over the years and was best known for running “The Track Shack”, Englewood’s popular souvenir stand.

Tanya Elder: Tanya’s parents were Barbara and Jerry Elder who also had worked the track for many years and performed many duties up in the official’s booth. It was a lot of fun growing up with these kids during that period. One of the coolest jobs a kid could have.

rapid30 07-09-2010 01:04 PM

Re: Englewood Speedway - Denver Colorado
Hey Jerry, I remember James running a street stock at Lakeside in the mid 80's I think it was a Red/Orange Camaro #35.

Jerry Lee 08-18-2010 12:40 PM

Re: Englewood Speedway - Denver Colorado
(J.L. McGuire collection) This is an aerial photo of Englewood from 1967 that should have
appeared in the original story instead of the duplicate shot from the ‘70’s. The old water
tower can be seen at the top right. At the time, the pits extended along the back chute
of the track (right) and the high rise West stands had yet to be built. (bottom)

ramracing 08-26-2010 04:24 PM

Re: Englewood Speedway - Denver Colorado
The hot dogs at this track were the best in the world I have been to many tracks just hoping to find a hot dog that remotely comes close. None have been found yet but I'm still hoping..

Jerry Lee 08-27-2010 10:08 AM

Re: Englewood Speedway - Denver Colorado

Originally Posted by ramracing (Post 4557)
The hot dogs at this track were the best in the world I have been to many tracks just hoping to find a hot dog that remotely comes close. None have been found yet but I'm still hoping..

Those dogs were made by Sigman's and served up by John Clark's concessions. I seem to remember they were pretty good as well. A funny catchphrase that used to appear in a program ad in the '50's and early '60's was "A treat in meat served by your Englewood Speedway".

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