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Race Tracks Everyone has their favorite race track(s) growing up as a kid. In this forum you can discuss your favorite old race track. Make sure to title your new thread with the name of the race track.



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Old 05-30-2009, 02:57 PM   #1
Olen McGuire
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Default Speedway Park, Wichita,Kansas

Since the Ghosts of racetracks thread was getting a little long I thought this one was unique enough to start a new one.



Speedway Park was designed as a completely round (yes round not oval) race track built southeast of Wichita, Kansas for Tim Hurst in partnership with Walter Innes. The land was leased from J.W.Brock, a local farmer.
The dirt track was 50 ft. wide with 2 ft. of banking and was about 1.5 miles around the track. The grandstand held about 5,000 spectators and had 600 box seats. Tim Hurst posted a $5,500 purse and heavily promoted the race,even retained Barney Oldfield to make an exhibition appearance.
This was the one and only known race there,and was scheduled for Oct. 12 & 13,1915 but heavy rain caused them to have a one day show on a Friday afternoon,Oct. 14,1915. Lee Gunning won the feature event in his Stutz "Scat" reaching an average speed of 46 mph.
No one knows what became of Speedway Park. Tim Hurst sanctioned races at other venues after that and planned to build a new $100,000 speedway north of Wichita.Those plans fell through but a new and differently shaped 1 1/2 mile Meridian Speedway was built by other investors on the old Speedway Park site in the summer of 1921.



This poorly scaled drawing, with insert of the Wichita Speedway (later renamed Speedway Park), was published on page 7 of the August 15, 1915 issue of the Wichita Eagle.



This ad was for the races that was published on page 11 of the October 12, 1915 issue of the Wichita Beacon.




Paul Bulla photograph from the Homer T. Hardin collection, Local History Section, Wichita Public Library

Last edited by Olen McGuire; 05-30-2009 at 09:42 PM.
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Old 05-31-2009, 10:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: Speedway Park, Wichita,Kansas

Excellent post Olen! Man that's going way back, mile and a half circle, had to be a tough place to get around.
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Old 05-31-2009, 01:29 PM   #3
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Default Re: Speedway Park, Wichita,Kansas

Thanks Mitch,here's a continuation of that story.




Meridian Speedway was built on the old site of Speedway Park in Wichita,Kansas about six years later in the summer of 1921.The old Speedway Park was a complete circle and the new Meridian Speedway was described as a "1 1/2 mile squared circle". The grandstand was covered and designed to seat 2,500 racing fans.
It was used more or less as fairgrounds for the city. They had horse races and also motorcycle races at the speedway.
Apparently,the speedway shape must have been shaped wrong for auto races (as was the circle track) because it also was not a financial success.It was dismantled in December of 1923.Today, the former fairgrounds site is a middle class residential neighborhood located well within the city limits of Wichita.





Photograph from the Cossitt collection – Local History Section, Wichita Public Library




Photograph from the Cossitt collection – Local History Section, Wichita Public Library



This drawing of the Meridian Speedway layout was published on page 10 of the September 18, 1921 issue of the Wichita Eagle newspaper.

Last edited by Olen McGuire; 05-31-2009 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 06-01-2009, 06:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: Speedway Park, Wichita,Kansas

Great post Olen. Thanks for taking the time to research. I like the Barney Oldfield vs. Lloyd Thompson, plane vs. automobile challenge. They used some unusual techniques to attract a crowd.
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Old 06-01-2009, 09:26 AM   #5
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Default Re: Speedway Park, Wichita,Kansas

Thanks Rick,I was looking at their ad also and if the grandstands were full at 50 cents each,and the box seats were full at $1 each,they would have to park "3,000" cars there at $1 each to break even on his purse of $5,500.I would think in those days it would be hard to find 3,000 cars in one spot in the whole country.No wonder those entrepreneur's failed in those days and I didn't even figure in the wages of his employees.
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Old 06-01-2009, 11:22 AM   #6
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Default Re: Speedway Park, Wichita,Kansas

They musta made a lot of money on the soft drinks. LOL
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Old 06-01-2009, 11:36 AM   #7
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Did they even have "soft" drinks in 1915? LOL
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:42 PM   #8
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Default Re: Speedway Park, Wichita,Kansas

Sarsaparilla?
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Old 06-01-2009, 02:25 PM   #9
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It sure wasn't Hot Kookies and Mr. Horrible Burgers..........
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:58 PM   #10
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Default Re: Speedway Park, Wichita,Kansas

I can confirm that the layout in post#3 is correct it had 4 straights.
Check out the 1938 aerial at historicaerials.com
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