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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 07-09-2009, 08:51 PM   #1
Olen McGuire
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Default Manzanita Speedway-Another Ghost Track?

The Manzanita Speedway was a dirt track racing facility located in the suburban southwestern part of Phoenix, Arizona. The facility had a 1/3 mile and 1/2 mile tracks. The track held USAC events up through the 2009 Sprint Car season opener. The track was sold to a rigging company and the final race was held on April 11, 2009.
Originally a dog-racing track known as Manzanita Park, it was converted into a 1/4 mile jalopy race track during the summer of 1951. The first race was held August 25, 1951 in front of 3,923 fans. In 1954, Manzanita added a 1/2 mile track and christened it with a 25-hour marathon race.
In 1965, Keith Hall purchased the facility and renamed it Manzanita Speedway. In 1968, he founded the Western States Championships (now the Western World Championships) at the track, offering an at-the-time generous $10,000 purse. This race became part of the triple crown of sprint car racing.
Hall sold the track in 1984, but soon repossessed it when the new owners defaulted on the loan. In 2004, Joe and Millie Kimbro took over ownership of the facility.
In 2007, the Kimbro's sold the track to the Martin family, well known in the sprint car ranks. The ownership change became effective August 15, 2007.
In 2009 the Martins sold the track to Southwest Rigging and the company leveled the site after closing the doors on April 11, 2009.
The American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) Regional Tours had to rearrange their schedules for the 2009 season. The Discount Tire Company ASCS Canyon Region had to reschedule some of their 17 events at other speedways. Events were split between Hollywood Hills Speedway in San Felipe Pueblo, New Mexico and USA Raceway in Tucson. The series had competed at the track for over 50 years. ASCS's Southwest Region had to reschedule several winged events at other tracks.And so the Manzanita Speedway now joins the ranks of many other race tracks, soon to be called a ghost track.



This is an aerial view of the two tracks.Notice how the two tracks are neatly
aligned with each other.




Above was the front entrance of Manzanita.(photo by David Dawson)





Above is turn four of the larger track from the straightaway.
(Photo by David Dawson)





Above is turn one of both tracks from the grandstand.(Photo by David Dawson)




This is turn four of the 1/2 mile track taken from the flag stand.
(Photo by David Dawson)


As you can see, this was a well groomed track and it's a shame to put a
track like this one on the "Ghost Track" list.
Anyone having some action shots taken at this race track would
be greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-10-2009, 02:42 PM   #2
parrot
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Default Re: Manzanita Speedway-Another Ghost Track?

Sad to learn that this great speedway is losing out to progress. During the few years I lived there during the early seventies I attended as often as I could, either for the Friday night modifieds or the Saturday night sprint car races. I had heard of the reputation of Manzanita, but was new to sprint car racing. Man, what a show they put on! Lots of cars and plenty of daring, those guys could compete with anyone. Home of the Western United States Championships, open to sprints and super modifieds, they put on a great three day show with well known racers from across the country. (I spotted Tom Harrington from Denver's Lakeside Speedway in the grandstands one night) Racing was wild and wooly with crashes and flips most nights during the season. Perhaps not the safest track in those days, cars had been said to get through the fence and land outside on 35th Ave. I even saw one get into the grandstands coming off turn four. Scary, but turned out OK. Shown below is a photo of the 1970 ASA sprint car champion at Manzanita, Frank McDaniel. Manzanita sprinters were 'no wing' cars, and always had the four post cage since they evolved from the super modifieds.
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Old 07-10-2009, 05:45 PM   #3
Mitch G.
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Default Re: Manzanita Speedway-Another Ghost Track?

Been to Manzy several times, scary fast, sprint cars right rear tire would "expand" like a top fuel dragster as they went down the front chute! A.J. Fort, Johnny Rutherford, Bobby and Al Unser, Parnelli Jones, and dozens of other legends all raced at Manzanita. Here are a few artifacts from the great track.
A program cover from the Western in 2002, a USAC midget program from 1964 (I was there!), and a couple of pages from inside the program, check out the track records in 1964. Billy Allen dumps his CRA sprint car in 1979, and 3 sprint legends duke it out in 1981, Dean Thompson in #1, Larry Clark #17, and Lealand McSpadden in #16. A darn shame, the track was a huge piece of American short track racing history.
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:42 PM   #4
parrot
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Default Re: Manzanita Speedway-Another Ghost Track?

Always enjoyed the small ovals and the Limited Modified guys put on a pretty good show of their own on Friday nights on the quarter mile oval. This class also ran a winter season. With the nice weather in Phoenix, you could enjoy racing year around. The USAC midgets would occasionally come to town and run both tracks for a two night show. Those cars would scoot on the small track, hanging the tail out the whole way around. But the wildest show was when the ARA sprinters ran the annual Donnie Davis memorial on the small track. With more power than they could posibly get to the track, banging and bumping, like the old jalopy races only with high horspower caged sprints. It was wild! The limited Modified cars ranged from a nearly stock configured '34 Ford coupe to several T bodied cars as shown here, most with small block OHV engines, but at least one with a Ford straight 6. Clayton Clayworth fielded this good looking car, several drivers involved, for 1970 and ended up second in points.
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Old 07-10-2009, 09:45 PM   #5
Olen McGuire
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Default Re: Manzanita Speedway-Another Ghost Track?

Thanks Bill and Mitch for those great pics.I'm just taken back by the looks
of this track especially the way it seems to be groomed and really taken
care of.



I was reading that race fans came from neighboring states to race and to
enjoy the races. Since that type of racing was not on TV anymore there
was a stream of people that came from California and Texas just for the
races there.
I've never raced cars of any type but in that small track,I bet they didn't
have to touch the brake pedal,just power slide all around the track.



(Photo by David Dawson) Here's a pic of Levi Jones car in the pit area.
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Old 07-10-2009, 10:07 PM   #6
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Default Re: Manzanita Speedway-Another Ghost Track?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitch G. View Post
Been to Manzy several times, scary fast, sprint cars right rear tire would "expand" like a top fuel dragster as they went down the front chute! A.J. Fort, Johnny Rutherford, Bobby and Al Unser, Parnelli Jones, and dozens of other legends all raced at Manzanita. Here are a few artifacts from the great track.
A program cover from the Western in 2002, a USAC midget program from 1964 (I was there!), and a couple of pages from inside the program, check out the track records in 1964. Billy Allen dumps his CRA sprint car in 1979, and 3 sprint legends duke it out in 1981, Dean Thompson in #1, Larry Clark #17, and Lealand McSpadden in #16. A darn shame, the track was a huge piece of American short track racing history.
Great stuff, Mitch! Here are some Gene Marderness and Westerman photos of the "Tempe Tornado" Lealand McSpadden in action at the 1978 East Bay Winternationals at Florida National Speedway in Tampa (Gibsonton) Florida. ~VB
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Old 07-10-2009, 10:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: Manzanita Speedway-Another Ghost Track?

The two previous photos and this photo of the Meek & Dillion 3 car stable courtesy of the 1970 Windy McDonald Arizona Racing Yearbook. Windy was the Manzanita track anouncer and could really get the crowd feeling like part of the event. That 3 car team was #12 Benton Burns, #1 Frank McDaniel, and #22 Dick Morgan. All three finished in the top ten for 1970. The #22 was the fastest of the few supermodifies still running with the ARA. With the upper body sheet metal, these cars could be seen more easily and looked pretty cool backing it in coming around the turns. Speaking of sheet metal, that portion of the wall above the guard rail was just that and could easily be compromised by a car "leaving the park"! How about the great Manzanita crest? Wonder if it's too late to get a decal. The CRA would visit for a show periodically; California drivers Bob Evans #4, Jim Eiland #86 along with Tempe, Arizona's Billy Shuman, #84A.
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Old 07-14-2009, 08:34 AM   #8
Mitch G.
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Default Re: Manzanita Speedway-Another Ghost Track?

Manzanita was always in great shape every time I was there even in the heat of summer, the only down side was the area of town it was in. Toward the time of it's closing, you would not want to have a flat tire, or run out of gas anywhere near the speedway. It's not the tracks fault, the area around 35th Ave, and Broadway just started declining, low property value, old run down industrial area and immigrant housing, just not good. Lealand McSpadden was the closest thing to a modern day Jud Larson, I cherish the memories I have of watching him race. In the last photo of Billy Shuman in that #84 sprinter, that's a small block Ford and Shuman has that car right now, fully restored, and races it at several vintage meets every year.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:37 AM   #9
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Default Re: Manzanita Speedway-Another Ghost Track?

Ive been to "Manzy" once. i worked on the tow truck there for the western world championships. It was awesome! we were sitting in turn 3 on the back of the tow truck and the cars were sliding past 90* wide open throttle! i will try to find the pictures i took. i was only about two years ago but the pictures are now "History". that track and racing will be missed by alot of us Tucson racers.
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Old 03-16-2014, 11:14 AM   #10
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Default Re: Manzanita Speedway-Another Ghost Track?

I had the amazing opportunity to see a race at Manzanita back in 2005 during summer vacation, Midgets, 410 Wingless sprints, and the Barnett modifieds, a little bummed that they were on the small track, always wanted to see a half mile in person. Watched 13 year old Chad Boat walk away in the midget class, don't remember too much because it was a while back. But definitely a night ill never forget.
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