That time period of 1949 through 1952 was a unique one in the history of stock car racing. Never before [and never since] has there been such a burgeoning of racing and racing venues as there was in that time. True, many of the tracks were rustic, fly – by – night outfits which did not offer much in the area of spectator safety or accomodations; but, nonetheless they were operating tracks. The great Ken Squier loves to point out that, in 1950 alone, there were 22 tracks operating simultaneously in Vermont. Although that does not even come close to what was probably operating in New York at the same time, it is a far higher per capita concentration than any other region, in my opinion.

Just as dramatically, a huge percentage of these tracks died out and were gone by mid decade. Such factors as complaining host towns, efforts by state governments and ambitious district attorneys to use archaic Sunday Blue laws to wipe out racing, and a natural thinning out after an initial boom in any popular activity all combined to pare down the number of tracks by 1959 to about three or four. But, unlike some sport facilities, these tracks often just died out and laid there, rotting and gathering weeds and overgrowth unless somebody wanted to develop the property.

Simon News.Com
They're everywhere.


While it is safe to say most race tracks were located out, away from towns [unless they were long established old fairgrounds venues], there were a few tracks that were either established or ended up very near to traveled roadways. And, there they sit, sometimes mere feet from the road, basically undetected or known about unless by those of us old enough to have attended or at least heard about them.

A classic example of this is the old Moffitt Park Speedway, located between what now is Interstate 87 and the old US Route 9 in northern Plattsburgh. Originally a small local horse oval, the track encompassed land under and around the Cumberland Head exit of the Northway. The site even was used as the site of the Clinton County fair for a few years. It seemed to be the heir of the horse action that used to go on at the old track on Bailey Avenue.

Courtesy of Phil Butler
The old Bailey Avenue track led to the use of the Moffitt Road property. Below – This 1964 aerial shows the traces of the Moffitt Park
track within an Interstate 87 interchange near Cumberland Head.

Historic Aerials.Com

Once motor racing was introduced, it seemed to be limited to motorcycle racing and various open wheel racing classes. A few of the older drivers who were on hand to race at Airborne Park Speedway when it opened in 1954 had driven at Moffitt Park – either on a motorcycle or perhaps in a sprinter or midget. Finally, when stock cars came in in 1953, the name was changed to Border Speedway, and it seemed to be tied in with the St. Lawrence Valley Speedway group out of Canton, NY.

There are precious few images of any phases of the track. One older aerial view of the Town of Plattsburgh shows, right in the middle of the northern exit ramp onto Interstate 87, a faint circular outline that has nothing to do with the new highway's layout. That is what was left of the track. Very shortly, even those traces disappeared on subsequent aerial photos. Where WPTZ Channel 5 sits, they used to park the spectators' cars. A grove of trees with a particular shape, to the west of the northern on ramp is – according to Norty Foster, the same trees that outlined the old track. Other than that, the ghost of that track relies mainly on the spoken lore of a few in the area.

Plattsburgh Press Republican
This newspaper ad extols action at Moffitt Park in 1949. There were
no stock cars then. Below - Rusty Reed began racing after his brother,
Joe raced motorcycles there. Another Reed brother, Bunn, also

Bob Mackey Photo

The second spectre of a track also lies intermixed with a modern superhighway. The New York community of Goshen has a well – known horse track now; but, years ago, there was also what is usually simply referred to as The Goshen TriOval. Strangely triangular, it is shaped like several old race tracks of that time. Three distinct corners. What makes this one a little different is that it was a mile long, apparently. One website states it has been operating since 1908, actually ceasing by 1947. But, the fact they ran cars for some of that time puts it in this discussion.

The town clearly has an important horse track facility, which – according to some data, has been in operation since well back in the 1800's. This one even went through betting and so forth. The entire tri – oval track – except for a small part bisected by Route 17M, sits there silently beside a number of highways just outside of Goshen. The track likely never hosted stock cars, but it certainly must have been the scene of a number of open wheel races. Probably only a small percentage of the busy motorists using that part of 17M or the access ramp connected to it, have nay idea they are traversing through a sleeping race track.

Speedway and Road Race History.Com
A big car field lines up on the Goshen Mile track well before the stock”
car racing era. Below – This aerial shot shows how that track's vestiges
are as close to a highway as were those of Moffitt Park.

Google Earth


Our next is more of a sleeping giant than it is a ghost. My wife and I often travel over NY Route 11, either to Malone or through Malone to get somewhere like the Akwesasne Casino or even as far as Syracuse. We even just go on that road for a ride, as it has dozens of gigantic windmills to look at, as well as the occasional Amish buggy or just some nice scenery. We often stop at this throwback drive – in eatery called Bokie's Drive-In. The joint, painted primarily pink, looks like it was once one of those places with the girls on roller skates serving cars.

What we have always paid no attention to, is a large fence that looms, just mere feet away from Bokie's on the hill right behind the restaurant. It turns out that this is the long – dormant Malone International Raceway and Entertainment Park. It was established in the late '90's by a former New York State Trooper. I thought this track [another tri oval] looked kind of small and I was right. It was originally touted to be used for legend cars. Attempts have been made to get it going again, but it still has had virtually no time in operation.

Historic Aerials.Com
Made expressly for Dwarf cars, Malone International Speedway sits,
unused above NY Route 11 in Malone. Below -

            Not very far away from the Malone track, north up Route 37, another ghost lies in the weeds, just a few feet from the road and even closer to the Salmon River in the town of Fort Covington, NY. The track was almost on the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation. Actually, I think a member of the tribe does own the land it rests on. Fort Covington was a track people loved to race upon because the river bottom clay that was used on the surface was arguably the best dirt anywhere in our region.

         The track was kind of a loose cannon and very ramshackle. Wes “Slugger” Moody speaks of sitting in his modified in the pits, waiting for a race and eyeing this old coupe with as he put it “About six carbs sticking out. He swears beer cans were flying out the window with regularity. The infrastructure was so sketchy, the flagger once accidentally snagged a wire on his stand with the handle of the caution flag and summarily wiped out the entire light system.

Source Unknown
Canadian Medor Viau plys the Fort Covington track in its day. Below – Hoffnagle snapped this shot
of the remnants of the bleachers on the site [now they're gone].

Bill Hoffnagle Photo

         The outline of the fast half mile was very discernable from the air until recently, when someone began to screw up the ground work on the site for no apparent reason. As I often go through Fort Covington to go the Casino, I know where the track was, but I can't make out anything, including that second turn that was scant feet from the river. Popular lore says that this corner was in Canada; not even close ! My friend Bill Hoffnagle went up there a few years and took pictures. Glad he did; it;s all gone now.

         The next venue is not only a ghost, but it is an old ghost – much like the Goshen track. The old Kennebunk [Maine] fairgrounds sat west of the town, sitting now where I95 goes by. Another old horse track, motor racing was held as early as the 1930's. There is sketchy information that suggests a Massachusetts – based racing group may have sanctioned auto racing there as late as the late 1940's. By the 1950's, with work happening in Maine on the Main Turnpike, the old fairgrounds gave way to a highway that is now I95.

Historic Aerials.Com
An aerial of Fort Covington Speedway. See how close that turn is to the river.
Below – The Kennebunk remains can be seen witihin the interstate exit.

Historic Aerials, Com


          Much like Moffitt Park and the Goshen TriOval, parts of the old Kennebunk track are intermixed with portions of the conquering superhighway. Whereas State Route 35 ran right beside the old fairgrounds track, as one would expect, Interstate 95 runs straight through it, making a nearly equal bisection. An older aerial photo shows the track still visible in the path of the superhighway. The Maine Vintage Race Car Association “Memories” site has a number of old tracks that are described; the Kennebunk fairgounds are among its least known tracks.

         The fifth location is along an obscure highway in northern Massachusetts – a good location for the ghosts to get in a ton laps without being detected. Just out of sight of the Millers Falls Road, lies a long, narrow oval that was once called Rhythm Inn Speedway. Whenever people recall this track, they get a little wry smile on their face. The track was located into the property, behind the Rhythm Inn, which was purported to be a strip joint or something similar that no guy's wife wanted him attending.

Image Shack.Com

The outline of the old Rhythm Inn Speedway [which is still discernable today] is readily seen in this aerial - scant feet
fro the highway. Below - Walt and Mrs. Renner setting up the souvenir stand at Rhythm Inn in the 1950's.

Courtesy of Chip Cormie

         The track, once part of the effective Triangle Racing Association that also ran Brattleboro Speedway and two tracks in New Hampshire, hosted some great names including future four – time national champion Rene Charland, future national champ Ernie Gahan, and dozens of future hall of famers. It is said that a lot of the prize money won at the track ended up being spent at the “restaurant” afterward. Although we had heard of different plans that might alter the property, the outline of the paper clip shaped track has been visible for a long time down there. 

         If you happen to be traveling down Whites Beach Road, off NY Route 50, you will go past a nice, large - sized log home towards the end of the road - not far from the actual Whites Beach on Ballston Lake. In the yard, on the lake side of the property of that log home lies a former track, whose turns one and two are scant feet from the Whites Beach Road - hidden inside a wire mesh fence. The track was the Whites Beach Speedway, one of those poor cousins in that region to the bif tracks like Fonda and Lebanon Valley. The mesh fencing, put there after all racing had ceased, was to fence in fallow deer which were once raised there.

USGS Terraserver Photo
This aerial photo shows just how close the Whites Beach Speedway lies to the road of the same name.
Below - the old ticket booth, at the  head ofthe driveway to the property.

Ladabouche Photo

        Whites Beach Speedway [once also called Playa Blanca Speedway] was frequently tied to the race track in Warrensburgh, NY - sharing compeitors and sometimes even promoters. The cars which raced there into the very early 1960's were lower cost cars - mostly six cylinder and flat head - powered, which coould not keep up with the overhead V-8 cars that ran Fonda. If you stop by the fence, just before you reach the roailroad tracks over which you cross to get to the lake, you can peer through the fence and see the hint of banking from One and Two there. The property owners, at leat up to recently, had also keptthe old ticket booth from the track at the entracne to their driveway.

         Our last entry lies a little bit off both Interstate 89, and also not far from US Route 7, at the southwestern extreme of the town of Milton, Vermont. Catamount Stadium was placed there in 1965 because it was such a good place, access – wise to have a race track. And, over its far – too – brief existence, it did receive competitors from far – off areas, both in its earlier modified era and [later] in its celebrated late model sportsman era. The well – banked third mile paved track did not survive for one week after its last program in 1987. The Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, which had acquired the land in 1982, tore it up immediately

Source Unknown
Catamount Stadium, as it looked on the week it opened in 1965. Below -
The track, at its full development around 1985. The Interstatge 89
is mere feet to the left of the edge of this photo.

Courtesy of Beaver Dragon

         I don't know if the GBIC was afraid the track would somehow rise up and attack the surrounding factories and warehouses that would sprout up everywhere except right on the track itself; but they wasted no time tearing up the asphalt and arranging for the towers to be burned for hose practice. Years later, all that remains is the basic contour of most of the track in the grass, some asphalt that used to be behind the grandstands, and the cement loading platform to unload car off flatbed trucks. If you drive someone through the track, you usually have to tell them they are within a race track. They either do not notice the subtle banking or they are just too young to know. There are few tracks that much more missed and regretted than Catamount.

        So, driving past a seemingly deserted stretch of land, after dark, could be an unrealized encounter by the uninitiated. Back in that growth of softwoods, there may be a partly overgrown oval there. If one is paying attention, there my be a faint odor of oil soaked dirt, a muffled roar of flathead engines, and a soft voice droning into the night “Oh my, ladies and gentlemen! Did you see what Fireball Clark just did ? Two laps to go ! Hang onto your seats !”

Steve Pecor Photo
One week after the last Catamount program, it looked like this. Below – The track is
hard to make out in the industrial park by the 1990's.

Source Unknown

  When you motor by [or over] one of these lurking remnants, you will probably never know it unless you happen to be one of those who know where these loost places lie.

Please email me if you have any photos to lend me or information and corrections I could benefit from. Please do not submit anything you are not willing to allow me to use on my website - and thanks. Email is: . For those who still don’t like computers - my regular address is: Bill Ladabouche, 23 York Street, Swanton, Vermont 05488.


Return to the Main Page
Return to the Main News Page
Return to the All Links Page
Return to the Weekly Blog Links Page