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METTAWEE ? METTOWEE ? HECK! WE JUST CALLED IT GRANVILLE


        NO. GRANVILLE, NY - When I was little, there was a small number of tracks that my family, or people in our circle, talked about. We had been to the short – lived Pico Raceway outside of Rutland, VT; and we had attended a few shows at the Fairmont Park Motor Speedway, near the New York border in Fair Haven. Those in he circle, such as Jim Haley and Richard Olsen [being bachelors] were free to roam to some other locations like Fonda Speedway, Bennington, and Granville – from where they might come back and offer a story or two.

 


Danish Family Photo
Stateline Speedway, a bigger track but with up and down fortunes
just like Granville, was often simply known as “Bennington”. Below -
Ed Wa,izer [seen here atop a fellow competitor at Lebanon Valley]
may well be someone who ran both Stateline and Granville.

Bud Verge Photo via Lebanon Valley Classics


       “Bennington” was Stateline Speedway; but, “Granville” was all I ever heard the other track called. I found out, when I started this history work that the track was named after the nearby river that ran from Vermont into New York [or maybe the other way around]. I have read it as the Mettawee Speedway, and variously as the Mettowee Speedway. A few scant newspaper article seem to lean towards the latter spelling.

        I had a spotted history with the place from the beginning. We actually attended a race program there once around 1951 or 52. I recall vaguely [I was, after all about five] of the car SUPER 38, which would have been out of Warrensburg, NY at the time and probably driven by Nelson Moore or some other driver from the Glens Falls area.


Courtesy of New York Motorsports Research

This 1952 ad came while Fairmont Park Motor Speedway had closed and Pico was in its last year of operation.
Below- the Granville – based, Loomis - owned P38 of Nelson Moore did run at all three tracks in that approximate time.
The Loomises were said to be partners on the race track, as well.


McDowell Photo Courtesy of Ken Gypson

        The long and short of it that day was the fact that, during the feature, a big wreck happened that not only involved a good portion of the field, but that local driver Ed Barnes managed to take down one of the power poles that the management had located brilliantly close to the racing surface. So, we all went down from the small bleachers and looked at the carnage on the track and had to leave, seeing as there was no more power to anything at the track.

        Unlike our other abortive try at a distant track, in which we were rained out at Mike Akhoury's Stateline Speedway before seeing any races, this ended with sufficient excitement as to not make the shortened result too painful. That notwithstanding, my efforts to find the site of the Mettowee / Mettawee track were quite frustrating, to say the least.


DeWolfe Photo Courtesy of Ray Wilson
This post WWII aerial shot gives the only good look at Mettowee Speedway. You can see the small bleachers,
the poles too close to the track, and the entrance off Rt. 22 through the barnyard. The backstretch viewing
 bank is not visible. Below – This one vague aerial is the only one that showed even the slightest trace of the planted – over track.


Courtesy of Half Fast Video


        I had made several outings, from Rutland, with my wife and my parents [when they were still living]. Dad and Mom were good sports about these “rides” because they had, at least, gone to these places. I had to cast about in Granville, asking questions as to where the track might have been. I had heard, from several old race hands, that they used to have to go through a barn yard to get out to the track, which was obviously located on somebody's farm.

        We were about at our wits end, driving up and down NY Route 22 when I stopped at a local farm stand and asked an older gentleman if he knew where there had been a track. He turned, pointed vaguely to the east and said to look for the Sunset View. That's where it would be, if anything was left. I figured this must ne the name of some sort of motel or lodge. Finally, I saw a barn on a hill with the name of the farm “Sunset View” in letters on its roof.



Ladabouche Photo
At least the first place actually looked like an old track. I took this shot in winter, with one eye out for the State Police.
It shows the light poles going around turn four. Below – Everybody thought they knew this was the aerial of the track.
I have no idea where it is – it's neither my wrong site or the real site.


From USGS Terraserver


        Getting permission from an indifferent young couple [who turned about to be illegal squatters in the house], I went up through and found a track, complete with a few buildings and some light poles. To be fair, the kid did say he thought it was a horse track, but I paid little mind, considering his young age. I took photos in the Fall and more in the winter, having then to sneak around NY State Police plastic tape across the driveway.

        It was the second location I had considered and, although I had seemed to hit the jackpot and put all this stuff on a page on my website, I was uncomfortable. The building were just too close to the racing surface for me to believe it could have tolerated much auto racing. And, sure enough, Ted Vogel – the noted car owner from Granville – let me know this was – in fact -an old horse track. Back to Square One.


Bob Frazier Photo  Vogel Family Collection
Ted Vogel, Sr. shown here as a Devil's Bowl track official was doubtless involved in the running of the Granville
 track as well as in fielding cars here. Below - A recent photo looks across of what would have been the track.
The newer barn [right] would block what was the entrance off Rt 22.


Ladabouche Photo

        We finally determined that a.) the real track was indeed on a farm – but nearer to the Vittengil Ford dealership in North Granville; and b.) there would be no outward signs of the track. Right on both counts. Roxanne and I were on our way to one of the Lost Speedway conferences when they still had one in April and we found the Wilson Farm.

        Luckily, Ray Wilson was just coming out of a barn during chores and did verify that this was, in fact, the site of the track. He let us walk out into the cornfield that had held the long – blotted out race track and take a few photos. Better yet, Ray went into the house and emerged with an aerial photo that some former WWII pilot had taken as he was trying to get an aerial photography business going.

 
Les King Photo Courtesy of Vogel Family
Ken Shoemaker flies checkers at Mettowee in one of the earlier Vogel cars.
The LV stood for Loomis / Vogel. You can almost see the stands on the backstretch
Below – An even earlier Vogel car, perhaps driven by Ted, did
not have such good luck at the Granville track.


Vogel Family Photo

        Despite my own very dim memories, it was just like I had recalled and like what people like Art Visconti and other area racing veterans had recalled. The entrance to the track, right through a barn yard, had an old bus or trailer as a ticket or sign-in booth. The track had a small set of bleachers, lots of light poles around the track, a small announcer's stand, and a bank off the backstretch where many people chose to watch from.

        Ray Wilson, himself couid recall the races but he was not only a little younger than I but his strong interest was in snowmobile racing; so, his input other than the photo was very limited. It seems to me that the track went through various periods in its history which like many others, seemed to end around the end of the 1950's. At some point, perhaps as Stateline, Fairmont, Pico, and many other of its feeder tracks had ceased operations, the Wilsons saw the handwriting on the wall and put the small operation to bed for good.



Courtesy of Mark LeFrancois
The Danish 61Jr team car sits in the pits as an unidentified track
official passes by. The backstretch spectator hill can be seen. Below -
Link Pettit's 00 sits in the pits at Granville around 1951.


Courtesy of Link Pettit

 

        I don't have a ton of articles or results sources for races at the Granville track. Probably, the vast majority of its competitors came to it off US Route 4 in New York [just outside of Whitehall], crossing the Champlain Canal and driving right by the imposing Great Meadows Correctional Facility in Comstock. The track was only a few miles from that prison, and was much easier to access that way than through the circuitous secondary and tertiary roads through Granville and Middle Granville.

        Fonda Speedway was not established until 1953, so it was not siphoning off the best teams until then. Granville could share cars from the likes of Warrensburgh Speedway [or Ashland Park] in Warrensburgh; Stateline Speedway on the NY / VT border in No. Bennington, VT; Pico Raceway, Rutland, VT; Whites Beach Speedway, Ballston Lake, NY; Fairmont Park Motor Speedway on the border in Fair Haven, VT; and tracks the likes of Route 66 Speedway, Averill Park, NY; and the Pine Bowl in Snyders Corners, NY. A few tracks like the Burden Lake track, and others in New York had already started to close.


Courtesy of Bud Brooks
Cars line up on the old Fairmont Park Motor Speedway track
in 1951. Gansevoort's Hank Schmidt [F40] ewas a very likely Granville
car and George Rogers [right] was a definite. Below – In footage that may be from Granville,
Charlie Morse leads Steve Dansih and Spence Parkhurst.


From Dan Ody's 8MM Old Speedways DVD's

        As I have mentioned, everything in the history of these tracks is predicated on “before Fonda started” and “After Fonda started”. Stateline and Pico, in particular, were – by 1952 – attracting some very top shelf competition at their shows, many of whom would also try Granville from time to time. Fairmont, always at odds with the newer, flashier Pico, would get what was left; but that included some top notch runners like Dave Brooks, Gene Tetreault, George Rogers, Steve Danish, and Spence Parkhurst.

        I have seen some Granville results and photos that seem to show that it seemed to get a lot of the same cars as did Fairmont [although the Fair Haven track was done by 1952 as a result of the death of a spectator who was hiding in trees near the track which gravely upset promoter Hugh Young]. Danish, Parkhurst, Nelson Moore [who drove a Granville – based Loomis family P38], George Rogers, and a number of Warrensburgh cars could be seen. Apparently the Warrensburgh and Whites Beach tracks cooperated with one another around that time.


Courtesy of Link Pettit
Link Pettit displays Mettowee checkers with the spectator hill
visible in the background. Below – Jerry King's Stateline car
with the dual carbs he fashioned himself out of two separate carbs.
He may have used this one at Granville.


Courtesy of Jerry King

         In addition to the drivers previously mentioned, Ken Shoemaker, Jeep Herbert, Pete Corey, Jack Barney, Harold Kyer, and Jerry King would have been very likely to race at Granville at least some of the time. The track, like all others, had a contingent of locals like Barnes, Visconti, and more who would support the shows weekly. My one newspaper article mentions a feature winner as Vic Smith, driving a car 5 & 10. This would suggest a connection to nearby Whitehall, the only place I ever heard of with a car of that number.

        The article went on to mention Steve Bouplon, one of the local drivers who would also appear at Stateline. Fair Haven local driver George Pritchard was also a top finisher that day, as was Jerry King, a Rutland driver also running at Pico and Stateline. King, who went on to field cars in the '60's at Fairmont and at Devil's Bowl, was sophisticated enough at the time to have different cars for Pico and Stateline; I have no idea which one he used at Granville.


From Dan Odys's 8MM Old Speedways DVD's
This 8MM movie frame is believed to be Steve Bouplon, outside his
car at Stateline. Hard to tell, it could also be Fred Shepard, another
Granville driver. Below – George Baumgardner, shown with the Henry
Caputo 11, a car he would have driven later.


Courtesy of Otto Graham

 

         Jack Harrison [who was probably from the Granville area racing family, not the Pittsford, VT racing family] was mentioned as were Hermie Marsh, Ralph Smith, Ward Latterall, and George Baumgardner. Baumgardner, the diminutive veteran of open wheel racing in the '40's would forge a career as a driver for hire for the likes of Ray Vine, Henry Caputo, Richard Welch, and Red Kromer. It is unlikely he was racing for any of these at Granville, as most of their teams ran in the late '50s' and early '60's. But he was considered a big name in those days.

         As was the fashion at 1950's tracks, Granville featured regular powder puff racing. At most tracks in that era, wives [usually] would drive the same cars as their husbands in weekly events. This was not done occasionally or for the lighthearted amusement of the fans; these women drove seriously, regularly, and took no prisoners. The powder puff results in this article I have take up as much room as the men's material.


From Dan Ody's 8MM Old Speedways DVD's
The Whitehall – based car 5 & 10, shown here in 1962 at Fairmont
with Bob LaBarge, is probably the same one that won the Granville
race with Vic Smith. LaBarge is behind the likes of Red Smith [yellow car],
and Jack McClure [red & White] - both of whom likely raced at Granville.
Below – The Vogel family, with the LV13 at Pico Raceway.
Hopefully, if Mrs. Vogel tried the powder puff
raced at Granville she didn't wreck as much as Shoemaker did.


Vogel Family Photo

 

         An accompanying ad for the track promised $300 for the feature winner. Considering admission was $1.00, this is impressive. There are tracks today, charging $20 a head, who don't do much better. Photos from local people have shown that Granville's own Ted Vogel, Sr. ran cars at the track, and with his rather good – sized family, it's lucky admission was so reasonable.

         Vogel started out with cars whose numbers centered around “LV”. This was from his initial and that of the local trucking company family, the Loomises. Vogel, himself drove some at first but made his mark fielding cars for drivers like Ken Shoemaker [then from Whitehall]. Shoemaker graduated from the earlier Vogel LV cars and into the trademark #95 cars that ran well at Fonda and at Stateline. I am sure Vogel was a consistent supporter of his local track. Vogel also used Baumgardner as a driver at Stateline, and George could very well have driven a car 95 at Granville, as well.

         Another very young driver who was on his way to stardom at such farflung tracks as Coxsackie Speedway, further south, and the Lebanon Valley Speedway was Link Pettit. The blonde chauffeur drove his father – in – law's #00 at tracks all over the Northeast [and that included Granville and Pico]. Pettit is best known for his letter work at Lebanon Valley with Winn and McCarty entries; but he logged hundreds of laps with that 00 with the checkerboard sides.



Ladabouche Photo
Granville drivers Marty Warner [above] and Art Visconti would carry
on the town's racing traditions at places like Fairmont in the '60's.


Courtesy of Visconti Family

Well, after a years of running the track – varying between sweet fields and years with few cars – the Wilsons closed it down and returned Mettowee [I guess] Speedway to corn field once more. Ray, who would have been old enough to take it over, was running in pretty high circles in snowmobile racing, apparently sometimes running for a factory team. So, that was the end of the track in Granville.

The track's presence, however, guaranteed that there would be continued interest in stock car racing there. I followed the fortunes of the Loomis family racing for quite some time. Although I am not certain, I think the family that still runs a trucking concern had some involvement in the running of the race track. Names crop up like Stub Loomis, Bob Loomis, Kenny Loomis, and – most recently – Bruce Loomis as various family members ran at the re – opened Faimront Speedway or at Devil's Bowl.

        
Both Ladabouche Photos
The Loomis family built this P61 in 1962 and finished with a much more
sophisticated sportsman model for Nelson Moore in 1964. Below -
Bruce Loomis keeps that number alive at Devil's Bowl around 1968.


Courtesy of Bruce Loomis

 

         Starting in the '50's with Nelson Moore, the Loomises fielded cars with designations of WWII fighter planes for years [P61 and P38]. The family car P38, which   morphed into the P61, and ended as the #111 was a force at Fairmont for years. I believe Kenny and Bruce raced 111's at Devil's Bowl in the earlier years of that West Haven, VT track.

         Other Granville runners included the red – headed Art Visconti, who actually started out running with his father at Warrensburgh before setting in Granville and making a career out of running orange and white #001's. Irish Ed Kelly was another Granville driver who ran at Fairmont at the same time as Visconti. Ironically, the dark – haired Kelly looked more like an Italian than “Irish Ed” while Visconti looked more like the Irishman.



Ladabouche Photo
Irish Ed Kelly [far right] rolled this nice looking Ford
coupe the first time he drove it at Fairmont. Below – This publicity
photo shows some of the Loomis boys around 1963.


Courtesy of Barb Laduc

 

         Another Granville man, Marty Warner briefly fielded a sharp – looked #V8 sedan at Fairmont and – much later – more members of the Harrison family raced late models and modifieds. Today, there are fewer and fewer reminders that the track on the Wilson farm in North Granville even existed. Not much except Ray's aerial photos, a few cloudy old Kodak snapshots, the memories of those of us old coots who ever recall its running shows.

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: wladabou@comcast.net . For those who still don’t like computers - my regular address is: Bill Ladabouche, 23 York Street, Swanton, Vermont 05488.

AS ALWAYS, DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT MY WEBSITE
www.catamountstadium.com

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