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I walked the Meadowdale track today!


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#1 chuckbrandt

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 00:56

I'm having a great research trip in the Chicago / Milwaukee area this weekend. Yesterday I spent the whole day with Bob McKee and had supper with Roy Kumnick and his lovely wife. Today I walked the entire track at the old Meadowdale circuit. It is amazing how nature has reclaimed the land, even more so than Greenwood. My only regret is that I didn't sufficiently research which direction they ran it. I got there and didn't know so I assumed anti-clockwise and only realized my mistake half way around the track when I was going down the "uphill section". I was told going in that you really can't walk the whole circuit because of some large wash outs, and that may well be true for any rational person. But I did it :) I did have to make a big off trail excursion in the woods to cross the 30' wide 20' deep gully that has eroded out of the circuit just after the drag race straight. More later, but for now here is the famous silo.

Chuck Brandt

Here is an excellent site on Meadowdale if you are interested

http://www.meadowdal....homestead.com/

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#2 HistoricMustang

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 12:38

Yes Chuck, and lets not forget the project underway to "save' the silo.

Information at the site you listed.

Henry

#3 RA Historian

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 02:08

Ah, Meadowdale, what memories...

I saw several races there in the early 1960s and was just amazed, even then at my young age, by the layout of the track. By that I mean how close spectators could get and the danger of the place. A good deal of the track was below eye level, with banks rising several feet to the spectator fence, which was just chicken wire. If a car ever went off......

How close could one get? Take a look at the Alan Connell thread. I took that photo of Connell in his Cooper T-57. Now here is the kicker...I did not have a telephoto lens back then. That photo was taken with a normal camera with the stock 50mm lens. In other words, that is just about how the naked eye would see the car. Very, very close, you have to admit.

The track was 3.27 miles long. It ran major races from 1959 through 1964 followed by a few years of club racing. A Trans Am was run in 1968 but that was the last gasp. Finances, of course, but also the sanctioning bodies, specifically SCCA, were beginning to get rather safety conscious, and Meadowdale just could not be economically modified to meet the demands. As I recall, the last race was in 1969.

Who won the big races? Three USAC events in 1959, two won by Jim Jeffords, the third by Augie Pabst, all in Scarabs.

1960, an SCCA National won by Pabst in the Scarab. An SCCA Divisional won by Bill Wuesthoff in the Scarab.

1961, SCCA National won by Roger Penske in a Maserati T-61, SCCA Divisional by Augie Pabst in a Scarab.

1962, only one race of note, an SCCA National won by Harry Heuer in a Chaparral 1.

1963, SCCA National again won by Heuer in the Chaparral. SCCA Divisional won by Wuesthoff in a Porsche RS-60.

1964, again one race of note. This was a big one though, an USRRC won by Jim Hall in a Chaparral 2.

The 1968 Trans Am was taken by Mark Donohue in a Camaro.

A very exciting track of which I have some great spectating memories. In both 1962 and 1964 I "admitted myself" (snuck in) to the pits and got some great photos of the cars close up.

A chap named Bill Pohnan from the Chicago area has written a history of the track. Last I heard he was looking for a publisher. I hope that he is successful; the book would be quite interesting.

#4 Jerry Entin

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 02:24

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Here is the picture RA Historian is talking about. copyright 2006 Tom Schultz

#5 szautke

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 02:51

Lets not forget the several USAC Stock Car races that were held there. Winners include Freddie Lorenzen in 1958.  ;)

#6 RA Historian

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 03:16

Originally posted by szautke
Lets not forget the several USAC Stock Car races that were held there. Winners include Freddie Lorenzen in 1958.  ;)


Yes, I was aware of the occasional stock car race. However, I confess that in those days I had no interest in such racing :down: and was totally focused on sports car racing. :up: Never followed the stocks, so I left them off my list.

Come to think of it, I have no interest in such racing today! I have not watched so much as one minute of NASCAR on TV since the 1990s. Can't stand the WWF on wheels! :down:

#7 Jim Thurman

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 17:50

Originally posted by RA Historian


Yes, I was aware of the occasional stock car race. However, I confess that in those days I had no interest in such racing :down: and was totally focused on sports car racing. :up: Never followed the stocks, so I left them off my list.

Come to think of it, I have no interest in such racing today! I have not watched so much as one minute of NASCAR on TV since the 1990s. Can't stand the WWF on wheels! :down:


Leaving them off the list is selective history, and comes across as snobbery. A track's history is what it is. Meadowdale, like many other road courses in that era (Continental Divide, Oregon International, etc.), also hosted at least one race for local short track Stock Cars.

That being said, I share your sentiments about NASCAR from 1993 on :up:, but USAC and other Stock Car organizations should not be painted with the same brush, nor should NASCAR in the earlier years (despite some dubious rulings even then).

#8 RA Historian

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 19:29

Actually, I do not even know who won stock car races at Meadowdale. That was the level of my interest. I could look them up in my old stash of Competition Press mags, but frankly did not think that my answer above merited that amount of time from me. You know, go down to the storage room, find the proper box, take off all the stuff that is piled on top of it, open it up, sort through it, so on and so on. To be honest, I just did not want to take the time!

Following up, yes, in the 1960s there was a huge element of snobbery between the sports car set and the roundy rounders! I'll admit it.

I also agree with your assessment of such racing back in the 60s or thereabouts. They whole USAC and that southern series stock car scene was certainly different than it is now, after NASCAR went "uptown" and set out on conquering the racing world. I will admit to finding stock car racing a whole lot more interesting then than now.

A number of years ago I was at Lime Rock back when I was doing field staff work for the SCCA Trans Am series. Accompanying the T-A and the IMSA race was a historic event. Among the cars in the paddock was a 1956 Kieckhafer (sp?) Chrysler 300-B stocker. It was very interesting looking at the car and seeing just how close to stock they were back then. The interior was complete; that is, full front and back bench seats, door panels, a stock dash board with a tach on the steering column, all very stock looking. About the only thing missing was the two brats in the back seat yelling "he touched me!" What a far cry from today!

Hope that I did not offend you with my leaving the stock car results off my 'quick and dirty' compilation of major racing results at Meadowdale. It is just that in my mind in those days stockers were not my interest nor did I consider them major. Sorry.