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Marlboro Motor Raceway--Upper Marlboro, Maryland


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#1 OfficeLinebacker

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 00:07

I live in the DC area and I just found out about this within the past few days. At first I assumed it must be some place in England, just like half of our place names here in the 'States. (Turns out it's named for some Duke or Earl of Marlborough, so I was close!).

Anyway I couldn't believe that there was once a heck of a track in my area. The only stuff that goes on these days is drag racing, and even that's a good haul from town.

The wikipedia page:

http://en.wikipedia....o_Motor_Raceway

Says that the remains can be seen from Crain Highway aka rt. 301.

Anyway, today I had an excuse to go to Brandywine and then to Upper Marlboro for visits to junkyards. I drove up and down rt. 301, down several side roads, and into several people's driveways (by mistake!), into several county facilities, but couldn't freaking find the place. Granted, the vegetation is about as verdant as it gets right now, and I imagine that in the winter it's clearly evident.

Anyway, here are some links I've read, which simply amaze me, and I am keen to find the place, even to just look at it over a fence. I actually dreamed of driving my car around the place last night, such is my surprise and fascination!

Some members here have actually raced there, I've seen at least one post about visiting recently. Please do tell, and if you have any info as to how to actually find it, please post here or PM me! I literally drove myself nuts today!

http://www.na-motors...D/Marlboro.html

http://www.thevintag...ks/marlboro.htm

http://www.thevintag...k_mandelson.htm

http://terraserver-u...744&Y=21483&W=1

http://maps.google.c...73,0.013529&t=h

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#2 fbarrett

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 01:03

Officelinebacker:

Have you searched TNF? I recall Marlboro being mentioned fairly often in other threads.

Another popular track nearby was Cumberland. I went to high school in York, Pennsylvania in the 1950s but never had the chance to visit these two tracks. Both are mentioned in Pete Hylton's book Ghost Tracks and maybe be in Gordon White's "lost track" book (can't remember the name right now). These books would be handy for locating the remains today.

Frank

#3 OfficeLinebacker

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 03:01

Yes, of course I searched! I may have joined yeterday, but I stayed up all night studying!

Don Capps says he visited as recently as a few years ago in a post from 2006, and I have a PM out to him.

Also seen that Reds Fowler I believe it was, lost his life there in "The Ultimate Price" thread.

I've done my research, and my foot(tire)work.

Ghost Tracks is mentioned in the links above.

Also, update: after scrutinizing the satellite images, I realize that I did indeed find the track. There is a little frontage road for reaching the Waste Water Treatment Facility, Yard Waste Recycling Facility, and some place where lots of police cars are parked. You have to use if if you're approaching from the North. At one end is a simple gate, padlocked & chained, with a typical "Private Property, No Trespassing" sign. The address is 6000 Crain Highway I believe.

I stopped and really tried to look past it but saw nothing but a short road that was obscured by the foliage within a few tens of feet. There was a mailbox on the highway itself and I was sorely tempted to check it to see if it was a race track, but you know, fiddling with US Mail is serious biz.

Anyway that's it. Not much to see, if at all, in the heat of summer. There may be access from the back yard of some of the houses along the frontage road but that, again, would be a little awkward.

I think the address corresponded to a big "For Lease" sign for a 23-acre plot. Is that size about right? If so I guess the status has changed from "For Sale for $5 million."

#4 HistoricMustang

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 09:30

I have found the best approach on researching former tracks is to simply ask someone near the facility. Some local individuals have even offered to take me on a personal tour or they can get you going in the right direction for access and photographs.

Good Luck!

Henry

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#5 ggnagy

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 11:25

The DC area actually has at least 4 Road racing ghost tracks, but three of them were temporary courses. Andrews Air Force Base and Hagerstown Airport were both used for SCCA National events. ALMS had a one year parking lot circuit at RFK Stadium. Finally, there was Marlboro raceway, where the SCCA used to have events just about every month of the year, with events like the Turkey Bowl and Refrigerator Bowl.
The Washington DC region of the SCCA now has a group/list/"mob" :) dealing with the history of those older track. WDCR history page They have a yahoo group for discussing Marlboro, but I do not have the link to that at the moment.

The current home of road racing in the DC area is Summit Point Raceway in Summit Point,WV. Its only about an hour or so from the beltway, and the next big SCCA weekend is the MARRS race series Labor Day Double. Usually over 300 entries for that event. Summit Point has three race circuits that are booked concurrently by different groups at the same time, so you might also see car racing on the main circuit, motorcycles on another, and a drivers event on a third.

#6 OfficeLinebacker

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 13:01

Originally posted by ggnagy
ALMS had a one year parking lot circuit at RFK Stadium.


I went to that race!

The Orange Line East of town has a bridge that goes right over the parking lot that was used.

#7 canon1753

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 13:22

I was at that race too. Was hoping CART/IRL would have picked it up, but for some really really bad sound levels in the neighborhood nearby it didn't happen.

Plus, I think it was a stunt to show DC could hold the Olympics/large scale sporting events. When DC didn't get the US bid, what was the point....

#8 Lotus23

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 13:33

I heartily second Henry's suggestion about talking to locals. I've had some terrific conversations in this manner.

Of course, you have to be a bit selective in your quest: a teenager is a less likely source of meaningful info than a geezer would be.

#9 OfficeLinebacker

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 16:21

I did ask around, albeit only at the parts counters I was at.

That day, not a lot of people around who look old enough to remember it. The parts guys at Foreign Car Parts did know about it, though at first they tried to direct me to the horse track. :)

#10 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 16:32

I simply parked the car on the shoulder there on US 301, ducked under the gate and wandered around for a bit. I don't recall there really being all that much to see, although there were still structures there. It was late in the year, the leaves had fallen, it was chilly, and a dull, gray Sunday afternoon. After seeing what was left, no real inclination to return. I have no clue what happened to the pictures I took, but figure they went down with the ship when I had a hard drive commit suicide; at any rate, they have yet to show up in a search I did earlier today.

#11 OfficeLinebacker

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 16:53

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
I simply parked the car on the shoulder there on US 301, ducked under the gate and wandered around for a bit. I don't recall there really being all that much to see, although there were still structures there. It was late in the year, the leaves had fallen, it was chilly, and a dull, gray Sunday afternoon. After seeing what was left, no real inclination to return. I have no clue what happened to the pictures I took, but figure they went down with the ship when I had a hard drive commit suicide; at any rate, they have yet to show up in a search I did earlier today.


Don, thanks for your post.

Hey, if you're still in the area, I do some data recovery and I have a colleague who is one of the area's foremost experts in hard drive data recovery.

The way the fence looked to me, I don't think there was enough clearance for a person to fit underneath. Though, I must admit, I was more focused on vehicular access.

I will make it a point to make another excuse to go out there--maybe I should call the number on the "For Lease" sign and pose as an interested businessman? :smoking:

BTW when were you there last?

#12 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 10 August 2008 - 18:03

I last visited Upper Marlboro in late 2000, maybe early 2001.

The last time before that was probably 1992 or 1993.

#13 HistoricMustang

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 23:56

Good thread and nice photographs about 1/4 down the page.

Henry :wave:

http://grassrootsmot...rack/695/page1/

#14 Mark A

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 19:06

Marlboro is still one of my favourite 'finds' in Google Earth. There were a couple of road course layouts other than just the oval.

Nice picture on that Grassroots site Henry. looks better in those than it looks in GE.


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#15 RS2000

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 19:18

Originally posted by Lotus23
I heartily second Henry's suggestion about talking to locals. I've had some terrific conversations in this manner.


I was usually less lucky. The first time I was in the Darlington SC area I ended up in Darlington itself and asked 3 ol' boys sitting outside a gas station if they could tell me where the Speedway was. After about 2 minutes of head scratching one eventually decided it might be "out on the Hartsville Road"...

#16 HistoricMustang

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 20:51

Originally posted by RS2000


I was usually less lucky. The first time I was in the Darlington SC area I ended up in Darlington itself and asked 3 ol' boys sitting outside a gas station if they could tell me where the Speedway was. After about 2 minutes of head scratching one eventually decided it might be "out on the Hartsville Road"...


Usually I am told............................"just turn left at the third oak tree past the barn on the right".

But, hey, Goober, Gomer and Barney are my cousins so no complaints from me.

Marlboro must have been a special complex! Venues with multiple tracks have always been a favorite. It just seems putting the effort into that type of project went a little beyond wanting to just make money.

Henry :wave:

#17 TrackDog

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 21:57

I remember Marlboro from a book I read as a kid. The exact title of said book escapes me, but it was written in the early 1960's, because it had a section on then-current roadcourses that included Marlboro and another great long-lost track that still exists in ghost form, Meadowdale near Elgin, IL. I was fascinated by the layout of Marlboro because it always reminded me of a raygun from Lost In Space or Star Trek...those straightaways being so close in proximity to each other with traffic heading in opposite directions would never fly in today's racing world. And, Meadowdale was quite similar in configuration, as well...the Monza Wall looked like it would have been a very hairy bend to negotiate, too...

It's also interesting that the two tracks were contemporaries...Marlboro was a little older, but both operated in roughly the same period of time, and were closed for similar reasons. And both tracks are very unlikely to ever reopen, for similar safety and environmental concerns.

Of the two, Meadowdale is the more enthusiast-friendly today...it's possible to visit the grounds and even walk around the course if you're so inclined. It's maintained as a nature preserve with a nod to it's history. Too bad Marlboro has fallen on harder times.


Dan

#18 HistoricMustang

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 22:13

Originally posted by TrackDog
I remember Marlboro from a book I read as a kid. The exact title of said book escapes me, but it was written in the early 1960's, because it had a section on then-current roadcourses that included Marlboro and another great long-lost track that still exists in ghost form, Meadowdale near Elgin, IL. I was fascinated by the layout of Marlboro because it always reminded me of a raygun from Lost In Space or Star Trek...those straightaways being so close in proximity to each other with traffic heading in opposite directions would never fly in today's racing world. And, Meadowdale was quite similar in configuration, as well...the Monza Wall looked like it would have been a very hairy bend to negotiate, too...

It's also interesting that the two tracks were contemporaries...Marlboro was a little older, but both operated in roughly the same period of time, and were closed for similar reasons. And both tracks are very unlikely to ever reopen, for similar safety and environmental concerns.

Of the two, Meadowdale is the more enthusiast-friendly today...it's possible to visit the grounds and even walk around the course if you're so inclined. It's maintained as a nature preserve with a nod to it's history. Too bad Marlboro has fallen on harder times.


Dan


Dan, to break stride for a moment your comments are so true as that was the era for road racing in America.

Joel (Lotus 23) and I can point to a former road circuit just a few miles from our home that tried to break the mold for road courses and actually developed into a high banked oval with left and right turns with banking up to 40 degrees (according to the official track survey plat). Sportscars averages over 100 MPH's and the stockers well into the 90's.

A gentlemen heavily involved in the project was killed in Charlotte a few months after the opening events and the track never received another race date. What if things had been different in Charlotte. Perhaps, just perhaps road racing would have survived in grand scale here in the States. Jim Hall described the track as a "space age successor to Tobacco Road". He was so right and history has been so wrong.

Thanks for your comments as that time is gone.

Henry