Here's yet another speedway that many of us weren't quite old enough to get to, but fortunately some of you did and it is our hope that you'll share your memories with the other visitors of the Vault. Please click below to add your memories of Hatfield Speedway!
photo above provided by: Woody Nyce
Additional info provided by Bobby Joos: The Hatfield Speedway was located in the following 3 block area - Forty Foot Road , Koffel Road and Fairgrounds Road. The track was located on the former Montgomery County Fairgrounds. The grounds is now a housing development that is across the street from Rosenberger's Diaries. Unfortunately, there is nothing left of the track.
#444 Paul Balogash, 59A Tommy McAndrews, #87 Bob Wilkie, #8 Hidden coupe driver unknown, #999 John Todd, #77 Dave Ely, #3 Dick Havens, #4 Harry Moore, #39 Mose Moore, #026 Jackie McLaughlin (partially hidden behind the #47), #47 Bill Williams, #28 Tommy Scheetz, #19 George Sleight, #66 Eddie Haldeman, #11 Ralph Detweiler, #8 Freddie Adam, #32 Tony Volz, #X Smokey Dengler
(Photo & info provided by Rob Renninger)
Overhead View of 1/2 Mile
Hatfield Track Photos
Wider Overhead of Hatfield
Your Hatfield Memories...
(Memories most recently received appear at the top of the list)
Chick Kulp 09.01.13
I never got to see the covered Grandstand in real time but I think it mimics Flemington's as it was around since the 1850's. I always thought Hatfield was a bit of a copy of Flemington. I saw a lot of races there but I'll always remember Georgie Sleight in Paul Deasey's 707-- BOOM--BOOM! That explosion from the collector pipes would rock the town of Hatfield as it did at Reading & Flemington!!! GREAT DAYS!
Stephan M. Anderman 05.18.13
We moved to Line Lexington Road from North Wales when my father was discharged from military service in 1956. The advent of a new radio station in Lansdale, WNPV, in 1960(?) led to my contact with the speedway. Roy Nuss, a friend of my paternal grandparents in North Wales, was the station’s chief engineer.
The influence of local broadcast radio, and radio in general, would affect my life for years to come! The announcer of the radio station’s daily Sunrise Serenade program was Dick Heist of Collegeville. Dick was also the/an announcer at the speedway. His Saturday morning radio program included an 8:30 segment called “Spot the Artist”. He would play a record, usually from the big band era, and ask callers to call in and name the band, a vocalist, or an instrumentalist (the drummer, the lead trombone player, the trumpet soloist, etc.).
My mother, who had gone to college for broadcast journalism and worked for the North Penn Reporter newspaper on and off for 45 years, was particularly knowledgeable in this realm of music. We (well, okay, mostly she!) would often come up with the artist’s name and I would make a mad dash to the phone to be the first to call. Thus, we would occasionally win passes to the stock car races at Hatfield Speedway. These passes were often for Saturdays on holiday weekends when a fireworks display would end the evening’s races. I remember always stopping for an ice cream cone (perhaps at Rosenberger’s?) on the way home.
Though we weren’t there, I too remember the incident where a track lighting technician was accidentally electrocuted at a Friday night race, as related by “JohnL” in his post of 01.24.11. In particular, I remember hearing an ambulance, likely travelling along Cowpath Road toward North Penn Hospital, and my father wondering out loud if there had been an accident at the speedway. Volunteer Medical Service Corps’ distinctive blue ambulances were always on standby at Hatfield Speedway.
Living so close to the speedway, we could hear the roar of the cars and see the spectacle of the fireworks even on nights when we didn’t attend the races. We continued winning passes until about 1964, even though we had moved to the Chalfont area in 1962. I recall the speedway closing shortly after Bobby Marshman’s death in Phoenix, late in 1964.
The influence of Dick Heist, WNPV, Hatfield Speedway, and WRCV / KYW radio Chief Engineer John Michaels (a friend of my maternal grandparents in North Wales) led me to an interest in amateur (ham) radio and broadcasting. I had held a few part time radio jobs after high school in the early 1970s. But it wasn’t until April of 2013 that the “magic of radio” took over and I accepted a full time position in broadcasting here at WJJM-FM in Lewisburg, Tennessee. Like Dick Heist, I am the station’s morning man and I remember him addressing his listeners as “Dear hearts and gentle friends.” I think of that every morning at 6:00 AM when I hit the mike to do the morning newscast.
Stephan M. Anderman – Lewisburg, Tennessee
a/k/a “John Jay Michaels” – Host of “The JJM Morning Show”
Joseph McNally 02.06.13
In 1959 a neighbor, Charles Undercuffler, began taking me and his son Chuck to Hatfield. Then I found that friends of my Dad’s Bob and Dick Wilkie drove there. Soon I was in the pits. However, my sport was Drag Racing and at 16 I was there. Today I am the Historian For The NNDRA and maintain a 53 volume reference library on drag racing from it’s beginnings. I still have my Hatfield Trophies and a few photos, but that is all. We have the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing, a blend of all forms of Automobile and Motorcycle Racing. Am seeking photos, memorabilia, good stories, etc. about Hatfield Drag-o-Way so that it too may be represented in our racing heritage. I may be reached at 215-674-3067.. Or emailed @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Lee Groff 01.08.13
My name is Lee Groff and I have a lot of great memories of Hatfield Hi Speedway. I started going to the speedway in 1955 with my dad, they called my Dad Jack or Carlton Groff ,He is Stanley Groff brother, Stanley took care of the track and my dad did the pit Gate entrence and my Cousin Barry helped his DadStanley. I just liked to watch the race ,I have seen the accidents where Drivers Died and I saw the winners and losers. I always wanted to Race But I was over weight and Coudnot get into the Race cars and midgets. I ate the dust from the dirt track and watched them tear up the black top and smelled the tire smoke and engines over heat. I got in to the navy in the 60s and got out for the last two seasons of racing.
I went back to the track and talked to George Marshman and he had me Announce the last season of the Hatfield hi Drag way on Sundays I really enjoyed seeing the Different classes of Cars from top fuel all the way down to the school kids cars it was great. I remember seeing the Green Monster Dragster and Tommy Smithfield car triple trouble 65 Chevy nova with 3-327 engines in it - one under the hood and two in the back seat. I remember Don Garlets' Swamp Rat we had a lot of great Races and Drivers there on that one eighths of a mile run with a quarter mile shut down
I now live in Florida and go to see Don Garlets Race car museum. Thanks Hatfield for the memories Lee Groff email@example.com
Dave DeAngelis 03.24.12
Well, I finally moved from Ohio, through New Jersey, to back home. Precisely... on the perimeter grounds of the Hatfield Speedway. Never would have imagined this. Bought a shovel and a metal detector.
Charlie Edkins 01.28.12
Here's the #43x (formerly the #2 as pictured below)4 cyl - It now runs, moves and stops. I will show it off soon.
43x , S.I., N.Y.
Mr. and Mrs. Edmond J. O'Neill 12.22.11
As a resident of Fairfield Development which is on the grounds of the old Hatfield Speedway I thoroughly enjoyed this website and photos. Keep them coming. When we first moved in I was always digging up pieces of fencing, stuff like that, nothing actually identifiably collectable yet though.
Thanks - Mr. and Mrs. Edmond J. O'Neill - Hatfield, PA
Paul Weisel 11.08.11
(Regarding photos posted a few posts below from Paul Cavaliere from 06.14.11) Thanks for posting the photo of ARDC midget driver, Ronnie Polis, in his V8-60 #2. He was fatally injured in an ARDC midget race at Hagerstown, MD on 8-11-57 when he flipped after striking the stalled car of Johnny Mann.
The second photo of Mario Andretti in victory lane at Hatfield is very likely from 9-1-62 after his first ARDC midget win at the wheel of the Mataka Bros. Offy #11. Bob Harkey and Red Riegel finished second and third. Anytime you left Red Riegel third at Hatfield, you were going good. From left to right I can identify several of the men in the photo: Unidentified, starter Lou Heller, car owner Ed Mataka, unidentified, long-time Mario Andretti supporter Frank Boeninghaus, car owner Bill Mataka, Tommy Cochrane, Jim Polis, unidentified.
We have the third photo in our Eastern Auto Racing Historical Society photo archives and our information indicates the photo is from the ARDC sanctioned, Ronnie Polis Memorial race, September 29, 1957, at Williams Grove. Race winner William 'Red' Riegel is at left with starter, Lou Heller, and Bill and Amelia Polis presenting the trophy. Jim Packard and Ernie McCoy finished second and third.
Thanks for sharing these photos. Paul Weisel, Jr., EARHS, P.O. Box 333, Orefield, PA 18069. www.earhs.org
R. Gottshall 9/21/11
I remember sitting atop one of those trees on the 3rd turn the night George Fonder was killed when he crashed into the fence coming out of the 4th turn. on Jun.14th in 1958. I can still remember it as clear as yesterday. He and Len Duncan were my favorites.
Alfred L Morrell 3 08.23.11
my name is alfred l. morrell 3....son of al morrell jr who raced street stocks at this track.....i am trying to find old pic or prints with his name on it.....i have all the great stories....no pics....he drove a hudson hornet....maybe number 13.....he drove a valent also. ill git more information later......also looking for old pics of vargo drag way......al morrell was from hatboro pa.....thank u so much.....al morrell 3erd.
George Bintner 08.21.11
I lived on perkiomen ave. lansdale--Sweet sounds from hatfield every week -Was there every weekend--Sat on the fence or in the trees when I was younger and almost got knocked off couple times by huge chunks of dirt--Thrilling--They still had livestock auctions In the back corner of the track--I drag raced a 1950 mercury for my friend -He just rebuilt the motor -Bored out--& was afraid to drive It -This was before they opened up the fence on the front straight away-you had to be pretty good not to hit the fence on the curve-But I used to drag race everywhere around Lansdale all the time-with my 49 Ford--If anyone remembers me Crazy fun days--------- Geochrome@comcast.net -- Really miss those days
Bill Bambery 07.17.11
My love of auto racing started at the Hatfield Speedway, probably starting in 1955. My father Wallace Bambery would take me as a young boy every Saturday night to the track to watch the Stock Cars and Midgets. We had a family friend that worked at the track ticket window so we always got in free. (Shhhhhh! Don't tell anyone...)
From 1955 through 1965 just about every Saturday night my dad and I would be at the races. My father got a part time job at the track working on Mondays and Tuesday fixing guard railing, fencing and other maintenance at the track. I would often go with him to work and spend time looking at all the race related things on the Hatfield track grounds. I believe Mr. George Marshman owned the track at the time, and I would hang out with him and got to know some of the drivers as they would just stop by for a visit to see George.
One of these afternoon, I must have been 15 years old, a man from New Jersey brought his old Curtis Midget with a Ford flathead motor to the track to see if George wanted to buy it., as he needed cash right away. George asked me if I wanted to see if the motor started and if it ran... Of course I said YES.. Me, with no helmet or any protective gear on, they showed me how to watch for the oil pressure to come up as the push truck got me rolling then I hit the start switch and off I went on the 1/3 mile dirt track. I probably didn't get that old Midget up past 40 MPH but I thought I was going fast enough to set a new track record. I did about 10 laps and then they flagged me off the track. LOL! Boy O Boy! What an experience that was for me at the age of 15... It just solidified my love of short track racing.
I have so many memories of the Hatfield Track. I remember at least 2 Midget drivers lost their lived on the track during those years., and my favorite driver was Frankie Schneider. He seems to win all the Saturday night Stock Car feature races.
Paul Cavaliere 06.14.11
I like the forum and like reading about the old Hatfield track. Uncle Ronny Polis ran at Hatfield in the mid 1950's and called it his home track, sadly he was killed in a race in 1957 at Hagerstown speedway in an incident with Jonny Mann. I have a few pictures that can be posted up from Hatfield.
One picture is of my uncle Ronny Polis in his Hilligess #2 midget, no ID on the picture of the photographer just a date 1957.
The second picture is of Mario Andretti in the winners circle at Hatfield after he won a memorial race in honor of my uncle Ronny Polis, again no photographer is listed on the print or a date but we think it was 1962? the presenter of the trophy is my uncle Jim Polis, Ronn's brother.
The last photo is of Red Reigal receiving his trophy for winning his race that was also a Ronny Polis memorial race. the presenters are Ronny Polis's parents (my grandparents) Bill & Amelia Polis, no photographer is listed on the print or a date but I was told this was 1963?
The Last picture is of my friend the famed Dick Belfatti in his first race car ,an English Allard with a supercharged ford engine at, drag racing at Hatfield speedway. Dick would return to Hatfield routinely over the ears to entertain the crowds after switching to a purpose built nitro front engine dragster he called "The Shadow". This is a personal picture of dicks and was taken around 1958.
Hope you can post them up and use them on the site, maybe someone can ID the other people in the pictures so I have more info for my scrap book?
Thanks, Paul Cavaliere
My father Dick Rodenberger #7X raced Hatfield. My mother said he was the best. I am looking for a trophy from 1949 Championship Dick Rodenberger. It is about 2 1/2 feet tall and made of bakelite. It was sold at a yard sale by accident in PA. I will pay anything you want! Also, I'm looking for movies from the old time races? Thanks.
I used to go every weekend with my buddy and his father. Sat night was always the stocks and then Friday was a variety of shows. Sometimes it was midgets, sometimes sprints, and every now and then it would be hell drivers or maybe a demo derby. One Friday night a maintenance guy climbed up one of the light towers to adjust the lights for the next night's show. He had a walkie-talkie with a long antenna and must have touched a wire with it and electrocuted himself. It was a sad thing and I never forgot it. Other than this, nothing but happy memories at this track. I also enjoyed the 1/8 mile drags here and remember a black 1960? Ford named "the Ravin" that always won.
Guy Nissley 09.28.10
I had a lot of fun at the track on Sunday's racing my 1962 Harley. Those were the days when you started with a Flag man. ( no lights ). Then trying to stop before going out the gate into loose stone !! I still have the " DRIVER " tags that they would staple to your pants. I raced there in 1962. I was only 16, and loved it, watching the cars race too. You had to wait till all the cars ran before they would let the motorcycles race. Oh.. the race lanes were separated by cones ( not real wide lanes like today )
That's my story of " OLD DAY RACING". I was there !!!
As a young boy in the 50's I remember coming to the Hatfield stockyard for the auctions. Living near Flemington I attended races there. But one day I got out of the truck at the Hatfield auction and heard the cars on the track. I was allowed to go over but not in to the track. I watched through the corrugated tin that was along the road that bordered the speedway. All of a sudden a car hit the guard rail near where I was watching and debris hit the tin making a loud bang. I ran back to the auction.
Several years later when my older brother got his drivers license we began to visit the track. My favorite racer was Dick Havens
Dave Greiser 08.25.10
My main memory is going to sleep on Saturday nights to the sound of the cars. On 4th of July we kids would stand in front of our house in our PJ's and watch the fireworks before bed. Dad took me to the races twice in the early 60's, the modifieds and the midgets. The flagman stood on the track and flagged the cars as they came out of turn 4. At the beginning of each race the track announcer would say, either, "They're lined up in two's and ready to cruise!" or "Lined up in pairs, and ready to tear!"
Joanne Groff Brewer 08/09/10
My dad, Stanley Groff, managed the race track and my brother, Barry, also worked there. I guess it would be in the late 50's, early 60's, not totally sure. I remember having to go along and spending a lot of time back in the fairground stockyards behind the track, if there was livestock there. I lived in Souderton, on Derstine Road, just on the edge of Hatfield, and remember going to sleep to the sounds from the racetrack. It was fun to read the comments and reminisce about those days. Thanks.
Dale Sheetz Jr. 11/19/09
I was a little guy when my father took me to Hatfield Speedway in my souped up stroller. All I remember about going to the speedway was the pigs in their holding pens. I also remember that after the races we would go to the Doylestown diner for something to eat. I currently work in Hatfield and sometimes I look around and wonder what happen to the good times. Now it's just another town with some places to shop.
Tom McGinn 09.06.09
In the early `60's until the end my Grandfather John C. McGinn was the accountant and payroll master for Mr. Marshman and worked in the office just outside of the main gate. My father John G. McGinn was a ticketseller usually at the rear gate. I can remember going with him almost every Saturday night for the modifieds and most Sunday nights for the ARDC midgets. My favorite drivers back then were Tommy McAndrews in his yellow #3A and Freddy Adam for the stock cars and Len Duncan and Dutch Schaeffer for the midgets. I used to go almost everywhere at the track and got to meet several drivers when they came into the office to get paid. One of my fondest memories was when A.J. Foyt and Parnelli Jones and a couple other Indy drivers I can't recall came to Hatfield for a match race on the dirt oval. After the race I got to meet and get autographs from both in my grandfather's office.
It was a very sad day in my life the day I learned the speedway was to be torn down. May the memories live on forever!
Tom McGinn Telford, PA.
Claude P. Miller Sr. 09.02.09
Hatfield Speedway was the very first race track that I ever remembered.
My father took me to the speedway every single week. I think that started in about 1950 or so. He was involved with the Walt Shoppe driven No. 5, owned and wrenched by Johnnie Griffin, who ran the Harry B Neihaus Trucking Company on Mascher Street in Philadelphia.
I remember "Red" Lescher, Harry and Mose Moore.
Later, I went there as a teenager and ran my car, a 1961 Pontiac, on the drag strip.
Even later, I began racing Formula 3 and Formula Jr. cars and was asked to go to Europe and race in the Formula 3 World Championship, which normally lead to a F1 ride.
Really fond memories.
Ronald Gottshall 02/27/09
I remember all the clouds of dust that would invade our house on Towamencin Ave. every Saturday night
Back in the early 60s I went to a race at Hatfield and Tommy McAndrews drove a 59A with a fuel injected flathead if my memory is right. I think he won the race - Does anybody remember that race?
Thank you, Larry
Beverly Reinhart 02/16/09
My dad was Bill Williams. I can remember getting loaded up in the station wagon to go to the races. Oh, we were so excited. Dad didn't allow us to go very often, because he always thought that he would die on the track and din't want us there when it happened.
My Pop started racing before I was born and retired after I graduated from Perkiomen Valley High School in 1971.
I can remember seeing our old "Borgward" station wagon after my Dad rolled it in a cow pasture on his way back to Skippack from the race.
He was a "bad egg" (LOL) and NEVER traveled the speed limit.
Those were the good ole days.
Neil Yarrington 12/18/08
I lost a good friend on this date. Jimmy Gibbons driving for Frank Donlevy. Six months later Mike Joseph was killed at Atlanta's Lakewood Speedway. He also was driving for Frank. The irony of this is Jimmy was in Mike's midget and Mike was in Jimmy's big car. Two different worlds - Hatfield and Atlanta.
BOB SHAEFFER 10/05/08
MY NAME IS BOB SHAEFFER AND I RACED A MIDGET AT THE TRACK. I DROVE A #44 V8-60 POWERED MIDGET AT HATFIELD. LATER I PUT A FALCON ENGINE IN IT, BUT NEVER HAD ENOUGH MONEY TO MAKE THE WHOLE ARDC CIRCUIT SO I WOULD TRY TO MAKE THE SHOWS AT HATFIELD BECAUSE AT THE TIME I LIVED IN SOUTHAMPTON PA.
GEORGE MARSHMAN WOULD LET ME PRACTICE ON THE TRACK ON SOME WEEKDAYS AND IF BOBBY MARSHMAN WAS AROUND HE WOULD GIVE ME DRIVING TIPS.
THE SATURDAY NIGHT THAT MARIO ANDRETTI WON TWO RACES HE HAD ALREADY WON A RACE AT FLEMINGTON N.J. THAT DAY. THE FIRST RACE HE WON THAT NIGHT WAS A RAIN DATE FEATURE, AND I FINISHED 2ND. TO HIM. THE NEXT RACE WAS A COMPLETE SHOW OF HEATS AND A FEATURE. AGAIN HE WON HIS HEAT AND I FINISHED 2ND. THE FEATURE WAS A 25 LAP RACE WHICH I LED FOR 20 LAPS UNTIL I RAN OUT OF FUEL (HOLE IN THE FUEL TANK) THEN MARIO WENT ON TO WIN.
HATFIELD WAS A GREAT TRACK AND THE MARSHMAN'S WERE GOOD PEOPLE.
Todd Rittenhouse 04/21/08
Remember like it was yesterday, my dad took me when it was a 1/2 mile dirt, 1/2 mile asphalt, and then I started racing on it when it was 1/3 mile dirt. That started a career of race cars for me. Still doing it at 65, running a URC sprint team, with Curt Michael driving.
Remember all the midget and sprint shows there, they were great, just think, a driver ran sprints there and then ran indy the same year. Great memories.
Business 610 539 9588
Gary Lippincott 03/01/08
This photo below is Jack "Jake" Sellers, From Groveville, New Jersey.
The car is a "34" Ford, it had a bored 1950 Oldsmobile engine. If my memory is correct it was bright "Yellow". This photo was taken at Hatfield Speedway, by Charlie Donnell of Groveville, New Jersey about 1958. I was just a kid at the time, but we all lived on Church Street (Groveville only has three streets) and my favorite past time was watching him work on his car all week to take to Hatfield on the weekend. I always wanted to go but at the time I was too young.
Groveville, New Jersey
hello.......I go by the name of Mac.....the Hatfield speedway....Saturday night's coming from Jenkintown......to sit in the stands....get the "dirt" blowing in your face if the wind was blowing from one direction......and the smell of the cattle if the wind was blowing the other direction.....sprint cars....stock cars....demolition derby's....this is what made a Saturday night worth while to a boy growing up.....I remember some drivers names....but it is the vision of the cars racing around the track that comes to mind the easiest......
Gary Hepner Schuylkill Haven, Pa. 12/26/07
Hatfield was one of the first tracks I attended with my dad in the 60's. The track was a third of a mile by this time and I remember watching Freddie Adam, Tasnady, Potts, etc. I also remember going to see the drag races on Sunday on the short quarter mile, if I remember correctly the whole strip was a quarter mile including the run off area. Hatfield, coups, and coaches will always have a special place in my heart.
Jay D. Sowers Perkasie, PA. 09/23/07
Hello and THANK YOU for the opportunity to tell my story of the Hatfield Speedway. I can remember being about 6 years old and my brother would take me to see the midgets and sprint cars run at the speedway. This was in 1951 & 52. He took me to several stock car races but mostly the midgets and sprints up till I was 16 years old.
I was in the same class at Pennridge High School as Jake Vargo, Jr. and spent many hours at the Vargo racing garage where Jake senior kept his, midget, sprint and dirt track champ car. Jake Vargo Senior was an avid campaigner with his open cockpit cars at the Hatfield Fairgrounds. Jake Jr. and myself were very good friends and had lots of great times at the shop. He would let me sit in all 3 cars. On a few occasions I got to go to Hatfield with the Vargo midget. I remember Bobby Marshman being a super young driver and would sign autographs for all of us and as many as we wanted. Bobby was always friendly with the younger kids at the Hatfield Fairgrounds.
When I got my drivers license in 1960 I started going to the drag's at Hatfield every week. My late friend, Rick Mill, and I bought a 1954 6 cyl Chevy that we took and ran and had many weeks of good times at the fairgrounds.
I remember just about every week it would come down to two Super Stock cars running for top eliminator. The Ford was called the Raven and I can't remember what the Chevy was named so if any one remembers what the name on the Chevy was please post it on the site or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . This information would be very helpful to me as it is driving me crazy not remembering what the name of the car was.
My brother nephew and myself in 1980 formed Sowers Racing Restorations and until my brother passed away in 1995 owned and restored 16 Vintage midgets and sprints cars many of which ran at the Hatfield Speedway. The most famous of all the cars we owned was the Caccia Offy that set many records at Hatfield with George Fonder at the wheel of this Kurtis-Kraft midget. Tony Caccia of Media was the first owner of this KK Serial # O-85-47. We also owned the early Hillegass Ford V-8 60 hp rail midget that was owned and driven by John Godshall of Telford, PA. Johnnie used to park his midget and trailer on Reliance Road at his business.
We now collect the old gas powered model race cars that were very popular back during the days of the Hatfield Speedway. These cars ran on a wire and had model airplane motors in them. If you have any pictures of these model cars please feel free to email us at the above email address in this tribute to Hatfield Speedway.
Thank You Hatfield_Memories for the opportunity to tell our story.
Jay D. Sowers----Perkasie, PA.
Bob "Hutch" Hutchinson 01/29/06
- The first time I attended a race at Hatfield was back in the sixties. My brother and I rode to Hatfield Speedway inside of Jack Hart's #1, as it was being towed, on the trailer, to the speedway. On the waythere, I sat in the driver's seat, my brother on the floor then we switched seating positions on the way home. I had the seat belts connected and "raced" all the way up the road.
- The speedway, at the time, was the high-banked 1/3 mile, dirt which was placed inside the large 1/2 mile. I believe George Marshman was the promoter at the time and George had a trick for preparing the clay surface before the races. He used a soap detergent (Lestoil, I t hink) in the water that saturated the dirt surface. Whatever it was, it worked. When we arrived, the track surface was a sea of muddy clay, and my brother and I doubted that racing could even take place that night. The track crew worked it into just a marvelous surface in a short period of time. There was not a speck of dust all night, with 2-3 grooves for racing throughout the program.
- The track was lightning fast. Jack Hart was a master on the blacktop but struggled a little on the dirt. He qualified that night but was not a factor. However, the show was a barnburner.....between Freddie Adam, in the purple and white #8 sedan and Tommy McAndrews in the black and yellow #3A. Freddie prevailed that night but those two guys were exchanging passes for the lead, lap after lap.
- Beader Kennedy was there, with Joe Kelly, and many others. What a terrific night.........one which I wish I could time travel back.....and experience it all over again.
George Gwynn, Jr.
Bob "Hutch" Hutchinson 10/29/06
I ran a sportsman at Hatfield with the Pottstown Allstars around 1953-1954. A buddy and I drove 60 miles from Jenkintown PA. to Sanatoga PA. to join the the Pottstown Allstars. I rubbed grease into my face to look older, because I was only 17 years old. We went to the meeting , and they would not let me in, until Jimmy Ryan let me in. He was the president, and a great guy he was.
I formed a friendship with "Beader" Kennedy that night, that lasted until he was killed at Middletown, NY.
I remember flipping at Hatfield and seeing all the cars in the parking lot as if it where in slow motion.
I have the greatest memories racing at Hatfield and Sanatoga, with Jerry " Beader " Kennedy, Joe Kelly, and Mose Moore, to name a few.
Peggy Snyder 09/29/06
Am an old timer - lived all my life in the Ephrata-Denver area here in Lancaster County. Most of my stories are in regards to Bobby Marshman
We housed sprint & Indy teams in the 1960's and 70's - the most famous being the #1 Fike Plumbing sprint car and the #98 Agajanian Indy car. You must try and remember who that driver might have been.
My most "happy & fun" moment was when we pulled into the Hatfield Speedway. One of my little jobs was to take the tow rig famp; trailer to the infield - crawl up on the trailer - get times for practice speeds, etc. I was pulling into the infield, had to back up and there he was, Marshman directing me - go front - back up - turn wheels - come back more - after his 3rd or 4th instruction - Roger McCluskey, another friend, walked up to me, opened door and said - "Back up like H and hit that clown - you were doing fine - he is making an a** out of you". Looked back to see Bobby was laughing so hard. Told Bobby I would not feed him after the race - (That was another little job - haul food I made so they could eat.)
And as one person gave memories here - they said they watched Parnelli Jones race there - Yes, that was the driver who I was timing and I remember him saying - "Please, I don't want to get the pole tonight - this track is a wee one." Not sure, back then, if USAC gave the fast timer a choice of inside or outside pole position. Evidently, we didn't know and not sure if PJ won or not.
We did not race there often but enjoyed it. When Parnelli decided to semi-retire from the sprinter after winning Indy - Joe Pittman gave a chance to other drivers - looking for another winner. Bobby was one of those drivers but that Chevy engine, I think, confused him - didn't take off like the Offy but golly, did it run. That #1 sat on that car for quite a while.
If anyone wants to chat with me - please forward my email address to them. Thanks, Peggy Snyder email@example.com
Dave DeAngelis 06/05/06
As a kid, I could hear the cars at night while trying to fall asleep (possible cause of today's insomnia!) from where we lived in Souderton. I loved the sounds. One day, my buddy asked me if I wanted to sell hot dogs at the Hatfield Speedway. I said.... YES! We worked for a guy named Danny Seidel. We ate more than we made. I remember barely being able to focus on the customers while straining to watch the cars on the track. The smell of hot dogs, hot rubber and hot engines... it all comes back today when I go to the IndyCar races.
It was great growing up in the area, and being able to see guys like Mose and Harry. I remember meeting Tony Bonadies and became a fan. A real nice guy. When he was killed, I got a grip on how risky the sport is, and that these guys really have brass ones. Then Eddie Sachs. I remember meeting A.J. and I think Tony Bettenhausen? Or was it Parnelli Jones? Pancho Carter? Ah, I'm still following the Andretti family. Didn't Mario win a couple of races on the same day at Hatfield? Either I read it, or was there. But I did meet him as well as the Marshmans.
One thing is for sure. My addiction to today's open wheel racing stems from the early 60's at the Hatfield Speedway. But, I can no longer eat hot dogs. Maybe it's due to bad memories of those pigs around the corner......
If you can reach him, another attendee as a kid was John Oates of Hall and Oates fame. He mentions Hatfield on a racing memoirs website
Lived in Souderton, now in Ohio, but hoping to work my way back home one day.
Len Musgrave 05/31/06
I lived about a half mile from the speedway on Koffel Road from 1942-1964. In fact, you can make out our house in the wide shot photo.
I spent many hours at the speedway with my Dad and brother over the years. When my Dad didn't go I still went and either hopped the fence in the fourth turn or ask some adult if I could tag along with him to get in (kids were free when with an adult). We also had a tree house on the back stretch property which was owned by Mr. Allenbaugh. He didn't like the speedway because it scared the cows.
I remember many a great race with the likes of George Fonder, Len Duncan, Tony Romit, Tony Bondiais. I recall the first time I saw the entire four cars of Mr. Hespel on one trailer. He owned a quarry and was the Roger Penske of midget racing. I also recall one of the largest crowds ever at the speedway was right after the Indy 500 and Pancho Carter, A J, and Tony B and many others came in for a race.
My brother and I had a home made go-cart and when part of the aluminum fence was down because of a crash we used to take our go cart over the guard rail and run it around the speedway until someone would chase us off.
I have many memories of the speedway. Whenever I am back there to see my sisters who live in Lansdale I will go by there on my way to have ice cream at Rosenberg's Dairy.
George McCall 04/21/06
Hatfield Speedway was the first short track I went to in the early 1960's. I don't remember any of the drivers but I do remember the exciting shows that were put on and a group named the PROS. All the classes were great but I enjoyed them the most. Watching them was like watching racing at it's roots and it looked like fun. It made me want to try racing myself but that wasn't happening.
For over twenty years I was just a spectator but never forgot my introduction to local stock car racing at Hatfield Speedway. Finally I got my opportunity and took advantage of it. I bought an asphalt sportsman and went racing at Wall Stadium.
Unfortunately I was racing out of my own pocket and after three years the money ran out and I had to sell the car. But it was an experience I will never forget and more fun than I ever had.
Fifteen years later the bug bit me again but this time I bought a dirt car and raced New Egypt. It was a different experience but just as much, if not more, fun. I raced there for three years then decided I was getting too old for the weekly competition and it was getting a little expensive.
I haven't given up on racing as I still own a vintage modified built by Kenny Weld. We hope to have it back together this year so I can still go out once in a while and have FUN.
I want to say, thanks Hatfield Speedway for bringing short track racing into my life and giving me something to shoot for. I may not be a professional driver or a race winner but I know how much fun it is behind the wheel on the track.
George McCall -- Bellmawr, NJ
Merit O'Neal 04/07/06
During the 50's I worked with George Marshman at Hatfield, Sanatoga, and Philadelphia Municipal Stadium Speedways. We ran midgets, sprints, sports cars, late and early model stocks. At Hatfield, we widened, banked, and paved the old dirt track in 1954, added more grandstand seating and made other changes. Was a good time for racing, seemingly much different than the present. Have lots of good memories.
Bill Weber 03/22/06
I was a friend of Len Duncan when he worked for Morano Bros. Garage in Erdenheim, Pa. One night Len drove his midget and George Fonder drove his sprint car in a match race of about 8 laps. George would pass Len on the straitaways, but Len would pass George on the turns. The whole time, Len's boss, Joe Morano was standing at the start-finish line waving his shirt over his head. I don't remember who won the race, but that night I will remember forever. Bill Weber - Wayne, PA
Dick Fleck 11/25/05
I GUESS I AM THE ONLY DRIVER WHO RACED AT ALL 4 TRACKS--
FIRST LET ME SAY THE 1/2 MILE DIRT THEN BLACK TOP WAS REALLY A 5/8 MILE TRACK AS NASCAR
MEASURES--3 FOOT FROM THE INSIDE --I RAN THE 5/8 MILE DIRT WHILE STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL
IN STOCKS AND SOME V8 60 MIDGETS--THEN AFTER A STINT IN THE NAVY I RESUMED RACING AT HATFIELD ON THE 5/8 MILE BLACK TOP IN STOCKS AND WON THE 1957 TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP
IN 1961 I FORMED THE HATFIELD SANCTION BODY CALLED THE PROS ON THE 4/10 MILE HIGH BANKED DIRT ON THE INSIDE OF THE 5/8 TRACK--I ALSO RENTED THE 1/8 MILE DRAG STRIP WHICH WAS THE STRAIGHT AWAY OF THE 5/8 MILE TRACK FROM GEORGE MARSHMAN--HIS SON BOBBY AND I WENT TO SCHOOL TOGETHER
I RACE SEVERAL TIMES ON THE DRAG STRIP TO FILL IN FOR CLASSES WHEN ONLY ONE WAS IN A CLASS WITH MY STREET CAR
I CONTINUED TO RACE ON THE 4/10 DIRT WHILE SANCTIONING THE RACE WITH MY PROS CLUB UNTIL IT CLOSED IN 1966
I HAD ONE YEAR SANCTIONING THE RACES AROUND THE STADIUM AT HERSHEY BEFORE MOVING TO POCONO TO HELP BUILD THE POCONO RACEWAY AND WAS THERE FOR 5 DECADES
PLEASE GO TO MY WEB SITE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ME AND RACING AND MUCH MORE--
THANKS --DICK FLECK http://herecomesfleckey2.com
Bob Fleck 11/24/05
I can remember just about all the good things about Hatfield Speedway for my brother Dick the Promoter of the Pros and I drove stocks cars there when it was 1/2 mile blacktop also I was the flagman there for years, for the stocks , midgets, motorcycles and also the drags and did some announcing for the drags....
I can remember the GREAT Bobby Marshnan, the son of George Marshman the Promoter of the Hatfield High Speedway ....We grew up together during school years when I lived in Collegeville and he lived in Yerkes and we were good ole kids....(Now thats funny) ....We use to take his father's car ( George Marshman) a 1951 White Ford out for joy rides and play cop being it was white, LOL....
And I do remember the Raven Drag car in had a picture of a Raven on the front fender at the bottom rear part.... Can't forget the Shadow Rail Drag car either .....Oh I better not forget the power puffers there was some real speed demons and great ladies that drove the cars.... Like Peggie Rush , Betty Engelbach , Marion Williamson, Vickie Woodward ....
I also remember all the Freddy Adams , The Harry Moores and the Desperado himself Mose Moore, George Slight , the Reo Brothers, Bill Williams ....That's just some of the great race drivers....
I'm still in contact with some of the drivers and they all look just as good as I did back then.... Now that is funny....
There so many great drivers that I didn't mention.... Can't forget the good times after the races we had at Village Inn and a place called the Barn in Kuplsville which do not exist any more....Have a GREAT Tommorrow..... This is Bob Fleck of Monroeton, Pennsylvania.... firstname.lastname@example.org
Lou Salamone 07/19/05 (From Far Hills, NJ - Formerly of Norristown, PA)
I have some of the best racing memories of my life (and some of the worst as I witnessed several of my favorite midget drivers loose their lives there) at Hatfield Speedway.
In fact my father's paving company paved the old dirt track with the high banked asphalt that was there for many years until it was returned to dirt again. We never missed the midgets at Hatfield. It was a great place to watch the fearless drivers even though on occasion you could smell thedistinct odors form the packing plant nearby.
I remember few things as thrilling in racing as watching the midgets run at Hatfield. The ARDC midgets were a top show in those days. There were few sights as good as Red Reigel riding the high bank dirt that replaced the asphalt. For a time he was unbeatable.
We knew the Marshman's well (owners) and so Bobby Marshman became my favorite driver but there were so many of the greats of midget racing that it would take me pages to name them all.
Barry Shultz 07/14/05
Spent many night there. Going with dad to the old half mile-wow fast and great drivers.
Became active with a racing paper later and went there weekly.
One of best races I ever saw was Tommy McAndrews and Freddy Adam going side by side taking turns leading on each and every lap of a 50 lap event.
Track had one thing no other track had. Drivers would come of f of the fourth turn and skip the right rear tire on the old asphalt track near the staters stand.
I also rember the pigs they were kept just outside the track. Great drivers who had
time for the fans.
Joe Klaumenzer 07/08/05
hey:-1948??? Lived on 8th & Franconia Lansdale. Four boys seak out at nite to walk to races at Hatfield.. We crawled under fence, sometimes we were seen. Just came back later. The sounds my body could feel the roarrrr, as I got older I realized that some things you never forget. Race cars and the sounds is one of these things.
Once I started to work everything was set aside. Now in my 60s I am reliveing. I have friends that still race. I sponsor a race car, a kid dragster, & good friend Barry Macken who used to drag at Hatfield. Tho I never raced"on a track"Barry does & wants me to go with him to drive. However I will be at West Point Car Show 7/10/05 with at least one of my older cars. And memorabilla of Hatfield.. JOE KLAUMENZER, Green Lane, Pa. (P.S My wife is Godmother to George Fonders Granddaughter, who has a son of her own..Thanks for giving old man chance to ramble.)
Back at the very start of stock car racing my dad, Russell Rittenhouse, of Lansdale Autobody on Broad Street and Later Rittenhouse Autobody in Line Lexington, owned a "stricktly" stock car which ran at Sanatoga. But at times we would attend the midgets and modifieds at Hatfield. I too very well remember Don Allison and Jimmy Ryan. I still have the picture in my mind of Jimmy in the most tremedous slides high in the loose dirt cornering in turns one and two.
One night I got to meet Dutch Schaeffer through friends of my father who sponsored some midgets through the years. These friends were the owners of the Cottage Diner on the south side of the 309/202 in front of where the Montgomery Mall now is. In later years my Dad sponsored a modified which ran mostly at Reading.
No one mentioned that later on Hatfield had drag racing on the front straight away. They ran from right to left facing the track. This was after the track was paved. Usually Friday nights. I saw my first real dragster there and my memory says it was Don Garlitts. It was an eigth mile drag strip. The hottest local dragsters were motor cycles and pickup trucks.
Lew Dungan 04/24/05
Aw the nights at Hatfield Hi-Speedway. Names mentioned bring many a fine memory back to me, names like Red Lesher #27 my favorite, in his bright red, green, and yellow 37 Ford. Mose Moore in his little Red Rag, Blackie Rider, Curt Sherman. Now on the sight is Peachtree Apartments, where I dated a girl in the early 70's, and parts of the old race track still
shows. Great job of putting this together. Lew Dungan, Quakertown, PA Dungangoofy@aol.com
Rick Brinckman 03/10/05
My father owned a car from 1951 - 1955. I was just a little kid and played on the infield mostly. I do remember Monk Keller rolling over the fence and through the aluminum barrier behind the fence coming off the second turn. My dad's car was #57 driven by Rocky Ewing, who never did much with the car, but the fans liked him. The only time my dads car won was Sanatoga driven that night by Dick Rodenberger, and received $35 for the win. A few years ago I went to some of the drivers of that time and made copies of there pictures, Monk Keller, Joe Kelley (Dave Houpt), Mose Moore, Red Lesher, Jimmy Ryan (Christman) and others.
It wasn't uncommon for them to use different names then there own. Joe Kelly also racing as Don Allison (real name Dave Houpt) did it because of running different sactions and Jimmy Ryan (real name Christman) used another name so his mother wouldn't know he was racing. Before Dave Houpt died I received trophies from Hatfield 1954 champ from Don Allison and second place owner of the #7 also 1954 and after his death I received a 1951 champ trophy from Mrs. Christman from Sanatoga (point champ).
I visted the speedway site a few years back (before the development) and there were still signs of the first and second turn asphalt Now just a memory. I guess it's a no brainer why I have raced, owned and sponsored race cars over the past 35 years.
Dean Robison Lititz, Pa 02/10/05
My dad drove truck for West Motor Freight in Boyertown and was a huge race fan. He wasn't always home alot on saturday nights, so my grandfather would take us to see midgets and modified stocks. The big tickle however, was the night my dad was able to take me to see AJ Foyt and company, when the USAC sprint cars came to Hatfield. Couldn't tell you who won or what the date was but I can assure you, watching them bounce off the fence between the third and fourth turn every lap made it one of the most exciting races ever.
Ed Smith, West Chester, Pa 11/26/04
My parents took me to Hatfield in the early 1960's on many Saturday nights.
I remember George Sleight in a black and white #19... Harry Moore in Wayne Carls beautiful #4, Bill Williams in the Turner #47, Tommy McAndrews in the 59A as well as Jack Rudy, Freddy Adam, Monk Keller and Tommy Sheetz.
One of the scariest moments saw Harry Moore flipping the entire length of the front stretch.
It was also a thrill when they unloaded the pigs at the adjacent complex.
My father loved the ARDC midgets and we always attended the combination shows where I remember Red Riegle (spelling) winning many of the shows.
Your site has brought back many fond memories. Thanks
Richard Rodgers 11/25/04
I first started going to Hatfield in the late 40's. We went every Saturday night to watch the Midgets with Drivers like George Fonder, Dutch Schaeffer, Shorty McAndrews and Bill Schindler. Often there were big name drivers from the mid-west and at times there were sprint cars. I only remember them running on the 1/2 mile dirt track.
They had a poor lightening system that was eventually replaced by two towers in the infield that lit the entire track. They were designed by a Mr. Cooney who was the superintendent of the Lansdale Electric Company. These were great times and today's midgets are so inclosed by safety equipment it takes away from the thrill of the racing. Also the Offenhausers are gone and their great sound.
From: Richard Rodgers born and raised in Lansdale and now live in Hartfield Virginia
Ron Kendig of Levittown, PA 6/18/04
This is one of the tracks that got me intrested in auto racing. I used to go with my neighbors the GRAMLICHS (Charlie, Dot and Mike. They were freinds of NORMAN CAPT KIDD. I also remember the Moore Bros (Harry& Mose, Jackie Mclaughlin, Warren Mutter, Joe Kelly, and many others. We also used to go to SANATOGA SPEEDWAY near Pottstown, PA .Those were the years!
Edward Smith 4/04
- My father took me to Hatfield may times in the early 60's. I remember George Slight in the #19 winning a track championship and then repeating the feat in the Paul Deasey #707.
- I was at Hatfield the night Aldo Andretti took a nasty flip down the back stretch that landed him in the hospital.
- I also remember Harry Moore (my favorite at the time) taking a wild ride down the front stretch in Wayne Carl's beautiful # 4.
- I still have autographs from Monk Keller, George Slight and Jack Rudy in my possession.
- My father loved the ARDC midgets so we always went to the combination shows where Red Riegel (spelling?) won more times than not.
- Thanks again for your great site. It brings back many fond memories.
J.P. (Pat) Templeton Manassas, VA (then Center Square, PA) 02/26/04
- I was a kid then. My most vivid memories of Hatfield that set it aside from other tracks were the two huge infield light towers and the smell of pigs that somehow managed to get to you sometime during each show. Hatfield as asphalt was wicked fast. As I recall the track surface was "rubberized" asphalt and was the FASTEST 1/2 mile anywhere. I also remember how impressed I was with Harry Hespel's (spelling?) 4 car midget team and listening to the drivers argue about being forced to have roll bars on their cars. Related might be the horrible accident at Hatfield that took the life of George Fonder.
- Also ending the evening with a recording of GOOD NIGHT LADIES or SO LONG, IT'S BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YOU.
Steve Elias 01/15/04
- The first track that I remember at Hatfield was a half mile dirt track I raced there in 1953. It was changed to asphalt in 1954 and was the fastest half mile in the east. They later made a third of a mile dirt inside the half mile and that is the track they ran until closing.
Jim Brewer 09/13/03
- Just a little background on Hatfield. RSCA modifieds ran there in the 1965 and 1966 seasons. Freddy Adam was the 1965 champ (six feature wins) and Tommy McAndrew was the point champ in 1966 (nine features). I think George Marshman had the lease on the track and essentially did a sublease to Lindy Vicari. I believe the last race there was in late September 1966 and it was either ARDC midgets or URC sprinters. I think the track was not run again after that. I know that Marshman moved on to promote Hershey Stadium at the end of the 60s.
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