"Nazareth Speedway Memories"
Whether it was the 1/2 mile, or the big track, here's a speedway that many will always call home. It is our hope that you'll share your "Nazareth Speedway Memories with the other Visitors of the Vault. Please click below to add your memories!
Robert Hanna is the photographer and the provider of the above photo.
A Few Nazareth Photos...
A "Next To" Last Trip to Nazareth From Robert Hanna
From Mike Sienko
Your Nazareth Speedway Memories...
(Memories most recently received appear at the top of the list)
(ADD YOUR NAZARETH SPEEDWAY MEMORIES CLICK HERE)
Clarence Shaffer 07.17.16
I was born in New Brunswick New Jersey and spent many Saturday nights at Nazareth Speedway with my Grandfather,I have lived in Minnesota since 1978 and have been going to several different Dirt Tracks, my favorite of all Tracks is Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond Wisc. I took my 7 year old grandson to the races for his first experience! He loved it, we took a selfie and when I looked at I the picture, I teared up a bit! Because it brought back a lot of memories! Especially the drivers I remember like: Bobby Malzon #99, Frankie Schneider #2, Rags Carter#1? And Buzz Ruetamann! Who's grandson is a driver on the NASCAR circuit!
Richard Hetherington 06.06.16
Though I go past the speedway sight often today, I am one of the people that has a very bad memory of the track. My grandfather was the spectator that was killed in the infield in the very early 1960s. When they were still racing sprint cars. I have no ill feelings about the track, in fact every time I go past it I have a strong connection with it. My grandfather was doing what he loved, filming the race. I was supposed to go with him that day but I couldn’t go. It is sad to see the track in such disrepair today. If anyone remembers the accident please e-mail me.
Thanks. Richard Hetherington RHetherington@coca-cola.com
Stan (fltlnjok) 09.13.12
I started going to Naz on a Sunday afternoon in early 1966. I was at my then girlfriend’s (now wife of 45 years) home in Center Valley, PA.
Me: “To bad there’s nothing to do.”
Her: “Nazareth is running today”
Oh! Oh! Oh! My My. Thank you Lord, you’ve sent me the perfect woman. We spent a lot of Sundays getting dusted after that. We still enjoy Modifieds at OCFS, Middletown, NY. Our 4 year old grandson LOVES the modifieds too.
On Sunday, October 5, 1969, she told me to call my Dad to tell him we were taking him to the races at Nazareth. He’d been ill and was quite frail after a stroke in May and I was hesitant about the long day for him but Sandy INSISTED. That was an All Star Race on the big track and what a day!!
Schneider was leading in the last lap when his throttle linkage broke and Cagle nailed him. Buzzie got around the 2 of them and won.Dad died the next day and I am so thankful to my beautiful Sandy for being so insistent about races that day. I know he had a great day.
My Dad took me to my first Big Car (Indy roadsters) race at Langhorne on August 11, 1945. I was 6 years old then and I remember every detail of that day also.
I saw Buzzie at an Old Timers show at OCFS in 2011. When I told him that story, he had tears in his eyes too.
Jack Burroughs 08.03.12
I too was there the night Conny Swingle hit the wall (see post below). At that time the top eliminator was a go-kart with 3 Mc-10 engines, and nothing could beat him, my buddy Bill VanSycle tried with his '32 3 window coupe with complete' 59 SBC F. I. engine rear and 4 speed , said, " I heard him , but couldn't see him", I only ever saw 1 car beat the kart , that was Sonny Decker from Branchville, N.J. in his '29 Ford roadster with 389 Pontiac , Crane Cam and 6- 2 bbl. carbs.
I also began to attend Sat. night races sitting in the big old yellow wooden stands man it was noisy in there, early '60's for both. many yrs. later I used to crew for Ron Zuckerman in the J-73, and 1 night we were there for a big race and Cranie came around and said take this plug out and I'll be back to puff your engine, so we pulled all the plugs out and took the rockers for that cyl. off the pushrods, put cover back on to keep the dust out of the engine, he came back with the puffer and began to screw it in the plug hole, I said " That ain't the hole you said", he said are you questioning my memory?", I said ,"No", he pumped then said to me, "That's a small one, isn't it?" , I said, "yup" and that was it, except I knew it was a 468, and I also knew it was never a good idea to get him mad at you.
Ed Beers 02.17.12
I don’t know how many people out there know or remember when Jerry Fried held drag races on the front stretch. The first was on May 31,1960. I believe they ran into 1964. It was a 425 foot course. Even drag racing’s most famous driver-Don Garlits had his car there in 1961. It was actually Connie Swingle driving, and he set fast speed at 85 MPH but crashed on the second run when the parachute failed to open.
The following week,Chris” Crazy Greek” Karamesines showed up to break rival Garlits’ record. He did, at 91 mph, but also crashed when he couldn’t stop. Amazingly, both drivers still race today in their 80’s!!! Garlits is running a Dodge Challenger Stocker and Karamesines is still piloting a 325mph Top Fuel Dragster.
The late Al Loquasto also won an eliminator title at the Nazareth drags in a Corvette in 1961.
I would love to see pictures of the drags there. I crewed on a drag race car in the 1980’s. His name was Skip Carpenter. I believe he also ran a Hobby Car/Street Stock at Nazareth sometime in the late ‘60’s or early ‘70’s. I don’t know what his number was or what type of car he drove. I would love to see some old programs and see if his name was in any of them. He passed away in 2003.
After looking at these photo's I am so happy to relive the moments. WOW, I wish I knew where I can get more photo's of Nazareth speedway. I enjoyed being there in the 50's 60's and 70's. Been on two pit crews. Just great photo's Thanks
Bruce E. Peterson 04.07.10
I started going at age 5 with my uncles Zoli and Ernie. around 1960. I remember most Tex Enright the starter. Frankie's #2 Rags Carter #1 Sonny Strupp #24 Bob Malzaln #99 and 100's more. What anticipation before the races. Also with either Flemington, Wall, Old Bridge, Reading, Middletown, East Windsor. What a way to end the weekend. I thought I was in heaven. To be so blessed to have such great uncles, then my brother sister and friends all came with me until it closed in I think was Sept 1988? Thank you. Feel free to contact me. firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig C. Snyder 12.08.09
To the greatest dirt track fans,
My Dad took me to the races at Nazareth the first time in 1971. I was 5 years old and fell in love with the races. My Dad would tell me stories of when he first raced at Nazareth against Mario and Aldo. He couldn't beat them but he was glad he had a chance to race against them.
My Dad did take me to Dorney Park a few times and called it bumping cars. This was for my sister? She was not a race fan.
My Dad loved the races on dirt. I wish my Dad would have lived long enough to see the cartoon "Cars". He would have loved the part where the Hudson Hornet tells the other car you have to turn right to go left on dirt. When my Dad took me to the races we had to sit near a turn. He loved watching the drift. The last few times my Dad had a chance to go to Nazareth we sat in turn 4.
Now I will have to pull out my History of Nazareth DVD. I still have quite a few Pitstop magazines. My Dad took me at least 2 dozen times or more.
Thank You for keeping this history alive and well,
P.S. The last time I was at Nazareth was fall of 1988
Richard Coleman 04/27/09
I first went to the Nazareth half Mile Speedway in the summer of 1962, before I could drive. In those days I spent more at the snack stand than I did to get in. Those were the days of Hoop Schaible, Aldo Andretti, and Otto Harwi, whom my father knew from working with him at Treadwell Engineering in Palmer Township. These were the jalopies many of the drivers built in their back yards, before the days of the sheet metal Gremlins. Two things stand out from those early days (early for me). The enthusiasm of the crowds and the splinters you occasionally got into your derriere from the old seats in the grandstand or the bleachers off to the side.
Most of all was how the atmosphere gets into you and grabs the fan and calls him back week after week. Jerry Fried always put on a good show, and so did Tex starting the cars from down on the track. He had balls to do that. One time, a driver whom he had unsuccessfully black flagged aimed right for Tex's flag stand. Tex dove out of the way and the flags went flying in all directions. Another time, Kuda Bux, with his head securely blindfolded, drove around the track with the lights out and cars moving around.
Henry Schaadt 01/11/09
The backstretch stands were probably part of the Nazareth Fairgrounds that was built in the late 1800's and early 1900's. I remember my grandmother calling my dad saying they were on fire and she died in 1963. The race track started out as a horse racing track. I met a woman who rode a horse in a race there when she was young. She was 96 years old in the 1980's when I met her.
Don't forget in the mid 70's when on Friday nights they had street stocks and sportsman cars. The champ the first year was Earl Paulus driving an ancient figure 8 car (#8??) with a 6 cylinder motor in it. He drove the high line about 3 ft from the wall all the way around the track rattling all the way. The big V8's would beat him on the stretches but in the turns that old 1950 Chevy just laughed at them !! :)
Thanks Henry Schaadt
Kevin Post 4/10/08
My father started taking us to the races at Orange County around 1965. He also took us to Nazareth in the late 60's which was a total thrill for us. As adults, my brothers and I went for years , right up until it closed. I remember in the 60's there was a covered grandstand which was on the backstretch. I've always been curious as to why it was torn down and if anyone has any pictures of it. There was so much life at these places. The cars and drivers seemed bigger then life but the truth was that they came from among us and they were special. In our hearts they were heroes. It was a simpler time, when we could spend time with our moms and dads, brothers and sisters, maybe our sweethearts and we could get close to our heroes. If close your eye once in while and listen real close on a hot summer night. Nazareth on a Sunday night..........that was America.
Robin Fernandez 04/06/08
I spent most of 1970's at Nazareth, Harmony and Flemington that was our weekends.My father was Peppy Fernandez (redX9) he ran a lot at Nazareth both sportsman and modified divisions.We had family in the area and we would all go and get covered in dirt, ah the good old days.My brother Forde also ran in the mid to late 70's,he ran Dad's car and later he ran a blue car #24.If anyone happens to have any old photos of either car maybe you could e-mail them to me at email@example.com.Thanks_ (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.Thanks) to everyone who helped in the making of this website.
Edward Smith 03/24/08
I started attending races at the Nazareth 1/2 mile in 1962 when the stands were on the other side of the track. The track immediately became a favorite. I don't think we ever missed an opening day when we were treated with the likes of New Yorkers Bill Wimble and Lou Lazzaro in addition to the Nazareth regulars. Another fond memory was on Easter Sundays when the children were allowed to ride with there favorite drivers for 2 "slow" laps.
I remember standing in line to ride with Harry Moore and Elton Hildreth... What a treat... Can you imagine something like this today and the amount of insurance that would be required...I remember TAS winning his first feature in the 707 besting Jackie McLaughlin in Lucky Jordan's duce. One of my favorite races was during the summer that Jerry Fried also ran the Allentown fairgrounds and I think there was a rain-out that resulted in two 50 lap races at Nazareth. I remember Elton Hildreth winning the feature on that day.
My father and I always made the races at the 1 1/8 mile track. We were there for the inaugural event and all of the All Star races. One of the best was when Sonny Hutchens brought his Junie Donlavey pavement car and challenged for the feature win. Nazareth always featured the best of the best... Schneider, Cagle, Mulligan, Carter, Malzahn, Hildreth, Tas, McLaughlin, Reutimann, Ploski, Pickell, Olsen the list goes on.... My Dad and I also made the farewell race for Will Cagle after he got his USAC licence. If my memory is accurate... he also won the feature that night.
I always enjoyed Tex Enright waving the field on to start an event. He was a great show man and brought personality to the sport that is missing today. Nazareth had a personality of it's own... It was more than attending a race. When you went to Nazareth you were treated to some of the finest racing on the east coast. You can never replace what Nazareth had... It existed at a point in time that can never be duplicated. I am glad I had the good fortune of attending so many races at Nazareth during the prime of modified racing.
I don't have many memories of the small track but more of the 1 mile track. My very first memory of the big track was when I was 4 in 1981. My father drove my sister and I up to chain link fence that was put up behind the main grandstands during the construction phase. I remember my father being so excited that they were going to reopen the track again. He held us up so we could look through the fence and see the plows leveling out the dirt in the infield. As a young kid, I was blown away by how big the track was and how big the grandstands were. I had only been to Flemington at that time and this seemed like 10 times bigger.
I'm not sure which race it was but I do remember sitting way up top of the grandstands one afternoon and the wind chill being about 20 degrees. It was so cold that my mother took us back in the car to warm up as my father stayed to watch the race.
I remember Lindy Vicari holding the Penthouse 100 and having a few of the Penthouse Pets signing autographs for the fans behind the main grandstands during intermission. I got rid of mine a long time ago but recently got another one from a guying selling it along with one of the programs on Ebay. As a kid I thought it was funny how one of the Pets was standing up in the scorer's tower in a fur coat as dirt was flying everywhere and it was like 45 degrees outside.
Vicari had the coolest pace car. It was a 1981 or '82 brown Corvette with RSCA written on the side. Nazareth 1 mile was unique also because, like Syracuse, it had a pit lane instead of a pit entrance. It was awesome seeing the corvette breaking off at turn four and speeding down pit lane as the cars roared down the front stretch.
The greatest thing about the Nazareth 1-mile (post 1982) was how it came to be. Vicari took a huge risk and made it happen. Yeah he had problems and eventually lost it but I don't believe that Nazareth wouldn't have lasted past the mid-80's if Vicari didn't take the chance. My family lived at Flemington Speedway but when Nazareth 1-mile was running, it was like Daytona for me. Special events held there had a certain mystique about them. If you won at the Nazareth 1-Mile, you accomplished something pretty awesome. If anybody out there has any footage of the 1-mile during the Vicari era, let Joe know cause I would love to see it !
Ken Johnson 03/10/08
It was 1969 and for some reason Kenny Weld was not racing on a Sunday night. We went to Nazareth and Jackie Evans was running the heat and his water pump went out. He came into the pits and said he was done for the evening. Kenny was standing by and said don't you have another? Everyone on Evans' crew said no. Weld looked around and saw a Ford station wagon that Bob Rossell was using as his tow car. Weld went to Rossell and asked for the use of his water pump. Rossell said if he thought he could do it to go ahead. Weld changed water pumps and Evans went out and won the consolation. He then started in the back of the feature and came on to finish 5th in the feature. Rags Carter won the race.
Weld then had to replace Rossell's pumps so he could go home. Anyone remember this?
George P 03/02/08
Sitting with my Girlfriend up by the tree and watched Del George BOUNCE down the track turning the #666 into the #6. Could have heard a pin drop till he came out of the car. Same seats and Rags Carter dumped the coupe #1 again instant heart failure.
That place was just ALIVE on Sunday. You had the Easter Egg hunt with a sea of kids all over the infield.
The ONLY day I regret going to the track was August 23rd 1964. That ALMOST was my last race ever to go to. It was for my mother.
Photos provided by George Pavisko
(Photo on left is from the 1/2 mile track and the photo on the right, and photo below are from the 1 mile track. )
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Allentown, NJ 08501
To view aerial images of the site of Nazareth Speedway from 1931 to 2006, click below:
Find on the left side of the page where it says "Search Imagery" and click on "By Lat / Long", and then enter the following coordinates:
Latitude: 40.7284 Longitude: -75.3210
(Coordinates provided by Mike Sienko)
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