Group trying to organize Pittsfield Speedway reunion

May 23, 2013 8 Comments
Former Pittsfield Speedway racer Floyd Yager.

Former Pittsfield Speedway racer Floyd Yager.

A group of area race fans is attempting to put together a tribute to the old Pittsfield Speedway — but needs your help.

George Halpin of Pittsfield is one of those trying to get the ball — err, wheel — rolling.

“A meeting was held recently to explore the possibility of having a Pittsfield Speedway Reunion,” Halpin said. “The group would like former fans, drivers, pit crews, and other interested parties to share their ideas on what they would like to see, where to have the meeting, etc. All would be encouraged to bring any memorabilia of that era and share it at that time with others to see.”

Halpin said Pittsfield Speedway was formed in 1954 and operated until around 1970 at a one-fourth mile track on the west side of town where the present Wal-Mart store now stands.

“Every Saturday night during the summer months, the track opened to fans and drivers from cities as far away as St. Louis, Alton, Mexico (Mo.), Moberly (Mo.), Burlington (Iowa), Keokuk (Iowa), Macomb, Peoria, Clinton,

Francis "Wildman" Kelly, during his days at Pittsfield Speedway. Kelly was inducted into the Quincy Raceways Hall of Fame last September, then passed away later in the year.

Francis “Wildman” Kelly, during his days at Pittsfield Speedway. Kelly was inducted into the Quincy Raceways Hall of Fame last September, then passed away later in the year.

Decatur, Springfield and Jacksonville — just to name a few cities,” Halpin said. “Through the years, thousands of fans attended the races … and possibly no other event has brought that many to Pittsfield on a continuing basis for that many years.

“The track was so well known that many of the drivers, pit crews and helpers later moved on to become participants in various ways to what has become NASCAR.”

Halpin was clear to point out this is not any sort of plea for donations or contributions, rather an opportunity to share memories, renew friendships, reminisce about the history and good times the Pittsfield Speedway brought to the immediate and surrounding area.

Others involved in the project so far include Bob Smith, Roger Yager, Ben Johnson, Jim Halpin and Tim Halpin.

Those wishing more information should email Cory Kindhart at cgkt7@adams.net.

• It should be noted that if not for Pittsfield Speedway there may never have been a Quincy Raceways. The late Albert Scott, who founded and built the track often referred to as the Broadway Bullring got his inspiration for such a facility after attending the races in Pittsfield. Quincy Raceways opened for business five years after Pittsfield’s operation had closed down. The Bullring will celebrate its 40th anniversary next season.

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  1. Dave Moore says:

    I attended those races when I was a teenager. My favorite driver was Jerry Blundy, I think he was from Galesburg. Another driver or owner was Dick Vance who has family in the Mt. Sterling area and is Dick Cranes step-father.

  2. seighinger says:

    dave, you must’ve been older than a teenager …. when you were a teenager you were racin’ the Lone Ranger in a covered wagon!

  3. Dave Moore says:

    Actually Stevie my first race was against Moses in a chariot, of course I beat him because I was drivin a Ford powered chariot. He of course was in a Chevy.

  4. Wayne Steas says:

    I have several pictures of drivers that raced at Pittsfield back then. Some maybe taken at other tracks but they are those drivers. Not sure if you would want to include the Pittsfield 1/5th mile Speedway that Allen and Cathy Motley ran for 10 years. I have a lot of memorabilia from that track as I was a track photographer for 3 yrs there. It might be a way to get more people to the reunion by combining the two. I have a lot of memorabilia from other tracks such as Springfield, Jacksonville (aka Morgan County Speedway & Jacksonville Raceway), Godfrey, SLARA, and Tri-city if you are interested in that too. I would be willing to help in anyway I could. Thanks, Wayne Stearns (Jacksonville Speedway Historian-2013)

  5. Charlie Bryson says:

    Floyd Yaeger is in the Knoxville Sprint car hall of fame. Roger and Dorothy took a bunch of his stuff up there a few years ago.

  6. Charlie Bryson says:

    A lot of people dont know that Wayne (Windy) Wright from Wrights Auto Parts was a very active racer and was very good, he ran all over. I believe it was probably in the 1930′s there are a lot of his pictures but I don’t know how you would ever get any of them.

  7. Michael McGowen says:

    My dad and uncle, Walt and Mac McGowen from Hardin, IL, raced for many years at Pittsfield, one of the many tracks I grew up at. My brother, Randy Wagoner, and my cousin, Butch McGowen, began their racing careers at Pittsfield in the early 70′s. I know the track was open until some time past 1974, as that was the last time my brother raced at Pittsfield after we had begun racing at Godfrey Speedway full time. Uncle Mac also retired from racing in 1972 at Pittsfield, and was given a plaque with a steering wheel to commemorate the occasion. Uncle Mac passed away in 2009, Dad in 2010. Anyone who remembers the McGowen Brothers can contact me at sirmichael1959@yahoo.com

  8. Jamie Zellers says:

    My Dad Art Zellers raced at Pittsfield Raceway in the 60′s. He raced for Refro’s from Middletown, IL. I have only found a couple of photos. Would like to know if anyone has any photos?

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