Archive for October 24, 2019

Talladega …

It has been 50 years since racing began on the high banks of the Alabama International Motor Superspeedway.

Though many historians and fans have continually brought up the union organizing activity led by auto racing Superstar Richard Petty as a central issue, there were many more problems than a failure in communication between Bill France and the Professional Driver Association’s members.

The newly constructed and paved track was fast, too fast some say. The grip at the start of any car’s run seemingly catapulted the uniquely designed stock cars to greater and greater speeds.

Charlie Glotzbach in a Nichels Engineering entered Test Car snapped off a lap at 199.466 miles per hour, subsequently almost losing his job because he violated Ronney Householder’s orders to keep the new Dodge Daytona Charger on a short lease.

With the terrifically high speeds, what was really learned was the track was terribly rough and tires couldn’t last more than 10 laps before failing. Firestone and Goodyear both suffered the same fate. So much so, that safety became the central issue, that eventually forced a lengthy list of drivers to boycott the race. Dave Despain shares the whole story below …


By: Stan Kalwasinski

— Remembering Meadowdale International Raceways —

— Road racing course was located on Route 31 in Carpentersville, two miles north of the I-90 Tollway —

The track had been described in various sizes ranging from 4.2 mile, 3.5 mile, 3.27 mile, and 2.25 mile.

The track opened on September 14, 1958, with Chuck Daigh of Long Beach, Calif., winning a 115.5-mile sports car event on the 12-turn, 3.3 mile course. Daigh, in a Scarab, defeated Lance Reventlow in a “sister” car to Daigh’s. Chuck Rickert in a Porsche 550 finished third, followed by John Haas and John Stover. Daigh averaged 85.55 mph to the checkered flag. Driver Robert Walker of Little Rock, Ark., died from injuries when his Ferrari flipped over in a hairpin turn during the race. The Chicago Region of the Sports Cars Club of America hosted the event with an entry list of some 130 cars on hand as a windy day caused dust problems at the new facility.

The raceway featured an intimidating 45-degree banked “Monza Wall.” The “Monza Wall” was torn down before the 1968 racing season. Leonard Besinger Sr. of Polk Brothers home appliance/electronics store fame was the builder of the track. Early officers included Ralph Banghart, President, Ben Bentley, Vice President, and Robert Sherwood, Secretary.

Over the years, racers such as Jim Jeffords, Augie Pabst, Roger Penske, Harry Heuer, Lloyd Ruby, Ken Miles, Jim Hall, and Mark Donohue scored sports car victories on the Meadowdale course. Donohue, in his Roger Penske-owned Chevrolet Camaro, scored the final major event victory held at the speedway as Donohue won a Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Trans-Am race on July 7, 1968. In September 1959, Rodger Ward, who in May had one his first Indianapolis 500 race, competed in a sports car race, driving his Leader Card midget.

Used primarily as a sports car racing venue, Meadowdale hosted six major stock car races during its existence with the likes of Fred Lorenzen, Gene Marmor, Nelson Stacy, Rick Kleich, Curtis Turner, and Elmer Musgrave scoring victories. Lorenzen’s win came in a 222-mile, USAC-sanctioned “new car” race on Sunday afternoon, October 19, 1958, with Lorenzen and his 1958 Ford defeating ’58 Indy 500 winner Jimmy Bryan and fastest qualifier Chuck Daigh.

Never catching on like investors and management envisioned, Meadowdale fell on hard times with go-kart, drag racing, and even snowmobile racing taking place at the track. USAC-sanctioned Indy Car and stock car races were planned for 1970 with the events never taking place.

The track sat for many years with the property now part of about 122 acres owned in roughly equal portions by Dundee Township, the Dundee Township Park District and the Kane County Forest Preserve and known as Raceway Wood. Parts of the original track remain with visitors able to walk the course where Ferrari, Maserati, Porsches, and Scarab sports cars once reigned.