With the racing season winding down, off-season plans are in the works. And for racers and fans throughout the Northeast, this Thanksgiving weekend means two things: family gatherings and “Lost Speedways” at the Saratoga Automobile Museum.
The event, which takes a look at speedways and speedway surfaces no longer with us as well as great racers of the past, always packs both floors of the museum with enthusiasts sharing their racing memorabilia and enjoying a wide variety of presentations. This year’s edition, set for Saturday, Nov. 27, will continue the tradition with talks on motorcycle racing, road course action and a variety of stock car related topics.
Motorcycle enthusiast Mark Supley will return with photos and stories about old-time board track racing while highly respected sports car owner Rob Dyson and Greg Rickes, the voice of Lime Rock Park, will team for an illustrated look at the old Riverside, Calif., road course and street racing with the Camel GT Series.
The Albany-Saratoga Charger division, from the speedway’s first asphalt period, produced a number of very successful modified drivers and graduates Brian Ross and Nick Ronca will recall those days using vintage photos supplied by ace photographer John Grady.
“The Early Days of Airborne Park” will be highlighted by respected north-country racing historian Bill Ladabouche while another great story teller, Jim King, will recall the NASCAR-era heroes of the nearby Fonda Speedway. King, who started at Fonda helping with his father’s car and ended up in the announcer’s booth atop the ancient grandstand, has an endless supply of interesting Fonda tales.
The final presentation, “Albany-Saratoga Dirt Track Memories,” will use photos from the archives of former CVRA photographer Dick Britain to recall the early dirt track years at the Malta oval. Event organizer Ron Hedger, a columnist with National Speed Sport News, will be joined by “color commentator” Kenny Tremont Jr.
“I spent hours cutting the choices down to a manageable number,” offered Hedger. “It was an enjoyable task, though, looking at shots of Kenny Brightbill winning at Malta with a wing, Jack Johnson and CD Coville from the days when they went to war every Friday night and all the others who made Malta ‘the great race place’ over the years. And we have enough for another presentation or two with the leftover pictures.”
Program changes for 2010 include a new layout to maximize seating, a scheduled intermission halfway through the presentations and a longer period of memorabilia display before the presentations. Those with memorabilia to share are asked to set up their items for the 11:30 a.m. “green flag” with the formal presentations set for 1 p.m.
And while they’re not old enough yet to be called memorabilia, Eastern Motorsport Press Association representative Dave Dalesandro will be on hand to exhibit the very impressive winning photos from the 2009 Brice NAPA Auto Parts/Eastern Motorsport Press Association photography contest as well.
There is no charge for the event beyond normal museum admission with SAM members, as always, admitted free.
Museum volunteers will be on hand to safeguard the memorabilia visitors bring to share with everyone and they will also offer the opportunity to buy a brick in the ever-growing Walk of Fame in front of the museum. The area has become a popular way to remember family members and racers of the past who have, as CVRA announcer Tom Perry used to say, “gone on ahead.”
Those who attend the annual “auto racing memory-fest” will also enjoy viewing the auto museum’s new “Right Coast Rods” exhibit, a look at historic East Coast hot rods from the 1950’s. More information is available online at www.saratogaautomuseum.org.
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