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Speedway closing = history lost

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An Oklahoma City sports institution is closing.
 
We learned Monday that State Fair Speedway’s days are numbered. Oklahoma City officials say major electrical repairs are forcing the track’s closing. Speedway officials say the whole thing is a smokescreen concocted to close the venue.
 
What can’t be disputed, though, is the history that the speedway has had.
 
The dirt track opened in 1954, and for decades, it was one of the jewels on the state fairgrounds. It drew fans by the thousands and drivers by the hundreds.
 
While the dirt-track scene isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, there have been generations of racers come through the State Fair Speedway. The Jennings family. The Flatts. The Leeps. There were so many others, but all of them made the track their home on Friday night, setting up their trailers in the pits, becoming part of the fabric of the local racing community.
 
Kids were reared at the speedway, and having spent some time in the pits at State Fair Speedway, I can attest that there are much worse places for kids to spend their time.
 
In the pits, folks help each other out, loaning parts and borrowing tools and lending a helping hand. Granted, they go out on the track and try to beat each other, but when someone needs help, the racers and the pit crews would do anything to help each other out.
There are great lessons in that.
 
For many folks, the State Fair Speedway has been the backdrop for some of the greatest moments and fondest memories of their lives.
 
Some will cheer the closing of the speedway, saying that it was too noisy or that this clears the way for progress at the fairgrounds. Others will lament the loss of one of the region’s bigger half-mile dirt tracks. But everyone can agree that a piece of history has been lost. The speedway has likely seen its last race, but the memories will endure.
 
Do you have a great memory of the State Fair Speedway? Did the track mean something to you? E-mail me at jcarlson@opubco.com.
 

 

 

There have been big-time stars who’ve raced at the track, too. A.J. Foyt drove there once. So did Steve Kinser.

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Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›

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