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ECONOMAKI: Heigh-Ho Old Hinchliffe

MEMORY LANE: Chris Economaki takes a walk down memory lane during Sunday's Old Timer’s gathering at New Jersey’s Hinchliffe Stadium. (John DaDalt Photo)

MEMORY LANE: Chris Economaki takes a walk down memory lane during Sunday’s Old Timer’s gathering at New Jersey’s Hinchliffe Stadium. (John DaDalt Photo)

Paterson, N.J., Stadium Near End Of Its Days

MIDLAND PARK, N.J.
Sunday weather was ideal for a visit to old Hinchliffe Stadium in the Totowa borough of Paterson, N.J., for the third annual exposition of past happenings at the revered stadium. Activities saw a plethora of small cars appear, midgets, quarter midgets, half midgets, TQ midgets and home-made designs of all size and shapes. Even a few stock cars showed up. But very few spectators graced the aging grandstands of the well-worn Hinchliffe Stadium. Locals say an effort to bring professional sport — including midget racing — back to the venue is unlikely as local officials have deemed the stadium unsafe for spectator seating. Hinchliffe originated in the early 1930s as the home field for the Black Yankees, a local African-American baseball team. Midget racing soon followed, packing the grandstands on Tuesday and Friday nights. This activity continued through the late 1960s, when sports attendance fell to unprofitable lows. The old timers who showed up with their cars bemoaned the impending loss of the old Hinchliffe, Ye Ed included.

Often lost in its business is the splendor of the Labor Day racing weekend. The luster became a little greater with the move of the NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Atlanta Motor Speedway to Sunday evening. A large, though not sold out, crowd was on hand for the event at the 1.5-mile speedway with the patriotic activities that were part of the pre-race ceremonies giving it a first-class feel. Elsewhere Saturday night’s IZOD IndyCar Series event went head to head with the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at AMS. With side-by-side racing throughout and a dramatic finish, the IndyCar event at Kentucky Speedway was the clear winner in this column’s view. NHRA’s drag racing gentry annually gathered for their most prestigious event over the Labor Day weekend and the 56th annual U.S. Nationals was run Monday afternoon. Also on tap Monday was the annual ARCA Racing Series race, which followed Sunday night’s stop by the USAC Silver Crown Series at the famed one-mile dirt oval at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds. Short tracks around the nation held special holiday racing programs with champions crowned in what was the final event of the season at many of them.

Fight Night II. Last week we informed readers about a 15-on-one brawl at Thompson (Conn.) Int’l Speedway. Now comes word that a littler farther north in New England driver Steve Moulton has been banned for life (which in racing terms usually means the rest of the season) from competition at Speedway 95 in Hermon, Maine. The final straw, which led track owner Del Merritt to oust Moulton, was an on-track altercation between Moulton and rival Jeremy Glasier. The two had gone back and forth all season and had several run-ins, which included Moulton having previously been banned for five weeks. It must be the cold nights.

Old friend Tom Cotter may not be actively selling auto-racing sponsorships any longer, but he’s still putting his marketing expertise to good use. Cotter, who formerly ran the successful Cotter Group, is selling his arms and legs for sponsorships all to benefit Team for Kids. It’s not as corny as it may sound. Cotter will be running the New York City Marathon on Nov. 7 and sponsors will be able to write their names on his various body parts in exchange for contributions to the charity. Among the first to buy in was Sprint Cup driver Jeff Burton, who is sponsoring Cotter’s gas-pedal (right) foot.

The concession stand at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, burned down last week. The building, which was built when the track was constructed in 1963, was scheduled to be replaced by track owners Bill Bader and Bill Bader, Jr. within the next couple of years. Temporary vendors will replace the building for the remainder of this season.

Barely alive from the start, a proposal made by Oklahoma City Grand Prix LLC to promote an American Le Mans Series in Oklahoma City next July 4 was rejected by a 6-2 vote of the Oklahoma City council recently.

Aug. 31 was Chip Ganassi Day in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh City Council approved a proclamation honoring the Pittsburgh native and his race teams that won the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 earlier this year. Ganassi is a graduate of the city’s Duquesne University and still keeps an office in town for his charity activities.

Illinois racer Stevie Campbell claimed his first career late-model stock-car feature win at the Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill., Sept. 3. Campbell, a former minor league hockey referee, is the son of veteran mechanic Bob “Soup” Campbell, who has twisted wrenches on many area stock cars, including those driven by Chicagoland favorites Ray Young and Tom Jones.

Malaysia’s Nabil Jeffri, 16, became the youngest person ever to officially test an F-1 car when he conducted straight-line aero tests for Lotus on a runway in England last week.

World renowned motocross racer and X Games performer Brian Deegan, who is also the founder and CEO of the Metal Mulisha brand which earned more than $30 million last year, is making the transition to stock-car racing. Deegan finished 13th in a recent event at Toyota Speedway @ Irwindale (Calif.) and has three more late-model appearances scheduled this year.

The Roush Drag Team made history Aug. 29 when driver Donnie Bowles scored the first liquid propane-powered victory for a Ford Mustang during the fourth annual NMCA Muscle Car Nationals at Michigan’s Milan Dragway. The car’s normally aspirated 5.4-liter V-8 engine runs on propane and generates in excess of 700 horsepower.

During the early 1970s K&K Insurance sponsored the NASCAR stock car driven by Bobby Isaac. Now, K&K has signed on to sponsor the Marnie Jude Foundation. Marnie Howiler is Isaac’s 6-year-old granddaughter, who is recovering from a stage IV Wilms tumor. The Marnie Jude Foundation will be a non-profit organization that raises funds for childhood cancer research.

Going to Eldora Speedway for the World 100 or the 4-Crown Nationals? If so stop at the Haye Vending souvenir stand and pick up your 75th anniversary National Speed Sport News sweatshirt for $25 and stay warm on those cool fall racing nights. Or visit www.nationalspeedsportnews.com to buy yours today.

Fans of Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway take note: the 54th Budweiser Classic at the historic asphalt track was rained out on Sunday and was run Monday afternoon. Results were not yet available at press time. Check out www.nationalspeedsportnews.com for information on the event.

Posted by on Sep 7 2010 Filed under Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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