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I wonder why they named it "that" ?

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Race track names throughout history

Ever wondered how a place first gets named?  I know I have, and racetracks are no exception. Most tracks are named for their location, such as Flat Rock, Winchester, Toledo, and Angola. Others have names that still represent some local connection such as Auto City near Flint, Spartan Speedway near Lansing, and Berlin at the county fairgrounds. Still others seem to have no connection to anything I can discern, like Shady Bowl, or Kil Kare. If you look back at the names of some of the thousands of the current and defunct tracks of the past you can find some names that were quite creative and entertaining.

 Some Michigan tracks had rather innocuous sounding names like Bob's Picnic Grounds in Pontiac, Mom's Family Raceway in Reed City, and Partington's Pastures in Sterling Hts. Short track legend Joy Fair actually started in his very first race at Partington's Pastures in 1949. All three of them sound like pleasant places to pack a nice lunch for the family with fried chicken, potato salad, and apple pie to spend a quiet afternoon. Certainly no indication you would hear roaring engines, the grind of metal and have your nice lunch covered with flying dust.

 At the other end of the spectrum, you had names like Suicide Circle in Georgia, Ted's Torture Track in New York, Hofer's Death Valley Speedway in Illinois, Hell's Half Acre in Texas, and my personal favorite: Satan's Bowl-O-Death in New York. Are you starting to see a common theme here? Joy Fair told me his parents thought racing was a sin; apparently they weren't the only ones. The suicide angle seemed to be very popular with three separate tracks in Texas; all named the Suicide Bowl at different times.

          The bowl nomenclature was not limited to college football being used for many racetracks as well. You have the famed Chili Bowl in Tulsa, the Akron Rubber Bowl in Ohio, an Iron Bowl in Alabama, a Peach Bowl, Tobacco Bowl & Sugar Bowl in Georgia, Bean Bowl in California, Ice Bowl in Alaska (makes sense!), an aptly named Dust Bowl in Montana, and a Devil's Bowl in Texas and a couple other states.

          Then you have names that seem to have no connection to racing at all, like Boss Hogg International Speedway in Florida (I wonder if those darn Duke boys raced there?) and Whiskey Ridge in Muskegon, Michigan. I'm not sure how many drivers would want to race at Flippin Speedway in Arkansas until they saw it really was located in the town of Flippin. Anderson Speedway in Indiana was originally named Sun Valley Speedway, which seems odd since Anderson is neither particularly known as a sun paradise or is located in a valley.

So the next time you go to the races just ask yourself "I wonder why they named it that?"

Thanks to Allen Brown for writing the book The History of America's Speedways and providing the great info.














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