Lost Speedways At Saratoga Museum


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — In recent years, it has become a tradition for Capital District auto racing fans and participants to close out the Thanksgiving holiday with the Lost Speedways program at the Saratoga Automobile Museum.

Typically the museum’s most popular offering, the Saturday Nov. 26 program will open with memorabilia sharing at 11:30 a.m. followed by a series of presentations beginning at 1 p.m..

“We started out talking about speedways that are no longer in operation and recalling the ‘good old days’ of area auto racing,” said museum trustee and event organizer Ron Hedger. “That theme continues, along with the display of memorabilia, but the day has also become a ‘gathering of the clan,’ so to speak. Fans see competitors of the past, friends catch up with each other, retired racers rerun battles of bygone days and new friends are made during enthusiastic conversations. It’s my favorite day of the museum year.”

NASCAR Late Model Short Track division historian Ken Parrotte will be a newcomer to the program, offering an illustrated presentation on the division highlighted by the appearance of five-time division champion and Southern 500 winner Jim Reed.

Reed, a resident of Peekskill, N.Y., and a successful racer in the region before heading south and west, was among the nation’s most popular and successful drivers at the height of his career and will take questions from the audience.

Parrotte will also read a letter from famed stock car and Indy 500 champion Parnelli Jones about his days in the division and his memories of racing against Reed, the dominant driver in the series.

Another newcomer to the 2011 program will be former Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Denny Zimmerman, who was the first Soap Box Derby regional winner to qualify at Indianapolis.

Zimmerman will be joined by Skip Matczak, long known as an owner of both modified and supermodified racers, who will recall the early days of the Albany-Saratoga Speedway.

The New Englanders will be joined on the diverse program by a trio of returnees who are always extremely popular. Motorcycle racing expert Mark Supley will discuss playing polo on motorcycles, famed announcer Jim King will recall the glory days of the short-lived Cairo Speedway and historian Bill Ladabouche will illustrate the glory years of Plattsburgh’s Airborne Park Speedway. Additionally, if time allows, Hedger will give an overview of the huge NASCAR exhibit set to occupy the museum’s main gallery beginning in June 2012.