AVONDALE, Newfoundland – For the longest time, being a racing fan in Newfoundland was no easy task.
While racing has been present in Newfoundland as far back as the 1960s, most drivers found themselves either racing on dirt, airport runways or heading off the island to pursue their racing goals.
For more than 20 years, Newfoundland had lacked a proper NASCAR-sanctioned speedway for its drivers. Ideas and plans had been tossed around for decades, until one man finally decided to take action and do something.
Local businessman and long-time NASCAR fan Pat Squires formed AME Enterprises, with a dream to build a brand new state of the art facility. His team bought the existing land of the old Avondale Speedway dirt track and announced the plans to finally bring NASCAR racing back to the province Newfoundland and Labrador.
“I’ve listened to so many people talk about building a new speedway for so many years, that I just got sick of listening to people say they were going to do stuff and didn’t do it,” said Squires. “So I made an offer to buy an existing dirt track that was there because we had made plans to build a NASCAR oval track there, but couldn’t get the proper permits. So I bought the old Avondale Dirt Track and I just went ahead and did it.”
Squires was revolutionary in building up the racing scene on the island, constantly importing race cars to keep them in Newfoundland. This helped a lot of drivers get the necessary equipment they needed in order to race and make names for themselves.
“The motivation was that I’m a NASCAR fella,” said Squires. “I’ve have been going to races for over 25 years, going to places like Daytona and New Hampshire and really anywhere out of the province because we had no place to go in Newfoundland.”
Beginning construction in 2012, Squires had a vision for the site. Plans included a NASCAR-sanctioned .375-mile asphalt oval, an eighth-mile NHRA drag strip, special configurations capable of hosting Monster Truck rallies, FMX and Snow Cross events and a world-class concert venue.
The project was unlike anything that had been seen before in the province.
“In order to build a track you got to be a little crazy,” Squires added. “First off, it takes a lot of engineering and understanding safety features. Engineering proper drainage so you got proper turns so you can maintain the speed on the track. The second thing is making sure if doesn’t cost more money than your initial investment. Things like proper drainage is definitely one of most important things. Also, making sure the people can see the track without any problems and see the entire field at a time, and really making sure the fans get a good feeling when they are at the track.”
Since opening Eastbound Park, Squires’ efforts have received much fanfare and have been changing the racing game in Newfoundland ever since. With seating of up to 4,500 passionate race fans, the track received NASCAR sanctioning, becoming just the second track in Atlantic Canada to join NASCAR’s prestigious family.
“The name of NASCAR alone turned on a big light switch in some people who didn’t know a lot about the sport,” noted Squires. “Everybody sees it on TV and they’ve never had opportunity to see people compete in a sport, where it’s so competitive … and now at our track we are seeing very experienced drivers coming up and moving on different levels of NASCAR, especially with the kids.”