He was flamboyant, enthusiastic and he really cared about racing. That was Paul Kuhl, who died last week at age 87. He lead Flemington Speedway, located within the Flemington Fairgrounds in New Jersey, to national notoriety.
Flemington was an old four corned half-mile horse track which later would host the Hunterton (and even New Jersey State) Fairs. It mostly featured “Big” cars or, as we know them today, sprint cars.
In 1955, weekly NASCAR modified racing began and a fan base was immediately built up thanks to the spectacular showmanship of Al Tasnady. He was the man to beat as he expertly maneuvered the tricky narrow track much to either the delight or anger of the crowd. There wasn’t much room for “clean” racing so action was aplenty.
The track was run by Bill Kinnamon, a gentlemanly bank president who chose the manage it conservatively. The season ran from April until the annual Labor Day Fair. A twin 20’s for modifieds was the only special event all season.
In 1968, the track was enlarged by moving the inside fences inward. Strangely it went from a half-mile to a five-eighths-mile, seemingly mathematically improbable. But most things at Flemington were just that.
The place was nicely kept. It had a fairgrounds feeling to it. In 1972, Paul Kuhl took over and the mildly interesting race plant would soar to the top.
He immediately named it “Modified Country USA” and had banners placed so everyone knew it. He had this thing for the color purple. That hue made it “the purple palace.” Kuhl paid a bigger purse and got a lot of the drivers from Reading, Pa., to run there. He put on special shows nearly every week. Previously Flemington rarely had extra distance races, Kuhl ran them all the time. He ran well into October, even hosting a 200-lap race.