The recent passing of Frankie Schneider had me thinking about some of his early tracks. And, although I have consciously avoided getting into New Jersey and Pennsylvania tracks on this website [it's just too much more to take on], I always held an interest on one of those early tracks - Alcyon Speedway in Pitman, NJ. I know positively nothing about Alcyon, so I will include a nice write - up done by Alcyon expert Ralph Richards as an informational reference. I hope he doesn't mind, given
the full credit given to him.

                I was first made aware of the very existence of Alcyon in reading that Pete Corey used to take the Bob Mott 3NY down there and do quite well. I have marveled at the stranbge configuration of the track, as well. I hope you enjoy this small coverage of a great track in our past. Here is the historical background from Ralph RIchards: "  There are many more photos than I chose to put here - just Google 'em.

ALCYON   SPEEDWAY
PITMAN , NEW JERSEY
(1895 - 1960)
Ralph J. Richards, Jr.

Opening as a 1/3 mile bicycle track in 1895, Alcyon Track was used for bicycling by the summer residents of Pitman. Sanctioned auto races were first held in November of 1910 on the 1/3 mile Alcyon Track. The Penn Motorcycle Club of Philadelphia, PA held a meet promoted by A.M. Fisher.

Auto and motorcycle match races, in distances of one and five miles in length, were held. As the automobile speeds progressed, the 1/3 mile track's narrow turns became dangerous and a nuisance. In 1913, track owners George and his brother Dr. Henry Carr enlarged the track to a ½ mile, five turn speedway. The unique five turn shape was caused by the inability to expand at either end because of an amusement park to the east, and orchards to the west. The extra distance was added to the backstretch creating a fifth turn.

With the expansion, harness racing and auto racing became more popular. Auto races were usually held on holidays during the summer and harness races during the Grange Fair held annually. Harness racing became more prevalent from the 1920's until 1935.

In 1935, a $10,000 lighting system from G.E. was added for baseball. On September 9, 1935, for the first time in South Jersey, a harness race was held under the lights at the Alcyon Track.

During the 1930's and 1940's, Alcyon Park was used for high school football and baseball games. Pitman High School and most other South Jersey schools used the football field in the infield of the track. High school sports were big during this period and attendance was usually high.

Bill Vail also promoted professional boxing and wrestling matches with the stage set up on the track in front of the grandstands.

The infield had a full size baseball field and semi-pro baseball was played at Alcyon's ballfield. Among the teams to play the Alcyon All-Stars were Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics, the House of David travelling team, the Bradford Grays of Pittsburgh, PA (the Negro League champions in the early 1940's), the New York Black Yankees and the New York Cubans.

Auto Thrill Shows became very popular in the 1940's. Big name car drivers from the Midwest and Northeast would stop at Alcyon Speedway as they traveled the racing circuit from Indianapolis to Trenton Speedway in NJ and Langhorne Speedway in PA.

As the popularity of auto racing grew, harness racing declined and the last harness race was held in the early 1940's. At the same time, more tracks and more drivers debuted. Alcyon Speedway held its own against other tracks and its attendance increased as the popularity of the sport grew.

During the 1940's Auto Thrill Shows would be part of holiday races. They soon were able to attract enough attendance to hold mid-week shows on their own.

The war in Europe curtailed auto events at Alcyon Speedway in 1942, when the O.D.T. banned the use of rubber tires and gasoline in Auto Thrill Shows. Four years later, in 1946, the B. Ward Beam Thrill Show returned Alcyon into action.

'Lucky' Teter, who packed grandstands and broke attendance records with his Thrill Shows, was killed on July 6, 1942, in an Indiana crash and was never to return to Alcyon Speedway.

The other Thrill Show drivers who were making Alcyon a stop on their tours were 'Lucky' Lee Crosby and Joie Chitwood. This made Alcyon Speedway a front runner in family entertainment.

After the war, the Big Cars were back and even more popular. The boys were returning home and longing for more excitement, they turned to auto racing. Big Cars were getting faster and more dangerous. A growing number of drivers down South started racing full-sized cars to add safety to the sport. Stock Cars, as they were known, moved North and, in June of 1948, Bill Vail began promoting Stock Car races at Alcyon Speedway.

On Friday, June 18, 1948, Bill held Big Car races at night for the first time. During the same month, Stock Car races were held on June 25. After the first two events were held, the lighting system gave out and the remainder of the show was postponed.

On the July 14th make-up race, only three heat races were run. The winners were Pete (Runt) Harris, Trenton, NJ; Stew McDonald, Washington, D.C.; and Frank Mundy, Atlanta, GA, before rain postponed the remaining races. Stock Car racing was not getting off to a good start.

For the first time at Alcyon, Midget Races sponsored by the Pitman Memorial Post 6469 V.F.W. were held on July 13, 1948, before an estimated crowd of 10,000. Art Gottier of West Chester, PA, was the feature winner.

Finally on August 27, 1948, the first Stock Car feature race was held at Alcyon Speedway, with Buddy Shuman of Charlotte, NC, winning and Chick Di Natale of Trenton, NJ, finishing second. Stock Car racing was finally up and running at Alcyon Speedway.

In 1949, Alcyon began holding Stock Car races on Friday evenings, as well as occasionally on holidays with the Big Cars. As far as I can tell, 1949 was the first year the track had a champion, Chick DiNatale of Trenton, NJ, was the modified champion. I have found no record of Sportsman racing at the track that year.

In 1950, George Petryk was the track champion. Again, I haven't found anything showing a Sportsman champion.

Mike Magill of Haddonfield, NJ, was the 1951 track champion. Mike still has his championship trophy from the club that raced at Alcyon that year. Some people think that Johnny Karp was the track champion because of the success he had in 1951. I have not found anything to prove this to be correct.

Johnny Karp was however the 1952 Modified track champion. A Sportsman champion was also crowned but as of this article, I have not found information as to who it was. Flemington, NJ's Frankie Schneider was the N.A.S.C.A.R. National Modified champion.

In 1953, Steve Elias of National Park, NJ, was the Modified champion. The Sportsman champion was Jack Hart of Chester, PA.

In the early 1950's, the track drew drivers from as far away as Florida, the Carolinas and the New England area. Many of N.A.S.C.A.R.'s most popular and successful drivers chose Alcyon as one of their stops while racing in the Northeast. Fireball Roberts, Red Byron, Buddy Shuman and Frank Mundy being some of the more frequent visitors.

There have been different opinions on how and who lost their lives at Alcyon Speedway. I can document Johnny Vogel of Mays Landing on August 21, 1953. Another driver, Lemeual Patterson, had his obituary as a flyer in a program. Wild Bill Smith was injured in a spectacular wreck with Mel Verona. He survived the accident, but died a couple weeks later in the hospital from pneumonia.

In 1954, Freddy Fehr of Easton, PA, was crowned the Modified champion. Once again, the Sportsman champion has not been documented.

1955 saw local favorite Jackie McLaughlin of Thorofare, NJ, winning the track Modified title in the famous Lucky Jordan's #2. The Sportsman champion was Paul Walker out of Delaware.

In 1955, the United Racing appeared at Alcyon for the last time. Buddy Powers set a 20 lap record for Sprint Cars at 8:50:51.

Otto Harwi from Easton, PA, was the 1956 Modified champion driving Sonny Dornberger's # 999 Sedan. Don Stumpf in his famous red and white #2 was the Sportsman champion.

In 1957, Alcyon Speedway went to bi-weekly Stock Car races on Tuesday and Friday nights. Washington, D.C., area driver, Ralph Smith, was the Modified track champion. Lou Mood, the "Flying Farmer", from Mullica Hill,NJ, was crowned the track Sportsman champion. Baltimore's Ken Marriott was the N.A.S.C.A.R. National Modified champion.

1958 found Ed Lindsey the Modified champ and Bill Wark out of Barrington, NJ, the Sportsman winner. Local favorite, Budd Olsen, from Thorofare, NJ, was the N.A.S.C.A.R. National Modified champion.

Baltimore, MD, driver, Glenn Guthrie, was the Alcyon Speedway Modified champion and he was also the N.A.S.C.A.R. National Modified champion in 1959. Jim Smith was the track Sportsman champion. On September 18, the Woman's Stock Car Auto Racing Association (W.S.C.A.R.A.) held the first "Dollie Derby".

In 1959, the Hobbie Stock Cars appeared for the first time at Alcyon Speedway.

On May 30, 1960, Vineland, NJ standout and local favorite Al Tasnady won his record 6th straight Feature race. On July 24th of that year, Jackie McLaughlin set a 25 lap Stock Car record at 11:05:9. Johnny Roberts of Baltimore, MD, won the Alcyon Modified and the N.A.S.C.A.R. National Modified championships. Florida's Will Cagle was the Alcyon Speedway Sportsman champion. Ed "Lil Abner" Goeke was crowned Hobbie champion. Driver Bunky Higbee won the last Hobbie Feature race and Johnny Roberts was the winner of the last Modified Feature race held at Alcyon Speedway, on Labor Day 1960.

1960 saw Bill Nocco, of Vineland Speedway, leasing Alcyon Speedway and Bill Vail promoting it. The future of the speedway looked promising. But Bill Nocco bought and then decided to close and sell Alcyon Speedway, hoping the dirt racing fans would flock to his Vineland Speedway, which was paved. This did not happen.

It was the death of Stock Car racing in South Jersey, as Vineland Speedway lost its lease in 1965. Auto racing would not return until 1972 when Bridgeport Speedway opened its gates in October.

The cars were different, the track was different ...... The racing we had at Alcyon Speedway was gone forever.

However, with programs, films, photos, memoribilia and the memories, Alcyon Speedway will live on into the future. "


Historic Aerials.com
A 1958 aerial photo of the Alcyon Speedway layout - and a strange one it was !


Courtesy of Edward B. Brown III [ EBBIII]
Another aerial photo of the Alcyon Speedway layout - with Lake Alcyon in foreground.


USGS Photo Found in Imageshack
An aerial of vestiges of the track in the 1990's.

PROBABLY PRE - WWII ALCYON

 
Source: See Caption
This one leaves no
doubt it's that old.

Source: Michael Henry
via 3 Wide

A pre WWII sprinter
or "Big Car".
 
Source: R. Dodge Coll.
A 1946 shot - really
still in that pre - stock car era.
 
Source: Michael Henry
via 3 Wide

A pre WWII sprinter
or "Big Car".
 
Source: So. Jersey Trails Site
Ayup, Alcyon's been at
it a long time.

Source: See Caption
Clearlty not pre WWII
but belongs in this
category.

EARLIER ALCYON 

 
Unknnwn Source
Pete Corey at Alcyon with
Bob Mott's car in the '50's.
 
Unknnwn Source
Pete Corey at Alcyon with
H. Smith car in the '50's.
 
John Brown Photo
Marty Goitler at Alcyon in the '50's. Great number !
 
Source: EBBIII
Al Tasnady with a '50's ride. More likely than not, he ran Alcyon with this car.
 
Source: EBBIII
Bob PIckell with a '50's ride. More likely than not, he ran Alcyon with this car.
 
Source: EBBIII
Frankie Schneider with a '50's verson. More likely than not, he ran Alcyon with this car.

 
Source: EBBIII
 '50's Alcyon action in vintage color.
 
Source: EBBIII
Elton Hildreth with a '50's ride. This is at Alcyon.
 
Source: EBBIII
A 1950's Alcyon car.
 
Source: EBBIII
Benny Nero, a 1950's Alcyon car.
 
Source: Richard Tiley
Bob Malzahn with the
Harold Cope 1, likely
an Alcyon car.
 
Walter Mateer Photo
via Joe Grosset
ti
An earlier Lucky Jordan
Deuce.

 
Source: EBBIII
Otto Harwi.
 
Walter Chernokal Photo
Source: EBBIII

Sal Moschella with an
early Tom Skinner car.

Source: EBBIII
Skinner's 659 [probably Parker Bohn] in a wreck.
 
Source: EBBIII
An earlier shot of Tommie Elliott.

Walter Chernokal Photo
Source: EBBIII

Bill Work's 4F in an
early wreck.
 
Source: EBBIII
Read the caption.
 
Source: Russ Dodge Coll.
A smokey 1950's start.
 
Source: Bob Farlee Photo
via Russ Dodge and 3 Wide

More '50's color.
 
Source: See Caption
An earlier color lineup.
 
Source: EBBIII
An earlier shot of Jackie McLaughlin.
 
Source: Bob Sweeten Photo
via Russ Dodge and 3 Wide

Bob Gibbons' hobby car.
 
Source: See Caption
Great early action.
 

LATER ALCYON  


Source: EBBIII
A great field, that includes
the SSS maybe with Farley.

 
Source: EBBIII
Wally Dallenbach, Sr.
 
Source: EBBIII
Tommie Elliott.

Source: EBBIII
UNK car X-15.

Source: EBBIII
Al Tasnady would have run Alcyon with this Piscopo 39 at times.
 
Source: See Caption
Billy Deskovic was
seen with this car in
the color photo above.

 
Source: Richard Tiley
Bob Malzahn with the
Flaming 99.
 
Source: Richard Tiley
George Sleight with the Ronco R12 car.
 
Source: Richard Tiley
Jackie McLaughlin with a later, Olsen - built car.
 
Source: Richard Tiley
Parker Bohn with the Tom Skinner 659 car.
 
Source: Mike Clissold
Frankie and Stan wouild have run a few at Alcyon.
 
Source: Chas Hertica
Will Cagle leads Parker Bohn. Cagle has the Lucky Jordan Deuce while Bohn is in Tom Skinner's six cylinder 659.

 

 
Both Photos Courtesy of Michael Henry
Betty Park located near the race track, on the other side on Lake Alcyon. Eventually, the old track was swallowed up by an
increasingly large park of its own called Alcyon Park - from the looks of recent aerials.


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