ASHLAND PARK SPEEDWAY
Warrensburg, New York

Sometimes Known as Warrensburg Speedway

     Warrensburg, New York's old fairgrounds were the site of one of the region's earlier speedways, in the 1950's to very early sixties. The track probably had a number of different promoters and names, but the prevailing label seems to Ashland Park Here is a column I wrote about the track in late 2006:
 

 

ANOTHER LONG-FORGOTTEN FAIRGROUNDS RACE TRACK

Despite being pretty attentive to racing my home region –the area that encompassed Fairmont Speedway in Fair Haven, Vermont, I could not travel around as I might have wanted due to the fact I wasn’t old enough to drive. The area involved a lot of important and obscure race tracks within the immediate traveling area: Lebanon Valley, Claremont, Fonda, and Albany – Saratoga were well – established ovals, while the variously – named track near Vergennes, Vermont was less so successful.
       With the lack of mobility [beyond my uncle’s generous chauffeuring to as many distant points as his limited time would allow] I had not managed to be aware of the fact that the Stateline Speedway in North Bennington, Vt. had survived far longer than I knew, as had Mettowee – over in North Granville, NY. Whites Beach Speedway had run its course in Ballston Spa, NY without my ever hearing about it.
       Another facility that I had no idea had survived into the 1960’s was the track at Warrensburg, New York. I had always been aware that there had been a Warrensburg track, as so many Fairmont and Otter Creek Speedway stars were from that region; but, I had mistakenly formed the impression in my pea brain that the track had long since died out. At least until 1961, that was a wrongful assumption.
      The Warrensburg track [sometimes referred to as Ashland Park] was located at the old Warren County fairgrounds in Warrensburg. If you found Ashe's Hotel, you were at the gateway to the track.



Ashe's Hotel today. Right at sunset, it seems to be the social center for the
town party goers, here in 2007. [Ladabouche Photo]


      From helpful sources like Bruce Keith, Ben Gurney, and Ralph Palmer, I have gotten some fragmented information on this track was, previously, almost totally unknown to me and which was far more active and significant than I had imagined. Running approximately from 1954 to 1961, it was promoted by different individuals and partnerships; and, it all seemed to end when there was a grandstands fire in 1961.
       Ashland Park was able to draw from a surprising reservoir of potential competitors. At the beginning of Warrensburg, Fonda Speedway was not yet the giant it would become soon; nearby Ticonderoga had had a race track [Champlain Speedway]; West Glens Falls, surrounded by an area rich with avid race drivers, had tried a track; Mettowee was running in North Granville; and Whites Beach, Empire, Route 66 and Burden Lake all took turns trying racing in the Capital District [which was not that far away].
      Warrensburg could draw on some large contributing families, the largest of which were the Bakers and the Pennocks. And, the Bakers even provided some of the track’s numerous promoters. At various times,, Ashland Park was run by Rick Patterson [who also had a hand in Whites Beach]; Wilbur Baker and Beecher Baker; Ward Tower; and, finally, Hank Schmidt, a driver and future CVRA official from Gansevoort, NY. Who ran the track with help from Fonda legend Earl Maille

        
Left, John Grady Photo; Right,  Fuez Collection - from Fonda History book

The Henry Caputo Plymouth ran at Warrensburg [show at left with Jeep Herbert].
It was driven by Earl Maille, before he was hurt , ending his career.


       Some of the members of the large Baker clan also managed to stay the course at Warrensburg as drivers, as well as perform in front of me at Fairmont, too. Most notable of these were: Lennie and Wilbur Baker – ME2 and ME2, Jr; Ed Baker, with his Hudson 6 PAK; Vern Baker, who seemed to do mostly mechanical work for Ed; and believe someone named Stu Baker ran, as well.
       Warrensburg was apparently a good track to be injured at. In addition to the high - profile Earl Maille wreck, retired CVRA promoter C.J. Richards said that in the course of his racing career [which seemed to be mostly in the late 1950's] that he was injured in a wreck at Warrensburg, as well.
 


Photo Courtesy of Ed Fabian

One of the Baker boys enjoys a victory lap in a very old stock car at Warrensburg.


Bill Ladabouche Photo

Ed Baker 's famous 6 PAK at the Rutland fairgrounds in 1961. That's probably
brother, Vern fussing around the pit area prepping the Hudson for action. The car was driven by Wally LaBelle before Baker's stint in it.


      From Day One at Fairmont, the Champlain Valley Racing Association had Dick Pennock, Sr. with his immaculate SUPER 38 cars. Pennock’s great – looking Chevy coupes sported the artful metal fabrication work of Wayne Reed, and they were crafted ahead of their time. Dick’s brother Jerry, whom the family called “Porky”, started at these tracks in a very limited role and went on to Malta and Fonda and a very full, successful career.
      Some other names, prominent in that era and that region, ran the dirt of the Warren County fairgrounds track at Warrensburg. Earl Maille, a hulking native of Glens Falls and man often mentioned in the Fonda Speedway history book, ran one of Henry Caputo’s legendary red and white 111’s at Warrensburg until he was involved in a career – ending accident. He later co-promoted there in 1961. Bob Shriner brought a #19 up from Troy, and Ralph “Rufus” Chittenden would haul North from his usual stomping grounds in Morris, NY. Earl “Little Joe” Spellburg, one of the most obscure Fonda feature winners of all time, was a Whites Beach regular who took cars to Warrensburg. Wally LaBelle, a legend in the early days of stock car racing, was another Whites Beach driver who was an Ashland Park regular.


Photo by Bill Ladabouche

Dick Pennock's second version of the Super 38, at Fairmont around 1962..


      Granville, New York’s Art Visconti began his career at Warrensburg, using his father-in-law’s home there as a racing base. Known as “Bud” when he started. Visconti managed to destroy his first race car at Warrensburg before moving his operation on to Fairmont Speedway around 1963 to run his familiar orange and white #001’s. Red Lamphere’s maroon #19 was a familiar sight in Warrensburg, running out of Lake George with drivers like Tom Bennett. Glens Fall’s Rapid Ralph Palmer, later to be car builder Dexter Dorr’s chosen wheelman, started first at Warrensburg. According to Palmer himself, his first car – his own #44 ran there around 1958. The 1946 Ford coupe was probably the car that gave rise to Palmer’s red sedan numbered 444 at Fairmont in the mid 1960’s. Palmer also ran the #150 for Joe Griffith in 1959.


Photo Courtesy of The Visconti Family

Art Visconti wrecked his very first stock car at Warrensburg. The announcer's tower [and behind it the grandstands] is visible.


      One of Fairmont Speedway’s early favorite cars was Joe Spellburg’s 1940 Ford sedan, the black and white #7 with the cartoon Roadrunner professionally painted on a white panel on the sides. The car was first stock car to drive onto the Fairmont track surface for the very first practice session on the first race date in the C.J. Richards era at Fairmont. The freshly – painted, snazzy – looking sedan captured the fancy of many of the fans. Gutted, as the stock cars were in that time, the large roof would characteristically quiver as the car traversed the rough Fairmont clay track. Spellburg had bought the car from Johnny Jones, who fielded it for legend Wally LaBelle at Warrensburg in 1960 and 1961. Palmer, who always loved the cartoon on the side panel, acquired the panel from the car when it was junked in 1964 and used a similar Roadrunner on his Dexter Dorr #43’s, when he ran them in the late Sixties.


Photo by Irv Conroy

This is 1955 Champion Ernie Martin, Grooms Corners, NY., who
may have also been a regular at
Warrensburg.


     With rising competition and the fire, the Warrensburg track closed in 1961 [probably with a little help from the dust and noise – weary populace of the village]. The remaining [newer] aluminum bleachers may have ended up at Fairmont or even Devil’s Bowl. The Warrensburg tradition lived on with the Pennocks, with Rusty Duell, and with “Fast Eddy” Keenan [also called The Gray Ghost]. Not much is left of the track but a few photos, some traces of the track, and Ed Harrington’s 8 mm movies. But, the effect it had on racing the region will live on forever.


Bob Frazier Photo Courtesy of CJ Richards

33 and 1/3 Red Smith, 19, Tom Bennett, and Me2, Lennie Baker fly
down the front stretch, with the dust flying. All Warrensburg area teams.

 

PHOTOS OF LIKELY COMPETITORS AND/OR LIKELY CARS, ACCORDING TO
THE WARRENSBURG NEWS
ARTICLES AND OTHER SOURCES OF TRACK INFORMATION


Visconti Family Photo

Armand Arthur Visconti,
father of Art Visconti stands
in his yard in Granville,
NY with an early car.
Young Art is in the middle and
Harold Visconti is at right.

 


Photo by Bill Ladabouche

Lennie Baker's Me2,
probably owned by
sometime promoter
Wilbur Baker


Photo by Bill Ladabouche

The Spellburg sedan had
been owned by Johnny Jones
and run by Wally LaBelle.

 Ladabouche Collection

Ed Baker's last
       Hudson car.


Photo by Bob Frfazier
Cavalcade of Auto Racing

Ralph Palmer,
      Glens Falls, NY


Photo by Bill Ladabouche

The original 33 1/3 was
attributed to both Red
Smith and Lennie
Baker - from Athol. NY


Photo by Bill Ladabouche

The 33 1/3 was
wrecked by one of
the two drivers in
1963. Photo taken a
almost after dark.
 

 


Photo by Bill Ladabouche

The newer 33 1/3 was
said to belong to Red
Smith, from Athol. NY


 


Fonda History Photo

Earl Maille,
Glens Falls, NY
Click here to see he articles on
Maille's injury incurred at A.P.

 


Fonda History Photo

Ralph Palmer believes Maille was actually hurt in this car he bought from Leon Shaw.


Courtesy of Ed Fabian

This is another possible Maille 14.

 


Courtesy of Norm Vadnais
Photo by Bob Frazier

This marvel of race
may have once been
driven by Dick Germaine -
at Ashland Pk.

Bill Ladabouche Photo
Tom Bennett,
Sometimes driven by
Red Smith.

Bill Ladabouche Photo
Ed Baker [hands on
hips] with the 6PAC
when it had fenders.

Photo from Ken Shoemaker's
Autobiography Book.

Kenny Shoemaker,
Whitehall, NY
Cliff LaRose Fire 1


Brooks Family Collection
Courtesy of Bud Brooks

Dave Brooks,
Manchester, VT


Brooks Family Collection
Courtesy of Bud Brooks
91 Gene Tetrault,
Manchester, VT

F40, Hank Schmidt,
Gansevoort,NY

McDowell Photo
Courtesy of Phil Miller

Leo Nadeau,
Schuylerville, NY


McDowell Photo
Courtesy of Phil Miller

Nelson Moore,
Hudson Falls, NY


McDowell Photo
Courtesy of Phil Miller

Spence Parkhurst,
Saratoga Sprgs, NY


Dan Ody's 8MM DVD

Al Parry,
Saratoga, NY


Dan Ody's 8MM DVD

Steve Bouplon,
Granville, NY


Russ Bergh Photo
Ladabouche Collection

Steve Danish,
Cropseyville, NY

 


Courtesy of Ron Hoffer

Bob Hoffer,
Argyle, NY

Courtesy of Ted Vogel

Ted Vogel [owner],
Granville, NY

Drivers Ken Shoemaker,
George Baumgardner, and
Ted, himself


McDowell Photo
Courtesy of Phil Miller

Ed Coon,
No. Hoosic, NY


Fonda History Book
Ed Feuz Collection

K-9 Ken Delong,
Whitehall, NY


Ladabouche Photo

Wally LaBelle,
Glens Falls, NY


Ladabouche Photo

Ken Guilder,
Corinth, NY


Ladabouche Collection

Gerald VanGuilder,
Glens Falls, NY

Herbert Family Collection

Jeep Herbert,
Rotterdam, NY


Andy Fusco Collection
Fonda History Book

Smokey Stover,
Wilton, NY


LeFrancois Photo
Courtesy of Jerry King

6 7/8, George Connors,
Danby, NY


Courtesy of Mark LeFrancois

George Pritchard,
Castleton, VT
 


Courtesy of Mark LeFrancois

George Rogers,
Castleton, VT


Courtesy of Norm Vadnais

Bill Threw,
West Glens Falls, NY


Courtesy of Otto Graham

Johnny Perry,
Troy, NY

Red Knoblach's 13


McDowell Photo
Courtesy of C.J. Richards

Charlie Morse,
No. Adams, MA


Courtesy of Wes Moody

This Car 54 might
have been driven
at Warrensburg by"
Ken Delong or Steve
Phillips.

 


Courtesy of John Rock

This T7, shown here
at Airborne with Dick
Goodelle at the helm
might have appeared
at Warrensburg.


Courtesy of Ron Hoffer

Fred Winchell's wild 11.
He drove this and the
X car in the next row.

 


Courtesy of Brooks Family
8 MM Footage


This Car X is likely the
same one mentioned in
numerous Warrensburg
results.

Courtesy of Brooks Family
8 MM Footage


Another possible
Warrensburg car
shared with the
Fairmont track.

Photo by John Grady

Jerry "Porky" Pennock
Warrensburg, NY
The younger Pennock probably
raced very little at Ashland Park


Ladabouche Collection

Jerry [59] got his first
real experience in Malta's
Semi Late Models


Photo from Conde Parry Site

Rusty Duell,
Warrensburg, NY
He didn't race at
Ashland Park, but
was clearly influenced
by it being there.
 

 
Photo by Bob Frfazier
Cavalcade of Auto Racing

Rusty Duell wrecking an
earlier car at Fairmont, 1964.

 
Photo by Bob Frfazier
Cavalcade of Auto Racing

Examining the Rusty Duell wreck at Fairmont, 1964.

 
Ladabouche Photo
Jerry Pennock is said to have driven
this car at Fairmont once or so.
 
Courtesy of Warrensburg
News Archive
Spence Parkhurst<
Saratoga Springs, NY
 

BEN GURNEY CONTRIBUTIONS


Warrensburgh News
Courtesy of Ben Gurney

A look at the infamous
Corey accident.

Warrensburgh News
Courtesy of Ben Gurney

1952 local news article.
 

Warrensburgh News
Courtesy of Ben Gurney

1958 local news article.

Warrensburgh News y
Courtesy of Ben Gurney

Briefly mentioned the
recently - closed track.

HACKEL FAMILY PHOTOS
    Some are blurry - sorry. It is hard to photograph through album plastic. Can anybody help with the unknown cars ?


Hackel Family Photo
Art "Bud" Visconti
Granville, NY

Hackel Family Photo
Lining up. I can
make out the X9 of
Bob Hoffer and
Wally LaBelle's
6 PAC. KC is said to be
Lefty Casey of Manchester,
Vermont.
 

Hackel Family Photo
A hobby class car
The A-1 suggests it
might be from Pottersville

Hackel Family Photo
via Danny Ody

The hobby car A1
with car 73 behind,
more visible.

Hackel Family Photo
Wreck involving the
 X9 of Bob Hoffer
and car 1F.

 

Hackel Family Photo
Car 79Jr.
Good view of tower
& the covered stands.
 

Hackel Family Photo
Car 10 PLUS
A hobby car ?

Hackel Family Photo
via Danny Ody

Car 88's pit area.

Hackel Family Photo
A hobby car off
the backstretch.

Hackel Family Photo
Hobby cars lining
up.

Hackel Family Photo
Wally LaBelle in the back
of a feature lineup in Vern
Baker's Super 6 Hudson.


Ladabouche Photo
The 6 Pac 15 years later. Same car.
 

Hackel Family Photo
via Danny Ody

A crewman attempts
to watch the races
atop Car 73.

Hackel Family Photo
via Danny Ody

A hobby car pit
lineup. I have seen
this car 1F also at
Whites Beach. Anyone
know who it was ?
 

Hackel Family Photo
via Danny Ody

Car and the track
ambulance.

Hackel Family Photo
via Danny Ody

A slightly closer
look at the X1
tangle.

Hackel Family Photo
via Danny Ody

Car 37, with the
Hoffer - style tail
pipes, and KC, which might
be Lefty Casey.
       

 


Photo from Historic Aerials.Com

1947 aerial shot of Ashland Park at Warrensburg shows an intact track. Compare this to the view below. The lake would be
just off the picture to the upper left.


   Photo from USGS

Vestiges of Ashland Park at Warrensburg are seen in this satellite photo of the 1990's. Use the inset below to see where remnants of one turn are located.


Photo Courtesy of Terraserver

Look in the middle of this cropped photo. Note the faint outline of turns one and  two - where the outline of the trees form a sort of half circle, to the right of the lake. In the two 2007 photos below, you can sort of make out that half circle of tree oat the edge of an unused lot in that housing development. A lady living across the street said that the track was "over there", referring to that empty lot. Although the lot is not large enough, it may have been one of the turns.

   

Click on photos for large picture.    [Ladabouche Photos]

EARL MAILLE ARTICLES

Race historian John Nelson added the following information to mine [thanks, John]:

        In his book "They Called Me 'The Shoe'" (p. 12), Ken Shoemaker recalls racing stock cars on the 1/2 mile dirt track of the Warrensburg fairgrounds in 1952.  In "Fonda!" by Andy Fusco, Lew Boyd and Jim Rigney, on p. 34 the authors state that a broken neck suffered in a crash at Warrensburg in 1956 ended Earl Maille's racing career.  
        Allan Brown lists Ashland Park Speedway as a 1/4-mile dirt oval circa 1949 to 1954 and a 1/2-mile dirt oval circa 1952 "possibly at the fairgrounds".  Under a separate listing he carries Warrensburg Speedway as a dirt oval active in 1960, again "possibly at the fairgrounds".  I would surmise these were the same track operating under different names.  
        Putting all this together with your findings, it appears that races were held at least intermittently at the Warrensburg fairgrounds from about 1949 through 1961. 
        Was the 1/4-mile oval inside the 1/2-mile?
 
   

Click on the articles for larger versions.
CLICK HERE to go back to Earl's photo

DAN ODY'S OPEN WHEEL RACING SHOTS
Probably from an actual fair on the site; they offer good views of the grounds.


Courtesy of Danny Ody
Good look at some temporary
pits. View of infield from the
Grandstand area.

Courtesy of Danny Ody
Good look at the Grandstand area. Note
the J.R. Earl wrecker in the background.
The car is NY's legendary Henry
Gritzbach.

Courtesy of Danny Ody
Good view of infield from the
Grandstand area. A 3/4 sprinter
is readied for a start from
one of the push vehicles. Thhis is
likely Rollie Johnson's car.

PHOTOGRAPHS FOUND ON THE WARRENSBURG HISTORICAL SOCIETY WEBSITE

 


Courtesy of Warrensburg
Historical Society Website
Unidentified car 37

Courtesy of Warrensburg
Historical Society Website
Vern Baker [left] owner
of this car - at first called
Super6 and later, the
6 PACK.

Courtesy of Rose Braley
via the Warrensburg
Historical Society Website
Wilbur Baker's famous
ME2, driven by an
assortment of drivers.

McDowell Photo
Courtesy of Warrensburg
Historical Society Website
Karl Duell Jr, a
top runner at the track.
Karl Duell, Sr, fielded
a number of cars, all
numerals beginning
with "KD".
 

Courtesy of Warrensburg
Historical Society Website
Unidentified car takes
a victory lap. I have few
views of the venue from
this angle.

Courtesy of Warrensburg
Historical Society Website
2nd generation driver
Sim Hall, Jr. left W'burg
and won a Hobby Class
race at Vermont's Fairmont
Speedway. He would have
raced against neighbor,
Rusty Duell.
 
Warrensburg
News Article
Article was not dated. My
W'burgh spources disagree
about if this 1959 or 60.

Courtesy of  Gertrude Newton
via the Warrensburg
Historical Society Website
Local participants at
Warrensburg Speedway:
Dick Smith, Bob Newton,
Coolidge Braley, and
Jack Higgins.

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