The search for lost and forgotten speedways continues - Rochester 1925

About 20 years ago, an old timer friend of mine and I got talking about stock car racing and he said he remembered being a young boy and walking a short distance from his house to the races with his father and grandfather. When I asked him where the track was, he said it was on Dewey Avenue, not all that far from Ridge Road. He said he was probably 8 or 10 at the time which would have dated the track to about 1930, but remembered it being near the Bennington intersection, not far from the railroad tracks.

Close to a hundred hours of investigation and persistence finally pays off. This ad proves the track existed, now I just need to get to Monroe County and find it on one of their "classified" aerial maps.




I was told it was across from Holy Sepluchre Cemetary off Dewey. McCall Rd. to south, the railroad tracks to the north. Streets and houses are there now. I was told that Barney Oldfield won there. 
I'm on a bit of a roll here. The track opened on September 4th, 1922 and ran until at least 1927. Speedway articles in those days weren't very descriptive, but I did find a brief writeup saying that the track was a 1/2 mile dirt track. It's neat reading these old articles - especially after reading press releases and race reports in the way they are written today. The word "sensationalism" very much describes how articles were written back then. Example... one article dated 1925 reads "Come and see the only man and car ever to travel 3 miles a minute." The article also includes a picture of this car, but it's very dark or I would have included it here. Are you kidding me? 180 miles per hour in 1920 something??? Talk about insane... pants in those days must have looked like a kangaroo's pouch in the front  :D


It's extremely possible that Barney Oldfield won there. One of the articles telling folks what they could expect says that famous drivers are expected to be there, including DePalma and Shaw. I'm getting the impression that this track was quite the big deal back in its day. I'm going to keep digging while I still have my shovel out.
The September 4th, 1922 event was won by a 90hp Dusenberg piloted by Wild Bill Alperson, 2nd was taken by Frank Schmoker in a Chalmers, and third went to Frank Bell in a Jewett. Eight drivers entered the event, with over 8,000 spectators on hand to witness the event. It was NOT the first auto race held there, however. Reference was made in the race recap that this event was the first auto race at the facility since 1911.

The race was stopped short of the 5 mile distance when 2 cars came together in one of the turns. A Dusenberg driven by Otto Schnabel overturned twice, ejecting it's driver. The crowd, standing 3 and 4 deep along the fence stormed the track, making it impossible to complete the set distance.

Other points of interest: Time trials set the lineups for the heats. Alperson timed at 1:11 for 1 mile (2 laps).

Other drivers were...

Barry Barnum driving a Primere
Gene Schnable driving a Primere
Jim Southworth driving a Stutz
Herbert Rogers driving a Ford
Moe Emmis driving an Essex


Very nice work Bob, who would have ever known...., I wish my grandfather was still alive cause he grew up in this neighborhood, he would have been ages 9-14 between 1922 and 27, i would have loved to ask him about this track...


Bob, sent you a pm, I may have a contact from the city of Rochester that could help you with a map if needed.
RTC56... Thank you for your help. Because Kodak Park was a "trustee" to the government, the entire site was classified as restricted or confidential. Kodak developed all of the surveillance photos and helped with the photographic lenses for the armed forces back in the day. An airstrike to Kodak would have put the US out of commission. Even though that might not be the scenario today, the aerial photography in that time frame was never declassified -- probably an oversight, but never declassified still the same.

I called Monroe County about this almost 2 years ago. I was transferred to a guy in charge, and he wanted to know why I was so interested. I told him I was trying to document all of the former speedways of NY, and that I believed 1 of them was within a 1/2 mile of Kodak Park. He told me that all I had to do was show up during normal business hours with a date, present my drivers license, and fill out a form detailing my need for the pictures. He said they would provide me a computer that I could send emails to myself with, free of charge no less.  All I was missing was a time frame.

I'll look at your PM now and will keep you posted.

And for those of you following this thread, Crittenden Park (aka Crittenden Driving Park, aka Crittenden Speedway) ran motorcycle and car races at the old Brighton Fairgrounds near Strong Memorial Hospital dating all the way back to 1905. I'm researching this one simultaneously with Dewey Ave. Speedway.

Apparently there were also dirt midget races in Ellison Park in the late '30s. Still digging into this one as well.

And to date, I've not been able to find ANYTHING car race related at Expo Park - now known as Edgerton Park. The speedway mentioned in the advertisements from the late 40's and early 50's referred to an indoor wooden roller skating rink.

The Airport Stadium Oval on Scottsville Road ran everything from midgets to stock cars to demo derbies and pro wrestling and boxing in the '30s.

Does anyone here know anyone that attended the indoor midget races at the War Memorial? I'm told this could have been as recent as the 60s.


I attended the mini stock races at the War Memorial in the '60's. I seem to recall Jim Vollersten was involved in promoting it.  You never knew who would show up, like Dave Hafner or Roger Treichler, among others. The races were held in the winter, right on the hockey rink(less ice). A guy called Bobby "Deep" was very popular, Most cars were VW bugs.
Don't remember midgets there, but, they could've been there with the mini-stocks.



Racing Genius
I was there for the mini stocks, Joe Middleton, John McGee were there. Went to school with John, spent a few hours with him in the Principals office. He was running a bug that had the engine out of his Formula Vee car. His Dad also raced jalopies at Fort Hill in LeRoy,NY. They used to cover the hockey rink with 3/4 plywood, which is now the sub floor in my friends house rubber and all.
While searching for more information on Crittenden and Dewey Avenue Speedways, I came across another bit of interesting information... another track I've never seen mentioned elsewhere.

Behind the Lutheran Church in Webster, there used to be an old half mile horse track. And from 1917 to 1927, George Henner, the promoter at Crittenden Park also promoted car racing on this track. This information was printed in the Webster Herald, dated December 20th, 1956 and penned by the Webster Town/Village Historian - Tom Gaffney. This was a neat find because my parents were both from Webster. Ma grew up on Shoecraft Road and Dad grew up on Lake Road.


Hey Bob!  I heard mention of a Rochester track in the area of Vick Park A and Vick Park B, central city.  I think those two streets were the straights for that track.  Any known info in your research?

Still asking for info on a track that ran in the late 50's and early 60's, located on a farm just south of Seneca Falls.  They raced a class that was between a dune buggy and a stripped down Crosley.  MY brother Ted remembered the races, but not the location.
An update on the Webster track...

It was known at the Webster Driving Park and the first "meet" was held on October 6th, 1917. The event was open to the public, who needed to pre-register with the Automobile Club of Rochester, and the Auto Trades Association of Rochester. Pre-registration required a fee, which gave each entry a special license plate to use the facility. Both clubs were recognized by the American Automobile Association, who sanctioned the event. The money taken in during pre-registration was split between AAA and the Webster Driving Park for upkeep of the facility. New grandstands were built to hold 5,000 spectators, but up to 8,000 were expected to attend. The Webster Historical Society, The town and village of Webster mentions nothing about the track on their websites.

John - give me a day or so to dig into the Vick Park thing. Question about the Seneca Falls track though... Is it possible that this track could have been in Mac Dougall? If not, we have another new one.
There was a track in Seneca Falls. Rollie Velte raced there. Seems like he said it was by the airport
You guys are all wasting time doing research. Just go ask Dick Kluth.........I'm kidding I'm kidding!!!!
Seriously though this is a very interesting thread for us old guys.
Define "old guys."  :) I started going to the races in 1972 at Canandaigua, and have been going every week since. I was 9 years old then, but not your typical kid. I had friends from school whose parents dragged them to the races and they didn't care too much about them. They were always fooling around with a ball of some sort behind the stands and always asked me if I wanted to play. My dad always said I could, but I never did. I was afraid I'd miss something. I sat there glued to my seat by choice, and listened to every word the announcers said. And that's where this quest started. Willie Allen, Will Cagle, Lou Lazarro, Jack Johnson, Dave Lape, Merv Treichler, Kenny Shoemaker, Gerald Chamberlain and many others were still active. Dutch Hoag was just hanging up his helmet.  All the talk they did about yesteryear was real recent back then - in most cases, within 20 years. And I was always mad that I wasn't 10 years older so I could have seen some of what they talked about.


Vick Park A & B were the straights. In an aerial view, you can see Park Ave. curves a little at those 2 intersections. Those were the original turns.
East Ave. was the other 2 turns but, is squared off, like modern intersections.

BTW, I'm older than HFB, but younger than WackyRacer.


Racing Genius
I may be gettin older, but I am like fine wine and good cheese. I keep getting better with age, I keep telling my Drs. that I'll make a 100. As long as they keep their knives sharp.
you should have seen the mini stocks at the war memorial.  it was 68-69...they were full compacts..Dave Hafner drove a VW.  Mike Miller, Steve Ross, Bobby Deep, Roger Treichler...somewhere I have to find the write up from those races. they were pretty good.

Shamrock 3x

"like fine wine and good cheese..."

Boy, I hope I can be like that too when (if?) I reach Wacky's age.  I just hope the cheese doesn't turn out to be Fromunda!