For almost 25 years the area around West Oxford Avenue and South Federal Boulevard echoed with the roar of the engines of cars racing at Englewood Speedway.
The track closed in 1972, and while it is gone, it isn't forgotten. An Englewood Speedway reunion will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Englewood Elks Lodge at 3650 S. Jason St. The event is open to the public and there is no charge for admission.
Two men, Ed Clark and Carrol Quelland, owned 15 acres of vacant land at Federal and Oxford and decided to put it to use and built a dirt racetrack. The first race was held on the track on Memorial Day 1947 and a grand opening was held June 15 of that year. The early events featured midget race cars racing around the quarter-mile oval.
Gradually the main races features what were called hot rods that were mostly stripped-down Chevrolets and Fords.
The owners decided to sell the track after the 1949 season and eventually Charlie Corner bought the track in the early 1950s. He not only owned the track, he raced there and his yellow and black No. 99 won four straight track championships.
Racing was popular in the 1950s and most seats were usually occupied on race nights. A concession stand stocked with snacks and beverages was operated by the Codner family. The area was busy on race nights as teams began arriving early to get their cars ready for the night's competition. Usually the gates opened about 5 p.m. and many fans came early to watch warmup. The night's program usually began about 6 p.m. with time trials.
A typical night at the races included time trials, a trophy dash, heat races and the main event. Usually the main event was about 25 laps and there could be 20 to 30 cars on the quarter-mile oval. The programs included late models which were full-body cars, plus the more stripped-down hot rods. Englewood Speedway remained a dirt track until about 1960 when the quarter-mile oval was paved. An additional element came in about 1984 when paved track straightalways created an X in the middle of the oval for figure-8 racing.
The figure-8 races were very popular and featured drivers like the Martinez brothers and Englewood resident Richard Burton, who drove his red and white No. 36 to four straight track championships
The Codners also brought special events to the speedway, such as demolition derbies and attractions like the Joie Chitwood Thrill Show that featured Chitwood and his team doing a variety of auto stunts, including taking his car around the track on two wheels.
The area around the track had grown up by the early 1970s and the Codners closed the track after the 1972 racing season. The land was sold and a number of different types of business are now located on the former site of the racetrack.