Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go back in time to The Winchester Speedway and see the old jalopies and motorcycles race? Although we cannot get into our time machine and go back to the 1930's we hope to give you a little history lesson about The Winchester Speedway.
In 1936 a local farmer asked Kermit Batt if he would like to purchase a few acres of land just east of the Winchester Airport. Mr. Batt immediately started working on what some would call an “L Shaped Track” with declining right and left-hand curves that resembled a road course. In the fall of 1936 Mr. Batt opened the Airport Speedway and was able to have a few small races, but it was not until 1937 the track opened for a full season of racing. The track first started racing jalopies (Model T's and Model A's pictured below) and motorcycles. The jalopies would reach a top speed of 45mph and had little to no safety protection. The winners would most likely get a sack of potatoes or a few quarts of oil. With no grandstands the fans would come out Sunday after church, park their cars around the unguarded track and get covered with mud.
From 1941 to 1946 the Airport Speedway was closed due to World War II and gas restrictions. When the track reopened in 1947 Mr. Batt had a partner, Lawrence Lichliter. The two men made the track into the 3/8s oval that we know today, added guardrails, wooden grandstands and called it The Winchester Speedway.
Our Winchester Speedway historian, Harry March can remember the racers driving their racecars to and from the speedway ever Sunday afternoon if they were not damaged to bad. “Many cars would even have license plates on them. That is a true pure stock-car,” March said. He also said that green was considered a bad-luck color and unlike today women were not allowed in the pit area. March can also remember circuses, beauty pageants and other activities being held at the speedway in the later 40s and 50s. At the age of 13 March started working around the track picking up trash and other odd jobs. He was promoted to the water truck at the age of 14 and would be at the track every Saturday night getting ready for Sunday's race. From 1972 – 1982 March was also the race flagman/starter.
In 1974 the 26-year-old wooden grandstands were torn down and the concrete grandstands that we set in today were built. In 1972 the flagstand was moved from the backstretch to its current location.
Track Opened in 1936
Original Name - Airport Speedway
Drivers could not park in the infield because of a small pond from 1936 – until the mid 50's
Wooden Grandstand on the backstretch from 1948 – 1974
The first Winchester 200 was in 1963
In 1972 the Winchester 200 was not ran due to bad weather
Our previous track owners Charlie & Siretta Schneider bought the track in the 1961 along with Mr. Dixon & Mr. McCauley.
Mr. & Mrs. Schneider was the third overall owner of the track
Our Current Owner Greg Gunter Purchased the Speedway in 2009.
Promoter from 1973 – 1982 Clem LaMaster
Promoter from 1983 – 2005 Doug Timmons
Promoter from 2006 - 2009 Calvin Davis
1936 drivers top speed 45mph
2005 drivers top speed 115mph
60,000 gallons of water is used every weekend to prepare the track
From 1936 to the present day the speedway has two recorded driver fatalities
Track record: 2010 Ronnie Dehaven Jr.: 14.322