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The Saranac Lake speedway

October 13, 2012
By HOWARD RILEY ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

It was one of the best weekend shows in the North Country when Aaron Hoyt opened his stock car speedway in the late 1950s in the field in back of his farm on the Trudeau Road. I loved that racetrack, covered many of the events and later, as Saranac Lake mayor, whipped that flag in arcs to start the races. Following is a complete story, with my byline, published in the Enterprise in August 1959.

"The new Saranac Lake speedway located on Trudeau Road provided exhilarating, accelerating entertainment for racing fans Sunday afternoon as cars flipped, track-jumped and raced into the pits with flaming carburetors. Winners in various events were Jim Hoyt of Saranac Lake, driving Francis Porter's hot Chevy, Rod Ritchie of Wilmington, and George Bridges and Harold Ormsby from Plattsburgh.

"Hoyt, whose own Plymouth V-8 is under repair, demonstrated his ability at the wheel by coming from behind to win the first event.

Article Photos

Cars race at the Hoyt speedway. The barns in the distance on the left are part of the Leahy farm, where Paul Leahy is apparently building a 36-hole golf course. Beautiful property — his mother Elaine (Talbert) Leahy lives next door. The Hoyt barns are to the right in this photo, behind the row of evergreens, with spectators’ cars parked nearby.
(Photo courtesy of Ronnie Hesseltine)

"Ritchie driving No. 32 breezed in to take the second place race. Ray Bordeau from Tupper Lake driving B9 (Ford w/Merc. eng.) and Bridges, a graying, crew-clipped gentleman and the oldest driver on the track put on a real 'dogfight' with their cutting, bumping and criss-crossing.

"Ormsby's No. 28 won the third heat, but not without 'Slugger' Moody giving him plenty of competition. Moody brought the crowd to their feet by bouncing the back end of his Ford off the rail on the low corner.

"Bridges was first in the consolation race, followed by Dale Reid and in third place was Ralph Weir of Bloomingdale, driving Frank Whisher's No. F-4.

"The feature race was racked with mishaps but with no injuries to the driver. Everyone was waiting to see Porter and Ritchie on the track together, both driving Chevy V-8's mounted in '36 and '37 Ford chassis.

"The first start saw Bill Golden driving his white No. 5 flip on the first turn, with Reid sliding in close, almost smashing Golden's overturned racer. Art Ferrari, the starter waved the red flag to stop the race with danger of more pileups from the barreling hot rods.

"Restarted, the race saw Porter and Ritchie dueling it out with Porter gaining the lead, but Ritchie developed trouble and went off the high turn and back onto the track as did Weir in the previous lap. It looked as through Porter had it sewed up when he blew a tire forcing him into the pits. Sonny Sawyer saw a front wheel roll into the field ahead of the rest of the car, Reid broke an axle and the winner, Bridges literally coasted in from his wide lead with a hole in the block big enough to stick your head into.

"Also racing were Wilfred and Leon Leroux from Faust, Jim LaGary from Tupper Lake, Dick Bruce of Peru, Clarence Bruno of Plattsburgh, Claude Golden from Saranac Lake and Jim Proctor and Tom Vassar of Lake Placid.

"The men that own and race these cars have a lot of money and time involved in their cars. The sport draws tremendous crowds in cities throughout the country.

"These races are not for the Main Street tire-peelers, because here you see real driving ability, as was nicely demonstrated to me by Mr. Porter when he drove me for a few fast laps. A single seat for the driver left this curious one sitting on an iron cross piece and gripping the roll bars as Porter waltzed his racer side-ways and every other way around the track. Quite an experience.

"A championship race is scheduled for Sunday, September 6, NASCAR sanctioned. Gordon Owens is NASCAR Chief Stewart, and Mr. and Mrs. Jim O'Connor handle the announcing and scoring in that event. Mr. Hoyt is the Chrysler dealer in Saranac Lake."


(The Enterprise stories are from the archives of the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library.)



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