I Love Dirt Track Stock Car Racing – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

Marks Dirt Track RacingJameston Speedway – Source: Marks Dirt Track Racing

Growing Up In Jamestown North Dakota in the 60s and 70s allowed you to look forward to certain events much like the seasons.

The calendar was marked specifically in order of occurrence through the year.

  • Boy Scout Fair at the Civic Center occurred in mid-March and was an indoor competition between local scout troops. My Troop won the scout fair with Finger Printing.
  • Last snowfall of the year which normally followed the first melt. This event would normally occur in late March to the middle of April.
  • Fishing season (non-ice) which started on or about April 1st. You could fish off the shores or in boats for perch, walleye, northern pike, etc.
  • Lawn mowing season would normally start about the same time as the fishing season.
  • Stock car racing season which started in early May and ended in late September or early October. This was the greatest late model and street car racing in the upper midwest.
  • School ended for summer which normally occurred on Memorial Day weekend unless there were too many snow days.
  • The Stutsman County Fair surrounding the 4th of July where the Murphy Brothers Exposition came to town. There was a midway, concerts, Joey Chitwood, tractor pulls, demolition derbies, and stock car racing.
  • School started during the Labor Day weekend and it was also the start of leave raking season and Indian summer.
  • Stock car racing ended in late September or early October and the Stock Car Stampede was the final event of the year.
  • Hunting seasons for upland game, waterfowl, deer, etc, would occur throughout the fall. My favorite was working the potholes for ducks and geese.
  • Christmas school break and ice fishing season normally started around the third week of December. School started up in early January and ice fishing continued until the ice was no longer safe to walk on.

My favorite event when growing up was stock car racing since our entire family was not only involved in it but truly attached to it.

Stock Car Racing happened every Wednesday night from early May to late September unless the races were rained out.

  • On Wednesday nights, time was short between my parents getting off work and us heading to the races so we normally had burgers from the American Legion which were delicious.
  • We would chow down the burgers while watching the Sonny and Cher show on CBS and once complete would head to the races so we could get our normal seats in front of the announcer’s booth.
  • Once at the races, we enjoyed rooting for our favorite drivers for three (3) to four (4) hours and we cursed those we did not like. Many of our favorite drivers included:
    • Mike and Rich Swangler (#10 and #12).
    • Ernie Brookings (#41)
    • Bobby Zimmerman (#13)
    • Dick Miller (#76)
  • This was our weekly family event and I would never trade it for a million dollars. I can still remember my ears ringing from the noise, dirt caked on my face, and mosquito bites everywhere. It was great.

Marks Dirt Track Racing 2





Source: Marks Dirt Track Racing





When vacation season rolled around in July, we would follow the Northern Racing Circuit for a week of racing. Jim Corcoran promoted not only the Jamestown ND tracks but also the tracks below that we visited.

  • Grand Forks ND on Friday Night.
  • Kittson County, Hallock MN on Saturday Night.
  • Riverside Speedway, Crookston MN on Sunday Afternoon.

During our vacation week, we round stay in motels, eat out, and enjoy our favorite racers at new tracks. It was so much fun.

When fall would hit, we had the Stock Car Stampede to attend which occurred over the weekend in late September or early October.

  • This was the last event of the year before the snows and was scheduled for Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
  • More than 100 cars would come to compete for the large purses that were awarded to the winners.
  • Nobody held back since it was the last race of the year and I remember one year where it snowed during the races.

When the last checkered flag waved, it was clear that winter would arrive soon and another joyful season had come to an end.

Dreams were forged at the Jamestown Speedway and although as a teenager I pitted for a friend and ran a wrecker, I never drove a stock car during a race.

Marks #3Source: Marks Dirt Track Racing

  • What memories do you have of family activities or vacations that you will never forget?
  • Did you have similar dreams based on family activities or vacation?

Thanks for stopping by and I wish you health, safety, and success. It is great being fifty plus going on fifteen.

Jay Patterson

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