Doing some reading, I found that racing began on the site where the current track stands in 1910. After being purchased by Roger Penske in 1986 it was renovated and became a stop on the CART (1987-2001) and then IRL (2002-04) series and was also used for NASCAR Nationwide (then Busch) Series racing, as well as trucks and IROC competitions.
Dan Wheldon won the final race held there in 2004, after which the track was closed.
The speedway has since sadly fallen into a state of disrepair, looking much like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway did during the World War II years. The Facebook page I referenced above has an entire gallery of photos that show the demise of the track.
It's always sad to see time pass something like a stadium or racetrack by. I have great memories of old Comiskey Park in Chicago, Tiger Stadium in Detroit or even the RCA Dome and Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. So much history reduced to rubble. Some places just outlive their usefulness, or we decide we want something bigger and better.
|Turn 2/Save Nazareth Speeway Facebook Page|
Time goes on, but still, seeing these photos makes me kind of sad. Walking through the gates at Indy, I can look around and see 100 years of racing in my mind's eye, just like I can when I walk through my historic neighborhood of century-old homes.
When something is still standing, you can see it, you can still feel it. But when it is gone, that fades away. When I go to U.S Cellular Field I cross the street and find the home plate in the concrete where Comiskey Park used to stand. As the years go on, I find the vision of what once stood there fading from my mind. Ty Cobb played there, so did Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and hundreds of other stars. I was fortunate to see several Hall of Famers like Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and Reggie Jackson play there. But each time I go back the vision I have of my time spent there is replaced by SUVs and tailgaters playing bags.
Yeah, I know that is progress, but I don't always have to like it. The Cell is a great place to watch a game, and I love the amenities and not having to worry about getting water on me from leaky pipes. But it isn't the same, and while I always try to look forward, every once in a while I want to look back, but when the keys to your memories are gone, it isn't so easy.
Time marches on, and tracks come and go. Seeing something like this, though, makes me appreciate the time, money and especially care the people at the Speedway put into keeping the facility vibrant and alive, a living, breathing place of history. Sure, as long as the 500 is around we never have to worry about the Speedway, which is a good thing, because there are so many memories of that place that I know hundreds of thousands of people want to keep alive for as long as possible.