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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Deja vu and NASCAR in Tuckerton

The fastest growing sport in the United States today is NASCAR. Families, neighborhoods, and even towns are often whipped into a racing frenzy when a racing Sunday draws near. The excitement even crosses gender as some of the most rabid NASCAR fans that I know are female. Special outfits are donned, colorful shirts and hats adorned with the number, and sometimes the likeness, of a favorite car driver. I have even seen NASCAR flags run up front yard flag poles just before post time. I'm actually under orders from some of my friends not to call their house when a race is on. An observer from another planet might logically conclude that they were witnessing a religious ceremony.

NASCAR fever was really building here in New Gretna a few years ago when rumors began flying about the state of the art NASCAR track that was being proposed to be built in neighboring Tuckerton. You could hear people saying, "Whoever thought that we would see car races in Tuckerton?" Well, the more things seem to change the more they really don't change after all. You see, car racing was the rage in the early fifties right here in little old Tuckerton. Granted, it wasn't on the scale of present day NASCAR, but it was exciting for it's time, never-the-less.

The following article from the August 3, 1950 Tuckerton Beacon reports that the track had just been reconditioned with a new tower and a graded, well oiled track. Nine cars started the race. There is no mention of the size of the track, but the average speed was around 24 seconds per lap, so the track couldn't have been very large. An 8 lap race would be over in about 3 minutes and 20 seconds. Better not take a potty break, or you'll miss the race.

The novelty race involved three forward laps and two reverse laps. Lets see them try that in NASCAR! The prizes for the feature race weren't much by today's standards, and they were chosen by the drivers in the order of their finish. The winner chose an inner tube, second place picked the trouble lamp, and the third place finisher walked away with a steak dinner at Ted Johnson's Deluxe Diner. Talk about simpler times!

Tuckerton Beacon - August 3, 1950

Here's a trivia question for all you racing fans and Tuckerton history buffs. The car racing track in the early fifties was actually the third racing track in Tuckerton's history. Can you name the two sports for which the earlier two tracks were built? There's a prize for the first right answer, so let's hear from you. Who knows, you might even win an inner tube.

Pete S.


  1. Pete I think that there was a track for racing bicycles. I'm not sure of the other one. Also, I think the car race track was just off the road that runs between Arcadia Rehab Center and the Elementary School.

  2. Jim,

    You're right about the bicycle racing track. I believe it was located behind the present day National Guard Armory on Route 9 in Tuckerton. We'll talk more about the bicycle track in a future blog entry. Stay tuned!

    That leaves just one more race track to identify. Any takers on that one?

    Pete S

  3. Pete,

    In the first article about "Tuckerton Racers Held Complete Program, Sunday" it mentioned that car #13 was the winner of the first race but doesn't mention who the driver was. I happen to know who that driver was. It was John Simpkins from Green Bank. The reason I know that is because John was my husband and he told me many times about all the racing he did and the fun they had racing in Tuckerton. His car won many races and you would be surprised what the prize was many times. I have to laugh as he told me many times they would get a gallon of wine for their first palce win. Thanks for putting this article in it sure brings back many good memories that he shared.

    # 13's wife
    Margaret Simpkins