With our 50th year of continuous operation behind us, we embark on the next 50, with our celebration of our 55th season tonight. When we celebrate and reunite with many of the former owners, drivers, crews of decades gone by we relive for a few hours, events of the past, and watch the evening=s festivities unfold with racing of the present.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit two tracks rich in racing history. The first was the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which was built in 1909 and the second was one of the oldest dirt tracks in Pennsylvania, Williams Grove Speedway, dating back to 1939. As a racing buff, it was especially interesting to tour the Speedway and Museum and become totally immersed in its rich racing history, by seeing the cars and memorabilia of decades long ago. At Williams Grove, in its 68 years of operation, while being, caught up in the excellent evening of Sprint Car racing, home of the Pennsylvania Posse, the speedway made mention of its alumni, including Mario Andretti, A. J. Foyt and many other drivers of decades past. Both Speedways, one the biggest one day racing event in the world, the other, the biggest little dirt track in Pennsylvania, shared something in common, that being Tradition.
Now you ask, what does this have to do with Merrittville Speedway in Thorold, Ontario?
Everything! Big or small, every racing facility with a history, has a tradition. Those of us on the Reunion Committee, myself, Jeno Begolo, Bruce Swartz, Ted Renshaw and Jim Irvine, Erica Bicknell, Terry Huffman &Mark Swartz have worked hard over the last several years to establish Merrittville=s reputation- on reunion night, as one of the best events on the racing schedule. From the Marino and Cullen families, to the Kavanagh and Russell families, to the Friesen and Uhl's, to the Irvine's, have worked hard as families to establish Merrittville Speedway as the place to be on Saturday nights, since July 1, 1952.
While tonight we celebrate the feats of past racers, we will have inductions to our Wall of Fame at intermission, and the field of modifieds will compete to win the 55 lap Jerry Winger Memorial Feature. So while we acknowledge the accomplishments of racers past and present, there is one group who all of us need to thank and that is the fans. The generations of race fans who have followed their favourite drivers every Saturday night, since 1952, are the reason we are able to celebrate 55 years tonight. In return, Merrittville Speedway owes the fans, the best facilities, the best shows and the best treatment possible. The facilities at the Brickyard speak for themselves, but there are always upgrades, better seating for the fans and safer walls for the racers. Even a track like Williams Grove, upgraded its seating and shows. It celebrates its 68th season, all year long with special events and in two weeks, will feature the World of Outlaws Summer Nationals.
PETE BICKNELL OVER THE YEARS:
Track owners and promoters owe it to the race fans and to the race teams, to give them value for their dollar and maintaining a tradition of excellence in racing. Merrittville Speedway has done that this season by reducing admission prices&giving 1950's prices on hot dogs, as an example. The Reunion Committee in its small way, has strived to establish the Reunion Night as a value in tradition, both for the Alumni and race fans.
Sit back and relax, visit and reminisce with your heroes of the past, enjoy the vintage race cars and we hope you enjoy the special Modifieed Dash for Cash, sponsored by Ed Mac Pherson Construction & Philbrick Lawn & Garden Equipment & The Jerry Winger Memorial 55 lap modified feature sponsored by TRW. Who will we induct to our Merrittville Speedway Alumni Wall of Fame? (sponsored by L.St.Amand Enterprises) Stay tuned during intermission. July 15,2006 will truly highlight our 55th year of continuous operation, & the Bicknell & Williamson Families, current owners of Merrittville Speedway, carry on our legacy as the oldest Continuous Dirt Track in Canada. Sincerely, Rick Kavanagh