Hidden away on the industrial north side of Kalamazoo is the long abandoned Checker Test Track.

Every Checker Cab manufactured in the city, before it was deployed on the streets of, say, New York or Chicago, had to prove itself on this test track.

Checker Test Track Location in Kalamazoo

The track sits south of Mosel between Pitcher and Harrison. It's easily seen when driving along Mosel or Pitcher. However, don't expect to joyride the track. The property is behind barbed wire with posted no trespassing signs. The site is reportedly under the ownership of neighboring Graphic Packaging with potential expansion plans in the works. The satellite image above gives the best view you'll get today of the loop.

The Kalamazoo Library carries a detailed history of the company and its relationship to the city and explains

The company declared bankruptcy, sold its contracts and machinery, and went out of business at the end of June 2009. It put an end to an eighty-seven year history in Kalamazoo. Large sections of the plant, including the original Handley-Knight buildings were demolished in late 2010. While some structures remain, including the 1929 Kahn building, the machine shop, and test track, the property’s future is uncertain.

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Memories of the Checker Test Track from Those who Drove It

The subject of the Checker test track came up recently on the Vanished Kalamazoo Facebook group with several members sharing memories of driving the track.

Test track is resting now. At checker getting a buzz driving the test track the best job in the whole plant. Every car went around a least once.

Over the six decades of Checker car production around 250,000 cars went around that track.

In the late 1960's I actually got to drive cars around the track one day! Was loaned out to work in the repair department out back. Cars went thru a car wash station, got dried off and then driven around the track once. It was an interesting day!

I worked there and test drove Checker cabs, checker marathons, and the ever popular arrow bus. The 6 cylinders were boring, but the v-8s were a lot more fun.

It sounds like Graphic Packaging may have expansion plans for the property. My request to the Powers that Be at GP, give the community one last spin around the test track. Say $20 for a loop - money goes to charity. What do you think?

More Driving and Car Lore

While the test track is a closed loop, maybe you're looking for some wide open spaces. Check out these suggestions for the must-drive roads across America. And scroll on to see iconic autos that debuted the year you were born.

 

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