Jackson Motor Speedway: 1948-1973
The original Jackson Motor Speedway sits abandoned, hidden within the woods, covered with brush and trees growing out of the asphalt. The remains & ruins of the bleachers still sit and rot. An occasional relic or an old tire from the track's golden days can still be found in the weeds, brush and woods. Homeless people have been known to dwell there.
But the track is not forgotten.
We all know about Michigan International Speedway - impressive, huge, overrun with celebrities. But it definitely lacks the charm and comfort that the old Jackson Motor Speedway had.
Jackson Motor Speedway opened in October 1948 at 3300 Clinton Way in Blackman Township, just north of Parnall Road. Driver Carl Scarborough was the track's very first winner. The number of races doubled in 1949 and by 1950 it was a full-fledged race track. According to mlive, "For safety reasons, a low-banked quarter-mile oval was built inside the half-mile in 1953. Only six races were run on it before both tracks were converted to a three-eighths mile oval with 25- to 30-degree banking in turns in one and two and 6- to 8-degree banking in turns three and four."
The popularity of Jackson Motor Speedway soon rivaled the Detroit racetracks, squeezing in up to 4,000 fans a night! Fans came out in droves to see the local favorite, Gordon Johncock. As the 1950's continued, the track did increasingly well and went through a few different owners...but once a larger company took it over, attendance went down. According to those who were there at the time, the new 'corporate attitude' was strongly felt, as the homey, 'mom & pop' atmosphere gave way to the rigidity of corporate ownership.
Soon, the drivers sought out other tracks...less drivers meant less fans, less spectators, less gate sales. Jackson Motor Speedway called it quits after their last race on Aug. 19, 1973.
Many people traipse thru the woods and brush to visit the old track. If you decide to, make sure you're not trespassing and get permission if necessary. Hope you get to visit...it's a short trek to make to get a glimpse of some local history.
Take a look at some photos below!
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