Did you know that at one point in time, Trenton was home to its very own racetrack? A true community staple of the 20th century, this storied track brought action to fans of racing all throughout the nation. Today, let’s take a ride through the past as we explore the twists and turns of the Trenton Speedway.
The Trenton Speedway was located at the New Jersey State Fairgrounds, which is now the location of Grounds For Sculpture. The Speedway first opened its doors on September 24th, 1900. However, the first race did not take place on the property until 7 years later in 1907. Things really began to pick up speed in 1912, when regular racing started to be offered at the venue. Interest in the racetrack grew, and races continued through 1941. That is, however, until the beginning of World War II.
In 1941, racing at the Trenton Speedway came to a halt in 1941, when the United States officially entered the increasingly tense World War II. With the entire globe at a standstill, the American populous was forced to reckon with their new reality. As the war raged on, back home, civilians and businesses alike shifted their attention to supporting the war efforts, with business as usual now on the back burner. However, as the war came to a close and life began to return to normal, the racing also returned here in Trenton.
The Speedway once again opened its doors in 1946, when the owners added a one-mile dirt oval on the track. The track was regarded for its peculiar design, colloquially known for its “kidney bean” shape. The track features a 20-degree right-hand dogleg, earning its spot as one of the most unusual racetracks in the world. Over the years, the track was home to a number of world-famous racing organizations, including NASCAR. This no doubt brought a brand new slew of eyes to the Capital City, putting our community on the map for racing fans worldwide.
While the racetrack was host to a number of events over the years, some of the most famous races ever hosted on its grounds include:
- The Race of Champions (1972-1976)
- AAA Champ Car Series (now known as the USAC Champ Car Series)(1957)
- NASCAR Grand National Race (1957)
In total, the Trenton Speedway hosted the NASCAR Grand National Race/Winston Cup on eight separate occasions. This race was dubbed the Northern 300, making the Trenton track a staple in the world of racing. Although NASCAR did ultimately move its northeast operations to the Poconos, this era of racing no doubt still holds a special place in the hearts of racing fans near and far.
From NASCAR to stock cars and everything in between, the Trenton Speedway was a beloved relic of the 20th century. Unfortunately, the track did close its doors in 1980, when the New Jersey State Fair was held in this spot for the very last time. While this quirky and iconic speedway is now a relic of the past, the memories from this motorway will forever live on in the history of our community.