Racing in our nation?s capital has been around for 60 years and during that time many changes have taken place from location, to owner?s and this past weekend the track once again was in for a change. I have been researching for this story for a few weeks now. I was ready to post it until this past Sunday when I received a message that the track promoter announced he?s not returning for the 2010. This has left the driver?s and sponsors and fans all wondering what the future holds. For now we wait as rumors circulate.
Racing in the Ottawa area, by all accounts, began in 1949 as a dirt track 30 miles south of Ottawa in a town called Carsonby. Racing back then was not like today. It wasn?t that popular and due to lack of support the track closed after one season of operation. A few years later another attempt was made in a field just west of the village of Bells Corners, just a few miles outside of Ottawa, called Meadow Parks Speedway. This track like the one in Carsonby was not very people friendly. Lack of seating, parking, lighting and plus other factors and the fact that they weren?t to accessible to the racing fans led to the demise of racing once again. Racing arrived back in Ottawa, this time for good in 1955, when a 1/4 mile dirt track opened at Lansdowne Park Stadium site, also home to the Ottawa Roughriders and the Central Canada Exhibition. The first night of racing was June 1st and an impressive crowd of more than 5000 people were in attendance.
The track was so successful that race promoter Gerry Bisson made many improvements and changed the name to Lansdowne Speedway. The track was lengthened from 1/4 mile to a 1/3 mile and the dirt oval was now a paved oval. The corner banking was increased, extensive safety rules were incorporated and a guard rail was built to surround the track. The new and improved track opened the 1957 season and quickly became one of Eastern Canada?s premier race facilities attracting race fans and drivers from as far away as Montreal and upper New York State. It was home to Late Model racing, Sprint races, Demolition derby?s and Powder Puff Derby?s. Racing which normally took place Wednesday nights was expanded to Friday?s and Saturday?s as well. However the growing interest also a down side. Like in many racing communities today, noise complaints were on the increase. Pressure would also come from Lansdowne?s other main tenants, the Ottawa Rough Riders and the Central Canada Exhibition Association (CCEA). Although racing was a lucrative and generated lots of income for the CCEA, they wanted to construct more seating for the football stadium and with other planned improvements, the race track could no longer be accommodated. The last night of racing at Lansdowne was August 17, 1960.
Promoter Gerry Bisson, got to work immediately on a new ?State of the Art? facility (3/8 mile paved oval) in the town of Stittsville, located southwest of Kanata, about 20 miles from downtown Ottawa. Bisson would continue as promoter at the track until the end of the 1973 season. Peter Warren and Fred Byers bought the track in 1974 and changed the name of the track to Ottawa Valley Speedway. The surface was changed to a clay surface but would be changed back to asphalt the next year. In 1976, Gerry Bisson returned to head the track and did so until his death in 1977. During the mid 1970?s, the race track enjoyed some of it?s greatest years. Several well known racers from the United States like ?Barefoot? Bob McCreadie and Richie Evans quite often made the trek north to conquer the fast track. In 1994, Penny Bell bought the track and the name was changed back to Capital City Speedway. She owned it until 2002 when David Melamed took over the track operations and the name changed once again, this time to the Ottodrome International Speedway. Three years later in 2005, the track changed hands again and was bought by the Drummond Family, and they in turn changed the name back to Capital City Speedway. A drag strip was added to the property in 2005. Arnie Malcolm, longtime operator of the Luskville Dragway, took over as promoter in 2006 and was in charge until this past weekend.
Over the past three years in the first few weeks of September, the track hosts Monster Jam. The ACT (American Canadian Tour) runs a 100 lap feature race known as the Tormont 100. The ACT cars always run a great race and fill the stands every time. They are based in the Northern US and Eastern Canada. The weekly race card consists of the Kenyon Racing Products Late Models, Drummonds Gas Thunder Cars, Lentech Automotive Legends, Autovation Inc. Mini Stocks and the Crilly Chassis Works 4 For Fun cars.
Check the website for more information. Racing takes place Wednesday nights with other events scheduled on Fridays and Saturdays. Racing starts at 7:30 pm. The 2010 schedule is in the works but keep checking back to the blog for the latest news on a new track promoter. My Blog--(www.stockcarracingandspeedwaynewsofontario.com/)
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