Vintage Racing - The History of the Northeastern Speedway in Vermont
The Early Days of Stock Car Racing in Vermont
Cruising around Vermont looking for interesting things to photograph, I drove by an out of the ordinary roadside attractions. There was an old stock car on a hill set back from the road and an official looking historic marker. I did an double take and turned the car around to explore the site further. It turns out that this was the location of the very first organized auto racing track under the guidance of the Vermont's first motor sports sanctioning body.
The Northeastern Speedway opened in 1959. Back then people were racing old souped up jalopies, often with no hoods and improvised roll bars if they had any protection at all. Early tracks didn't even have sides to keep cars from plowing into buildings, trees or spectators.
Later "huge" improvements like adding hay bales to the sides of curves added some safety to the events. The Northeastern Speedway is actually rather advanced for its time with banked curves and payment. Still its difficult to imagine these old race cars flying around the tiny 1/5 of a mile track.
The existing site does still have the raised concrete pad for the stadium seating that is long gone. From old photographs of the track one can see that the spectators were also "protected" from flying metal and speeding cars by a tall chain link fence.
Originally the track was a 1/5 dirt oval when it opened in 1959 and was paved in its usage in 1961 to 1966. Over the years it was also known as the Waterford Speedbowl since its located between St. Johnsbury and Lower Waterford, Vermont.
- Elevation: 930 feet
- Latitude: 44.409474
- Longitude: -71.927447
- GPS: N 44 24.5684, W 71 55.6468
- Time zone: EST/EDT (-0500/-0400)
The track was closed for 43 years and the infield began reverting into forest but the track was restored in 1996, the infield cleared of trees and after 15 months of hard work the track opened again for its 50th year anniversary. Restored race cars from the 1950s and 1960s were paraded around the track.
Photos from Back in the Day
- NORTHEASTERN SPEEDWAY
Vintage photos showing the track in operation.