The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

August 22, 2013

Shawn Wood's Inside Track column: Fan for life

I recall the year was 1972 that I attended my first race at the famed Flemington Fair Speedway in Flemington, N.J.

The speedway -- like those at Reading, Nazareth, Langhorne, Penn National and Harmony -- is gone. And sadly, like Reading, it was replaced by a mall.

But the memories of that hollowed ground still live on for me.

There was an aura that hung over Flemington every Saturday night. From the charge lap to the roar of two dozen 467 c.i. engines coming to life, to the dust, I can only liken it to the first time I walked into he old Yankee Stadium: mystical, magical and breathtaking.

To this day, I can remember getting ready to leave for the track and watching my dad pack our Lebanon bologna sandwiches on white bread with ketchup.

We would park across the street from the fairgrounds and while waiting for my dad to pay our way into the track, the sounds of the cars going by was very loud, but captivating, to a 5-year-old kid from Jersey.

I remember tugging on my dad's pants leg and saying, "Come on, daddy! Let's go! They're racing!"

Little did I realize that it was just warm-ups, but that sound of the ground-pounders back then was enough to make a 5-year-old want to rush in to see the cars going around the track.

To put the year of 1972 into perspective, Ryan Godown's uncle, Stan "The Man" Ploski was the track champion; Ken Brenn Jr. won the rookie title; and it would be three more years before a driver named Billy Pauch, Sr. would win the rookie title. He won the first of many modified titles at the track in 1979.

The 1972 season was also the first year the track held its inaugural 200-lap race at the end of the year which was won by the legendary Jumpin' Jack Johnson of Duanesburg, N.Y. It was the first time Johnson had ever been to or seen the track.

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