Word broke last week that once again, a racetrack in New Jersey for motorsports is about to meet certain doom. This is all too familiar of a theme. With the closure of Old Bridge Township Raceway Park (Englishtown) in 2018 and the demolition of its dragstrip, yet another track in the history of New Jersey is gone. This is just the continued trend of the last 20 years that has seen no less than three other tracks vanish. Now, the story continues with the famous Wall Stadium.
Unfortunately, the owners of Wall Stadium, built in 1950, want to tear out the track and give the land to Pulte Homes for construction of 348 homes on the site. These 348 homes would come in the form of two-bedroom and three-bedroom townhouses, something Pulte Homes is well known for constructing. This is not the first time Wall Stadiums has been threatened by the demolition for development bug. As noted in The Asbury Park Press, Wall Stadium was given to two developers in 2005 only for the project to fall through. Since “closing” in 2008, there have been questions how much longer the track would survive, but has been around since.
Growing up in New Jersey, the benefits of building new housing is clear for the developers. North of Interstate 195, every single piece of land is almost vulnerable to new McMansions, cookie cutter housing developments, apartment buildings or complete commercial developments. In New Jersey alone, the state hands out over 23,000 construction permits for new developments across the state per year. This is a dangerous trend, but that trend is not relevant to this piece right now.
The development bug is big in New Jersey, with the demise of race tracks. In a tirade about the loss of Englishtown last year, this writer explained the history (rather short) of some tracks in New Jersey. Englishtown, home of the famous NHRA Supernationals, closed in 2018 and seems destined for development. East Windsor Speedway closed in 2005. Soon came development on the site in the form of one road of McMansions. Flemington Speedway, once on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule, came down in 2002 after suspending operations in 2000. Flemington allowed a commercial development to build on Flemington.
Those recent closures follow the closure of Trenton Speedway in 1980. Trenton is now a mix of industrial, residential, commercial development and a sculpture garden. Dover Speedway closed in 1963 and replaced that year with a grocery store that now is a ShopRite. Vineland Speedway met an early death in 1965 and replaced by a campus for Cumberland County College. The abandoned track at Vineland is actually still there in the woods to this day.
Right now five tracks are basically the headliners for what little remains of New Jersey stock car/funny car/open-wheel racing. Wall Stadium gets the most publicity as a NASCAR-sanctioned track. New Jersey Motorsports Park (Millville), New Egypt Speedway, Atco Dragway, and Island Dragway (Great Meadows) are the other four. New Jersey Motorsports Park used to be on the ARCA schedule but no longer is. Island Dragway is the only one north of Interstate 195 and all the way out near the Pennsylvania border.
Why does this matter? NASCAR and other sports have no connection to New Jersey and the New York City market, the largest in the United States. The closest racetrack to NYC is Pocono Raceway and that is not a short trip. Yes, NYC invests in the Formula E race in Brooklyn. However, Brooklyn is not suitable for a NASCAR race. We need someone to step up and take care of this by making sure what little remains of tracks get some air time from people with money.
Time is running out. Losing Wall Stadium will hurt Jersey racing, probably for good.
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