LINKS

PHOTO GALLERIES
92 Photos in the Galleries

RIVERSIDE CHAMPS

25th Anniversary
Program

Many Many Photos!

The Contents of the Links below were saved from the closed Riverside Park Speedway Web Site

ALL-TIME
WINNERS

ROLL OF CHAMPIONS

ALL-TIME
RECORDS

RIVERSIDE
HALL Of FAME

PHOTO
GALLERY

FAREWELL TO RIVERSIDE

LAST RIDE PHOTOS

  

Unfortunately Riverside Park Speedway closed at the end of the 1999 season after 50 years of operation. Their Web Site which was created and maintained by  Jim Cannamela also closed.  Historical contents of the Riverside site were saved and are included on these Web Pages.


History of Riverside Park Speedway

Riverside Park Speedway was built in 1948, replacing an open air bandstand at Western Massachusetts' most popular vacation destination - Riverside Amusement Park. Edward Carroll, Sr., the founder of the facility, took a liking to a sport that was gaining popularity in the Northeast after World War II, and added auto racing to his slate of attractions in Agawam.

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Photo courtesy of Walt Renner Collection
Dick Shuebruk - Winner of the First Ever Race at Riverside Park Speedway

The original configuration of the track was a flat, 1/5 mile oval with a dirt surface. Midgets and Motorcycles were the featured events, and the track opened in grand style on June 2, 1948. A capacity crowd, including many local dignitaries, watched Dick Shuebruk of Scituate, Mass. drive his Stone #2 Kurtis Kraft Offenhauser Midget to victory in the first ever 25 lap feature race.

By the 1950's, modified stock cars had taken hold as the prevalent form of racing in the area, replacing the midgets as the featured division at Riverside Park Speedway. Drivers such as Ted Tappet, Benny Germano, Jocko Maggiacomo, Jerry Humiston, Ed Flemke and Buddy Krebs were the drivers to beat throughout the 1950's. Other tracks in the area - Century Stadium in Springfield, Mass. and the Exposition Fairgrounds in West Springfield, Mass. - hosted events on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, making it possible for some of Riverside Parks' early stars to race in the area almost every night of the week.

The 1960's were popular years for stock car Racing at Riverside Park. Under the sanction of the UNITED Stock Car Racing Club, Gene Bergin, Danny Galullo, Ed Patnode and others emerged as contenders, while Krebs and Greco continued to pile up victories. In the grandstands, loyalties to different drivers became fierce, and where one sat in the stands was determined by what driver one was rooting for.

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Jocko Maggiacomo - was one of the early greats whom competed at Riverside Park Speedway.

The 1970's were a decade of change for the facility, as physical and managerial changes were put into place that made the track what it is today. After a rowdy drivers' strike, it became clear that UNITED could no longer hold its' own at Riverside Park, and that organization cleared the path for another popular organization to take charge of the track. The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) began sanctioning events at Riverside Park Speedway in 1976. The winner of the first NASCAR-sanctioned event was Bob Polverari.

The tracks' configuration was also changed to a bigger 1/4 mile oval, with slightly higher banking in the turns. Today's 15 degree banking would not be added until the mid 1980's. The bleacher seating surrounding the track was also removed to make way for the 6,200 chair back seats that still exist today. In the 1970's, some of today's top drivers began to make a name for themselves in Agawam, including S.J. Evonsion, Bob Polverari, Reggie Ruggiero, Richie Evans, Jimmy Spencer, Geoff Bodine and others.

The 1980's arrived with a track championship for the late Evans, recently named as one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers of all time. Many stars of racing emerged at Riverside Park in the 1980's, including Busch North Series star Jerry Marquis, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookie "Mighty" Mike Stefanik and NASCAR Busch Series star "Magic Shoes" Mike McLaughlin. Veteran drivers like Polverari and Ruggiero continued to earn wins and championships throughout the decade.

The last decade has seen more racing stars earn their stripes on the high banks at Riverside Park, including Marquis, who captured 3 consecutive modified championships from 1991 to 1993, Featherlite Modified Series star Chris Kopec and NASCAR Winston Cup star Steve Park. Another exciting development in 1997 was the acquisition of the park by Oklahoma-based Premier Parks, Inc., the world's largest regional theme park company.

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Scott Nickel Photo
Steve Park celebrates a win at Riverside Park Speedway with car owner Joe Brady. Park has 4 career wins at "The Park"

As Riverside Park Speedway joined NASCAR to celebrate the past 50 years of auto racing in 1998, a new division was rolled out onto the Speedway. Spawned by the popularity of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, the Teddy Bear Pools Truck division proved to be an instant success in 1998. Ted Chalmers, a 35 year racing veteran, wrote his name in the history books as the first ever champion in that divison.

The 1999 season will feature the NAPA Modifieds as the NASCAR Winston Racing Series feature divison, along with the Serv-U Auto Supply Pro Stocks, Teddy Bear Pools Trucks, Sportsman, Super Stocks and Figure 8's. The Serv-U Auto Supply Pro Stocks will also be the feature division in the Winston Shortrack Series by NASCAR in 1999.

Unfortunately Riverside Park Speedway closed at the end of the 1999 season after 50 years of operation.  The commentary and photos were saved from the closed Riverside Park Speedway Web Site.

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