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10 Abandoned Racetracks


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7: Marlboro Motor Raceway

Racing has always been seen as a fairly masculine activity, so it's no wonder that Marlboro, Maryland, home of the Marlboro Man (O.K., not really, though Marlboro is right smack in the middle of Maryland's historical tobacco producing area), would have a racetrack. After all, when inhaling exhaust, smoke from burning tires and hot brake fumes, a lit cigarette may be the least of your worries.

The Marlboro Motor Raceway was a paved track open from 1952 to 1970. Despite being in tobacco country, racers at the Marlboro Motor Raceway probably weren't all that concerned with lung cancer, given that the track closed because of safety issues (which the Marlboro Man would probably scoff at).

While it's no longer used for racing, the Marlboro Motor Raceway is one of the few tracks on this list that has been repurposed. Though much of the track has decayed, some buildings still stand. Today, Marlboro Motor Raceway is used for car club events.

6: The Old Dominion Speedway

Interesting things have happened in the fields outside of Manassas, Virginia. First, there were two major Civil War battles fought there. Second, and perhaps more importantly, some gearheads started racing cars in a field in 1948 [source: Old Dominion Speedway]. (The races probably involved slightly more beer and slightly less death than the two Manassas battles, but there were likely equal amounts of yelling and smoke.)

The Old Dominion Speedway is proof that bored guys out in the country can almost always find something to do, especially if they have a ready supply of cars and gas. From those informal local races, the Old Dominion Speedway grew. Incorporating a NASCAR speedway, a go-kart track and a drag strip, the Old Dominion Speedway was a major raceway in the 1950s when the owners put in stands and paved the oval track. As sprawl from the Washington area started encroaching on the Old Dominion Speedway in the early 2000s, the track still managed to keep the lights on — that is, until 2012 when the Old Dominion Speedway closed. With such a recent closure, it's not quite as haunted-looking as other tracks on this list, but give it some time and, like anything else, it will start to crumble.

5: Wee Town Outlaw Speedway

I don't know about you, but I was disappointed to learn that Wee Town Outlaw Speedway near Fergus Falls, Minnesota, was not a track where tiny criminals came to race in tiny cars. Instead, the Wee Town Outlaw Speedway hosted stock car races where the cars were, sadly, of normal size, and the drivers were law-abiding citizens (as far as we know).

Wee Town is one of the most interesting sites on this list because of why it closed. While other tracks closed because of out-of-date facilities, high costs, safety issues or lack of fan interest, Wee Town Outlaw Speedway closed thanks to Mother Nature: The track kept getting flooded. Maybe building a track on a flood plain was a bad idea, but tracks use a lot of land, and land on flood plains is cheaper.

If you look at photos of Wee Town Outlaw Speedway now, it's one of the most bizarre tracks on this list. Pictures of the site show bleachers set up around what looks like a sizeable pond. You can see tires and walls sticking out from the pond, but otherwise it could be a good facility for swim races. Hey, I think I just came up with a good way to reuse the site.

4: Robinwood Speedway

Sometimes a track is so good it ends up causing its own demise. Many abandoned racetracks peter out because of fan indifference. It's rare that one closes because of too many fans, but that's the case for Robinwood Speedway in Gastonia, North Carolina.

Built as a clay track for midget cars (a class of cars that is — you guessed it — smaller than a sprint car or stock car), the Robinwood Speedway was incredibly popular. It hosted the Junior Grand Nationals from 1949 to 1953, which would be a good thing for most tracks [source: Wilson]. High-profile races draw more fans, more fans bring more money, and more money creates plenty of profit for owners. This usually keeps a track open.

Unfortunately for Robinwood, that wasn't the case. The problem with the speedway's popularity was that it couldn't hold all the fans it drew. If a track owner can make money off, say, 5,000 fans, why not build a bigger track and make money off 10,000 fans? The much larger Carolina Speedway was built as the replacement for Robinwood, which was abandoned. If you visit Robinwood, be warned that there's not all that much to see unless you get a bird's eye view. The stands and buildings of the Robinwood Speedway are all gone, but remnants of the track can be seen aerially.


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