Orange County Fair Speedway is a five-eighths mile dirt oval speedway in Middletown, NY. The facility holds racing every Saturday night from April until October. The track was built in 1857 for horse racing at the Orange County Fair and staged its first automobile race on August 16, 1919. The fair began as an agricultural exhibit in 1843 and was permanently located in the Wallkill–Middletown area in 1857. The speedway is located at 239 Wisner Avenue in Middletown on land which was known as The Ogden Tract in the mid-1850s. It was originally a half-mile horse racing track known as the Harry Clay Oval, named after a race horse that was famous at that time. Over the years, the track was widened and lengthened to a true 5/8-mile race track.
In 1913, the Orange County Fair Society director, George Martin, who was an auto racing enthusiast, brought the idea of replacing the horses with automobiles to the board of directors but his proposition was denied for six straight years. Martin’s idea was vetoed by the board but he was stubborn and he argued, talked and persisted until he finally convinced the board of directors to at least try it in 1919. The race was witnessed by 5,000 in attendance and was won by James Benedict driving a Benedict Special powered by Duesenburg motor.
Auto racing continued at the speedway each year until the beginning of World War II when motorsports nationwide was suspended due to shortages of gasoline, iron, steel, rubber and aluminum. Weekly stock car racing began on April 16, 1950 and has continued every week since that time. In 1946, after World War II ended, the Harry Clay Oval was renamed Victory Speedway, Inc and saw the return of ARDC Midget racing. Stock car racing officially began at the speedway on September 18, 1948 as Rocky Dinatale is credited with the first-ever stock car win. The first fully contested championship season began on April 16, 1950 and the first race of the season was won by Tex Enright driving # 407 Modified coupe. Enright would later go on to be one of the most popular flagmen in dirt track auto racing.
Today, the Orange County Fair Speedway still operates on a weekly basis from April to September. Nicknamed “The House of Power”, or “The Hard Clay”, Orange County Fair Speedway boasts a long history of dirt track auto racing where many legendary northeast dirt track drivers have tested the boundaries of the hard clay.
In addition to auto racing, the facility will begin a new era of motorcross racing on a race track built in 2013 outside of turns 3 and 4.
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