Greetings from Franklin, Wisconsin
From the travels and adventures of the “World’s #1 Trackchaser”
Hales Corners Speedway – dirt oval – Lifetime track #129
My lifetime track #129 was one of the best and lasted a long time.
I made my first trip to the Hales Corners Speedway in 1983. At lifetime track #129 my visit was before I began writing my famous Trackchaser Reports. I didn’t begin writing those until about track #430.
My first visit to the track was on Saturday night, April 30, 1983. I was camping with my family at the Jellystone campground in the area. My only written commend from that night was “Coldest ever!”. Yes, late April in Wisconsin can be more than chilly. Long-time track favorite Bill Prietzel in the #12 was the feature winner.
A couple of years later I returned to the Hales Corners Speedway. I was a “racechaser” back in the mid-80s. Heavy duty trackchasing did not come my way until later. On a Wednesday night in mid-July I found the weather much warmer! I had come to the track to see the World of Outlaws sprint cars race. Steve Kinser, won the main, as he did more than 50 times when I was in the grandstands. The night before I saw Joe Shear (#36 above) win the ARTGO feature event (as he did frequently) at the Rockford Speedway. Then the day after Hales Corners, on Thursday, I traveled down to the Santa Fe Speedway. Ron Shuman in #21X won the WOO main. As you can see back in the mid-80s I was seeing some very good racing.
My research tells me the Hales Corners Speedway opened back on June 18, 1950. Sadly the track closed on September 1, 2003. Lots of tracks were opening following World War II. Not many of them had a 53-year run.
This is what one local writer penned regarding the demise of the Hales Corners Speedway:
By Bryan Gapinski: Franklin, Wis, August 18—The Hales Corners Speedway, Milwaukee area’s only dirt race track will close after a storied 55 years of racing, on September 1, with the annual Labor Day Demo Derby. Regular Saturday Night racing will take place on August 23, and August 30. The AMA Motorcycles will run an event on Friday August 29.
Rumored to be closing for the last ten years, the facilities owner John Kaishian has sold the parcel of land to Menard Inc, a home improvement store chain. The negoiations between the two have been ongoing for over a year. Last week the pair along with the City of Franklin finalized all the plans, and the signing of the contract will be made after the September 1 event. The property is located at 6531 South 108th Street(Hwy100) in Franklin. The track’s conditions along with increased retail business’s, and new housing in the area, made the land too valable not to offer for sale.
” The end was coming, however the developments came together so quickly we were forced to forgo the Farewell Tour for the track we had hoped for” commented Jim Wehner, the track’s general manager. Wehner’s office has been over loaded with phone calls regarding the announcement. “It’s been here for so long so many people are finding it hard to believe the end has finally come” stated Wehner.
Kaishian has mentioned in the past about possibily building a new facility south of the present track.
Modified and sportsmen type cars ran at the track on Saturday Nights until 1972, when the Modifieds were replaced with Late Model Stock Cars. In recent years other classes such as IMCA style Modifieds, Hales Whales, and a four cylinder class have been added. The track also hosted Thursday Night racing for many years in the 60’s, and early 70’s.
The was also the site for countless Badger Midget Series, and IRA Sprint Car Series events. The USAC National Midget Series sanctioned 36 events, and one USAC National Sprint Car Series event at the track.. The track also hosted the World of Outlaws, CRA, All Stars, and MSA Sprint Car Series. A weekly midget racing was held in the early years, and during the 1967-68 seasons. The track was also the site of flea markets, concerts, thrill shows, and tractor pulls over the years.
Do you have any experience with auto racing at the Hales Corners Speedway?
By the way you might have remembrances about this track. If so, please feel free to share them in the comments section below. If you have any photos from back in the day, send them to me at Ranlay@yahoo.com. I’ll try to include them here.