What Did Spencer Speedway Race In The 70’S? [Ultimate Guide!]

Spencer Speedway was a legendary sporting venue located in Spencer, Iowa. The 1/4-mile concrete oval opened in 1960 and was home to some of the biggest names in motorsport. It’s track record of success was well-deserved, as the grand-daddy of all stock car racing tours, The Monster Mile, ran throughout its early years.

The last NASCAR race was held there in 1981 and hasn’t been updated since. The surface of the track slowly began to deteriorate due to heavy use and weather conditions, and eventually became just a memory. The only reminder today of Spencer Speedway is the concrete grandstands that still stand as a monument to the glory that was once there.

With the resurgence of vintage racing in recent years, we thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and figure out what Spencer Speedway really raced in during the 1970s and early 1980s.

The Early Years

Spencer Speedway opened in 1960 and was originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was funded by Tom and Lela Spencer, who generously donated the land for the speedway. After it was opened, the track rapidly proved to be one of the most popular speedways in the Midwest, due largely to the efforts of one man: Max Wilson.

Wilson was a champion car owner and manager, who devoted much of his time to researching and developing the best possible racing conditions at Spencer. He believed that the track could be improved upon and eventually become one of the premier short tracks in the country. In 1964, he was able to secure permission to upgrade the surface of the track from clay to concrete. He later went on to purchase the remaining half-acre of his brothers’ farm and expanded the size of the track to a full mile.

The first NASCAR race held at Spencer was on October 30, 1964. The unique characteristic of the layout was that it featured two unique features: the very first one was a banked turn into the stadium straightaway, followed by another bend, the second “S” curve. These elements made up what is known as the “Spencer S-Curve.” The track was a success from the very beginning and went on to become a staple of the NASCAR touring schedule over the next five years. The second unique characteristic of Spencer was its unique “dog-eat-dog” racing atmosphere, where the last man standing at the end of the race was the champion. This led to some of the most exciting finishes in the history of NASCAR racing. Most notably, in 1970, David Pearson defeated Richard Petty by a single point. The following year, the grand-daddy of all short tracks, the Daytona 500, was held there and witnessed the legendary Bobby Allison defeat Bill Cosby in a famous last-lap battle.

The Later Years

Spencer Speedway closed its doors in 1981 and hasn’t been updated since. The unique characteristic of the track’s last few years was that it became a graveyard for classic cars, especially those of John Kennedy, who was famous for being a huge car collector. Many of these cars still pop up every now and again on eBay, usually with very high bids (and sometimes even higher than the ones they cost new back in the day!).

The concrete grandstands that are still standing today are a monument to the glory that was once there. They were built in 1972 and, at the time of this writing, are currently on the market for £15,000 (around $23,600 today). If you fancy setting up a sports memorabilia collection, then this is probably the best place to start.

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