What Happened To The Speedway In Muskogee Oklahoma? [Solved!]

Longtime race fans may remember the quaint little town of Muskogee in Oklahoma. It was in that city where many races were held. The speedway was home to some great races and it was a hub for auto enthusiasts. It also played host to big name entertainers. The most famous of these was probably Elvis. He performed there many times, inspiring countless fans to buy his music, especially in the mid 1960s. It seems that many things come and go in this world, but the Muskogee Speedway never would.

Why Did The Speedway Close?

It’s difficult to say for certain what happened in Muskogee, but there is some known fact. In March of 1969 the last of the races were held at the speedway. The track was still advertised as open in April, but it seems nobody was racing on it. By October it had been closed for good.

There are a few different rumors as to what caused the speedway to close. Some say there was poor attendance at the races because it was dangerous to go there and some say that the city fathers didn’t want public gambling. However, the most likely reason is that the races just weren’t making much money.

The Last Race

The last race held at the Muskogee Speedway was on March 4th, 1969. The field was fairly small with only ten cars lining up for it. The winner was Jimmy Hensley and it was his first and only win at the track. The last-place finisher was John Findlay with a total of four wins at the speedway. That came out to roughly $5,000 for his efforts.

What’s Next?

It seems that not much has happened with the old Muskogee Speedway since it closed. There are still a few old timers who remember it fondly. However, it was a rough patch for a while for those who had invested in land and built businesses there. Some have even gone back and opened a book on the subject, titled Muskogee Rebuilt. It seems that the economy there is quite different now and it’s mostly cars and trucks, building things or fixing them up.

Elvis And The Muskogee Speedway

Many fans may not be aware of this, but the King of Rock and Roll had a special connection with the old Muskogee Speedway. Elvis performed there more than twenty times and inspired many people to purchase his music. He had even written a few songs specifically for the track. It was in Muskogee where he first opened up for the military, back in 1958. Many fans may still remember the great moments that he brought to the speedway. The manager at the time, Bill Hickey, even said that Elvis would have sold more records there than he did at the big cities, if he had only performed there once or twice. This may be true, but the King of Rock and Roll kept his fans where he played and he regularly played the old fairgrounds to capacity crowds. He was in fact, quite the figure there for a while, inspiring people and drawing huge audiences.

The Memories Remained

Thanks to the unique connection that Elvis had with the old Muskogee Speedway, it still seems as if people there remember him fondly. In May 2019 a local website called Oklahomaweb.com reported that Muskogee had voted to erect a statue in honor of the King. The article continues to say that the people of Muskogee had also voted to change the name of the speedway to the Elvis Presley Memorial Speedway. This is, of course, a playful homage to the King and it seems like a fitting honor for the town.

The Future Of Muskogee

Even though the old Muskogee Speedway closed its doors in 1969, it doesn’t mean that auto racing in Oklahoma has died. Several different racing series have sprung up since then and many of the tracks have even continued to host races. While it’s not the same as having a small town racetrack, it’s still a hub for motorsport enthusiasts. There are still several famous NASCAR tracks around the state of Oklahoma, like Talladega and Beaumont.

Will The Elvis Statue Go Up?

It seems as if Elvis has become such an important part of the city’s identity that the people there want to make sure that he always has a place in the city. The current mayor of Muskogee, David Green, has been quoted as saying that the statue will be erected sometime in 2020. This will be the third straight year that the people of Muskogee have voted to honor the King. It’s great to see that a third of the town still thinks of Elvis fondly. It’s also great that the people of Muskogee want to keep his legacy alive. The statue will be a great representation of the singer and it will add a little bit of color and life to the city’s downtown area.

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