Fremont Speedway, located in Fremont, California, is one of the most iconic racing venues of all time. It hosted some of the most iconic races in the sport’s history, including the 1950s Grand Prix and the Championship Cup series. In total, it hosted nine complete seasons of the now-defunct Cup series and is the birthplace of Mario Andretti, Mario Andretti’s father, Mike. What is unknown is who exactly owns the historic racing track. A new report from SB International Sport & Racing claims that the track is currently part of a bigger corporation called “Raceway Holdings,” which also owns other famous tracks, such as New Hampshire’s Portsmouth Waterfront Park and California’s Auto Club Speedway.
According to reports, the organization’s chairman is a man named Richard Childress. Known for creating the popular, weekly newspaper column “Childress Notes,” the octogenarian boasts an extensive racing resume. He’s been involved in motorsport for most of his life and has attended every Indianapolis 500 since it began. He also won the pole position at the 1950 Indianapolis 500, the first of his three Indy 500 wins.
Raceway Holdings is a privately held corporation with annual revenues of over $100 million. The limited liability company was incorporated on April 3, 1985 and is registered with the California Secretary of State. Its members include prominent businesswoman Gail K. McBroom, who serves as the company’s chief executive officer. The track’s former owner, Mike Andretti, serves as president of the board of directors. He is also the CEO of Andretti Autosport, a racing organization he founded in 1990.
The track opened in 1925 and was originally named Andretti’s Speedway. From the 1930s until the 1950s, it was a mainstay on the Grand Prix circuit. In the 1950s, Mike Andretti purchased the track from the original owner and began to revamp it. The track changed its name to Fremont Speedway in 1969, after which it hosted regularly scheduled weekly cup races, until the series was cancelled in 1971 due to financial reasons. In 1973, the track was purchased by Jack Palmer and Bill Fleishman. They renamed the facility to its current moniker and began hosting occasional events, such as tractor pulls and motorcycle shows. In 1998, the track was sold to a group of investors led by John McMurray. At that time, it was renamed McMurray Motorsport Park and began hosting dirt-track events, such as the SuperDirt Series.
What Does the Future Hold For Fremont Speedway?
The future of the track is somewhat cloudy, as McMurray sold it to Raceway Holdings in 2006 and the new owners began to renovate and upgrade the area around the track. The most prominent addition is the Paddock Club & Lodge, a 40,000 square-foot multi-use building. When it is complete in 2020, it will include the venue’s famous restaurant, Rusty’s, as well as a nightclub and lounge, The Wine Cellar. A new owners’ manual for the track was also published in August 2019. The document is a compilation of guidelines and suggestions for drivers, owners, and track staff.
What Are The Track’s Rich History?
Fremont Speedway has a rich history that most people are not aware of. For anyone who loves cars, bikes, or motorsport in general, it is a track that must be visited at least once in their lifetime. The following is a brief guide to some of the more prominent figures and events that took place at the track:
During the decade of the 1930s, the track was a favorite place of Jack Palmer’s. He not only owned the track, but he also raced here regularly. He won the first race held here in this decade, which was named after him: the Jack Palmer Trophy. During World War II, the track was closed and many of its competitors moved to other tracks, such as Indianapolis. The era of big engines and ground-grazing cars came to an end and was replaced by sports cars and drag racing. Many famous names from that era still populate the record books at Fremont Speedway, including such luminaries as Frank Kurtis, Bob Sweed, and Bob Frey.
The decade of the 1950s was a magical time for Mario Andretti. He first came to the track in 1951, when he was 17 years old. He went on to become a three-time Indy 500 champion and hold the unofficial record for the youngest driver to win the greatest race in America. Andretti continued to live and work in California and his father built him a racing shop in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. Even now, with Andretti Autosport being one of the most prominent motorsport organizations in the world, the shop still operates in the same location, where Andretti continues to work on cars and helps with his father’s various projects.
The 1960s were a bit of a bleak time for Fremont Speedway. The death of Mario Andretti in 1969 was a monumental blow to the racing community. The following year, the historic track was purchased by Jack Palmer and Bill Fleishman, two brothers from North Carolina. Under their stewardship, the track saw a revival of sorts as it began hosting weekly cup races, including the legendary Battle of the Bayou and the World 600. In 1971, the track was purchased by Mike Andretti and he began a 10-year period of improvement and development. He expanded the original track and increased its size from 600 to 1,100 yards. The most prominent track addition during this period was the grandstand, which was built in 1974. In 1975, the track adopted its current name, Fremont Speedway. In 1976, they hosted a celebration of their golden anniversary and celebrated with an exhibition race, featuring many of the greatest names in auto racing. They introduced a new trophy, the Mike and Andretti Award, which is presented each year to the driver who demonstrates the most spirit and compete spirit.
The 1980s were a decade of expansion for Fremont Speedway. In 1980, they built a brand new paddock area, which is the starting point of this decade’s renovation and development projects. The following year, they added another full wing on the back of the track and began hosting big-name drag races, including the World Finals and the NHRA Finals. In 1982, they built a brand new building for the pit crew, which is still in use today. In 1988, they hosted a celebration of their 25th anniversary and raced on a Sunday afternoon for the first time in many years. For the last race of the season, they had a parade lap for the fans.
The last decade has been nothing short of phenomenal for Fremont Speedway. Since the 2000s, the track has seen an explosion of growth and innovation. New investors purchased the track in 2006 and began a massive renovation and development project. The most prominent addition is an entire new wing, dedicated to housing retail and entertainment venues, such as a restaurant, bar, and nightclub. With the construction of The Paddock Club & Lodge, another bar has opened in the infield, as well as Rusty’s, a steakhouse. In 2019, they opened a second nightclub, named The Foundry, which is attached to the track’s new retail store, named The Garage. With a total of over $60 million in development spending, it is clear that Fremont Speedway is committed to creating a unique, one-of-a-kind tourist destination. It will be interesting to see how much more they can accomplish in the upcoming years…