A Defunct American Racetrack

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In view of last month s article on the forlorn Miramas track in France and earlier references to American board -tracks it was especially interesting to receive a letter from Zachary Zniewski of Minneapolis about a one-lime race-track built on the site of what is now Minneapolis International Airport. Mr Zniewski says that this track was one of those built when land speculators in American cities wanted to lure the trolley lines out of city centres, thus increasing land values along their routes and saw in attractions such as fairgrounds trotting-tracks and, motor speedways a means of doing this. Thus the Minneapolis Speedway was built in 1914, the cost underwritten by funds from the twin cities of Minneapolis and Brooklyn. it is quoted as having been a board track in the Georgano “Encyclopaedia of Motor Sport” but was in fact, a large banked concrete track, on which Hudson and Stutz cars apparently won races in the inaugural year. This speedway went backrupt in 1916, presumably because of the war in Europe, for even Indianapolis where the annual great 500 Mile Race had started In 1911 closed down “for the duration” after 1916. although it reopened in 1919. The Minneapolis track was situated near Fort Snelling in S Minneapolis and was bought in 1918 by a local businessman. In late December 1919 the Aero Club in that city was looking for a larger aerodrome and with the approval of the Civic and Commercial Association took over the old motor track. In the Spring of 1920 the Aero Club was established there and in 1921 Congress agreed to fund the building of three hangars and a landing strip and air-mail services to Chicago were started. For a time the aerodrome was known as the “Speedway Field” but was officially named the Twin Cities Airport in mid -1923. Today no trace of the race rack remains. It is of note, however that a photograph in the Fall 1984 edition of the Hennepin County History Journal shows that the first hangars were situated close to one of the bankings, like those early Bruoklands hangars by the Byfleet banking and that this photograph clearly shows the concrete banking and indicates that the lap distance was considerable. – W.B.