MN State Fair Speedway

by Feb 28, 2023Uncategorized


The first motor race took place at the fairgrounds in 1902. As motor racing was taking off the fair board decided it would be a good idea to start motor racing on the pre-existing 1 mile horse track.
A few years later and the track would start getting some of the big name drivers at the time coming to race and the fans followed.
Over the next 30 years, the fairgrounds would enjoy the usual open wheel racing but after 1939 they decided to reconfigure the track to a 1/2 mile dirt track.
 Soon after WWII started and racing was ceased. The moment the ban was lifted, racing resumed and through the 50s the stock cars became a draw card.
Once again the fair decided to change the track but this time, they paved it and enjoyed their most successful period.
At this point all the major nascar drivers would come and visit this track with Dick Trickle being one of the most winningest drivers at the track.
After the race in February in 2002, the fair board decided to there would be no more racing at the track and the area would be redeveloped. This race was only 25 days before its 100th anniversary.

Town: Randall Ave, St Paul, Minnesota – USA
Size: 1/2 mile
Operated: 1902 – 1941; 1946 – 2002

Above story and 3 photos below from Lost Dirt Tracks Facebook page.

Click on the image below to see more photos of the Speedway.

Photos below from Speed Talk on 1360 blog
By Dean Reller

Click on the image below to see more photos of the Speedway.

I saw the Joie Chitwood Thrill Show at the Fairgrounds years past. Very impressive!
Also, I always went to the State Fair on Labor Day, to see the Stock Cars race on the Fair Grounds track.
Bill Hoxmeier

(Don replies to Bill’s comment above) –
We were probably both there some of those days! Chitwood, in addition to jumps, spins, etc., would drive one of the Chevies (Novas or Cavaliers?) a full lap around the 1/2 mile track on 2 wheels!

My early days of going there they had USAC sprint cars opening weekend, then ran local Stock cars during the week (Twin City Speedway, Cedar Lake Speedway, Princeton, Rice Lake, etc. in the dirt track era, and then Elko, Raceway Park, and the paved Twin City Speedway during the pavement years) along with several Joie Chitwood Thrill Show days, and then IMCA or later ASA Stock Cars the final weekend, with the biggest race always on Labor Day.

I was there for the final Labor Day Stock Car race in 2002 before the track was taken out, and saw Dick Trickle take the win! My personal protest–I haven’t been back to the State Fair since.

COM and MOD/MAC ran several autocross events there during the pavement era. Fun place to run, after entering through the tunnel at east end of the grandstand. Really glad I got to do that, and create some more memories. And of course GMCCA was in the infield for show cars, with swapper parts on the track for many years.

I remember our NCCC friend Don Schmitt (and wife Rose) from Milwaukee telling about bringing his sprint car to the races at the State Fair, and having Lou Feger drive for him. Lou was a legendary driver at the Chicago track at Soldiers Filed before coming to the Twin Cities, and opening his speed shop here. Lots of mutual respect, but he told of one year when he’d hired Lou three times, and fired him twice on opening weekend. Kind of the Billy Martin-George Steinbrenner kind of situation.
Also “Buzz” Beck, who operated the Stillwater Speedway (1/4 mile dirt track) ran the racing at the Fairgrounds for several years in the dirt era.

I also remember a Corvette (purple, early C-3 convertible) that was a regular at the Rice Lake track running during the mid-week racing program. And Jerry Hansen was allowed to enter his Formula Atlantic/F5000 car once for the Sprint Car/Indy Car races against a field of “upright” sprint cars (front engine, rear drive, driver sitting “upright” in the seat). I was at that race, and I think he lapped the field twice. No more allowing him to run that car!
Again, fun memories of watching races there for many years, and also driving there for autocross events.

Don Gettinger