January 30, 2011
Part 12 of 12
An abandoned farm, with trees scattered here and there, became Stateline Speedway. Many of the trees growing there were used to construct bleachers and guard rails, but other trees remained on the perimeter of the property. While reflecting about the birth of the racetrack and the succeeding years, owner Don Frank once mused, "If only the trees could talk..."
The trees would tell about:
five men with little capital but plenty of hard work and determination;
dozens of folks from Sugar Grove who helped make their friends' dreams a reality;
lean seasons with low car counts and poor attendance;
profitable years with plenty of cars and record-setting admissions;
four men who turned a hobby into full-time jobs;
unbearably cold and rainy weather;
spectacularly beautiful Saturday nights;
hundreds of daring young men with little more than a hope and a prayer;
mechanical geniuses and driving legends;
a time when every gas station had a race car;
loyal fans who came week after week, always sitting in the same place;
french fries served in paper cones sprinkled with vinegar and catsup;
fans sitting on the roof of the restroom because there was no where else;
pit parties that lasted until dawn;
no women in the pits;
larger than life heroes and grandstand friends;
race cars that looked like street cars;
a time when life seemed simpler and, for many, the best years of their lives.
On any given Saturday night, after the laps have been counted, after the fans have left the parking lot, after the lights have been doused and after the last partier has deserted the pits, if you're very, very still, you might be able to hear the trees whispering among themselves, "Do you remember the time...?"