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Nunica Speedway


Address: State Rd.
City: Nunica State: MI Zip: Phone:  
County: Ottawa
Notes: Paved Oval
Operating Dates: early 1950
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Web Address: N/A
Number of visits to this page since Sept 2013: 8600
 
 

11/13/2015 - Louis (Rick) Oswald
The clay Fruitport Midget Speed Way was located off from US16 /Taft Road, it is grown over now. I hunted turkeys out there with my dad back in the late 50's. The Nunica Speedway was paved, its located behind the trailer park on State Road. I use to ride go carts on it as a kid. My Father and mother use to own a grocery store on the Y across from Ben Brower Bottle Gas called Junction Grocery in the mid / late 50's across from Sellers Drive Inn.

4/15/2011 - Gene
Wow, these accounts of the old fruitport, West Michigan Speedway- apple ave & Taft rd really are great, I lived right down Taft (north side I guess) We used to go out to the track on our Mini bikes and later on my CB125 Honda, Haha I know it's a road bike but i rode it out there too. A few of my friends would ride the trails and around the track. one time a guy chased us all the way home , he was on horse back. It's still there , but majorly overgrown I guess. It has a cider block building in front of it Long and with no floor.

the inside of the track had large cement block that held the towers, which probably had lights on them at one time. I always wished someone would bring it back to life. But that hasn't happened so far. Thanks guys! Gene.

2/28/2011 - Doug Taylor
Jerry, Could that other track, SW of US16 & Taft be Fruitport Midget Speedway, or West Michigan Speedway? I I’ve seen all 3 ovals from Aerial views. I’m thinking it could be either Speedway, as it had to have a name once and then Dick Lee just mentions the two as AKA. We also got Roanoke Speedway, but it says it’s on Farr Rd. and that’s NW of Fruitport. Dick Lee said he was there before, but couldn’t find it today.

Do you think that the dirt track you went to is the one that’s at 16TH and Taft? When my brother and I drove right to the place I remember, I was right out front of this Mobile Home Park on State Rd. I remember it just like yesterday, that it went off State Rd. to the North into the Speedway’s driveway. I’m also thinking that Nunica could have been called West Michigan Speedway, because the Ad (at bottom of page) says it was paved and Nunica was paved.

None of the others were paved. Alan Clark, (from WMS page) the track you was at, SW of 16TH & Taft is a dirt track and just look at your light pole foundation, then go to Nunica page and look at the bottom of the light poles in the 4 ads. None of them had concrete foundations at the bottom of them. I’m saying that Nunica Speedway was where the Crockey Mobile Home Park is and was named West Michigan Speedway in 1949 and Chet Mysliwiec named it Nunica Speedway when he took over in 1950.

Then I’m assuming that SW of 16TH & Taft was Fruitport Midget Speedway. The oval in the 2 bottom aerial shots are on 144TH about 1 ½ miles South of M-104, so I’m ruling that one out for any tracks, as it’s to far away. Jerry gave me the info I needed to satisfy my mind. Jerry, where are you getting your info? What kind of cars were racing at 16TH & Taft and what year were they running?.

2/27/2011 - Jerry
It appears some think there is only one race track here. There were two different race tracks. the asphalt track was entered off of State Road. The other track near Taft and old US 16 was entered off of US16. This was a clay track.

In mid 1950's the asphalt track had been closed awhile. I used to go watch go karts then and the bleachers were pretty delapadated by then. I attended one of the first races at the clay track. I remember it as well attended.

12/6/2010 - Doug Taylor
(Dick Lee sent me this History of the Nunica Speedway – Doug Taylor) Nunica Speedway Nunica Speedway, a quarter-mile paved track, was built in 1947 when midget auto racing was at its peak. By 1950, when the midgets lost their popularity, the jalopy stock cars took over and ran on the track till the track closed in 1952. It was located between Nunica and Fruitport, Michigan, on US 16, and was also known as Fruitport Midget Speedway and West Michigan Speedway. Pappy Fiske and his son, Jack Fiske, were the promoters. They also promoted Whiskey Ridge Raceway, near Muskegon, which ran stock cars.

Nunica was paved and lighted for night time racing. The grandstands held 3,000 fans. Weekly racing was held on Friday evenings. The Midgets ran a circuit in Michigan consisting of Bay City, Mondays, Bigelow Field in Grand Rapids, Wednesdays, Rendezvous Bowl, Thursdays, Nunica, Fridays, and Galesburg, Sundays.

Some of the drivers who competed at Nunica Speedway were , Wayne, “Speedy”, Wayne, Harry King, Matt Held, Neil Weymouth, Johnny Smiggs, Teddy Tedrow, Larry Burman, Hank Russ, and Paul Hooper. Hooper had one hot week when he won features at Bigelow Field, Rendezvous Bowl and Nunica Speedway. Not a bad week’s work. Paul Hooper hailed from Marion, Ohio.

The field of midgets averaged around 18 to 20 cars. Neil Weymouth held the track record of 13. 42 set in Jim Henrys Maroon #2 midget. After the races were over, the track would show films of racing from other tracks around the state to keep the fans updated on racing activities.

Sadly as the 1950’s arrived, midget auto racing was declining all around the nation due to various reasons, such as over racing, the cars becoming so much alike in chassis and engines that competitive racing was not the norm any longer. There was little passing and competition was no longer visible and fans began drifting away to other forms of motor sports such as jalopy stock cars, which were coming on the scene. In 1950, Chet Mysliwiec and Hank Russ came on the scene with a sanctioning body called, North Michigan Stock Car Club. Mysliwiec and Russ first met and set up the sanctioning body on October 19, 1949 and held their first open meeting on December 4, 1949.

They claimed to have a membership of over 500 race drivers in their club. They were sanctioning races at the Grand Rapids Speedrome when the Speedrome was built and began racing in 1950. However, towards the end of the 1950 season, the Speedrome promoter, O. C.

Hall, decided he could draw enough stock cars to continue his racing program without paying a sanctioning fee to Mysliwiec and Russ and cut out the sanctioning fee. Upon hearing this news, Chet Mysliwiec immediately rented the Nunica track and ran a stock car program the rest of the 1950 season. The following season he moved on to start the Berlin Raceway. The track ran for a couple of more seasons before it closed.

After its closing, midget drivers would go and tune up their cars on the deserted track until finally years later it was torn up. By Dick Lee I hope this clears up the real location where Nunica Speedway use to be. I know Allen Brown and he is only ½ right, but it was Crockery Mobile Home Park at 13251 State Rd Nunica, MI. , not a Golf Course that replaced the Speedway.

The Co-ordinances are N43. 09213, W86. 11781. The Aerial Oval Picture that's SW of Taft and Apple Dr.

Co-ordinances N43. 10133, W86. 12793, could possibly be Roanoke Speedway. Dick Lee told me he has been there before, but says he couldn't find it today.

The other Aerial Oval Picture south of M-104 on 144th Ave. Co-ordinances N43. 05157, W86. 13951, is too far away for either track.

I have talked to many people about Nunica Speedway through the years and most that knew the track, say the Mobile Home Park sits in it's place. From my earlier post on 5/10/2010 I said 144th Ave, as I thought that picture was an old aerial shoot of the track. History says US-16 had many different routes through the years and State Rd. could have been one of them.

Both Taft/Apple Dr and 144th Ave. seem too far away, the Mobile Home Park is 2. 6 miles from the center of Nunica, Mi. In the notes at top of page, it says it was a dirt track, It was paved.

I hope this cleared the location up for everybody.
12/4/2010 - Gary Laster
The track near Apple & Taft was Western Michigan Speedway aka Furitport Midget Speedway, check the WMS page o this site. According to Allan Brown, Nunica was replaced by a golf course but he did not give the name. I would guess Terra Verde. Someone local needs to goto the USDA Soil Service office and pull the aerial from the 50's and 60s to verify.

10/4/2010 - Randy Farb
If I am not mistaken, the intersection is Apple Dr (old US 16) and Taft (Just southwest of that intersection). If you go to google maps and do the satellite view, you can see the oval.
10/3/2010 - alan clark
Hi race fans. I have a buddy at work that raced at Nunica speedway in the 40s. I lived on Taft road which I believe intersects old US 16 at the Nunica speedway. I used to ride my bike around the bumpy track when I was a kid. The light poles and building were still there.

My buddy Dave Anderson built the midget cars and hired drivers as he could. Anyone know Dave? He lives in Kalamazoo and is still working at the Air Zoo mechanicing on airplanes. I satelite photoed the place and the outline is still visable from dirt bikes. There are two things I don't understand and they are the photo off 144th which I found to be a ways away from Nunica but there is clearly an oval there and the name Western Mich.

Speedway which also shows the taft rd. and US 16 intersection. Also it is called out to be in Fruitport. The addresses on the early ads seems to make the us 16 at taft rd the place.

nice talking Alan If you remember Dave (in his 80s) he would like to hear from you. I would forward it to him.
6/4/2010 - Chad
Does anyone know anything about the small dirt track located outside Fruitport, (coords: 43. 101274,-86. 127713) roughly Apple Drive at Taft Rd. ? I remember seeing it from the road some 20+ years ago and a friend used to sneak back in and ride his dirt bike around the track. It looks rather well constructed, considering it''s age and condition, for just being someone''s back-forty project.

5/10/2010 - Doug Taylor
I raced there. I was out Railroad Archeology hunting with my brother about 2007 and was following a railroad grade that has been torn up for over 100 years. Well, we was in the area of the Old Nunica Speedway and said to my brother lets switch gears and look for the old speedway. He knew the area well, even though he is not into racing like me. We found the area where it use to be on 144th Ave.

About 2 mile outside of Nunica on old 16. There is now a mobile home park in it''s place. We are pretty sure of this spot, from stories told about it. The last time I was there, was with my father and my older brother Fred racing go karts back about 1960-1961.

My father Claude Taylor, Leonard Vander Jagt and Mr. Gar from Gar''s Hardware (Later Gar''s Honda) started organized go kart racing in West Michigan. We would get kicked off of grocery store parking lots when they would be closed on Sundays. We finally found Nunica out in the country and nobody seemed to care about us using the track.

Well for a few months or so. I remember Len Vander Jagt had put a McCulloch Chainsaw motor on his kids kart. I think it was about 6 hp. You have to remember that there wasn''t motors made for go karts yet.

My father had built a kart with rack and pinion steering and he put a 10 hp Johnson Outboard motor on it. It had a heater core off some car as a radiator to cool it. It was fast for back then.

Straight pipes, very load. (I still have that motor) Mr. Gar had a very nice, very fast kart for his kid Gary, who would fight for the lead with my brother. One Sunday afternoon, a whole bunch of karts from everywhere showed up.

It was really something. My dad knew this guy that had more karts than kids and he let me race one. The one with no brakes, but had a 5 hp Briggs and Stratton on it. Somehow I come into turn one and Gary Gar got under me and he slowed down and I couldn''t and I flipped the kart over his tires.

All I had on was a heavy winter coat and a football helmet. Just my pride was hurt, but it did scare me a bit. I was only 12 or 13 at the time. Yep, dad said I couldn''t race it after the accident.

We all was really having fun, when this truck showed up hauling a super modified into the race track. They unloaded it and their truck got behind it and pushed it to start it. They pretty much took over the race track from us. They did a bunch of hot laps and all the parents were grabbing all their young kids, for fear of the modified losing control.

It was Norm Brown testing his modified. It was bitter sweet, as he took the race track away from us for most the afternoon, but heck, we got to watch this modified up close, which was really cool back then for a 12 year old. I also remember allot of parents telling their kids to keep off the grandstands, which were made of wood and were just falling apart. Very dangerous.

The race track looked like it hadn''t been open for about 7-10 years. Everything had been grown over, tall weeds everywhere, but we had a race track. Even weeds were growing up through the cracks in the asphalt. But, then one Sunday when we just got started, some guy come and said we couldn''t race anymore.

And that was the end of an era, that didn''t really get a chance to really get going. There was just no place to go anymore, but we had fun, while it lasted. It wasn''t too many years after that, I heard that they tore it up and put in this modern mobile home park. I wish more people would supply stories and pictures, from the old days of racing.

6/25/2007 - Don Farnquist
ya know I am sitting here reading the fliers from the Nunica speedway and cant help but wonder if at least a few of them arn''t from the West Michigan Speedway near Fruitport. The west Michigan speedway is in reality probably not in fruitport but in Nunica. I had a friend that lives just down the road from the old west michigan speedway and he is in Nunica. I actually remember walking the west michigan speedway track when I was in my teens. The track was long closed at that point.

This was probably 20+ years ago I would guess. It was in really rough shape even back then. The ariel track proto of the nunica track you show is really close to Spring Lake Michigan. Makes me wonder if its in Spring Lake or Nunica? Anyways just some more random thoughts for you to chew over.

Love the site. I keep pokin my head in from time to time to see what is new.
Nunica Speedway - 1950 FROM JERRY
1950 FROM JERRY
Nunica Speedway - HEAT RACE 1950 FROM JERRY
HEAT RACE 1950 FROM JERRY
Nunica Speedway - ORV VOGEL 1950 FROM JERRY
ORV VOGEL 1950 FROM JERRY
Nunica Speedway - HEAT RACE 1950 FROM JERRY
HEAT RACE 1950 FROM JERRY
Nunica Speedway - 1951 AD
1951 AD
Nunica Speedway - 1950 AD FROM JERRY
1950 AD FROM JERRY
Nunica Speedway - 1949 AD FROM JERRY
1949 AD FROM JERRY
Nunica Speedway - AERIAL
AERIAL
Nunica Speedway - AERIAL PHOTO
AERIAL PHOTO

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