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Auto Racing & Speedways
Hartford Speedway Park
Hartford Speedway Park - Hartford MI
301 Bowie Street
Number of visits to this page:
Dirt/Paved Ovals - Operating Dates: 1953-Present
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Show Comments and Info Updates
12/14/2016 - Jesse Hamilton
Hartford put on awesome shows this season, bringing in such events as the WoO Sprint Car Series. It also brought in the American Ethanol Late Model Tour. As of December 2016 the track is undergoing change. It is downsizing from a 1/2 mile to a 3/8th's mile. Construction is already underway.
1/16/2016 - Wes Stafford
Tim Dibble saved the track from closure and does nothing but improve the facility and run a variety of programs. Dick Beebe would be proud.
9/10/2014 - Bryan Woodall
Well Hartford ran a full season had packed stands every week it was a blast all year Tim Dibble did an awesome job this year thanks for keeping your play ground open.
8/17/2014 - Jennifer Beckman
In the late 70's I lived by the south east entrance, where the cars would go in. When it was empty during the week we would slide our bikes under that gate and ride the track What a great time to be a kid In those days it was paved.
3/19/2014 - Randy
Per the tracks Facebook page Hartford (MI) Motor Speedway under new management.
1/20/2014 - Mark Seiler
What a shame to see this potentially great facility falling on hard times. yet again. I can remember taking a Sunday drive many years ago and swinging by the old track just to walk around. This was after it had been returned to dirt and had sat idle for a long time. Not only had the weeds and trees taken over the pit area, but they covered the entire track surface as well! I told my friend, So much for dreaming of this place ever operating again. Well I was wrong. The legendary Hartford Motor Speedway DID return! Now her future is unclear. It would be such a waste to see her sit idle again. There aren't many full size half mile paper clip ovals like Hartford left in the country, either dirt or asphalt. Those amazing concrete grandstands are the finest in the nation. I've often thought that with the right promotion, Hartford could rival places like Eldora. Even if it ended up being run as a specials-only track, it would be better than seeing it abandoned. I hope for the best.
4/25/2011 - Carl R. Collins
Time and dates of Racing all. But most of all World Of Outlaws.
1/30/2011 - Larry S.
This really made my day. It was like going back in time. Reading about Michigan Late Model racing back in the late 60's and early 70's. we were at Berlin Raceway every Saturday nite, the whole family. Bob Senneker was my favorite, brother Jeff was a Ed Howe fan and little brother Todd, really didn't want to be there. I remember the going and gone cars of Ed Howe and Tommy Maier's, My aunt thought Randy Sweet was cute. I could probably talk for hours to someone that knew what I was talking about. What got me to your site? I searched Rich Senneker. I was there at Owosso that nite, the way I remember it Rich had been in second, working the leader hard, trying the high side, lap after lap and on the last lap coming out of turn two he was on the leaders outside quarter panel and the guy ran him high into the guard rail and into a light pole. It was a sad nite. When I got home, it was on the news Rich didn't make it. On a funny note, a few years ago, the ASA cars ran at Hawkeye Down in Cedar Rapids Iowa. They had and meet the drivers deal before the race. I had my son go down to meet Bob Senneker, he had a little toy 84 car. I told my son to have Bob Senneker sign it BOOB Senneker, Bob gotta laugh out of that, he asked my son, where did you hear that from? I just smiled.
6/9/2009 - tOM mCcOMB
Mark, you were talking about Bob Carnes. I can remember the time he went to the Dri Power 400 in Winchester Indiana. I think it was 1974 or 75 he was driving the Lane Automtive Carmeo. Myself and Late George Molaski went with them. It was Friday afternoon pratice. We unloaded the car got it ready Bob got in and pulled up in line for his pratice session they were waved out Bob made one lap on the bottom of the track all of a sudden he was at the trailer loading the car on. We ask him what was wrrong with the car he replied I am not that Crazy. He did not feel comfortable driving the Big high banks of Winchester Speedway.
The track was full of bumps and dips it had not been repaved in years it still had the boiler plates for fencing on the outside of the track. I think it was
Darell Waltrip that went the fence it took over an hour to get the car out an fix the fence. Bob Senneker won the race.
6/5/2009 - Mark Seiler
Ah the memories.... As I've said before, I miss the days when some of the cars had as many fans as their drivers did! Like my all time personal favorite, Dick Dunshee's little Mich. Swim Pool Equipment-sponsored Buick Special. Who can forget Tom Mark's wild red, white and blue USA-1 '57 Chevy? How about Ralph Baker's Dodge Charger? Paul Tooker's #411 Chevy II. Bob Senneker's Model Coveralls '57 Chevy. John Mangus's pretty blue '64 Chevelle. Another pair of my big favorites were Bobby Carnes' ragged but wicked-fast '57 Chevy and the Lane Automotive-sponsored '64 Chevelle he followed it up with. That car was unbeatable wherever he ran it, on dirt or blacktop, back in '69. Remember John Benson Sr's '70 Chevelle with '69 front sheetmetal tacked on? That thing was WAY ahead of it's time and extremely controversial. Folks accused it of being everything from a supermodified under the skin to having an all aluminum chassis and rollcage, etc, etc... He won something like 11 features at Berlin in '71 with that beast.... Remember the Lockwood brothers, Denny Harris, Al Leversee, Dale Hile, Jim Burrows, George Neff and the many other weekly regulars at Hartford? What we have today is OK, but if I could just relive the years '65 through '85 over and over again, I'd be one happy racin' nut....
5/22/2009 - Dave Eldridgedge
I'm from Augusta MI, so my home tracks were Galesburg and Kalamazoo, but when I got to see the the "big boys", Hartford was where I went. I saw all the Graduation races from '75 to '79, and a lot of those Bob Senneker promoted midweek shows, including the Skylab race. I like the reference to Stan Suski, Max Hiscock, Dick Dunshee, Gordy VanderBeek, and Denny Nyari. But how about Rick Knotts, Butch Miller. Larry Knowlton, the other 24 Hop Cap car with Dave Roarhig driving, Randy Sweet in the pink 17, and Bob Carnes in his classic 42. Those Graduation races drew hotshoes from the whole Midwest, and seeing Dick Trickle, Tom Reffner, Ray Young, Joy Fair, Mark Malcuit, John Anderson, Ed Howe, Tom Maier, Larry Schuler, Larry Detjens, and lots more actually race was a big thrill for me as a teenager. These were the guys that I read about winning at their local tracks in the MARC Times, and our local guys usually held their own against the outsiders. I went to the Strawberry Blossom 100 in ' 78 to see "18 year old Mark Martin from Batesville AR", and he blew up in hot laps, changed the motor, started from the back of the feature, and finished about 10th. I haven't lived in Michigan in almost 30 years, but have seen my share of racing at Kalamazoo in those years, with some vacations planned around big shows at Kazoo, the last being last year's Super Shoe. Saw all the races but one (rainout A Main with the cars ined up and covered in the pits). Bummer, but a paved Hartford was my first big time track. Great memories!
2/2/2009 - Garrett Pierce
I was going through my old magazines lately and found something interesting on the Senneker brothers, Bob and Terry. There is a article on them that appeared in the March, 1981 issue of Super Chevy magazine. The article also mentions older brother Rich, who was killed in a late model race in 1973. The text mentions that there were six brothers, five of whom all raced and that Bob was from Dorr Mi.There are photos of the two brothers and their cars in action at Queen City Speedway in Cinncinatti, OH. Interesting reading for all you eBayer's to find.
11/28/2008 - John Hay
Man, I remember watching Denny race at Mt. Lawn and Anderson Speedway...then called sun valley. It sure was great seeing him compete with such late model greats like Don Higgins and Gene Prosser. Do any of you have photos of these guys? Check out the Mt. Lawn website...lots of killer vintage photos...several of Denny!
11/26/2008 - tOM mCcOMB
I can remeber Rich Senneker's Chevell it was sponsered by a raido station called WLAV it was red od maroon in color. Yea John I am still around I live in Tucson AZ now have been here for 21 years. Yes I can still remeber that race you talkeg about. Do you still live in the Hartford area. There was you and Bob and a another guy that worked the broom truck with me. Do you have any little John's running around. Well we need to keep in touch with each other and swap some more stories. Tom
11/7/2008 - Ray Moored
Go to a website called Speedrome historical society (the old track that was in Grand Rapids). They have compiled many photos of racers from back in the day. I believe there are pictures of the Sennekers there. I remember watching Rich and Bob as a kid out at Kalamazoo Speedway. Bob in the #84 '57 chevy. Next generation driver Terry Senneker has been doing great at Kalamazoo.
10/16/2008 - Mark Seiler
For some time now I've been trying to locate and collect whatever material I can get my hands on regarding the late, great Rich Senneker.... bios, old photographs, etc... Would anyone out there happen to know anything about his fatal accident? I know it happened at Owosso in '73, but beyond that I don't know many details...
10/15/2008 - Garrett Pierce
Hey guys, if you go to the Spartan Speedway page you will find a picture of Bob Senecker in his 57' chevy #84 on a winners circle photo dated 1966. Those guys raced evrywhere. I don't remember seeing them down at Hartford, but I'm sure they raced there. The track I remember them being dominate at was Berlin. I can't believe I remember this stuff! Too long ago. I also remember seeing a write up in the Marc Times about Rich being killed. 1973.
10/13/2008 - Mark Seiler
Ah the memories... With the advent of the Camaro revolution, with their pre-manufactured frames and plastic bodies, the days of memorable, homemade cars were coming to an end.... but those Hanley cars, with their dropped roofs and raised tails, were mighty cool lookin'. 'Anybody remember when Randy Sweet was running what became his world record breaking "Rocket Car" as a regular late model in shows at Kazoo and Berlin? Now THAT was about as wild as things could get before the creativity-stifling, cookie cutter, every-car-must-look-the-same era came along...
10/12/2008 - Sean Fitzgerald
No you aren't the only one. It's a lot more subtle now though. Still a few cars at Autocity, like Walther's much hated but feared Nova. The new M15 Camaro was FAST! When ever someone kicks ass his car is "Illegal". Not sure if his is or isn't but guys like Junior Hanley and Joy Fair used to build some monsters eh. Why was pat Haywood's 74 Camaro so unstoppable at Mt Clemens. There are some cars at Autocity that are talked about a great deal, like the world beating Cadi in the bomber class. Heck these things are full blown streetstocks in clunker clothes. Steve Souve's #97 latemodel 60's chevy now runs in the Bomber Class at Dixie. Very Quickly.
10/10/2008 - Mark Seiler
Hey Tom, I think the original question was whether or not anyone remembers older brother RICH Senneker driving a topless, black '57 Chevy with fuel injection. I have vivid memories of Bob's '57. During the 1966 season it was a solid metallic blue. The following year it sported a white top. He was very successful with that thing even though most of his contemporaries had already begun switching over to Chevelles. (come to think of it, he was one of the last ones still running a Chevelle when most everybody else had changed over to Camaros!) Is it just me, or am I the only one who misses the era when some of the cars could became as legendary as their drivers?
10/8/2008 - John Peirce
MCCOMB.....how the hell are you? If you recall, Bob McGowan and I used to work on the broom truck with you during the early 70's. I found this website about a year ago and the pictures brought back so damn many great memories. That very last race of the year in 1973, where Johnny Anderson driving the Stan Yee prepared #33 Camaro snaked off the win was one that I remember well.
Just happened to click on this again, and saw your name and thought I would say hello and hope all is well.
10/5/2008 - TomMcComb
Yes Bob Senneker's 57 chevy was blue and white. It was sponserd by C - Model Coverall. Thats all I remember about his car. I think on hood it said 327 cid. Tom
10/3/2008 - Randy
Mark, look under the Spartan Speedway link on here and you will see a picture of Senneker in a 57 Chevy (does not look black though).
10/3/2008 - Mark Seiler
You're right Sean.. I forgot about Chevy's early form of factory fuel injection. I guess whenever I hear that term I picture a typical Hilborn setup with tubes. 'Still don't recall Senneker in a black '57 though...
9/24/2008 - Sean Fitzgerald
from the web..........The 1957 Chevrolet fuel injection system consisted of three components: fuel meter, manifold assembly and air meter. Instead of fuel and air being pre-mixed in the carburetor, then being forced through the intake manifold to each cylinder, the air supply is taken in separately through a manifold. The fuel is injected directly and constantly into each intake port where the two then mix.
9/24/2008 - Sean Fitzgerald
Chevy did have a 263 mechanical fuel injection engine in 57 I am pretty sure.
9/24/2008 - MJSEILER
I don't recall Rich Senneker in a black topless '57 Chevy. (especially one running fuel injection) Seems to me he made the jump from the supermods to the full-bodied cars in a '64 Chevelle, sponsered by Hav-A-Bar ice cream...
9/16/2008 - don tillery
I noticed that someone mentioned a biography of Rich Senneker. For some time I have been trying to figure out who I saw in a late model race in Painesville, Ohio in the late 50's. The driver was driving a black 57 fuel injected chevy convertible # 57. He was with a few others who raced at our track on the return from a race out east. I have found very few cars with the #57 in that era. I recently saw a photo of Rich's Chevelle raced at Heidelburg Pa. The 57 look similar in style to what I remembered, onlty a later version. Can anyone verify if Rich ever drove a black 57 Chevy late model # 57. Or do you know who did? I would love to find a picture to use as a reference to build a model of the car.Thanks DT
8/27/2008 - Mark Seiler
Hey guys, check out the NEW Hartford Motor Speedway website! There are a bunch of great old pictures on it, including a classic pitside shot of Nyari's '69 Chevelle. The one that brought back "warm 'n fuzzies" for me is the shot of Dick Dunshee's legendary Michigan Swim Pool sponsored Buick Special. 'My all-time favorite car AND driver. That little Buford would go by all those big ol' shoeboxes he raced against like they were goin' around the track backwards!. Dick was the REAL 'King of the Dirt" in those days...
7/9/2008 - tOM mCcOMB
Rich I was a fan of Denny Nyari all i can tell you is that he was sponserd by a gas station on old US Highway 31 called Dales Shell Station. It was located right out of South Bend Ind. Going north. Denny also had Shaker Racing Building his motors. Denny won his share of races at Hartford. I can remeber the first time I saw him race he was driving a 57 Chevy. Him an Stan Suski ran ran 1 & 2 for about 15 laps. Denny went on to win and Stan finished second. As for pictures of Denny and his cars maybe you can find someone that remebers Dale Shell gas station and see if some one knows if the owner is still around he mite have some pictures. Also there was a fellow that took pictures of the drivers and their cars. All I can remeber he used to set up his little stand and sell the photos to the fans. He was called Ray's Racing Photos. He was out of Grand Rapidis Mich you mite try the Berlin Raceway web site. And see if someone there can put you in touch with some one who knew of him. Good luck Rich. Hope to talk to you again.
7/3/2008 - Rich Nyari
Can anyone give info on how many races denny nyari won at hartford-dirt and asphalt? Any articles or pics would be appreciated. Rich..
6/23/2008 - Sean Fitzgerald
well it's dirt again and you can still go cause it's opened. I personally wish it was pavement.
6/23/2008 - tOM mCcOMB
I started going to the races in about 1965 when I about 16 yrs old. The Stockcars started were really going strong about this time. With drivers like Ralph Baker, Dick Dunshee, Bob Senneker his brother Rich, Tom Marks, Denny Nyari, Stan Suski, any one remeber Maxi Hiscock, John Mangus. Then there was the South Haven Gang of Ray Lockwood,Bill McDaniels,Dale Smith. And there were others that showed up and put on a great show every Fri. nite. There was always about between 30 to 50 cars on any given Fri nite. I can remeber Ralph Baker dominated quite a few races with that 66 Dodger Hemi Charger. No one could catch him if he got out front. Dick Dunshee won hid share of those races also. But when Bob Senneker Showed up in that C-Model Coverall sponserd 64 Chevele. he was known as the " King of The Dirt " once he got out in front it was all over. Bob was s smart driver he could make his car real wide so no one could get around him. The guy that wants to know about the Marc Times racing News. They sponserd a number of events across west Mich called The Marc Times Invatitionall. They would work with the promoter and run these races. Usually the feature was 100 laps and any where from 1000 to 1500 dollars to win the main. Back then that was alot money to win. I can remeber one of thesr races in Aug. of 1969. Cars came from all over the state and Indiana and Ohio also. Ed Howe came from Allburn Mich with this 1969 chevell or what it was we will never know. Ed worked for G.M. So he got a hold of won of the new Cheverlot all allumuin 509 big block motor. When he hot laped the car it sounded like a big bumble bee running at speed. Since the track was dirt Ed did not have dirt tires with him only treaded asphlat tires. He did not qualfly well for the main. Ed ran the heat and finished in the back some where. When it came time for the main Ed was ready by the 25th lap or so the track began to get dry slick and fast. The rest was history. No one could catch him he all most lapped the whole field. After the racse were over everyone in stands croweded around Ed Winning Car. He Called Mr Peanuts. Those were good times. I went away to the Army for 2 yrs in Sept of that year. I return in 1972 and being told the track was paved what a disappointment when I heard that. Gone was the days of the dirt. I started working for George on Fri nits helping out where ever I could. I usually I ran the broom truck in keeping with the track maintaince cleaning up after a wreck or if a car blew a motor and spilled oil or fluids on the track.
11/27/2007 - Sean Fitzgerald
John I wish they would pave it and put some twisties in and around it and let the road racers have a try.
11/27/2007 - John Peirce
The photos that are here are truly excellent. I was still a kid, working at Hartford Motor Speedway on the broom truck when this race was held in October of 1973. I have the original March 1974 issue of Stock Car Racing magazine and the article was called "Commencement Excercises". If anyone would like to have a copy, email me your fax number and I'll fax you a copy of the article. The complete list of entries was absolutely amazing and there were 25 cars that could have won. In the end, Johnny Anderson ended up beating Jim Bickerstaff for the total overall. The final feature was incredible as Anderson passed 3 cars and "threaded the needle" in turn 3 to take over the lead on about lap 90 and go on to the win.
My family home was only 3 blocks from the speedway and my grandparents were close to George Malaski and his family, the owners of Hartford Motor Speedway. My own family has been in Hartford for 95 years and in the Watervliet area for over 125 years as of this writing. My father purchased Al's Auto Parts from George in 1971, and that really gave me an inside connection to the speedway. I was lucky enough to drive the 1970 Mercury Cyclone pace car for a couple of races, and also got to meet so many of the drivers that are now everyday names, in NASCAR and other series.
Hartford Motor Speedway was a pinnacle in short track racing, and while I know that it's now an excellent dirt facility ( I went to school with Fred Knight, the current promoter, and I love both dirt and asphalt short track racing anyway), I still miss the old days of the asphalt outlaw racers that traveled. These racers were tough, courteous, fun, and truly put on a show.
8/7/2007 - Ray Moored
Back when I was a kid, my parents would take me to Hartford Speedway when it was part of the Van Buren Co. Fair grounds. All the horse barns and fair buildings were painted orange. The modifieds used to run on the dirt. Don't remember if that was the late 50's or early 60's or both, but it sure was fun to watch.
3/8/2007 - Garrett Pierce
Those pictures below are wonderful! It brought back memories long dormant in my mind to see that stuff. As a child in the 70s, my dad was a big round track racing fan. He took me to Hartford at least once that I can recall & it looked just like those old photos! I remember because of all the neet cars like Camaros & Chevelles, Mustangs & Novas that were being raced at the time. I can still remember standing on the grandstand seats looking at the racing( I was to little to see sitting down). Thanks so much for keeping stuff like this around!
2/16/2007 - Mark
I attended my first race of any kind at Hartford in the summer of '66. Saw a guy named Paul Smith win the feature in a red '55 Chevy numbered "Bongo 5"... Senneker did promote a series of races there in the early eighties which drew incredible names. One event he called the "Skylab 100", a play on the fact that at the time the remnants of the Skylab were expected to crash to earth at any time! The promotion stated that the spaceship itself would be landing on the the track during intermission that night. What actually happened was Senneker himself landed his little Piper Cub (with Skylab painted on it's side) on the backstretch!
2/3/2007 - Mike Brandt
Being older than most of the posters, I use to go to Hartford Motor Speedway back in the 60's (that's what it was called then). The track had a great clay surface (before George Malaski tore it up and paved it--it's now dirt again) and the banks were really high. They raced the old stock cars--30's and 40's bodies and also raced what were called modifieds. They were basically sprint-type cars before someone came up with the idea of putting wings on the cars. Eventually the drivers started putting wings on the cars so they could really power into the turns. Some of the drivers of the day were Elver Harrington (#32), Wayne Harrington (#22), Oscar Faye (#0), Chuck Neale (#1), Norm Nelson (#6), Dick Dunshee (#66), Gordon Vanderbeek (#81), Gordon Johncock, Sherman and Ray Lockwood, Les Williams (#41), Ed Vanderlaan, Johnny Benson Sr. My mind is failing me, I can't remember anymore names right now. After the races us kids would go down into the pits (it was in the infield back then) and look at the cars. The tires were usually warm from the last race. I even got to sit in a midget racer. That night Parnelli Jones (former Indy 500 winner) raced at Hartford with a traveling group of midget racers. That reminds me, two past Indy 500 winners raced at Hartford at one time or another, Gordon Johncock and Parnelli Jones. They have been racing in Hartford for over 50 years.
1/28/2007 - Randy Morse
Actually in late 79, Ed Howe built the first offset chassis not Jr Hanley, Hanley would buy his cars from Ed Howe and tweak them very little. SO no it wasn't Hanley with the first offset design it was Ed Howe. Howe, Mike Eddy and Rodney Combs would be the first ones to have these cars.
1/7/2007 - Tim Trombley
Does anyone have photos of Hartford when The MARC Times Racing paper ran the "Dealer's Choice" fall specials when the track was paved? I also believe Bob Senneker promoted some big dollar mid-week specials in the late 1970's. Any photos from this era would be greatly appreciated. I have heard that Canadian Legend, Junior Hanley debuted the first straight rail(offset) Super Late Model at the fall 1980 Dealer's Choice. Subsequently over the winter of '80/'81 all the big Chassis Builders of the era (Howe, Port City, Dillon etc.) moved to what is still to this day, the same basic chassis used in Super Late Models, with updates obviously. In 1981 this became what was known as the ASA style car with the offset chassis, coilover suspension etc. I remember as a teenager attending Mt. Clemens every Thursday and seeing poster ads for the mid-week Bob Senneker promoted specials and I'm fairly certain Hartford was the track. If there are some other veteran fans out there that could confirm this, that would be much appreciated. Prior to the internet, the MARC Times was "the source" for all short track news. Photos from any of these "Specials" would be amazing!!
12/15/2006 - Larry Heyns
Back when spectators were allowed to watch the races from their cars parked near the backstretch, a woman had a miscarriage when a loose wheel landed on top of the family car. The promoter waited several months and did not hear from the woman. Finally, track representatives made a visit, fearing the worst. However, no lawsuit was filed because the family said they already had enough children.
HARTFORD SPEEDWAY FROM BRIAN NORTON
DICK TRICKLLE FROM JOHN BETTS
JOE RUTMAN AND RANDY SWEET FROM JOHN BETTS
JOHN ANDERSON AND TOM MAIER FROM JOHN BETTS
JOY FAIR AND TOM MAIER AND ED HOWE FROM JOHN BETTS
JOY FAIR FROM JOHN BETTS
LARRY DEJENS FROM JOHN BETTS
BOB SENNEKER AT HARTFORD FROM BRIAN NORTON
HARTFORD FROM BRIAN NORTON
ED HOWE FROM BRIAN NORTON
RIC KNOTTS FROM BRIAN NORTON
VICTORY LANE FROM BRIAN NORTON
FROM BRIAN NORTON
MISC SHOTS FROM BRIAN NORTON
FROM BRIAN NORTON
ROYCE CORNETT FROM BRIAN NORTON
PROGRAM FROM BRIAN NORTON
RICK KNOTTS HARTFORD FROM BRIAN NORTON
MISC SHOTS FROM BRIAN NORTON
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