Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Wolf Lake Speedway

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Wolf Lake Speedway

    Looking for info about this unique track. It apparently operated from 1933 through 1936. Brief description that I could find states that it was a 1-mile sand track completely surrounded by Wolf Lake (just south of Chicago - on Illinois/Indiana border). Lake was apparently drained to create the track. There was also a 1/5 mile dirt track. I found one aerial photo that indeed shows a track surrounded by water.
    Real drivers don't need fenders!

  • #2
    I'm familiar with the later 1/5-mile track in Hammond Indiana (not on the same location as the one-mile track) that catered to midgets in 1935-1936 with Wally Zale, Emil Andres, Duke Nalon and other members of the "Chicago Gang." There appears to have been an attempt to stage a series of 100-lap "championship" midget races during 1936 which didn't succeed past the first race. Johnny Wasem (newspapers published his name as "Wasserman" or "Wasson") was injured in a crash life there in an accident in July 1936 and later died. The day after Wasem's death was announced the track announced a month's cessation of racing due to the "hot weather and scant attendance." I can find no racing there after July 1936 .
    Last edited by Kevracer; 04-15-2019, 01:15 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Found these images. Not much help.

      https://www.google.com/search?tbm=is...24.WOI0N0QQcws

      ==

      Comment


      • #4
        The 1/5 track was located just to the east of the larger oval. It looks like that portion of the lake was drained quite a bit and has since filled back in with water. I wish I could find a clearer photo of the mile track, but it looks like if a car went off of the track that it would end up in the lake.
        Real drivers don't need fenders!

        Comment


        • #5
          Go to ChicagolandAutoRacing.com
          One page historical summary and an Arial photo
          Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by carl s View Post
            Go to ChicagolandAutoRacing.com
            One page historical summary and an Arial photo

            It just shows the two photos I already posted, but, the photos have captions. Here is the site.

            http://www.kalracing.com/Autoracing/

            ==


            Comment


            • #7
              WOLF LAKE SPEEDWAY

              WOLF LAKE MIDGET SPEEDWAY

              Just north of intersection of Calumet and Sheffield Avenues on the west side of U.S Route 41
              Hammond , Indiana

              The one-mile, sand surface, Wolf Lake Speedway opened on Sunday afternoon, July 16, 1933 and was described as “the World’s Most Unique Automobile Race Course” and was part of the $1 million Wolf Lake development. The track was described as being surrounded completely by water ( Wolf Lake ) and built on man—made land with no fences or guardrails. The track was located west of the small island that still exists today at about 122nd Street. An ad in the Hammond Times newspaper in 1933 called it the only auto race track in the world where you can wear white clothes and have them stay white – Clean, Cool, Comfortable! No Dust, No Dirt! Louis Brown of Champaign , Ill. won the 15-mile race car event with Emil Andres of Chicago capturing the five-mile event for race cars on that July afternoon. Charlie Engle of Dayton , Ohio was the winner of both the five-mile and 15-mile races for stock cars. Approximately 5,000 people attended the inaugural event, which also featured speed boat races. As reported in the Hammond Times newspaper, Engle came back on August 6 and won a 100-mile stock car race, defeating Forest Hart, Bob Slazek, Les Crippen and “Cowboy” O’Rourke.

              Very little, if any, racing activity can be documented regarding the one-mile track for the balance of 1933 and years after.

              In the May 16, 1935 edition of the National Auto Racing News Edition of The Bergen Herald, H.B. Overstreet wrote, “C.L. Worthington of Hammond has leased a portion of Wolf Lake , which is located in Hammond , to a syndicate for the construction of a 1/5 of a mile midget track. Work will start immediately under the supervision of Bill Both.” The new midget speedway was located northwest of the intersection of Calumet Ave. and Sheffield Ave. , east of where the old one-mile track was and on property that made up the shoreline of Wolf Lake at the time. The track was described as an oiled surface with long straightaways and narrow turns. The midget track was located in the vicinity of the Wolf Lake Festival Pavilion, which was built in 2010, and the pier area, southeast of the existing small island.

              Jimmy Snyder of Chicago won the inaugural 25-lap midget feature race on Sunday night, June 9, 1935, defeating Milwaukee drivers Tudy Marchese and Tony Willman before an estimated crowd of 3,000 people. Pat Warren ( Los Angeles ), Harold Shaw ( Indianapolis ), Marshall Lewis ( Los Angeles ), Gale Lower ( Fort Wayne ), Curly Mills ( Los Angeles ), Jimmy Rogers (Melrose Park) and Fred Barney ( Chicago ) also were in competition. In addition to Snyder and Marchese, Wally Mitchell, Ronnie Householder, Duke Nalon, Wally Zale and Ted Tetterton were documented feature winners during the ’35 season.

              With Worthington handling the managerial duties and American Legion Posts 16 and 168 of Hammond and 266 in East Chicago sponsoring the races, the fifth of a mile track reopened for competition in June of 1936 with fans paying a 50 cent general admission charge. Chuck Neisel and Wally Zale were among the winners in June, but the track was closed after Zale swept four out of six races on June 28. The reconstruction of the track was the reason given for the interruption of the season with 100 loads of clay being brought in to work into the turns.

              With the west portion of the track rebuilt, the first of six 100 lappers was scheduled for the “season reopener” on July 19, but a small field of cars appeared and the feature was reduced to 25 laps with Tony Willman defeating Jimmy Snyder and Emil Andres. Snyder won on July 24 and won twin 25-lap features on July 26 with the afternoon of racing being referred to as the “Pot of Gold Sweepstakes” or “American Legion Sweepstakes.”

              Thirty-year-old Johnny Wasem was seriously injured in a crash on July 26 and passed away on July 30 at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Hammond – becoming the Chicago area’s first midget racing fatality. A resident of the southside of Chicago , Wasem had been racing for only about a year and was given the nickname “The Professor” as he wore eyeglasses. On July 31, the Hammond Times newspaper reported that the track was closed till September, citing hot weather and poor attendance.

              After the July 26 event, there is no record of any additional race programs at the Wolf Lake site. Local racing writer Art Zuiker mentioned in his column in the June 24, 1937 issue of the National Auto Racing News newspaper that the half-mile track might start up again.

              END





              Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

              Comment


              • #8
                Avert for Inaugural July 16 1933 Hammond IN Times
                https://www.flickr.com/photos/919813...7633528002567/
                Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pelican Joe View Post
                  The 1/5 track was located just to the east of the larger oval. It looks like that portion of the lake was drained quite a bit and has since filled back in with water. I wish I could find a clearer photo of the mile track, but it looks like if a car went off of the track that it would end up in the lake.
                  Pre-inaugural advertising touted that possibility -
                  Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Great stuff, everyone. Thank you for sharing. I've been looking at old aerial photos and the midget track was located to the south of the sand track. You could still see traces of it into the mid-70's and there was a drive in theater eventually built over what had been the 1st and 2nd turns. You can see remnants of the theater today looking at Google Maps at the intersection of Calumet Avenue and 129th Street. The sand track is completely gone. It does look like they drained a portion of the lake and that it has now been allowed to fill back in. The island that exists today was part of a much larger area of dry land when the track was operating. In an aerial shot from 1952 - the track is still visible, but by 1959 the area was looking like it looks today.
                    Real drivers don't need fenders!

                    Comment

                    Working...
                    X