DOVER’S LAST DAY: May 23,1976….the story unfolds

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  • #34233
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    WE ARE FLYING THE DOVER FLAG AT HALF MAST TODAY…..READ ALL THE POSTS …GREAT STORY pieced together by a bunch of our forum guys…never documented until we had this forum.The “Real Story”

    #34235
    vbob
    Participant
    • Total Posts: 2931

    HEY
    Please,will everyone rise and remove your headgear.
    ‘V’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-Xrlf3taEo

    #35457
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    Attention …Any New guys that haven’t Read this whole story …please do…We welcome any and all additions to the fantastic memories already posted.

    #35667
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491
    quote dinotheweirdo:

    More info unfolding…Bruce from Brigeport last Track manager…SuperSport Pete might have made Last run for ‘stocker” King of the hill…Not sure If Gunn remembers good anymore…But Casey-Feola Run for Modified a pretty sure thing.reason Pete (Who Won) might be last ever run is cause Modified ran Before lower classes.Right? Pete remembers getting the check so He might have had last run-time slip.

    PETE …By ANY chance do you still have your timeslip?…IT COULD be THE last one EVER given out…Please Frame it.

    #35694
    super-sport-pete
    • Total Posts: 145

    DINO, heres my last day at dover,MAYBE last run! don’t know if the order is right, but that is all i can find today.


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    #35696
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    Kinda off topic but not…noticed some notes on the time slips ,like one has what looks like “BO” …one has an x through it…the one with lost checked has “OK” and was wondering what all the notes ment.

    #35716
    super-sport-pete
    • Total Posts: 145

    DINO, i looked some and found the slip from that day (#40), that says “TROPHY/FINAL”. i thought it said ok/trophy.it is a “BREAKOUT” run the other car must have been first or worse, which is why the handwritten ‘OK’. i have two fistfuls of those time slips 74-76 style. previous ones have” trophy “stamped on them. remember, this was THE LAST DAY!!!, I don’t think the workers had total focus, now that they found out that they just lost their part tme JOB! pete.

    #36698
    paul-ceasrine
    • Total Posts: 528

    We knew it was just about to be ‘Over at Dover’,

    In late-April 1976, there was only ‘1’ car in the Hot Car Pits.

    #36849
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    somewhere buried in this topic is a bunch of ‘Reasons” why it closed…Back on page 4 here Mike Mannion (family of Owner) said this:

    “The track was closed for 1 reason. The auto emissions standards and gas prices were making the sport unactractive for the “STOCKER” crowd where Joe and Chet obviously made most money ( racer volume)”.

    …just did some searching and found that the first time in Ameican history ,gas went over 50 cents a gallon was 1973.just for kicks…the first time it went over a Dollar was 1980.

    #37132
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    And….The Muscle Car was doomed…being killed off as early as 1972 THE DATE of This Ad in Cars Magazine
    Marty Schorr related”Everything at Baldwin-Motion started slowing down in 1972: Government guys came calling, dealership changed hands & Detroit started killing off musclecars. Still a lot of interest in 454 Camaros.”


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    #37176
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    …………………………………..TOPIC SUMMARY………………………………………to date
    with all the recent ‘speculation’ ,assumptions iv’e seen on the internet,and a lot of presumptions-gossip & here-say in many posts in this topic…thought I’de try to wrap up the story here to date.This topic started about the events of the day and those that remembered it , but then got into the “Why Did It Close” reasons…some true-some not so true.There’s things like Noise…Insurance problems…legal issues…low car count….Gas embargo…economy…..Many have been debunked already.The real question is WHY The DECISION WAS MADE to abruptly pull the plug…..”Something” triggered that action.That Something may never be known….but I believe it will be revealed eventually.Why would you start a season…run for a few weeks ,then pull the plug ?(They obviously got the town permit-was yearly renewed ).Lets look at the facts. The Track already had the Anderson Peat Co.( no relation to Chet Anderson-track owner)running at full steam in the ‘back lot’ past the shut down area for a couple of years.That was a steady paycheck to Chet & Joe with No work.The company even built their own onsite processing plant.They got an Offer from a big outfit to Haul out the premium Gravel at $1.00 a yard …again They didn’t have to do anything…except the track & pits were sitting right on top of it.Of Note..they hauled out THREE MILLION yards we are told and thats why the whole area is 15 to 20 feet lower now.It has been widely reported by many that Chet & Joe know next to nothing about Drag Racing, But …heres the Big BUT…They Did know how to make a buck by capitalizing on this ‘New Drag Racing Craze” in 1961. They saw the potential but never dreamed that the Sport would would progress and evolve with the big innovations and big business envolvment that began in the mid -sixties…speed equipment- Speed Shops -new rules-new classes-new fangled ‘electronics’ .They just kept doing ‘the same old thing’ as new tracks opened all around and new progressive Business marketing was employed. Things just kept going downhill for them, as they stayed ‘stuck in the sixties’ and watched other tracks pull from their weekly ‘gate’. They never had The ‘passion’ of Racing to be real Promoters. No Points System,No Advertising,No Sponsor Programs…no Racer ‘incentives’ to attract new fans or racers.I say: if you where in their Shoes…Had One Company already supporting your investment…had another giving you an offer that must have looked like a golden “Pie In The Sky” opportunity,given the economics of the time, what would YOU do.? Blaming all the things of car count-death of the muscle car-gas emargo-etc. sounds good…But consider this. All the other tracks KEPT running….Connecticut -N.Y.National plus Raceway Park & Lebanon Valley Are Still open after 37 years of Dover Closing.Island JUST closed too.THEY all DIDN’t Get effected by some of the Reasons some say closed Dover.Back to that abrupt shut down…I ‘speculate’ that perhaps the Gravel Guys had a Timeframe…deadline…committment to deliver,and that pressured the owners to Make The Move. Could be a deep dark secret of some threatening element we might never know…Insurance Cancelation…Threat of lawsuiut…Who Knows ?!…But IF they had kept up with what they other tracks were doing…they might have still been open today.Consider Dirt Pits-telephone pole and cable guard rails ,Antique timing equip. ..with vacuum tubes for averaging MPH( New Chrondeks not installed til 1974)…Army surplus P.A speakers… we didn’t have Any track crew communication til my brother installed an intercom on the Gas Pits pole to the tower in ’69….Hand written time slips. IF you were them and had two companys willing to PAY you..do all the work….Your Track was dying and to upgrade ,just to be on a level playing field with competing tracks, would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars…What Would YOU do.It was A Positive Business decision to shut it down and take care of the familys and guarantee some sort of retiement. We may never know what the ‘Trigger” was .But when your at Lebanon ..Look at the Tower,The paved pits,the whole operation…THAT could have been Dover.
    …….. Those Two Guys Worked their butt off during the week to maintan the property with No back-up staff. They did it all, just the two of them,with good old skool work ethics and I loved working for those guys for six straight years.I never missed a sunday ,even though they were stoic & a bit gruff. I knew they just wouldn’t keep up with the sport.

    I did This a While Back to have some fun and Dream A little:
    http://www.doverdragstrip.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=2903

    579-1.27.2013

    #38178
    super-sport-pete
    • Total Posts: 145

    HEY GUYS! 5/23/76-5/23/13= 37 YEARS! dino”s “topic summary” says it clearly. gone but not forgotten. we can thank dino and papasmurf for saving some of our memories. P.S. Connecticut dragway also closedin 1976. the first time.

    #38181
    hvy70ss
    Participant
    • Total Posts: 458

    Great summary Dino!! A good but sad reminder of how it happened. Always good to re-read. Thanks for all you have done (and continue to do)with this “memory lane ” trip!!

    Bobby Smith

    #38517
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    Got these through Brian From Kenny Wright. Shows a couple of weeks before “Dover’s Last Day’, in April ’76. You’ll notice how barren the staging lanes are after a round got run off.At the time the Hot Car pits “might” have one or two cars.The end was coming.5 staging lanes could handle easy about 20 cars with a run off into the dirt pits for more (100 at a “call”).After one round eliminated half the field …about 50 cars left…not many there this day. Best car count we had was in ’68 with over 450 cars in competition.If classes were heavy entered, we could only put one per lane …so 5 at a time. Classes with 2-3-5 or so would be ganged up in a single lane.THEN you had the Hot Car pits And the ‘Gasser-M/P” lane behind the tower.The bottom shot shows, what might have only about three Eliminators of Class winners lined up.Some lanes appear empty.By this time they went to ‘brackets’ so its hard to figure just whats running.Not too many ‘Folks” at the fence either.


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    #40028
    dover1320
    • Total Posts: 213

    The last three years are the most rarely seen pictures news trophies ect, hopefully someday we will locate a stash of info on that the Terry o’shea collection from the time disappeared 71/76. Former wife Wendy remembers well! She saw it and it was all color , for now it will be a blurr. Brian

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