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Holland International Speedway

Holland International Speedway

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Holland International Speedway

178 pagine
48 minuti
Sep 2, 2013


With its rural farmlands, rolling landscape, locally owned businesses, and tranquil setting, Holland embodies small-town charm. Yet for 54 summers, since 1960, the quiet splendor is interrupted on many Saturday nights by a particular type of roar. It is Holland s racing heritage, known to locals as Thunder in the Hills. Over the track s long history, many Holland area residents have worked or raced there or enjoyed the racing action as spectators. Holland International Speedway showcases the many cars, stars, officials, and other developments that make up the history of this beloved local track.
Sep 2, 2013

Informazioni sull'autore

Holland International Speedway general manager Tim Bennett and the Buffalo News auto racing columnist Larry Ott present a pictorial journey of Holland International Speedway. Bennett�s family owns the speedway, where he served in many capacities before becoming general manager at the age of 24. Ott has covered the speedway for the Buffalo News since 1985, after attending many races there in his younger days.

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Holland International Speedway - Timothy M. Bennett



Thunder in the Hills. For over half a century, this has been the anthem of Holland International Speedway, now known as the Holland Motorsports Complex.

While the eyes of a nation may be more affixed on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as it has gained worldwide appeal and popularity over the last few years, it is an accepted fact in the racing fraternity that the backbone of the sport of stock car racing is found at the small-town Saturday night short tracks of this country, where racers compete for the glory of a checkered flag far away from the bright lights of the national racing landscape. They do it mainly for the love of the sport.

Yet, it is these local tracks and drivers whose racing roots have helped develop, shape, and grow the sport nationwide. They showcase their brand of local competition and continue to play a very prominent and important role in the racing world. Such is the case at Holland.

Started in 1960 by three young men who were kindergarten classmates, Ronald P. Bennett, Richard Knox, and Gordon Becker carved Holland International Speedway out of a farm field on Holland-Glenwood Road in the small, rural township of Holland, New York, in southeastern Erie County, 35 miles southeast of Buffalo.

While the town of Holland, which has a current population of 3,612, is known for its annual tulip festival celebrated each May, it is this speedway that has given the town great notoriety beyond its rolling hills and scenic valley.

Holland, named after the Holland Land Company, which at one time owned most of the land in the region, was first settled in 1807 and first known as Humphrey Valley. In 1818, the town was renamed Holland when the town of Willink was divided into Holland, Wales, and Aurora. For the last several decades, Route 16 has been the main highway through town.

In the early 1970s, Holland and its hometown speedway became much more accessible to the large population center of Buffalo when the Route 400 Expressway was opened, running from the Buffalo area of the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) at West Seneca to South Wales, a total of 16.1 miles, before blending right into Route 16 five miles north of Holland.

The track is patterned after the long-defunct, one-third-mile Angelica (New York) Speedway, where Bennett drove stock cars in 1958 and 1959. The three founders purchased a cornfield in 1959 with a dream of building, managing, and promoting their own speedway. The dream became reality when ground was broken, and, once constructed, Holland opened for racing as a dirt-surfaced facility in June 1960.

Using logs they dragged out of adjacent woodlands and then had cut into planks at a local sawmill in North Collins, New York, the three promoters fashioned their own planks for use in the wooden hub rails, the announcer’s booth, and part of the original bleachers. Soon, Holland was race ready, and on June 24, 1960, the first green flag was thrown and the long-awaited roar of the engines broke the silence of the quiet rural setting. The thunder had arrived.

It would have been nice if that first day of racing went off without a hitch, but, in reality, the initial race event at Holland was a disaster of sorts. The dust got so thick that the remainder of the program had to be cancelled partway through the race card. Determined to rectify their dusty dilemma, the Holland management installed track lights the next month and moved to an evening program. The night conditions proved much more conducive for dust-free dirt-track racing, and Holland raced on as a popular dirt track through its first eight seasons.

Once racing began, other important developments in Holland’s long and successful historical time line have been key to defining Holland’s progress and growth over these many years. The track layout was expanded from one-third of a mile to three-eighths of a mile in 1964, and the asphalt era was ushered in when the speedway was paved in 1968. In 1967, Holland obtained a sanction from NASCAR and has been a part of the NASCAR family of short tracks ever since.

The grandstand seated 1,200 race patrons when the track first opened. A few years later, seating was expanded to a capacity of about 7,000. But growth and facility development were far from over. Over the years, Holland has added hospitality suites, patio and picnic facilities, a small amusement park, pit pads, a tech inspection building, and even a first-turn swimming pool. Progress has been impressive, with the seating capacity now over 9,000.

Countless drivers, crew members, officials, sponsors, and fans have called the high banks of Holland their racing home for all these years. Throughout those years, Ronald Bennett points out that while all three cofounders worked extremely hard to manage Holland International Speedway, due to his outside duties as a lawyer and politician in Erie County government, he feels that Knox and Becker deserve so much praise

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