100 years of dirt-track history is marked in Middletown, New York

They’ve been racing on dirt for a long time on the 5/8th-mile speedway in Middletown, New York, known formally as Orange County Fair Speedway. It’s been going on for 100 years, to be exact, which means the track now lays claim to being the oldest continuously operating speedway in the United States. OCFS, or Middletown if you prefer, has benefitted from smart management that’s kept the track viable even as suburban development from the New York City metro area has slithered ever closer. Beginning next week, OCFS will mark its 100th birthday with a huge celebration, culminating in a race for the track’s signature division, big-block dirt Modified stock cars, that will pay the winner $100,000, the richest purse in the history of that racing division.

The photo by Bob Perran, taken during a running of the annual Eastern States 200 at OCFS back in the 1970s, tells you everything you need to know about this track. Honking open-wheel stock cars on hard-packed clay, doing battle in front of a full house. The 100th Anniversary weekend gets underway next Wednesday, August 14th, with a concert by country superstar Tim McGraw in front of the covered main grandstand, with a pre-show party at 6 p.m. On Thursday, the big-block Modifieds and dirt Sportsmen will run a full program, with a concert and movie thrown in. Friday brings a pair of features for small-block and big-block Modifieds, along with a concert by Artimus Pyle, the longtime member of Southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd. Saturday’s run-up to the big 160-lap feature starts with a driver’s autograph session at 3 p.m., followed shortly by time trials and racing. OCFS is the home track of the fabled Brett Hearn, who owns more than 900 feature event wins in the Modifieds, some 200 coming at OCFS alone. Will he be able to cash his sport’s biggest paycheck? The speedway is located off Exit 120 on state Route 17, easily accessible via Interstate 84 and the New York State Thruway. The track phone is 1-845-342-2573. Tell the fine folks that we sent you.

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