History of the ABC Raceway.
Some Cool Facts about the ABC Raceway.
Organized short-track stock car racing first made its way into the Ashland, WI, area in the mid-1950s, when the now-defunct Chequamegon Racing Association held its very first racing program on a little baseball field near Ino, WI, about 20 miles west of Ashland. From there racing moved to a hayfield near Moquah, just west of Ashland, where interest grew quickly during the late 1950s and into the early ‘60s.
With the growth came the need to find a site for a permanent, safe and secure facility. The organization found this on a piece of land just three miles south of Ashland – a race track that had already been built by the Frank Brevak family.
The club saw a few short years’ worth of success at the new facility, but as the ’60s progressed interest in racing faded slightly and the track became idle; weather and lack of maintenance eveventually took its toll on the unkept grounds and buildings. Then, in the spring of 1965, several area citizens who were involved in those early race events gathered to revive racing in the Chequamegon Bay area. A meeting was called, a hat was passed to collect donations for the purchase of a stopwatch and some flags, and the Ashland-Bayfield County Racing Association – the not-for-profit organization which to this day promotes and runs the ABC Raceway – was born. After covering its initial expenses, the club had a $20 bank balance and a vision with which to restart racing in the Northland.
The new organization first hosted its race programs at the Ashland County Fairgrounds in Marengo, WI, from 1966-’68. Again, increased interest and the success of the programs produced a need for a track the club could run as its own and grow with. The Association purchased the former Chequamegon Racing Association property from the Brevak family for $2,500, renamed it ABC (for Ashland-Bayfield County)Raceway, and began work to revive the neglected, run-down site. Once again, the great enthusiasm of the club and the interest in stock-car racing in this and the surrounding communities brought plenty of volunteer help, and in a few short weeks the ABC Raceway was ready for its first race program in mid-summer 1968. Before long the track was offering regular weekly shows with three distinct divisions of race cars in action.
In the nearly 50 years since, the track and racing in general in the Northland has seen many ups and downs. The group worked hard to survive the oil-shortage years of the mid-’70s, and increasing costs and a slowing economy in the 1980s caused the Association to adjust its offering of weekly classes, replacing the wildly popular but very expensive late model class with the open-wheeled modifieds in 1986. In 2008 the group welcomed the enormously popular WISSOTA Midwest modified division to its regular weekly offering, but two seasons later decided to drop the WISSOTA street stocks from the show – a difficult move that cut ties with a class of race car that had been with the Association since the late 1960s.
But the club and the track have made the changes necessary to not just survive, but to flourish over the years. Race programs were held on Saturday and Sunday afternoons until lights were added in the late 1970s; since then racing has been held every Saturday night during the summer months. The track was a founding partner in the former Northwest Racing Circuit, along with the Superior, WI, and Proctor, MN, tracks; this group became the forerunner to what is now the WISSOTA Promoters Association, with the ABC Raceway as one of its charter member tracks in 1994. And in 1976, the club ran its first Late Model-Super Stock Invitational; a year later this event was renamed the Red Clay Classic, and it has since become the Northland’s traditional and premier end-of-season stock car racing event, now regularily drawing over 200 competitors and over 5,000 fans for a two-day race program that awards over $75,000 in prize monies. The Red Clay Classic is known as one of the largest and most popular short-track stock car racing events in the entire Upper Midwest!
The Association has also worked to offer a safer, more fan-friendly, more exciting racing program. Within the past 15 years, new restroom facilities, a new concession building, new reserved-seating decks, a new public address system, improved lighting, fencing and guardrails, an on-track watering system (the only one of its kind in the Northland!), an improved officials’ tower, and a safer flagman’s stand have all been added for fan and driver comfort and safety – improvements totaling nearly $200,000 but built and installed by dozens of interested persons donating their time and toil, continuing the spirit of volunteerism that was the basis of the Ashland-Bayfield County Racing Association when it was formed so long ago.
And the racing program itself continues to improve – today three WISSOTA-sanctioned classes – Modifieds, Super Stocks and Midwest Mods – provide fans with lots of action and excitement, along with the track’s unique and ultra-competitive Six-Cylinder division, and the entry-level Pure Stocks, which joined the regular Saturday night show in 2002. Plus the Raceway often hosts other events – featuring such race machines as late models and winged sprint cars – during mid-season specials.
All the effort, the dedication of its volunteer workers and the outstanding promotional management paid off after the 2002 racing season when the WISSOTA Promoters Association presented the ABC Raceway with its prestigeous Track of the Year award!
The staff and management of the ABC Raceway invite you to come out for some thrilling family fun and stock car racing excitement – the best entertainment value for your dollar today!