I grew up in Orange county, Mount Hope to be specific (don’t blink or you’ll miss it), and one of my clearest young adolescent memories is watching my cousin Kathy getting ready to go to the races on Saturday nights. I think she went to every single race on that track from the 1970’s – 1990’s! The Orange County Speedway was a pretty big deal back then and for many people it still is.
The Orange County Speedway’s very first race happened on August 16, 1919 and was won by James Benedict. The track has undergone many changes since it first opened in 1857, back then they raced horses on the track. One man had a vision of racing cars on the dirt track instead of horses and we have him to thank for what the Orange County Speedway has become – George Martin. George went before the Orange county Fair’s board of directors every year for six years with his vision and was turned down six times. Thankfully the seventh time was the charm and we’ve had cars racing on the track ever since. You can find out all about the speedway’s history at victoryspeedway.net.
Back in the bad old 1980’s the Orange County Speedway was home to some of the best concerts the Hudson Valley has ever seen. Aerosmith, Huey Lewis and the News, 38 Special, Yes, I could go on and on. If you were a big name in the 80’s the chances are pretty good that you played a show or two at the speedway/fairgrounds. Stop in at HVA’s Walden office one of these days and ask Dave Jr about the time that lightning hit the stage while Aerosmith was singing “When Lightning Strikes”, he remembers it like it was yesterday!
The Orange County Speedway is a big part of the Hudson Valley’s history. It has the distinction of being the oldest operating dirt race track in the United States. Get outside and explore Orange county and the Orange County Speedway this weekend! Hudson Valley Agents can insure whatever you drive to the speedway, but they can’t “insure” that your driver will win. Remember – Race local, shop local, eat local, and insure local with HVA!