ABANDONED MICHIGAN: The Original Jackson Motor Speedway
The original Jackson Motor Speedway still sits...abandoned, hidden within the woods, covered with brush and trees growing out of the asphalt. The remains & ruins of the bleachers still sit and rot. An occasional relic from the track's golden days can still be found in the weeds, brush and woods. But the track is not forgotten by the former spectators or drivers.
Yes, M.I.S. is impressive. It's huge. It attracts people from all over the country. Celebrities congregate there. But even so, it doesn't come close to the charm and relatability of the old Jackson Motor Speedway. At JMS you could sit squeezed like sardines among friends and even strangers that you were comfortable with. It was a small track, with many quick races, one after another...and tasty, affordable concession food!
JMS opened in October 1948 at 3300 Clinton Way in Blackman Township, just north of Parnall Road. Driver Carl Scarborough was the track's very first winner (NOT Cale Yarborough, who was only 12-years-old at the time). Local Jackson gas & service stations promoted the track by having some sort of race car or facsimile in front of their businesses.....and it didn't hurt THEIR businesses, either! The number of races doubled in 1949 and by 1950 it was a full-fledged race track.
According to mlive, "For safety reasons, a low-banked quarter-mile oval was built inside the half-mile in 1953. Only six races were run on it before both tracks were converted to a three-eighths mile oval with 25- to 30-degree banking in turns in one and two and 6- to 8-degree banking in turns three and four."
At it's peak, JMS rivaled even Detroit's tracks, squeezing in up to 4,000 fans a night! As the 1950's continued, the track did increasingly well and went few a few different owners...but once a larger company took it over, attendance went down. Why? It's believed that they took away the "mom & pop" charm it originally had, making it more corporate and commercial. The charm was fading and the drivers and fans knew it. The drivers sought out other tracks and with less drivers, less fans showed up.
JMS called it quits after their last race on Aug. 19, 1973.
Mlive did an excellent article in 2011 on the Jackson Motor Speedway with many more tidbits, facts & trivia. Read that article by CLICKING HERE.
See many, many photos of the current state of JMS and read more recollections by CLICKING HERE.
Many people traipse thru the woods and brush to visit the old track. If you decide to, make sure you're not trespassing and get permission if necessary.
Hope you get to visit...it's a short, very historical trek to make!