Adams County Speedway History
The Adams County fair grounds were established
in 1888 when the land was purchased for the use as a county fair
grounds. The exact year a race track was developed along the east
side of the property remains in question, but we know from Adams
County Free Press archives that horse racing was run through-out the
1930’s on the flat half-mile track. The 1937 Fair included a $1000
purse for horse racing, drawing riders from all over the state.
The August 14, 1952 Free Press includes the report of a new event at
that year’s county fair, hot rod races. The event was held on a
Sunday afternoon with cars running in seven events on the flat
track. A reported crowd of over 2500 turned out for the event.
Interestingly enough, harness racing was also a part of that year’s
In the 1960’s stock car racing grew at the
fairgrounds, much to the chagrin of the horse racing crowd. By 1968
the racing had taken its toll on the facilities the front stretch
was declared unsafe to drivers and crowds, putting a temporary halt
to the action. So it was that in 1969 the front stretch wall was
improved and racing resumed. Then in 1970 the traditionally flat
track was banked for the automobile racing.
Throughout the 1970’s the fair board ran the
bulk of the racing events, while occasionally another group or
individual would take on the promotion effort. It was in 1983 when
Gail Hampel of Nodaway took over the
reigns and began promoting the racing program. The following year
Hampel obtained a NASCAR sanction for the speedway. Under this
arrangement the racing took off as competitors raced not only for
local fame but as a part of a nationwide group all under the NASCAR
banner. Two classes of cars made up the racing program, coupes and
Through cooperation of the Hampel family and
the fair board the facilities were inproved on a regular basis. The
old wooden grandstands were torn down and replaced with newer
bleachers. The steel guard rail along the front stretch was replace
with concrete and new guard rail was installed protecting the
infield. New restrooms, concession facilities, and a scorer’s
tower were built.
1996 saw the most dramatic change in the
history of the track. The old concession building was torn down and
building more than twice the size was built. Simultaneously an
additional fifteen rows of elevated bleachers and the first 15 VIP
observation decks were built. Eventually demand for the observation
decks would lead to the construction of 42 more, each leased by race
fans for the season.
By 2004 with the addition of a fourth class of
race cars, hobby stocks, joining the late models, street stocks (an
updated version of the coupes) and modifieds (an open-wheel class)
the average car count swelled to over 110 per week. MUSCO lighting
was installed at a cost of over $200,000, making the facility one of
the state’s finest dirt tracks. In 2006 the track adopted the use
of AMB transponders for the scoring system keeping up with the
latest in racing technology.
2008 will be long remembered as the year of the
floods at ACS. The season had started out with five consecutive
rained out events, but on June 5th the skies opened up
putting more water on the grounds than in recent memory. Flood water was over six feet deep in infield
concession stands and nearly up to counter level in the main
concession stand and restrooms. Countless volunteer hours were
put in to bring the facility back to race ready condition and just
nine days later races were run again.
After 25 years of promotion the Hampel family
stepped down from the promoter’s chair at the end of the 2008
season. The Adams County Fair and Racing Association took on the
task of running the show in 2009 and look to continue in the
future. As racing enthusiasm grows and ebbs across the country, the
Adams County Speedway continues to hold its position as the only
place to be on a Saturday night during race season.
The Adams County Speedway, July 2006 aerial view.