This El Paso Race Track Might Be Gone, But The Memories Aren’t
Being a racing fan, I've always been fascinated with race tracks; especially ones that aren't around anymore. For instance, North Wilkesboro was a favorite in the NASCAR community. Gave fans many years of great memories before shutting down in 1996. But it's coming back in 2023 and that got me thinking about our OWN racing history.
I remember two speedways in particular growing up: the Thunder Alley drag strip & The El Paso Speedway Park. Dubba G already talked about the Thunder Alley years ago, so I wanted to give my respects to the Speedway.
When looking up research on the Speedway Park, I reached out to a few people online. Chris Babcock from KTSM & the editor of the El Paso Herald online, was extremely generous to shed some light about El Paso's racing history...
From the early 1900s, El Paso has always been fans of racing; from horse racing & eventually auto racing at the Juarez Race Track. We've had a number of different race tracks to compete with the Horizon Speedway & the Sunbowl Speedway. But it wouldn't be until 1979, that's when their biggest competitor would arise: the newly named El Paso Speedway Park owned by Willie Nunez.
Speedway Park dominated during the 80s, with thousands of fans coming out (most of the fans couldn't all fit in the grandstands, they were designed to seat only 3000 people). While the Sunbowl Speedway faded by the end of the 80s, Speedway Park was still alive after 10 years. In the 90s, thanks to the popularity of NASCAR & Days of Thunders, the Speedway flourished as a result. For the next 20 years the Speedway would be the sole race track in El Paso & the Southwest.
When the 2010s rolled around, the race track was still active but that was when major changes happened:
- The Speedway Park would change its name to the Western Tech Speedway Park
- Construction for Vado Speedway in Vado, New Mexico started in mid 2016.
- 2016 would also be the final season for the Park.
In fact the last ever event was a World of Outlaws race on September 14th, 2016...
After the race, that officially marked the end of Speedway Park. The closing of the park was a somber occasion.
So what does Speedway Park look like now? Well it sits abandoned sadly, as a rest area for truck drivers.
Speedway Park is still missed very much to this day; but there are tribute pages on Facebook: Not one, but TWO that you can visit or share their memories, photos & videos of the old racetrack.
So what's going to happen with the track? Well no one knows for certain. We DO know that, as of September 3rd, some of the bleachers from the Rio Grande Speedway in Santa Teresa (that ran for one year in 1999) were sold to the Alien Motor Speedway in Roswell, New Mexico. So at least some parts of El Paso racing history is kept alive.
Thankfully Vado Speedway Park is still active & so is El Paso's racing scene. While it is sad that Speedway park & indeed many of those old racetracks are gone...it's always fun to look back on our history.