Red Hook, NY, April 7, 2016 – From the 1940s through the early 1960s, Rhinebeck rocked to the roar of “souped up” engines, squealing tires and cheering crowds as locally owned and driven stock cars raced for gold and glory on Saturday nights at the Rhinebeck Speedway at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.
“Those were the junkyard days: dirty hands and skinned knuckles!” fondly recalls Dick Hansen, 72, who won many a race at Rhinebeck Speedway. “Old cars were cheap, parts available and everyone could participate.”
On Saturday, May 7, Hansen and other drivers, the owners and the cars return to the Fairgrounds in “Racing through History!” a joint presentation of Historic Red Hook (www.historicredhook.org/events) and the Rhinebeck Historical Society (www.rhinebeckhistoricalsociety.org), in collaboration with the Hudson River Valley Antique Auto Association at the Rhinebeck 2016 Antique Car Show & Swap Meet (www.rhinebeckcarshow.com). The program opens in the Arts & Crafts building at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. Admission is free with the purchase of tickets to the Car Show & Swap Meet.
According to Rhinebeck Historical Society president David Miller, there will be as many as a dozen cars on display, including two mint-condition “midget” racers – smaller versions of the familiar open-wheeled Indianapolis 500 racers.
“The cars are great,” says Miller, “but the Speedway veterans are the best. They’ll be there to tell it like it was – the speed, the chills, the thrills.”
Rhinebeck Speedway’s heyday of hometown, homemade heroes arrived in 1956 with the introduction of a “sedan” class of stock cars to the Saturday night races. Affordable for all, the cars were off the street or out of the junkyard, required only to have a seatbelt and roll bar. First prize was $15 and a trophy.
“This is living history,” says Claudine Klose, Historic Red Hook president. “Where else can people meet and mingle with the people who made history, right here in our backyards. It’ll be a great day for the whole family!”